Protect kids from pesticides as they go to school

Pesticides Poison Children of All Species

GR: The article below focuses on human children. Many of us would like to focus on wildlife as well. All young creatures are especially sensitive to pesticide poisons. The massive decline in numbers of wild animals is our fault. We need to teach or remind children, parents, teachers, and schools that our wild neighbors need our protection. Everyone is aware of the plight of the bees and Monarch butterflies. However, many other species also suffer from the toxic materials we spread across the land. Without focused effort on wildlife and nature conservation, silence will spread across the Earth like the Nothing in the Neverending Story. Let’s ban pesticides and then move on to eliminating our other destructive impacts too. Neighborhood schools are a great place to start.

“School policies must protect children from pesticides by adopting organic land and building management policies and serving organic food in cafeterias. At the start of the school year, it is critical for school administrators to make sure that students and teachers are learning and teaching in an environment where no hazardous pesticides are used in the school’s buildings or on playing fields. It is also essential that children have access to organic food in food programs and manage school gardens organically.

Send a letter to your local officials urging them to tell school districts to adopt organic management and serve organic food to students.

“In addition, there are other things you can do:

“Whether a parent, teacher, student, school administrator, landscaper or community advocate, there are steps that should be taken to make sure the school environment is a safe from toxic chemicals, as the new school year begins.

For Parents and Teachers

“Because children face unique hazards from pesticide exposure due to their smaller size and developing organ systems, using toxic pesticides to get control insects, germs, and weeds can harm students much more than it helps. The good news is that these poisons are unnecessary, given the availability of practices and green materials that do not poison people or the environment.

“Studies show children’s developing organs create “early windows of great vulnerability” during which exposure to pesticides can cause great damage. This is supported by the findings of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which concluded, “Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity.” You can help to eliminate children’s exposure to toxic chemicals by urging school administrators to implement organic management practices that use cultural, mechanical, and biological management strategies, and, as a last resort, defined least-toxic pesticides. See Beyond Pesticides ManageSafeTM database for managing all insects and weeds without toxic pesticides.” –Beyond Pesticides (Continue reading:  Gmail – Action of the Week: Protect kids from pesticides as they go back to school.)

‘It’s very scary in the forest’: Should Finland’s wolves be culled?

alaska-wolf-yva-momatiuk-and-john-eastcott-national-geographic-creative

Alaska wolf Yva Momatiuk-national-geographic-creative

GR: How can 235 wolves be too many when Finland has 5,500,000 humans? Does nature hold no value in our eyes? E. O. Wilson’s recommendation that we dedicate half of the Earth to wildlife would insure that moose, wolves, ravens, and other wildlife would survive, and so would we. The tiny part of the ecosystem these far-north creatures represent is an essential part of the natural processes that allow humans and other creatures to live on Earth. The alternative of a farm-and-concrete-covered world just isn’t sustainable and it’s not at all attractive.

The following article becomes more of a report than a question if you compare wolf kills to automobile kills or if you would like to preserve nature on Earth.

Moose antlers emerge from a frozen lake. Photograph: Davide Monteleone for the Guardian

“The story of a kill is told in the snow. On the Finnish island of Porosaari, we find the first paw print. “That’s a male,” says Asko Kettunen, retired border guard, hunter and tracker. How can he be sure? “It’s big.”

“Five ravens rise from dark pines, croaking in the icy silence; they will scavenge anything caught by the wolves. We wade through knee-deep snow. There’s a spot of vivid blood and a tuft of moose hair, cleanly cut, which Kettunen deduces has been ripped from a living animal. This, he says, is the moment the wolves made contact. First they try to puncture the intestines; if they succeed, the moose may run on, but the damage is done.

“We find moose tracks, each hoof print far apart: the animal was running. Kettunen points to wolf prints on either side, to where a second and third wolf joined the chase. There are blood spots and more hair and a pine sapling snapped in two. “The moose collided with a tree, so it was not that well,” Kettunen says, with Finnish understatement.

“There are spots of blood by every moose print now. Finally, up the hill, is the kill zone. A young moose has been reduced to two front legs and a skin detached precisely from the body, intestines that spill like butcher’s sausages and a mound of freshly chewed grass where its stomach once was. Kettunen thinks that five wolves feasted here the previous night. We find faeces and a curved bed of snow where a contented wolf took a postprandial doze.

“Finland has a wolf problem. Five and a half million humans share the country with an estimated 235 wolves, and that’s too many, say rural Finns, whose livestock and hunting dogs are being killed. Some parents are scared that wolves will attack their children. “Before, wolves were afraid of people,” Kettunen tells me. “Now people are afraid of wolves.” For the past three years, the government has assuaged these fears with a wolf cull. Last winter, 43 wolves were killed in a “management hunt”, while total fatalities numbered 78, including “problem” wolves shot by police and road casualties.” –Patrick Barkham (Continue reading:  ‘It’s very scary in the forest’: should Finland’s wolves be culled? | World news | The Guardian.)

The Hunt for the Golden Mole review of Richard Girling’s ‘entertaining and provocative’ quest

Richard Girling’s tale of an elusive burrowing mammal turns into a compelling study of humankind’s devastating cruelty to animals. In 1964, in Jowhar, Somalia, zoologist Alberto Simonetta stumbled on a disused bakery oven in which barn owls had made…

Source: www.theguardian.com

GR:  The majority of Earth’s creatures have not been identified.  The unknown species tend to be the smallest, but some belong to familiar groups.  For example, lepidopterists estimate that only about 10% of moth species have been identified.  Human impacts will extinguish many of them and there will be no evidence, not even a tiny pile of bones, to show that they ever existed.

A Special Rhino

“As if timing his arrival to perfectly coincide with 2012-13 as International Year of the Rhino, Sumatran rhino calf “Andatu” was born at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in the wee hours of 23 J…”

Source: fightforrhinos.com

GR:  Here is an opportunity to pick up a holiday gift and help rhinos.

Habitat loss in U.S. blamed for decline of monarch butterflies

The principal cause of the shrinking population of monarch butterflies is loss of habitat in their U.S. breeding grounds, scientists say in a study published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

Planting milkweed in the south and central United States would provide the largest immediate benefit,”

Read or download the article here (free).

See on latino.foxnews.com

Help save the grasslands – Prescott, Arizona

A consortium of government agencies wants to hear from the public about its plan to try to protect and restore Central Arizona’s dwindling grasslands.

The meeting is in Prescott, AZ on Thursday, June 5.

“The health of these grasslands is critical for a number of species,” said Dee Kephart, habitat specialist for the Game and Fish Department’s Region 3 office.

The agencies signed the grasslands strategy in 2010 and update it every year so they can work together on common goals. The strategy covers about 750,000 acres and uses pronghorn antelope as an indicator species about the health of local grasslands.

“Pronghorn are an ideal species to examine because they are so closely tied to this type of habitat,” Kephart said. “They are heavily dependant on their eyesight, so open spaces are critical.”

North America’s central grasslands are considered one of the most threatened ecosystems on the continent and in the world, the strategy notes.

See on www.prescottaz.com

 

Wolves Need Trees Too

For thousands of years, black wolves have roamed the snow-covered islands of southeast Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago. But even in this remote stretch of more than 1,000 islands and glaciated peaks, Alexander Archipelago wolves have been no match for industrial logging, road building and overharvest.

GR:  Please send the letter.

See on action.biologicaldiversity.org

How Swaziland Protects its Wildlife

Both black rhino and white rhino were absent from Swaziland for nearly 70 years until in 1965, when the first pair of white rhinos returned to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.  Black rhino were reintroduced into Swaziland in 1986. Since 1992, just three rhinos have been killed by poachers in Swaziland (two in 2011, and one recently in 2014). According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Swaziland’s rhino protection is unmatched by any other country.

See on www.nikela.org

Florida Panthers and Other Wildlife Threatened by Big Oil

Protect Florida Panthers from Big Oil

“As a professional nature photographer, I have witnessed firsthand the leading cause of panther deaths in Florida—being struck by vehicles (72%). Not long ago, I had the heartbreaking experience of coming upon a Florida panther kitten that had been killed by a car. My very first instinct was to reach out and pat her lifeless body which was left strewn across the center line of the road. As I did that, I came to realize that her mother was calling out to her from some brush not far away. I knew then that I needed to do more than just photograph Florida’s wildlife if I wanted it to endure. I knew I needed to take action to protect Florida panthers and protecting them from Big Oil and their machinery is part of that.

“Florida panthers number barely over 100 in the wild and can’t afford unnecessary, new threats. Yet, the state of Florida has issued a permit for the construction of a new oil and gas waste disposal well in prime habitat for the endangered Florida panther. This well would be placed less than a mile from the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, and would bring with it hundreds of truck trips that could harass or kill endangered panthers, pushing panthers closer to the brink of extinction. Just this year, 12 panthers have been killed in Florida putting the state on path to exceed the average of 17 panthers killed annually by vehicles.

“Not only would this well increase vehicle traffic, it could potentially contaminate the ground and water Florida panthers rely on.The waste that will be injected into this well could be very toxic. No one knows exactly what is in the waste because Congress exempted oil companies from a federal hazardous waste law back in the 1980s. We should not entertain any plan that might bring new toxic threats to these already-beleaguered cats.

“Additionally, The Texas company that is applying to drill this well is already in hot water over another well in the state of Florida. It has been fined $25,000 for acting outside the scope of the permitted activity at the well site. In short, they’ve already been accused of breaking the law once–why give them another chance while putting highly-endangered panthers at risk?

“Please urge the EPA to block the construction of this well and prevent further threats to Florida panthers, their habitat and clean water resources needed by both humans and wildlife.”

Sign the Petition.

S Africa Rhino Horn Trade

I am sitting in a large meeting room at Pretoria University in South Africa at a conference to discuss the trade in rhino horn. Expecting a fierce debate pitting conservationists against hunters and traders, instead I find myself confronting my own impotence against the most horrific poaching of rhinos. What is happening in South Africa is truly in a league of its own.

I already knew that over 1000 rhino are being poached each year in South Africa. But these were just statistics. The fact that it was happening in a far away country made me feel that this was not my problem. Besides, those are white rhinos, the South African species that is still relatively numerous. In Kenya we are mostly concerned about our own species, the critically endangered black rhino.

In short I had many reasons and excuses to not engage with this ‘South African’ problem. Now I am seeing the photos of heartbreaking suffering that poachers are inflicting on rhinos. Faces hacked open, blood saturated soil.

Then, just when I think I am getting used to the images, the videos start flowing.

In one, an animal, barely recognisable as a rhino because its head is just a bloody pulp, moves and tries to get up. I cover my face, then turn to watch, tears streaming down my face. The pain I feel in every cell of my body can not be a fraction of what this once beautiful animal was experiencing.

I look around the room of 50 or so participants, rhino owners, conservationists, scientists, veterinarians, hunters. Every face is a mask of horror and despair.

The rhino without a face tries to walk.His front left leg is broken and he stumbles and snorts in pain, it is a high pitched squeak that sends bubbles of blood out of the hole that was his horn.

He struggles painfully, in circles, he can’t see the bush he stumbles into because his eyes are gone, cut out by the poachers. I can’t bear it and have to rush to the bathroom to cry. In the hall there is not a dry face in sight.

The vet and wildlife campaigner Johan Marais showed us these photos and videos to illustrate how some poached rhinos can be rescued, their horrendous wounds will eventually close if careful care is given.

It will take months, maybe a year. What is left is a strange deformed creature, with a sad expression, and most of its face missing. It will be scarred for life; the horns will never grow back again. Marais’s work is heroic; rhinos’ lives are saved, but at what cost?

Ironically I was at the conference called by the organization Outraged SA Citizens Against Poaching (OSCAP) to discuss the South African government’s proposal to sell rhino horn.

The Department of Environmental Affairs says it has done the maths. South Africa has 20,000 white rhino and their horns can be ‘harvested’ sustainably, without killing the animals. Selling rhino horn will generate the funds needed to support rhino conservation.

Whether wildlife conservation is really the motivation for this proposal – rather than simply making money – is open to question. The South African government did not even bother to send a delegation to the major inter-governmental conference on illegal wildlife trade in London this February.

Moreover, South Africa has form as a trader of products from endangered species. In 2000 the government put forward a similar proposal for the sale of ivory.

It argued that the country’s good management of elephant populations should be rewarded. CITES approved the sale of ivory by four southern African countries first to Japan and then, in 2008, to China.

Just as conservationists at the time had warned, that sale triggered a massive demand in China and Southeast Asia leading to uncontrolled poaching that is currently decimating elephant populations across Africa. Now South Africa wants to sell rhino horn. This proposal is utterly outrageous. Here are three reasons why.

First, legalising sales will simply make life easier for the organized crime cartels that already control the trade in rhino horn.

In 1968, South Africa began allowing sport hunting of rhino, once again ostensibly to raise funds for conservation. Trophy hunting arouses strong emotions. Some conservationists, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, argue that controlled hunting can play a role in protecting species and ecosystems.

Others despise the rich white males who need to kill big animals to demonstrate their masculinity, and are outraged at the idea of them coming to Africa to do it. Nevertheless trophy hunting does generate a lot of money and this has motivated some land owners to breed rhinos.

But the fact is that, of the 200 South African rhino hunts in 2013, only 15 were genuine hunts. The rest were rhinos shot by mostly Vietnamese ‘pseudo hunters’, who pay for the privilege of trophy hunting but have no intention of ever mounting their trophy on a wall.

The economics are simple: the cost of hunting is about US $20,000, but the 3.5 kg horn is worth many times more when ground up into a fine dust, for sale as a ‘medicinal’ product. Current prices are estimated at up to US $75,000 per kg.

The scam is widely prevalent and has been exposed as highly organized crime by investigative journalist Julian Rademeyer in his best-selling book ‘Killing for Profit’.

He tells how the Vietnamese cartels operate, how they subvert justice, how powerful they are, and how helpless rhino owners are against this foe. Owning rhinos has become a liability: it attracts criminals to your property.

At present, trade in rhino horns is illegal. The proposal to allow legal trade will simply open the floodgates to allow millions of dollars of poached rhino horn – indistinguishable from the ‘legal’ product’ – onto the market.

Exactly the same happened when ivory trade was legalised at the start of the century, initiating a catastrophic decline in elephant populations across the continent.

Secondly, the idea that regulated trade in rhino horn will work as a strategy against poaching is preposterous. According to a study supporting the South African proposal, existing ‘demand’ could be met by moving 2000 adult rhinoceros – 10% of the wild population – to fenced enclosures covering a total of 400,000 ha. These a poor animals would then have their horns ‘humanely’ removed once every two years over their lifespan of 35 to 50 years.

But in reality there is no way that the supply from farmed rhino could come remotely close to meeting the demand, which is growing exponentially as consumers in the principal markets in Southeast Asia become richer.

Anyway, the criminal cartels that control the trade have no reason to buy expensive ‘farmed’ rhino, when they could just as easily poach it, or help themselves to more of the dwindling wild population in poorly protected national parks. Violence is deeply entrenched in the traffickers operations and they have no interest in the conservation of the species.

In the short term, the rarer rhinos become, the more prices will rise. Then, when rhinos are extinct, the traffickers will move on and invest their profits somewhere else. Their business model is an apocalyptic vision of asset stripping on a grand scale.

Finally, from an ethical standpoint, what is worst about this proposal is that it is based on peddling a lie. In Southeast Asia, rhino horns have been used in traditional medicine for centuries.

It is now known that rhino horns have no medicinal value at all; chemically they are indistinguishable from horses’ hooves and human toenails. But Vietnamese traffickers are fuelling demand by marketing new ‘benefits’ of rhino horn, as an aphrodisiac or a cure for hangovers, or cancer.

This is quack medicine. A mandarin-speaking colleague of mine recently got into conversation with a Chinese visitor to Kenya and asked him about the purpose of his visit. “I’ve come to get rhino horn,” the man replied. “My daughter is dying and the doctor says that rhino horn is the only thing that can save her.” By allowing rhino horn to be marketed, African nations would be complicit in this kind of cruel deception.

After the conference, shocked, deeply saddened, traumatized, paralysed, and numb, I returned to Nairobi and lay in bed thinking for two days. Then on Monday, I awoke to another beautiful dawn over Nairobi Park, home of black and white rhino, which poachers already have their eyes on. We cannot allow our leaders to be complicit in the desecration of our continent. My message to the South African government is simple: for God’s sake, stop before it is too late.

Paula Kahumbu is the executive director of WildlifeDirect.

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