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The frog and the university: Meet the niche new species from Sri Lanka

first_imgBanner image of Lankanectes pera, named after Sri Lanka’s oldest university, courtesy of Pradeep Samarawickrama. The recent discovery of a new frog species in a niche habitat in Sri Lanka’s cloud forest has highlighted the need for conserving the Indian Ocean island’s dwindling montane habitats.The frog, Lankanectes pera, is named after the University of Peradeniya, the country’s oldest, and dwells only in pristine streams flowing through canopy-covered montane forests in the highest reaches of the Knuckles Mountain Range.Researchers are calling for extensive studies to inform conservation actions for the species, which they’ve recommended be classified as critically endangered, given its small range and population. A four-year study of streams in the cloud forests of Sri Lanka’s picturesque Knuckles Mountain Range has turned up an unexpected discovery: a new frog species found nowhere else on Earth.Lankanectes pera, a glistening, chocolate-hued frog, is only the second known species in the genus; the other, L. corrugatus, is also endemic to Sri Lanka. The researchers named it in honor of their alma mater and the oldest university in the country, the University of Peradeniya, affectionately referred to as Pera.In their paper published in the journal Zootaxa, the researchers identify the new species as being highly restricted to a habitat of about 360 square kilometers (139 square miles) — an area nearly 40 times smaller than the range inhabited by the more widely distributed L. corrugatus.While there are some subtle physical differences between the two species, it’s in their habitat selection where they differ the most.L.corrugatus mostly occurs in muddy substrates, including marshes and rice paddies, where they can easily burrow into soft mud and leaf litter. L. pera, however, needs pristine conditions and significant canopy cover.It dwells in streams flowing through the montane forests in the highest peaks of the Knuckles Mountain Range, at elevations of more than 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) above sea level. It’s found only in the Dothalugala, Bambarella and Riverston regions of Sri Lanka’s central highlands.And the frog doesn’t simply opt for pristine streams flowing through closed-canopy montane forests, but more specifically slow-flowing, clear and shallow streams, with enough rocks and sandy depths to offer hiding spots.The males, generally found under rocks and crevices, give a hint of their presence when they make halting calls during the day, or chorus at night, especially after soft rain that tends to perk them up. Figure shows two clearly defined clades including L. corrugatus and L. pera, with the latter being different by more than 16 mutational steps from the populations of the former. There is a clear separation between the males with a slight overlap of the females, indicated in filled circles in red (L. corrugatus) and blue (L. pera). Image © Senevirathne et al., 2018. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Citation: Senevirathne, G., Samarawickrama, V., Wijayathilaka, N., Manamendra-Arachchi, K., Bowatte, G., Samarawickrama, D., & Meegaskumbura, M. (2018). A new frog species from rapidly dwindling cloud forest streams of Sri Lanka—Lankanectes pera (Anura, Nyctibatrachidae). Zootaxa, 4461(4), 519-538. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4461.4.4center_img Shrinking forestsBased on L. pera’s small area of occupancy, extent of occurrence, and the small population observed during the study, the scientists have suggested a conservation status of critically endangered. In contrast, L. corrugatus occupies a much larger area and has a much bigger population size, making it a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List.The researchers warn that rapid deterioration of this niche habitat can pose a significant threat to L. pera’s survival.“Montane forests are shrinking in the face of factors that we cannot directly control, such as global warming, and factors we can control, like encroachment and habitat degradation,” co-author and evolutionary biologist Madhava Meegaskumbura told Mongabay. “The answers need to be local. We need to prioritize this species in conservation efforts by evaluating its status by applying the IUCN red-listing standards.”“Cloud forest cover is critical for the survival of the species,” said Gayani Senevirathne, the paper’s lead author and a graduate student at the University of Chicago. “Diminishing forest cover will definitely make the habitat unsuitable for this highly specialized forest-stream species.”enevirathne said the Knuckles range is already renowned as an important refuge for as many as eight micro-endemic species that are largely considered to be critically endangered or endangered.The paper says the habitat requirements of L. pera are different from those of the highly threatened micro-endemics highlighted so far, and that a future conservation strategy for the amphibians of the Knuckles Mountain Range should consider this new knowledge.L. pera lives in clear water streams under rock-strewn montane forest canopy cover in the Knuckles Mountain Range. Image courtesy of Pradeep Samarawickrama.Further researchMeegaskumbura said the new species needs “urgent conservation efforts,” as well as further studies into its biology and behavior.“Beyond the conservation efforts, it will prove interesting to delve into the life history of Lankanectes pera, including its breeding seasons, mating behavior, ability to produce more offspring, development and species ecology,” he said. “This would help in planning its conservation.”That’s also where the naming of L. pera comes in, aside from being a sentimental tribute to the university, said Senevirathne.“We also wanted to place this knowledge before the university which has some of the best minds in the fields of sciences and humanities,” he said. “Peradeniya University is best equipped to lead the conservation efforts of the new species. It is also closely located to the Knuckles region, the frog’s habitat.”Meegaskumbura seconded the notion, adding he hoped that “the university after which the frog has been named would treat the conservation needs of this frog as a priority and play the lead role.”And the story of Lankanectes might still have a few more surprises in store, Meegaskumbura hinted.“The habitat of [L. pera] is surrounded by L. corrugatus, the common lowland species,” he said. “This creates a clear genetic barrier for the spread of the species to the other mountain ranges.“There however could be relict populations that are genetically close to L. pera, especially on the adjacent Central Highlands,” he added. “I would still expect those populations to be somewhat genetically distinct from L. pera.” Amphibians, Biodiversity, Cloud Forests, Conservation, Deforestation, Endangered Species, Environment, Forests Article published by dilrukshilast_img read more

Asian otters gain protection from the pet trade

first_imgArticle published by Erik Hoffner Animals, Cites, Conservation, Environment, Illegal Trade, Mammals, Pet Trade, Wildlife, Wildlife Trade The smooth-coated otter and the Asian small-clawed otter are now on the CITES list of animals with the highest level of protection from the wildlife trade.Asian small-clawed otters are particularly sought after as domestic pets and for ‘otter cafés,’ where wild otters are forced to interact with paying customers.Conservationists say that a trade ban was vital for the survival of the two species, whose numbers in the wild have fallen by at least 30% in the past 30 years. Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted to place the smooth-coated otter and the Asian small-clawed otter on the list of animals with the highest level of protection from the wildlife trade.The recent CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP18) in Geneva, Switzerland considered many proposals and issued new protections for numerous species including giraffes, sharks and rays, and many more. CITES does not determine the risk of extinction of species, which is the domain of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and its Red List of Threatened Species, but rather CITES’ role is to ensure that international trade in wild animals does not threaten their survival in the wild.Conservationists insisted a trade ban was vital for the survival of the two species, whose numbers in the wild have fallen by at least 30% in the past 30 years.When asked how important the actions are, Paul Todd, Senior Attorney for the Nature Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), told Mongabay, “The Appendix I listings for small-clawed and smooth coated otters were a vital step in reversing the decline of these species throughout their range. The range countries will have to take added measures to reduce poaching and enforce against illegal trade in the species, and the listing sends the right signals to the marketplace that these species are in trouble and are not available for use as pets or for other reasons.”A formerly wild otter in a Tokyo café bites its tail, a sign of stress. Image by Aaron Gekoski for World Animal Protection.The pet trade that supplies phenomena like ‘otter cafés’ in Japan, where customers can handle otters plucked from the wild as pups, is the most visible reminder of these animals’ plight. In these establishments, otters can be heard whimpering, shrieking and making distress calls while customers are interacting with them.Aaron Gekoski, one of the filmmakers behind the recent investigative documentary “Pet otters: the truth behind the latest wildlife craze,” told Mongabay, “During our investigation it became evident quite quickly that otters do not make good pets.” [See that interview and Gekoski’s sobering images here.]Good pets or bad ones, do these actions protect these species being trafficked for otter cafés and for the pet trade?“Yes,” says NRDC’s Todd. “Asian small-clawed otters in particular are taken as pups for use as pets and attractions, in large part because they are the smallest of the otter species and their range is nearest to where the demand is highest, especially Japan.” But, he continued, “Smooth-coated otters and even the rarest of all otters, the hairy-nosed otter, have been found in trade, including trade in live animals.”Despite these truths, the conservationist is hopeful: “The Appendix I listing will help increase enforcement attention and ensure that any trade in captive bred specimens is from legitimate sources, not from the wild.”That remains to be seen, but it’s certain that these Asian otters need all the help they can get.Banner image: Internet star Takechiyo lives in a private home and here takes a rare break from play. His owner warns against keeping otters as pets. Image by Aaron Gekoski for World Animal Protection.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

New toads named from a Sumatran biodiversity trove that’s under threat

first_imgResearchers have recently described three new species of toads belonging to the Sigalegalephrynus genus of puppet toads living in the highlands of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island.The genus was first proposed in 2017 with the description of two species. Researchers believe there may be even more puppet toads left to discover.The discovery highlights the vast diversity of Sumatra’s herpetofauna, but also the immense threats the island’s wildlife faces, primarily from loss of habitat to deforestation and agriculture.The researchers say all of the newly described species should be listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. In 2017, a group of researchers working in Indonesia announced they had identified a new genus of tree-dwelling toads living in forests and caves on the mountaintops of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island.Their paper at the time identified two species belonging to what they described as the genus Sigalegalephrynus, or puppet toads, named after the Sigale-gale puppets used in local funerary traditions. Now, in a new paper published in October 2019, the team has described three additional species belonging to the genus, highlighting the stunning and largely underexplored diversity of reptiles and amphibians in Sumatra.“Sumatra is one of the islands of the world that harbor highest level of biodiversity and we are convinced that we barely scratched the surface of it,” said lead author Goutam Sarker, a herpetologist at the University of Texas at Arlington, in an email to Mongabay. “Very confidently, we can say there are many more new taxa awaiting discovery.”The research team conducted surveys between 2013 and 2016, funded by a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation. The team, which includes scientists from research institutes in Indonesia, the United States and Germany, spent 178 days in the field collecting samples. Conditions were often grueling; Sarker recalls falling backward off a “3.5-4 meter high” cliff, about 12 feet, during a nighttime survey in Aceh province. A backpack full of air-filled specimen bags cushioned his fall. “Otherwise, I would be dead,” Sarker recalls.But the work paid off.The five species identified as belonging to the genus Sigalegalephrynus were each found in a single habitat in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island. Image courtesy of Goutam Sarker.The team’s first batch of analyses, based on samples collected in 2013 and 2014, led to the proposal of the new genus and the description of two species in 2017: the Mandailing puppet toad (Sigalegalephrynus mandailinguensis) and Minangkabau puppet toad (S. minangkabauensi).Analysis of a second batch of samples, collected in 2015, resulted in the description of three new species: the Burning Mountain puppet toad (S. burnitelongensis), Gayo Lues puppet toad (S. gayoluesensis), and Harvey’s puppet toad (S. harveyi).The newly described toads are small (adults measure less than 40 millimeters, or 1.6 inches), have distinctly shaped finger pads and foot webbing, have unique mating calls, and live in trees and caves, setting them apart from other toad genera found in Sumatra. The known species within the genus exhibit clear genetic lineages, with the newly described Gayo Lues and Burning Mountain puppet toads forming a northern branch of the genus, and Harvey’s puppet toad joining the two previously described species in a southern branch.One of the distinguishing features of the proposed genus Sigalegalephrynus is its distinctive metacarpal tubercle, highlighted here. Image courtesy of Goutam Sarker.And the researchers believe there are more species yet to be identified. “I am very positive that new species of this genus will be discovered by other research groups soon,” Sarker says. In fact, he notes that based on a recent analysis, his team believes they may already have a sample of yet another species in their own collection.The newly-described Harvey’s puppet toad (S. harveyi). Its only known habitat is the montane cloudforest on the southeastern slopes of Mount Dempo in South Sumatra. Image by Eric N. Smith.Diversity under threatSarker says the researchers were “astonished” at the micro-endemic nature of the species they observed, meaning that each species appears to be restricted to a tiny, specific location.Historical geological events likely played a major role. Many studies have shown that when sea levels were higher, Sumatra’s lowland forests were underwater, transforming upland areas into isolated islands, Sarker says. “Also, maybe, since these are highland species they did not came down and interbreed when sea level dropped.”The extremely small range of each species means that they are highly vulnerable to any changes in their home environment. And today, that vulnerability is increasing as pressure rises on the ecosystem due to deforestation, agriculture — notably oil palm and coffee cultivation — and expanding human settlement.The Burning Mountain puppet toad (S. burnitelongensis), has been found only in forest patches near small streams and surrounded by coffee plantations at Mount Burni Telong, near the village of Rambune in Aceh province. Image by Eric N. Smith.In addition to describing the three new species, the team’s October paper also calls for all five member of the Sigalegalephrynus genus to be listed as endangered species by the IUCN. “I have no reservation to say that all these toads should be placed, at least,into the Endangered category if not Critically Endangered of the IUCN Red List,” Sarker says.“Sadly, almost 80-90% of Sumatra’s rainforests have been replaced with palm oil plantations,” says Michael Harvey, a herpetologist at Broward College in the U.S, and one of the recipients of the grant that funded the Sumatra survey work (and the namesake of Harvey’s puppet toad). “Discovery of these toads suggests that many more new reptiles and amphibians occur on Sumatra than previously thought. With current rates of deforestation, many of these animals will likely go extinct before they are discovered.”Banner image: The Gayo Lues puppet toad (S. gayoluesensis),  only known to live above Kenyaran Pantan Cuaca village in Aceh province’s Gayo Lues regency, by Eric N. Smith.Citation:Sarker, G. C., Wostl, E., Thammachoti, P., Sidik, I., Hamidy, A., Kurniawan, N., & Smith, E. N. (2019). New species, diversity, systematics, and conservation assessment of the puppet toads of Sumatra (Anura: Bufonidae: Sigalegalephrynus). Zootaxa, 4679(2), 365-391. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4679.2.9This article was updated to correct the height of the cliff researcher Goutam Sarker fell from.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Isabel Esterman Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Amphibians, Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environment, Herps, New Species, Wildlife last_img read more

Any illegal fishing going on around here? Ask an albatross

first_imgAnimals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Ecology, Environment, Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Illegal Fishing, Law Enforcement, Marine Animals, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Conservation, Marine Ecosystems, Marine Protected Areas, Monitoring, Overfishing, Research, Saltwater Fish, Wildlife Albatrosses fitted with tiny radar-detecting trackers can help spot fishing vessels that have gone “dark” by turning off their AIS onboard tracking systems, a new study has found.Over a six-month period, 169 wandering and Amsterdam albatrosses fitted with GPS trackers covered more than 47 million square kilometers in the southern Indian Ocean, detecting radar signals from 353 different boats in the process.In international waters, 37% of the boats had no AIS signal, a clue they could be engaged in illegal activity; within countries’ exclusive economic zones, nearly 26% of the boats were without an AIS signal.The findings suggest the seabirds could be deployed to patrol the ocean for vessels operating illegally, complementing a growing body of detection methods. There are plenty of ways to hide in the open ocean if you want to fish unnoticed. Many fishing boats do just that. They turn off their public tracking systems to mask their activities in locations they’re not supposed to be in, such as within marine protected areas or in the waters of a country they aren’t authorized to enter.But researchers have come up with a new way of surveilling these ships: recruiting large albatrosses. Fitted with tiny radar-detecting trackers, the birds can help spot fishing vessels that have gone “dark” by switching off their onboard automatic identification system (AIS). In a six-month pilot study, the birds detected illegal or undeclared boats within both national exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and international waters, across a vast area of the ocean, the researchers report in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.“There is wonderful elegance in using birds to monitor fishing vessels, largely because these vessels threaten some bird populations,” David Kroodsma, director of research for the online vessel tracking platform Global Fishing Watch, who was not involved in the study, told Mongabay. “It is great to see teamwork with nature.”A wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans). Image by JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).All ships weighing 300 gross tons or more are required to carry an AIS, which transmits details via satellite about the ship’s identity, location, direction and speed to stations on the shore, other ships, and aircraft. But AIS signals can go missing. This could be unintentional, as when a ship passes through a region with weak satellite reception. Or a boat’s crew may intentionally turn its AIS system off to conceal its tracks.Most vessel crews leave their marine radars on, though. Radar signals help them detect other ships, maneuver around obstacles, and avoid collisions. But these signals have a small range and are detectable only within a few miles, keeping the vessels largely “dark.”Enter the albatrosses. These large seabirds are attracted to fishing boats, especially ones with bait and offal on offer. It’s this attraction that could make the birds good patrollers of the ocean, or ocean sentinels, the researchers speculated.Henri Weimerskirch, a marine ornithologist at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, and his colleagues tested out their concept with wandering (Diomedea exulans) and Amsterdam (Diomedea amsterdamensis) albatrosses. Between November 2018 and May 2019, they taped small radar-detecting GPS loggers, which they had developed over three years, on the backs of 169 albatrosses from the islands of Crozet, Kerguelen, and Amsterdam in the southern Indian Ocean.An endangered Amsterdam albatross (Diomedea amsterdamensis) in flight. Image by Vincent Legendre via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).In a previous study, the team had shown that the GPS loggers can pick up radar signals from ships and transmit them to satellites whenever the birds are within five kilometers of the vessels. In the latest study, the team expanded this work to see if birds carrying these loggers could spot fishing vessels without detectable AIS signals. And the albatrosses did.During the six-month period, the birds made multiple foraging trips to the sea, covering an area of more than 47 million square kilometers (18 million square miles) and detecting radar signals from 353 different boats in the process. About 100 of these boats had no AIS signal, suggesting they could be operating illegally. In international waters, 37% of the boats had no AIS signal; within countries’ EEZs, nearly 26% were without an AIS signal. None of the vessels operating around South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands, for example, had an associated AIS signal.“Contrary to what we thought there is a large proportion of boats without AIS in EEZs and therefore a large proportion of illegal boats,” said Alexandre Corbeau, a doctoral student at CNRS and a co-author of the study. “Outside the EEZs we knew that there would be a higher proportion of undeclared vessels but this is the first time that we have a real estimate that shows the importance of undeclared fishing in the South Indian Ocean.”How many of the fishing vessels without AIS in the study were operating illegally needs to be confirmed.One constraint on deploying armadas of albatross spies is that the extent of the ocean the birds can patrol is limited by the area they forage and live in. How frequently the birds patrol the same area also remains to be seen.“Each bird can only ‘see’ an area that is a few tens of kilometers across at any given moment, and the ocean is thousands of times larger than that, meaning the birds can only monitor a small part of the ocean at one given moment,” Kroodsma said. “I think that means that you will get lots of snapshots of where vessels are, but you might not track every vessel, and you likely can’t track many vessels over time.”There are other technologies that can monitor the presence of dark ships. These include satellites equipped with optical sensors that can snap high-resolution images on low-cloud-cover days, or with synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) sensors that can see through clouds. But these, too, provide only snapshots and are limited to when the satellites are overhead and turned on, Kroodsma said.The value of having a variety of technologies, he added, is the potential to combine them together to get a complete picture of what vessels are doing on the ocean.A wandering albatross on Prion Island in the southern Atlantic Ocean. Image by Andrew Shiva via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).The tagged albatrosses can also help pinpoint areas where the seabirds interact with fisheries. This is important, the researchers said, because 15 of the 22 albatross species are threatened, including the two used in the study, and hundreds of thousands of these birds are estimated to drown each year when they get caught on the baited hooks of fishing gear. The study found some patterns: only 10% of the birds did not encounter a fishing vessel while out foraging; adult albatrosses were more likely to fly closer to fishing vessels than younger birds; and wandering albatrosses approached fishing boats more frequently than Amsterdam albatrosses.Could the use of loggers put the threatened albatrosses at greater risk? The researchers say that’s unlikely. The loggers weigh between 55 and 65 grams (1.9 and 2.3 ounces), less than 1% of the birds’ body weight. “This is much less than the recommended 3%,” Corbeau said.The loggers are also difficult to spot with the naked eye because they’re attached on the birds’ backs with plumage-colored tape, he added. So fishers would have a hard time identifying tagged birds.“The beacons transmit the information 5 kilometers [3 miles] from the boat, so long before the birds are visible from the boat,” he said. “It should also be noted that hundreds of birds are permanently behind the boats and therefore locating an albatross equipped is very difficult.”A wandering albatross chick on its nest on Possession Island in the Crozet archipelago of the southern Indian Ocean. The species is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. Image by Alain Ricci via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).Shreya Dasgupta is an independent science writer based in Bangalore, India. Follow her on Twitter @ShreyaDasgupta.Citation:Weimerskirch, H., Collet, J., Corbeau, A., Pajot, A., Hoarau, F., Marteau, C., … Patrick, S. C. (2020). Ocean sentinel albatrosses locate illegal vessels and provide the first estimate of the extent of nondeclared fishing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201915499. doi:10.1073/pnas.1915499117 Article published by Rebecca Kesslercenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Brazilian company given 10,000 acres for soya, corn cultivation

first_imgbrazilian company New Frontier Agriculture Guyana Incorporated is preparing to cultivate its first crops of soya and corn on a model farm in the country’s intermediate savannahs in a matter of days.This is according to the Government Information Agency (GINA), which stated that the company is currently working to develop the approximately 10,000 acres of land in the intermediate savannahs in Ebini, Berbice River. This farm will be used as a model demonstration station for development of the entire savannahs. Improved pastures for cattle, sheep, goats and horses are also planned.New Frontier Agriculture Guyana Inc conducted trial of the commodities on 25 acres of land owned by the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI).According to the GINA release, the Government is currently pursuing development of the intermediate savannahs for the introduction of new crops and livestock. The country’s coastland lies approximately six feet below sea level, and with the prevailing change in climate; the country needs to move its agriculture base inward to minimise crop loss, according to Agriculture Minister Noel Holder.Minister Holder told GINA that, “Government’s policy is centred not only on improving the drainage system and rationalising production on the coast, but also in developing these new areas of activity.The drive to expand and diversify the country’s agriculture is a policy direction that has gained the attention and support of Finance Minister Winston Jordan.“We are not going to grow seven per cent, if we continue to do the same things we were doing 50 years ago… It is unbelievable that 50 years ago we talked about the economy sitting on a tripod, sugar, rice and bauxite, which contributed the bulk of the productive activity of the country’s foreign exchange earnings and employment.”Minister Jordan stated that “with proper maintenance, modernisation and proper use of technology and so on… these industries can still be good for a number of years in the future. Importantly, two of them are agriculture- based and agriculture can absorb labour faster than any other industry.”Rice and sugar are Guyana’s main agricultural exports and with the decline in prices for these commodities on the world market, it is important that new foreign exchange earners be identified.last_img read more

Mel Gibson got star treatment from deputies

first_imgHollywood heiress Paris Hilton might have gotten a Coke and a smile from Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies during her stint in jail last summer, but the department went even further for errant actor Mel Gibson. In a review released Thursday into whether movie stars who run afoul of the law get preferential treatment, an investigator found that three deputies involved in the drunk-driving arrest of Gibson violated policy – including driving Gibson to a tow yard to pick up his car. Deputies violated policy by hustling him through the release process and not obtaining his palm print and the required signatures before release, said Office of Independent Review Chief Attorney Michael Gennaco. And after his release, a sergeant gave him a lift to get his car. Baca denied that the report was sanitized or that Gibson was treated differently than other suspects. And he defended the early release of Hilton, citing overcrowded jails and an undisclosed health condition. Gennaco, whose office oversees the Sheriff’s Department, said that during his review, evidence did not support allegations that Hilton was allowed to use a cell phone in jail or received other perks. Still, he said, an investigation is continuing into whether a sheriff’s employee inappropriately gave her a Coke and food and took a picture of her in her cell. In the Gibson case, however, Gennaco said his review found policy violations by three deputies who have since been disciplined by the department. Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said Thursday that the department is drafting protocols on how to handle celebrity arrests and the type of information that will be released to the public – especially from the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff’s station. “I don’t believe we do treat them specially,” Whitmore said. “I think we treat them differently, as we treat any inmate with special needs. “But our deputies are aware now that the whole world is watching, so let’s make sure we address the special needs of inmates based on the content of those needs and not based on friendships, not based on influence and not based on any other item other than those special needs.” Softer on Gibson The shift comes as Baca has long been described as star-struck and accused of giving preferential treatment to celebrities. Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, said he was surprised the review found that the department went softer on Gibson. “It seems like it took awhile, but it’s good that they did find some problems and the Sheriff’s Department didn’t just sweep it under the rug,” Stern said. “When you step back and think about it, an ordinary citizen would not have gotten a ride to a tow yard. It’s pretty obvious he got preferential treatment, but for them to say so is laudable, and they actually disciplined people.” Gibson’s arrest in summer 2006 and Hilton’s incarceration this summer sparked renewed complaints about perceived unequal treatment and celebrity justice by the Sheriff’s Department. In Gibson’s case, the furor erupted after allegations were made that the department sought to suppress the allegedly inflammatory statements Gibson made, Gennaco wrote in his report. A sheriff’s spokesman had originally told the media the arrest was made “without incident.” Afterward, the department launched a criminal investigation to determine who leaked the police report to the media. That investigation is still ongoing. Internal inquiry An internal investigation by the department found that when the report was first prepared it contained a description of inflammatory statements Gibson allegedly made during the arrest. The initial response by lower-level supervisors was to order that those comments be stricken from the report, Gennaco wrote. The captain agreed, but directed his subordinates to instead prepare a supplemental report. The captain’s intent was to preserve all the relevant information about the remarks, but to present the case to the District Attorney’s Office “in a way that would limit the media’s initial access,” Gennaco wrote. “In spite of speculation that the sheriff or other top department executives directed this action on behalf of Mr. Gibson, the unit commander indicated that the decision to segregate the remarks was solely his,” Gennaco wrote. “The subsequent investigation revealed no evidence that this decision, or any other decision about the treatment of Mr. Gibson, was suggested or influenced by anyone higher in the department hierarchy.” While the decision on how to “package the information and describe the arrest” did not violate department policies, Gennaco said it points out the need to create a thoughtful and systemic approach on handling similar scenarios in the future. In the Hilton case, allegations of preferential treatment arose after Baca released her to home detention shortly after her incarceration. There also were other allegations that while in jail she received new uniforms, special mail deliveries, improper phone access, a freshly prepared and steam-cleaned cell, and undue consideration from supervisors. “The outrage over `celebrity justice’ that attended her initial release was understandable and even predictable,” Gennaco wrote. “However, it also largely overlooked the fact that Ms. Hilton had already served far more time than other individuals convicted of the same offense in Los Angeles County.” As for her treatment in jail, Gennaco wrote, it was determined that when Hilton walked past other inmates, they were ordered to face the wall. “A critic could certainly portray this as an extreme over-indulgence of one person’s sensibilities at the expense of the many,” Gennaco wrote. “However, it is a sound security procedure to require inmates to turn away whenever someone classified as being at a heightened risk of attack by inmates is moving through the jail, as it gives escorting deputies more time to react if another inmate attempts to initiate an assault. “Prior to Ms. Hilton’s arrival in jail, there were several stories of inmates bragging that they would try to attack her. Therefore, this precaution appears to have been justified and prudent.” [email protected] 213-974-8985 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champ“It’s very rare to have an arrestee being driven to a tow yard so they can pick up their car,” Gennaco wrote in the report. “And in Malibu, the tow yard was 11 and a half miles away.” Hilton controversy The report culminates months of controversy ignited in June when the Sheriff’s Department released Hilton from jail after just three days. She originally was ordered to spend 45 days behind bars for violating probation in an alcohol-related reckless-driving case. Under state sentencing guidelines for awarding “good time” for days served, she was expected to serve 23 days. The department and Sheriff Lee Baca also came under widespread criticism when reports surfaced that Gibson went on an anti-Semitic tirade during a weekend arrest on suspicion of drunk driving and that Baca ordered details of the outburst eliminated from a deputy’s report. last_img

Cemetery on life support

first_imgGLENDALE – Despite earlier warnings that it could close because of money problems, Grand View Memorial Park was open Tuesday as the cemetery’s cash-strapped operator moved the closing date to June 8. Early in the day, the state Department of Consumer Affairs got word from cemetery operator Moshe Goldsman that he planned to close at 5 p.m. and not reopen today. But later Tuesday, Goldsman told them he planned to keep the 25-acre property at 1341 Glenwood Road open until next week. “The state basically cannot keep the place open,” said Kevin Flanagan, a spokesman for the Department of Consumer Affairs. “It is a private business. There’s no money to operate it. If there was money available to continue operations, presumably they would open it.” Goldsman declined to comment Tuesday. The decision to keep the cemetery open was made after problems with the cemetery’s liability insurance were resolved, Flanagan said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2John Krom of Woodland Hills has several family plots at the cemetery. When it appeared it might close Tuesday, Krom was concerned. “It’ll be kind of upsetting to me because we should have a right to go there if we want,” he said. The cemetery’s financial woes come as it faces possible sanctions from the state, which accuses its operators of reusing and reselling graves, shoddy record-keeping and other violations. But Marsha Howard, 58, the cemetery’s president, scored a victory in Pasadena Superior Court on Tuesday when county prosecutors dismissed criminal charges against her stemming from the state’s investigation. Howard was charged with six felony counts of unlawful use of endowment care funds. She was also charged with unlawfully disposing of remains, co-mingling remains and removing remains without a permit, all misdemeanors. “After evaluating the case, (the prosecutor) determined that there was more investigation that needed to be done before proceeding,” said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office. Howard still faces an administrative hearing June 19, where she could lose her license to operate the cemetery. But her attorney welcomed the decision to drop the criminal charges. “We are vindicated by the dismissal and we’re grateful for the courage of the prosecutor to do so,” attorney Arna Zlotnik said. An administrative law judge has temporarily barred Howard from setting foot on the cemetery grounds. So Zlotnik said her client has nothing to do with the possible closure. “She’s at a loss as to how to stop this tragedy,” Zlotnik said. “She does not want to close it and she’s trying to sell it.” [email protected] (818) 546-3304160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Old McPlumberman Had A Farm — Geocache of the Week

first_imgDifficulty:3.5Terrain:1.5 TraditionalGC6V4MEby Plumberman63 LastZoo and Plumberman63 are a geocaching couple from New Brunswick, Canada. They designed their gadget cache, “Old McPlumberman Had A Farm” in October 2016 as part of a local gadget-cache-building challenge. After 25 finds the cache still has a 100% favorite-point ratio, and more than a few geocachers have expressed their deep displeasure about being able to award only one favorite point!Geocaching HQ reached out to Plumberman63 and LastZoo for a description of their cache, which is generating rave reviews from all who visit. Read on to find out how this intricate and involved gadget cache works!Darlings Island is a small, little known island in southern New Brunswick, on the East Coast of Canada, surrounded by a lake and a river. It is known for it’s hundred year old covered bridge, mild summers perfect for kayaking or fishing adventures, challenging winters with snow drifts and whiteouts, and the picturesque rolling hills and family farms. It is our goal to also make it known as a destination for gadget caches.Our first gadget cache is a small handmade barn complete with a weather vane, hay loft, barn door and attached silo. It is perched on a post along our driveway. As you enter our driveway, the bright red barn on a post could seem like a birdfeeder or birdhouse to the passerby, but the geocacher in search of this cache will immediately recognize it as ground zero. The unsuspecting geocachers will assume that one must simply walk up, figure something out really quick, and voila, the hidden cache container will be revealed, but… not so fast!While it seems rather simple at a quick glance, this geocache container took nearly 40 hours to build from scratch. While one of the elements was inspired by a WVTim geocache my wife (LastZoo) and I found while exploring in West Virginia this summer, the rest is a combination of different little tricks and components that make the cache fun and challenging all rolled into one.As you approach the barn, you’ll easily see that tucked away underneath the barn is a padlock with a 4 digit code guarding access to the logbook compartment. Old McPlumberman had a code… E.I.E.I…uh-oh… Where is the code?Each handmade component of the barn unlocks the next step to accessing the logbook compartment. The trick is to figure out which component does what, and which component one must start with. The barn is built sturdily so that it can be pulled and pushed and prodded without much danger or wrecking it, but thankfully solving each step does not require any force. Just patience. A barn-sized load of patience.There are 4 codes for the padlock… and four steps to revealing the code. However, only the last step will provide the code to you, so that you won’t be tempted to give up at the third step. Once you’ve attempted the third step, you’ll know why we only revealed the code in the last step!SPOILER #1:The first step is to examine the handmade weather vane closely. It is built with a long brass rode that reaches down into the hayloft and holds the hayloft door closed. Removing the weather vane is the beginning of the chain reaction you need in order to reveal the 4 digit code. In saying this, given that the weather vane is the first step, one would be correct in assuming that the second step has something to do with the hayloft.SPOILER #2:Once you’ve opened the hayloft door, you will notice several “bales of hay” stacked neatly in the hayloft. Oh, but wait…..! One bale is impaled with a steel rod. It is that very same steel rode that keeps the inside of the silo in place. You could stop there, and never find the logbook compartment, but since you’ve gone this far, why not unlock the silo by pulling on the hay bale?SPOILER #3:Once you’ve unlocked the inside of the silo by moving the bale of hay, you will discover how devious Plumberman63 can be. This is the part that determines whether you’re standing in our driveway for ten minutes or an hour (or whether you want to throw eggs at our vehicles?). Hidden deep in the barn is another steel rod that guides the grooves carved into the inner cylinder of the silo. Lift the silo higher and higher by finding the right groove without making a wrong turn, and you will gain access to the final step required to reveal the 4 digit code. If it takes you over an hour, you can drop by our house for a break, and we’ll you a hug and some hot chocolate.SPOILER #4.Since step 3 is the most difficult step, we decided to add a little fun to step 4 by including a popular kids game into the geocache. You’re welcome. The game instructions for our cache are on the game piece itself in French and English, the official languages in New Brunswick. This could take 3 minutes, or half an hour, depending on your observation skills.The good news? You don’t have to repeat step 3 once you’re ready to put everything back together the way it was. Just insert the silo backwards, and then turn it the right way until it clicks back into place when the red arrows match up!Our favorite memories from this geocache are the reactions from the geocachers who read the description on the geocaching page, but weren’t sure what to expect. If looks could kill, Plumberman63 would have died as each geocacher attempted step 3… We also really enjoy the cleverly worded log entries, like the one made by 4CeasonS, which beautifully describe the experience without giving away the secrets. All in all, we’re happy to provide some entertainment as our way to give back in a small way to the geocaching community for the years of adventures and discoveries we’ve enjoyed through geocaching.Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world.Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.Share with your Friends:More Location:New Brunswick, CanadaN 45° 30.592 W 065° 52.629 SharePrint RelatedCool caches in Canada, according to Signal the Frog®May 30, 2017With 14 commentsFeatured Geocacher of the Month Award WinnersAugust 25, 2011In “Community”The Seanachai: Keeper of the Old Lore, Reviewer of the New CachesMay 6, 2015In “Community”last_img read more

Good robot design needs to be responsible, not just responsive

first_imgWhile robots aren’t sentient androids (yet), it’s worth remembering that robots are currently committing acts of violence. Drones, essentially flying robots, are utilized to strike in armed, unmanned combat in civilian and war zones. Then in the US we’ve recently seen a scenario where a robot was used to detonate a bombin response to a police killing, ultimately leading to the death of Micah Johnson who killed five police officers and wounded seven others in Dallas. This action sets a new precedent in how these robotic devices are being used at home. As Ryan Matthew Pierson writes:“This is the first known case of a United States police department using a remotely positioned explosive to kill a suspect. Where gunfire and other means of lethal force are unfortunately common practice by police in the United States, using a robot to administer that force is new.”If military and police are excluded from the “do no harm” pledges of the Good Robot Design Council and BSI, what kind of precedent is established? What role does defense play in robot ethics with the creation of robots designed to kill during police or military operations? Will ethics be able to keep up with the technological advances and indeed growing uses of robots?  Only time will tell. Robots have become commonplace in many aspects of life including health care, military and security work. Yet until recently little thought has been given outside of academic circles to the ethics of robots.Silicon Valley Robotics recently launched a Good Robot Design Council — which has launched “5 Laws of Robotics” guidelines for roboticists and academics — on the ethical creation, marketing and use of robots in everyday life. The laws state:Robots should not be designed as weapons.Robots should comply with existing law, including privacy.Robots are products; they should be safe, reliable and not misrepresent their capabilities.Robots are manufactured artifacts; the illusion of emotions and agency should not be used to exploit vulnerable users.It should be possible to find out who is responsible for any robot.The laws have been adapted from the EPSRC 2010 “Principles of Robotics”. In Britain a few months ago we saw a similar document, “BS8611 Robots and robotic devices” by the British Standards Institute (BSI) presented at the  Social Robotics and AI conference in Oxford as an approach to embedding ethical risk assessment in robots. It was written by a committee of scientists, academics, ethicists, philosophers and users and intended for use by robot and robotics device designers and managers to help people identify and avoid areas of potential ethical harm. Like the US laws, it contains sentiments underpinned by Isaac Asimov’s ‘Three Laws of Robotics,” and it asserts:“Robots should not be designed solely or primarily to kill or harm humans” and also that“humans, not robots, are the responsible agents; it should be possible to find out who is responsible for any robot and its behavior.”Dan Palmer Head of Manufacturing at BSI said:“Using robots and automation techniques to make processes more efficient, flexible and adaptable is an essential part of manufacturing growth. For this to be acceptable, it is essential tha t ethical issues and hazards such as dehumanization of humans or over-dependence on robots, are identified and addressed. This new guidance on how to deal with various robot applications will help designers and users of robots and autonomous systems to establish this new area of work.”Whilst the standard builds on existing safety requirements for different types of robots, covering industrial, personal care and medical, it also recognizes  that there are potential ethical hazards from the integration of robots and autonomous systems in everyday life, particularly when robots are in a care or companionship role such as with children or the elderly.Robot design and emotional connectionsFor a while, you could buy costumes for iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaners. The PARO Therapeutic Robot is used in nursing homes around the world as a companion for the elderly with great success. But what happens when the relationship ends? One need only look at the grieving that occurred when Sony’s AIBO robotic dog  — released in 1999 — was discontinued in 2006 with the announcement repairs and spare parts would be discontinued in 2014. For many owners, it was like watching a pet slowly die. There were even Buddhist funerals available for AIBO dogs in Japan. The reality is, when people are associating robots with pets or humans, they are attaching  an emotional connection to them.Robots for love and maybe more?The idea of robot lovers is not a far-fetched as it might sound. Films such as Her and Ex Machina and the television series Humans present a future where humans fall in love and/or want to have physical relationships with AI and robots. However, there are currently no widely available sex robots in creation. The closest correlation seems to be incredibly lifelike sex dolls including extremely disturbing ones featuring children).Sex business entrepreneur Bradley Charvet has revealed his plans to open a sex robot café in London, where visitors will be able to receive “cyber-fellatio” while drinking tea. “Sex with a robot will always be pleasing and they could even become better at techniques because they would be programmable to a person’s need. It’s totally normal to see a new way of using robots and others sex toys to have pleasure.”The issue of robots and human attachments at such a level causes discomfort to many. The second annual Love and Sex with Robots academic conference was supposed to be held in Malaysia in November 2015. But in October, the Inspector-General of Police declared the conference illegal, highlighting the country’s conservative morals and likening robots to deviant culture, and it had to be canceled abruptly. The next conference is in London in December. There’s even an organization “Campaign against sex robots” that predicts their existence is not that far away. They believe that:“The development of sex robots will further reduce human empathy that can only be developed by an experience of mutual relationship. We challenge the view that the development of adult and child sex robots will have a positive benefit to society, but instead further reinforce power relations of inequality and violence.”Even forensic researchers into the treatment of sexual deviance claim that:“It’s very important to understand this because we need to do more to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation. And it’s only a matter of time before dolls are souped up with artificial intelligence. How lifelike can they get? Will more realistic technologies help reduce the problem, or make it worse? We need to start figuring out what the impact will be. The cost if we don’t explore it is intolerably high.”What about robots and physical violence? Related Posts Tags:#AI#AIBO#Aldebaran#BSI#drones#featured#her#iRobot#Knightscope#NAO#Pepper#predator drones#robotics#robots#roomba#Sony#Sophie#top How Myia Health’s Partnership with Mercy Virtua… Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Follow the Puck Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You… Cate Lawrencelast_img read more

New Brunswick promises greater transparency on unexpected child deaths

first_imgFREDERICTON – The New Brunswick government is promising greater transparency when it reviews child deaths.In recent years, the province’s child death review committee has reported its recommendations from investigations into the unexpected deaths of children under the age of 19, but it provided few details — citing privacy concerns.Greg Forestell, the province’s chief coroner, said starting Jan. 1 the reports will include more details, such as the child’s age and whether they were receiving services from the Department of Social Development.“Following consultations with the integrity commissioner and the child and youth advocate, brief anonymized summaries of the circumstances of the death will now be released to the public along with the report recommendations,” Forestell said Wednesday.He said it’s important that the effort to provide increased transparency maintains a level of privacy for the deceased and their families.“I want to point out that child deaths in our province are usually the result of natural deaths or accidental causes,” Forestell said. “Incidents of abuse or neglect causing death do not make up the majority of cases. Overall, the rate of child deaths in New Brunswick is below the national average.”New Brunswick’s child death review committee was created in 1996 following a number of high-profile tragedies.Among them were Jacqueline Brewer, a 28-month-old girl who died in the south end of Saint John as the result of dehydration and neglect, and John Ryan Turner, a three-year-old from Miramichi who starved to death.Norm Bosse, the province’s child and youth advocate, said he welcomes the changes, calling them a step forward.He said getting better information to the public can help put a greater focus on the well-being of young people.“An informed public is a public that can sometimes prevent things from happening, and child deaths just happens to be one of them,” Bosse said.last_img read more