If you thought of having a chimp as a pet, think again

18 02 2009


… in fact, don’t even think of taking on an exotic pet as a pet unless you have adequate facilities for its entire life and you know that no parent animal was killed so that you can have something “cute”.


People are so friggin’ stupid.


Stalking birds with little tiny backpacks

13 02 2009

Check this out.

NYT: Science / Environment
Tracking the Flight of Birds, With Tiny Backpacks
Published: February 13, 2009
By fitting songbirds with tiny backpacks that contain sophisticated sensors, scientists have been able to follow the birds on their annual migration…

I’m a cat person AND a dog person

11 01 2009

I thought I would start my posts with something on a positive note, before my cynicism betrays me.

Big cats got me interested in ecology and conservation in the first place, so I thought this news story rather fitting for my first post. And it mentions caracals! Yeah!

The article discusses the increase in cheetah populations in Namibia as farmers increasingly use dogs to protect livestock. Instead of shooting cheetahs looking for a meal in the farmer’s livestock, farmers can deter cheetahs with dogs: trade in the bang for the bark.

Who would have thought that large predator conservation could be achieved through the introduction of an animal preventing the predator from accessing food? Who would have thought that you could conserve a cat with a dog?

Perhaps the lesson here is that, in conservation, we have to look at the situations relatively. If you can trade in a lethal practice for a nonlethal one to reach the same end, go with the nonlethal one. When our baseline is people shooting cheetahs, getting to a situation where people don’t shoot cheetahs will be great news.

Are negotiated international targets effective?

9 01 2009

From the BBC Environment reporter’s personal blog:

“…As economist George von Furstenberg has argued, governments have a habit of promising more than they can, or intend to, deliver. When the target date is further away than the next election, it’s not a bad electoral strategy, but there is surely a tendency for the public to assume that if a stringent target has been set, the problem is on the way to being solved.

So are targets worthwhile? Would all the time and energy not be better spent simply developing and implementing policies that deliver firm benefits?

Europe is failing to curb biodiversity loss, not because of anything to do with the target, but because it doesn’t yet have the right policies in place to stem all the things that drive biodiversity loss. It’s even disappearing inside protected areas.

Over the next year, governments will wrangle long into many nights about another set of targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This time around, it will be even more complex, given that curbs for developing countries are also on the horizon.

Then in 2010, they’ll meet to discuss why they have collectively failed to meet the 2010 biodiversity target.

Concerned observers will look, shake heads, lament the failure and demand a tougher target next time.

What is right? I don’t know. But I think it’s worth asking whether the whole notion of target-based environmental treaties is wide of the mark, and whether governments would be better off just taking measures that they know will work.”

Worth a think (?)