Archive

Reuters blog archive

from Environment Forum:

Backyard tigers

ENVIRONMENT-TIGERS/Would you keep a tiger as a pet?

A puppy-sized tiger cub can be bought in the United States for as little as $200, and there are probably about 5,000 such backyard tigers across the country, about the same number of privately owned tigers in China, according to World Wildlife Fund.

That is far greater than the approximately 3,200 wild tigers worldwide, compared to the estimated 100,000 wild tigers a century ago. The growing number of these animals in captivity poses a threat to the species in the wild, WWF reports.

"People don't realize when they buy a $200 tiger cub that it grows into a full-grown tiger, which means a huge enclosure and costs about $5000 a year just to feed," says Leigh Henry, an animal conservation expert at WWF. "So you end up with a lot of unwanted animals that are very poorly regulated."

These unwanted animals are a potent lure to poachers, who can use parts and products from these backyard tigers to sell on the lucrative black market. Because many of these beasts are untraceable -- it can be tougher to adopt a dog from a U.S. animal shelter than to sell a privately owned tiger -- many wind up in Asia, where tiger parts and products are used in traditional medicine.

from Environment Forum:

Attack survivors at UN: Save the sharks!

THAILAND/Jaws needs help.

Nine shark-attack survivors from five countries headed for the United Nations in New York City to plead the case for shark preservation. U.N. member countries could take this issue up this week as part of an annual resolution on sustainable fisheries. They'll also be reviewing the Millennium Development Goals -- a long-range set of global targets that includes stemming the loss of biodiversity, including sharks.

"I'm very thankful to be alive," said Krishna Thompson, a Wall Street banker who lost his left leg in a shark attack while visiting the Bahamas in 2001.  “I have learned to appreciate all of God’s living creatures. Sharks are an apex predator in the ocean. Whether they continue to live  affects how we as people live on this Earth. I feel that one of the reasons why I am alive today is to help the environment and help support shark conservation.”

from Africa News blog:

Breaking down the walls – Sudan’s oil transparency push

It was a just another seminar on transparency in the oil sector. Seemingly banal. But this was being held in Khartoum, involving live debates between northern and southern Sudanese officials, a minerals watchdog and the international media, who were allowed free access to publicly grill those who administer what has for years been an absolutely opaque oil industry. What emerged was surprisingly positive and all walked away feeling that -- at least until the Jan. 9, 2011 referendum on southern independence -- this was the first step towards finally unpicking all the stitches that have sewn the sector tightly shut to outsiders. We are "PR stupid" said the newly appointed Minister for Energy from the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement Lual Deng who instigated the forum. He said this to explain the discrepancies in oil production and oil prices uncovered by the Global Witness NGO whose report "Fuelling Mistrust -- the need for transparency in Sudan's oil sector" provoked the discussion. These include figures published by the ministry of finance web site of oil revenues with little clarification of how they had been calculated, even citing barrels of Sudanese black gold selling for as little as 15 cents a barrel. It also found discrepancies between China's CNPC who dominates Sudan's oil sector dogged by U.S. sanctions, and Sudan's energy ministry output figures. Those figures were easily explained as the difference between gross production and net of water, gas and solids on Wednesday. But the fact an international giant like CNPC is publishing undefined production figures in an annual report provoked concern even from Sudanese officials. And why did it require such an elaborate showcase to provide such a simple response? Minister Deng's answer was the "PR stupid" line. After months of chasing and waiting in vain for a reply from The government or CNPC to the discrepancies in oil output, including having the phone hung up on them by the Chinese, Global Witness went ahead and published their work. "Next time you should just call us to verify the figures," was CNPC's ironic response, with the presenter who had flown in from Beijing for the forum, flashing on a PowerPoint screen the email and mobile number of CNPC's country manager in Sudan. Just five minutes earlier that same manager had declined my request for a meeting or to share his contacts "in the interests of transparency." One of dozens of attempts I have made over the years to extract any information from the state-owned firm. I wonder how long he will keep that mobile number. But if you sifted through the barbed comments by Sudanese officials directed at the Global Witness reps and the attempts by CNPC to ridicule the figures, important progress was made. Sudan said it would commit to the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, to which CNPC gave its support. It also agreed to a full audit back to 2005 and the ministry said it would publish daily production figures. It also gave French oil giant Total a public guarantee that whether or not the south votes to secede in just five months, its oil concession contract would be honoured. If all this happens, it will be a massive step towards opening up Sudan's taboo oil sector which could convince those elusive big European companies who left during Sudan during the north-south civil war to come back and invest. Do you see European companies investing in Sudanese oil and gas? If Europeans come back in should U.S. sanctions be lifted to allow American firms to compete for the spoils? Is Sudan - likely to split into two countries in five months --worth the risk for investors?

oilIt was a just another seminar on transparency in the oil sector. Seemingly banal.

But this was being held in Khartoum, involving live debates between northern and southern Sudanese officials, a minerals watchdog and the international media, who were allowed free access to publicly grill those who administer what has for years been an incredibly opaque oil industry.

from Environment Forum:

The wrong odor for a rich ecosystem

Three oil-coated white ibis sit in marsh grass on a small island in Bay Barataria near Grand Isle, Louisiana June 13, 2010. Sean Gardner/REUTERS    It has an odd odor, oil mixed with dispersant. It's reminiscent of the inside of an old mechanic shop or boat house, and out of place in the open water of Southern Louisiana's Barataria Bay, which separates the Gulf of Mexico from the state's fragile marshland.

One one point during a tour of the bay to see damage from the BP Plc oil spill, Capt. Sal Gagliano stopped his boat in a spot where reddish brown specs of the oil and dispersant mixture accumulated on the surface. It is slightly gooey to the touch.

from Africa News blog:

In search of the rarest elephants

elephant_01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dawn was breaking and wisps of mist rising through the dense trees as wildlife expert and author Gareth Patterson and I set off into the forest, in search of one of the last remaining elephants of South Africa’s Knysna forests.

The Knysna forest, an expanse of 121,000 hectares of  forest managed by South African National Parks, is home to the last remnants of the once abundant herds of Cape Bush elephants that inhabited the Southern Cape.

from Environment Forum:

Rainy Taiwan faces awkward water shortage

jennings Chronically rainy Taiwan faces a rare water shortage as leaders ask that people on the dense, consumption-happy island of 23 million finally start changing habits as dry weather is forecast into early 2010. 

Taiwan, a west Pacific island covered with rainforests and topical fruit orchards, is used to rain in all seasons, bringing as much as 3,800 mm (150 inches) on average in the first 10 months of every year. But reservoirs have slipped in 2009 due to a chain of regional weather pattern flukes giving Taiwan too much dry high pressure while other parts of Asia get more storms than normal, the Central Weather Bureau  says.

from Africa News blog:

Life with the lions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenya's Maasai warriors are known for being fearless lion killers but times have changed and the country's lion's population is in danger of being wiped out. Now the Maasai in southern Kenya are taking part in an initiative to preserve the big cats.

For thousands of years the Maasai co-existed with huge herds of wildlife. Their lion-killing rituals kept down the number of lions preying on the game while their fearsome reputation as warriors kept the herds safe from other humans. The result, Kenya's wildlife heritage is a wonder of the modern world.

from Environment Forum:

U.S. hunters, anglers weigh in on climate change

When people think of hunting and fishing politicians in America -- at least prominent ones -- two things spring to mind: 1. Republican and 2. Climate change skeptic. Former President George W. Bush, his vice president Dick Cheney and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin all fall into both categories.

But the hunting and fishing crowd -- widely seen as reliably Republican because of that's party's successful portrayal of itself as the defender of God and guns -- has also started to take note of climate change. After all, hunters and anglers are in the outdoors in pursuit of wildlife season after season, year after year.

from Environment Forum:

Schwarzenegger household green plan: short showers, hydrogen Hummers

Here's some advice for Californians who think Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's climate change policy goes too far: just be happy you're not his kid.

Before he became a body builder, before he was the Terminator, and before he turned into the Governator, it turns out that Arnold was the youngest in a family that had no running water and relied on an outhouse. That's what he told fourth graders who innocently asked about how he spoke to his kids.

from Environment Forum:

U.S. and Mexico to work on border conservation

When the United States and Mexico talk of cooperation over their shared border, that usually means working to stamp out drug trafficking and gun running. But this week the two neighbors put their shoulders behind a gentler effort: safeguarding a unique area of wilderness straddling the Rio Grande River.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar  and Mexico’s Environment and Natural Resources Minister Juan Elvira on Tuesday announced a plan to enhance conservation in the area around Big Bend, in Texas, and El Carmen in the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua and Coahuila.

  •