"Piggy Bank," a turtle that swallowed 915 coins, has died

March 23, 2017 by  
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A venerated sea turtle who was fed hundreds of coins by supplicants seeking good fortune is dead . The 25-year-old animal was living in a pond in a town near the Gulf of Thailand in late February when rescuers found her close to drowning from the weight of her cache—about 11 pounds worth. After naming her Omsin, which is Thai for “piggy bank,” a team of veterinary surgeons operated on the turtle for seven hours. By the time they were finished, they had filled a bucket with 915 coins, in currencies both foreign and domestic. Omsin was expected to survive, if not thrive. By all accounts, her rehabilitation at Bangkok’s Veterinary Medical Aquatic Animals Research Center went smoothly. She received laser therapy on her belly incision. A large kiddie pool, coupled with physical therapy for a wonky flipper, helped her ease back into water. Following a liquid diet, Omsin returned to eating solid food. “She is getting stronger,” Nantarika Chansue, a veterinary scientist who tracked Omsin’s progress on Facebook, wrote on March 9. Just as her doctors began planning her release to the wild, Omsin’s condition suddenly deteriorated. They found her intestines in a tangle in the space where the coins once filled. An infection had developed, causing her abdomen to swell up with gas and fluid. Related: Sea turtle is rescued after being dragged onto a beach and beaten for selfies Despite rushing the turtle into intensive care on Sunday night, then emergency surgery on Monday, Omsin lapsed into a comma. On Tuesday, she died, a victim of ignorance and superstition. “At 10:10 a.m., she went with peace,” Nantarika said during a news conference. Visibly weeping, she called Omsin her “friend, teacher and patient.” Nantarika was comforted by just one thought. “She at least had the chance to swim freely and eat happily before she passed,” she said. Via the Washington Post Photos by Unsplash

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"Piggy Bank," a turtle that swallowed 915 coins, has died

China approves massive new park for endangered leopards and tigers

March 15, 2017 by  
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China just approved a massive new national park to help protect endangered big cats . The 5,637 square mile park – which will be 60 percent bigger than America’s Yellowstone National Park – will serve as a sanctuary for Siberian tigers and Amur leopards. Big cats have struggled in northeast China, where the park will be built. Excessive logging deteriorated the ecosystem and caused the population of wild Siberian tigers to plummet dramatically. A field survey by scientists from the United States, Russia, and China found signs of just six to nine of the tigers in the area in 1998. A 2015 northeast China logging ban may have helped; now experts estimate there are around 27 Siberian tigers there. Meanwhile Amur leopards are critically endangered , according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which said there are only over 60 of these animals still alive in the world. Related: Russia built a critical wildlife corridor to help save endangered big cats Small habitat areas have prompted Siberian tigers and Amur leopards to roam into residential areas looking for food, according to EcoWatch, which quoted a Jilin Forestry Department spokesperson as saying to ease conflict between humans and the big cats, they will relocate some communities and factories currently inside the area for the park. China’s new national park will be in the provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang, bordering Russia . The park will include a monitoring and rescue center for wild big cats, along with research facilities. WWF Beijing’s Species Program Director Fan Zhiyong said the initiative could help improve cooperation between the two countries to conserve wildlife . Jilin Forestry Department Director Lan Hongliang also said they expected the national park to act as a channel for international interchange on protecting wild animals. The Jilin government said they will start preparing for national park management by the end of this year. According to Xinhua, a plan and pilot park could be finished before 2020. Via Xinhua and EcoWatch Images via Tambako The Jaguar on Flickr and PublicDomainPictures.net

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European firms eye artificial island for North Sea wind and solar farm

March 15, 2017 by  
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Of all the opponents of wind turbines , few are as vociferous as the loose collective that planners and developers deride as “Nimby,” a term that derives from the acronym for “not in my backyard.” Driven to stake out real estate further offshore, a group of European companies have devised a plan almost breathtaking in its audacity: create a vast artificial island in the middle of the tumultuous North Sea, populate the area around it with thousands of spinning pylons, and drum up enough renewable energy for millions of Europeans by 2050. The venture, born of the 2050 goals laid out by the Paris agreement on climate change , is a collaboration between Denmark’s Energinet and the German and Dutch arms of electricity firm TenneT . To solidify the partnership, the companies will be meeting with Maroš Šef?ovi?, the European Commissioner for Energy, at the North Seas Energy Forum in Brussels next week to sign a trilateral agreement. If greenlit, the proposed 2.5-square-mile Power Link Island, also known as the North Sea Wind Power Hub, will boast its own harbor, air strip, solar farm, and artificial lake, along with homes for in-residence staff. Early estimates place the price of construction in the ball park of $1.3 billion. Dogger Bank, a large sandbank about 62 miles off the east coast of England, is thought to be the ideal location for the island because it’s centrally located, has waters shallow enough for turbines, and is buffeted by constant wind. Related: China is building artificial islands in disputed South China Sea territory Underwater transmission lines, coursing with energy, could potentially power the homes of 80 million people in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Belgium. By linking the energy markets of those countries, Power Link Island could facilitate international trading in electricity. It could even consolidate energy by serving as a connective hub for other, scattered wind farms or bud off smaller but similar enclaves. “This project can significantly contribute to a completely renewable supply of electricity in Northwest Europe,” said Mel Kroon, CEO of TenneT. There’s another upside: An island of significant scope could, through economies of scale, also whittle down costs. “Offshore wind has in recent years proved to be increasingly competitive and it is important to us to constantly focus on further reduction in prices of grid connections and interconnections,” said Peder Østermark Andreasen, CEO of Energinet. “We need innovative and large-scale projects so that offshore wind can play an even bigger part in our future energy supply.” + Energinet + TenneT Via The Next Web

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European firms eye artificial island for North Sea wind and solar farm

Wild bison return to Canada’s Banff National Park for the first time in 140 years

February 9, 2017 by  
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Wild bison are coming home to Canada’s Banff National Park for the first time in roughly 140 years. Although bison were common sights in the Canadian landscape with a population that numbered in the millions in the early 1800s, these huge and herbivorous mammals nearly disappeared by the end of the 19th century as a result of hunting. Now 16 bison are back at Banff as part of a carefully planned conservation effort to re-establish the species within the area’s ecosystem. With any luck, the herd’s numbers will be growing soon: many of the transferred bisons are pregnant.

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Wild bison return to Canada’s Banff National Park for the first time in 140 years

Villagers in India knit sweaters to protect rescued elephants from the cold

January 26, 2017 by  
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The rescued elephants at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center in India get a second chance at life after being abused and exploited by their former owners and handlers. Along with finally having the freedom to take walks, bathe and play in water pools, and scratch themselves up against trees, several of the sanctuary’s elephants recently received a new winter wardrobe: giant sweaters lovingly hand-knit by the villagers of Mathura. As the nighttime temperatures dipped to freezing levels last year, the center’s staff issued a call to local women to help provide a little extra warmth to the giant pachyderms. The villagers responded enthusiastically, coming together to knit and crochet the brightly colored sweaters . The elephants quickly took to their new attire and, judging from the photos, seem pretty intrigued by the knitting process itself. In addition to looking cheerful and festive, the sweaters help protect the vulnerable animals from the cold and stave off their arthritic symptoms. Related: Cindy Chinn carves a tiny family of elephants into pencil tips The only downside to this giant knitting project is the length of time to make one sweater: each one takes about four weeks to complete. As a result, only three of the 20 elephants at the sanctuary have been fully outfitted so far, while the rest have been given blankets. Since the elephants suffered years of neglect and mistreatment, they are especially susceptible to infections and illnesses, so staying covered up in the poncho/sweater/long john combos is essential for keeping them healthy. The center is hoping for more volunteers to continue knitting in order to outfit every elephant with his or her own sweater by next winter. Considering that Wildlife SOS plans to rescue another 50 elephants this year , that’s a pretty tall order. If you want to get involved , including  volunteering on-site with the organization and preparing food or helping to bathe these gentle giants or donating funds, click here . Via Booooooom , Daily Mail , and My Modern Met All images © Roger Allen

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Villagers in India knit sweaters to protect rescued elephants from the cold

Trump presidency could spell the end for wolves in America’s West

January 23, 2017 by  
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A couple hundred years ago, there were around two million wolves in the United States, but human expansion dramatically slashed those numbers. Conservationists recently celebrated victory as gray wolves slowly returned to the American West, but Donald Trump’s presidency threatens to undo that progress as Republican lawmakers look to roll back the Endangered Species Act (ESA). While some 60,000 wolves reside in Canada and Alaska, in the American West there are only around 1,700 of them left. The ESA helped these animals gain ground again, but with wolves still only living in only 10 percent of their old range in the American West, there’s still a long way to go to ensure the species recovers. But some industries – like industrial agriculture and oil and gas – wish to operate in wolf habitats that are currently protected. The Center for Biological Diversity tracked donations to Congress from those large industries and found as campaign donations increased, so did bills threatening the ESA, which limits the land those industries can utilize to protect animals. Related: Gray wolves spotted in California for the first time in over 90 years Now, according to the Associated Press, Republicans want to alter the ESA “from a tool to protect huge areas of habitat for imperiled species into little more than limits on hunting for protected animals” even though a 2015 survey revealed 90 percent of registered voters support the ESA. Trump hasn’t said anything about wolves or the ESA, but he’s already shown he supports industries over national parks . If Republicans want to severely limit the ESA’s power, it doesn’t seem likely Trump would stop them. Wolves are in trouble, but don’t lose hope yet. There are a few actions you can take to help these majestic animals. Outside recommends donating money to the Center for Biological Diversity or Defenders of Wildlife , both of whom would fight anti-wolf legislation. Or you could write to your representative and remind them they’re supposed to represent the people, many of whom support the ESA, not the interests of big industries. Via Outside Images via Angell Williams on Flickr and Ronnie Macdonald on Flickr

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Trump presidency could spell the end for wolves in America’s West

It’s finally illegal to own wild animals in the UAE

January 6, 2017 by  
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In a move sure to please animal rights advocates around the world, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has now completely banned the private ownership of wild animals. This is big news, as owning exotic animals as pets is a sign of status in the Middle East country. Al Jazeera reported on Wednesday that the new law outlaws both dealing in and ownership of all kinds of wild, domesticated and dangerous animals. This includes wild cats such as cheetahs, which have reportedly been domesticated in the UAE and other nearby countries. While not necessarily related, the new law comes on the heels of a video featuring an excursion with five tigers on a beach near Dubai’s Al-Arab hotel that went viral on social media, and other videos of people driving around with lions. According to Gulf News , these kinds of animals can now only be housed at zoos, wildlife parks, and circuses, along with breeding and research centers. Related: China makes it illegal to eat endangered species Gulf news also reports that anyone who breaks the law by taking any kind of exotic animal “out in public” will be slapped with as much as six months in jail and a fine or $136,000 USD. Al-Ittihad , an Arabic daily paper adds that people who use such animals to “terrorize” other people will be faced with a jail term along with the stiffer financial penalty of about $180,000 USD. Needless to say, a law like this is a breath of fresh air for animal rights activists, including El Sayed Mohamed. The regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Dubai said this new law sets an example for not only other Arab countries, but also the world. “We welcome and congratulate the UAE Government in taking this important initiative, which we wish to be a milestone for the rest of the countries, not just in the region, but also in the world,” he told the The National , an Abu Dhabi newspaper. This adds to more good news in the animal rights world, where China made it illegal to eat endangered species last year. Via Al Jazeera Images via Mukul2u and Cecil , Wikimedia Commons

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It’s finally illegal to own wild animals in the UAE

South America’s largest aquarium boasts a 650-foot underwater tunnel

October 18, 2016 by  
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Brazil’s newest aquarium features a 650-foot underwater tunnel , inviting guests to venture into a marine world few have ever seen before. AquaRio is set to become South America’s largest aquarium when it opens in Rio de Janeiro on November 9. Its one-of-a-kind glass tunnel and huge collection of marine animals promises to lure in visitors from all over the continent. AquaRio is not just a large aquarium ; it’s enormous. The facility will hold some 1.8 million gallons of water among its 28 tanks, which will be home to 8,000 animals from 350 mostly native species . The submerged glass tunnel itself measures just over 650 feet long, giving visitors an expansive look at undersea life. For the $40.6 million cost, the unique glass tunnel is unlike any other on the continent. Related: Airbnb is offering a night in an underwater bedroom surrounded by 35 sharks The aquarium also includes a surf museum and separate science museum, as well as a touch tank where visitors can get up close and personal with sharks, rays and invertebrates. A growing trend in the tourism industry, guests will also have the opportunity to book a night in the aquarium, as part of a sleepover right in the glass tunnel with other guests. That brings a whole new meaning to sleeping with the fishes. Via Vibe Images via AquaRio

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South America’s largest aquarium boasts a 650-foot underwater tunnel

Bollywood star spent seven years buying up land in India to save wild tigers

August 31, 2016 by  
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Although tiger populations in many parts of the world are on the rebound after years of being endangered, they still need help. In the foothills of the Himalayas, where the largest population of wild tigers in the world live, one man is using the private purchase of forest land to ensure the big cats’ safety for years to come.  Abhishek Ray has made his living as a Bollywood singer, musician, and composer, and he decided to use his earnings to buy forest land adjacent to Jim Corbett National Park in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand to create a nature reserve for tigers and other wildlife. The Bollywood composer learned more than 10 years ago how human activity can devastate the natural habitat of tigers and other wild creatures. Village life, unsustainable agriculture, and poaching all threaten the wildlife in India, leading Ray to the conclusion that purchasing land for a wildlife reserve was the only way to make a real difference for local wildlife. Over the course of seven years, Ray bought land from native families and worked to eradicate a dangerous parasite, created a year-round water source for animals to drink from, planted 400 trees, and worked to grow grass on stretches of land where none had been, thereby increasing usable habitat for many plants and animals. Related: Tiger populations have increased for the first time in 100 years The Sitabani Wildlife Reserve is home to at least 35 royal Bengal tigers, according to a recent count, as well as other animals that need protection: the Asiatic Black Bear, the leopard, the Goral (mountain goat-antelope), the elusive Serow, the yellow throated Pine Marten, and more. Over 650 species of birds also live on the reserve. Ray’s motivation to turn his private estate into a wildlife reserve is the culmination of a lifetime of environmental protection work. He began supporting environmental protections as a child, and feels a close connection with nature. Ray even says his musical compositions are inspired by the natural world, including the composition he wrote and sang that became India’s national anthem for tiger conservation. “The forest has its own sounds and those are the best that I have heard,” he told reporters. “I inhale nature and exhale music.” + Sitabani Wildlife Reserve Via Lifegate Images via Wikicommons and Abhishek Ray/Sitabani Wildlife Reserve

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Bollywood star spent seven years buying up land in India to save wild tigers

Vernacular-inspired Delaware home built with recycled barn wood

August 31, 2016 by  
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The house, called Rural Loft, is located in an area of Delaware dominated by agriculture . It channels the local vernacular and references the form and materiality of barns. In fact, its exterior cladding was made using wood reclaimed from an agricultural structure planned to be demolished. Related: Old Belgian barn is transformed into a gorgeous contemporary home The interior spaces are organized around a central core with bathrooms, storage spaces and utilities. Sliding doors open onto two exterior decks and blur the line between inside and outside. A rain screen made from reclaimed barn wood siding facilitates air circulation and keeps the house well ventilated. + DIGSAU Via Dezeen Photos by Todd Mason

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Vernacular-inspired Delaware home built with recycled barn wood

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