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News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

THE harpoons are out. Norway’s whaling fleet is setting sail this week, with a kill quota of 999 minke whales. The mammals will be caught for meat, and 90 per cent are likely to be pregnant females. And Japan’s fleet has just returned to port with its cargo of 333 minkes, but will be heading out again soon to catch endangered sei whales in the north Pacific Ocean, claiming it is for scientific research. This comes as yet another report condemns as unnecessary the killing of whales for scientific research. Issued by a panel of the International Whaling Commission – the body that introduced a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1996 – the report rejects the rationale behind Japan’s proposal for killing whales in the north Pacific for scientific research. “The proposal does not adequately justify the need for lethal sampling,” the report says. The panel recommends no whales should be killed until additional work is undertaken and reviewed. “An expert report doesn’t see any value in Japan’s scientific whale hunting. It’s utterly pointless” Conservation groups say the panel’s report adds to mounting evidence that Japan’s “scientific whaling” programme has no scientific justification. “It’s yet another example that when an independent panel looks at the science, they can’t see any value in it,” says Matt Collis, from the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “It’s so utterly pointless.” This article appeared in print under the headline “Open whale season”


Receive press releases from Global Federation of Animal Sactuaries: By Email Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds of Florida is Verified by Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries Cocoa, FL, May 06, 2017 --( Verification means that Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds meets the criteria of a true equine sanctuary/rescue and is providing humane and responsible care of the animals. To be awarded Verified status, an organization must meet GFAS’s rigorous and peer-reviewed animal care standards which are confirmed by a site visit and they must also adhere to a demanding set of ethical and operational principles. The verification status also provides a clear and trusted means for the public, donors and grantors to recognize Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds as an exceptional organization. “We are proud to announce the recent verification of Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds,” said Valerie Taylor, GFAS Director of Accreditation. “The dedication and passion of HART’s volunteers, staff, and Board of Directors is remarkable, which allows for such attention to be paid to the proper retraining and rehoming of off-the-track Thoroughbred horses. In addition, HART’s efforts to work with, and involve their local community regarding humane and responsible care of horses, and showcase the ways in which horses can give back demonstrates the organization’s commitment to horses-in-need in Florida.” “I feel so privileged to have the support and verification from GFAS for Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds (HART),” said Suzanna Norris, Executive Director of Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds. “The process of verification provided HART, a growing organization, the opportunity to improve standards, effectiveness, and efficiency, and laid a foundation to successfully and continually strive for excellence.” The GFAS Equine Accreditation Program is made possible by a generous grant from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® and the Kenneth Scott Charitable Trust. About Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the sole purpose of strengthening and supporting the work of animal sanctuaries, rescues, and rehabilitation centers worldwide. The goal of GFAS in working with and assisting these animal care facilities is to ensure they are supported, honored, recognized and rewarded for meeting important criteria in providing care to the animals in residence. GFAS was founded in 2007 by animal protection leaders from a number of different organizations in response to virtually unchecked and often hidden exploitation of animals for human entertainment and financial profit. The GFAS Board of Directors guides the organization’s work in a collaborative manner. While the board includes those in top leadership at Born Free USA, The Humane Society of the United States, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and American Anti-Vivisection Society, all board members serve as individuals dedicated to animal sanctuaries. www.sanctuaryfederation.org. About Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds (HART) HART for Horses is committed to being the voice for off-the-track Thoroughbreds, to finding them their forever homes, and to stewarding a mutual journey of self-discovery for all our horses and the people that adopt or interact with them. HART is dedicated to preventing the deeply troubling fate some of these horses face after retiring from racing. By fostering new beginnings and second careers for these majestic athletes, the organization elevates awareness on the versatility these horses possess among the equestrian community. HART has aligned with the racing industry’s great efforts toward support of off-the-track Thoroughbreds so that they have a smooth transition into their second careers and resources to secure their well-being, while they prepare for their forever homes. HART is also committed to the community, especially those individuals needing to fit in or looking for their own personal way to connect with a purpose in life. The organization has seen first-hand how cultivating the confidence and trust of off-the-track Thoroughbreds will in turn enlighten us on our own behavior and communication skills that we can incorporate into our daily lives. Patience, understanding, thoughtful and purposeful actions are lessons mutually acquired through these equally wanting relationships. For more information, visit www.hartforhorses.org or call 321-543-2924. About the ASPCA® Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first humane organization established in the Americas and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animal welfare. One million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. The ASPCA, which is headquartered in New York City, offers a wide range of programs, including a mobile clinic outreach initiative, its own humane law enforcement team, and a groundbreaking veterinary forensics team and mobile animal CSI unit. For more information, please visit www.aspca.org. To become a fan of the ASPCA on Facebook, go to http://www.facebook.com/aspca. To follow the ASPCA on Twitter, go to http://www.twitter.com/aspca. Cocoa, FL, May 06, 2017 --( PR.com )-- The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), the only globally recognized organization providing standards for identifying legitimate animal sanctuaries, awarded Verified status to Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds as of May 3, 2017.Verification means that Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds meets the criteria of a true equine sanctuary/rescue and is providing humane and responsible care of the animals. To be awarded Verified status, an organization must meet GFAS’s rigorous and peer-reviewed animal care standards which are confirmed by a site visit and they must also adhere to a demanding set of ethical and operational principles. The verification status also provides a clear and trusted means for the public, donors and grantors to recognize Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds as an exceptional organization.“We are proud to announce the recent verification of Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds,” said Valerie Taylor, GFAS Director of Accreditation. “The dedication and passion of HART’s volunteers, staff, and Board of Directors is remarkable, which allows for such attention to be paid to the proper retraining and rehoming of off-the-track Thoroughbred horses. In addition, HART’s efforts to work with, and involve their local community regarding humane and responsible care of horses, and showcase the ways in which horses can give back demonstrates the organization’s commitment to horses-in-need in Florida.”“I feel so privileged to have the support and verification from GFAS for Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds (HART),” said Suzanna Norris, Executive Director of Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds. “The process of verification provided HART, a growing organization, the opportunity to improve standards, effectiveness, and efficiency, and laid a foundation to successfully and continually strive for excellence.”The GFAS Equine Accreditation Program is made possible by a generous grant from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® and the Kenneth Scott Charitable Trust.About Global Federation of Animal SanctuariesGlobal Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the sole purpose of strengthening and supporting the work of animal sanctuaries, rescues, and rehabilitation centers worldwide. The goal of GFAS in working with and assisting these animal care facilities is to ensure they are supported, honored, recognized and rewarded for meeting important criteria in providing care to the animals in residence. GFAS was founded in 2007 by animal protection leaders from a number of different organizations in response to virtually unchecked and often hidden exploitation of animals for human entertainment and financial profit. The GFAS Board of Directors guides the organization’s work in a collaborative manner. While the board includes those in top leadership at Born Free USA, The Humane Society of the United States, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and American Anti-Vivisection Society, all board members serve as individuals dedicated to animal sanctuaries. www.sanctuaryfederation.org.About Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds (HART)HART for Horses is committed to being the voice for off-the-track Thoroughbreds, to finding them their forever homes, and to stewarding a mutual journey of self-discovery for all our horses and the people that adopt or interact with them. HART is dedicated to preventing the deeply troubling fate some of these horses face after retiring from racing. By fostering new beginnings and second careers for these majestic athletes, the organization elevates awareness on the versatility these horses possess among the equestrian community. HART has aligned with the racing industry’s great efforts toward support of off-the-track Thoroughbreds so that they have a smooth transition into their second careers and resources to secure their well-being, while they prepare for their forever homes. HART is also committed to the community, especially those individuals needing to fit in or looking for their own personal way to connect with a purpose in life. The organization has seen first-hand how cultivating the confidence and trust of off-the-track Thoroughbreds will in turn enlighten us on our own behavior and communication skills that we can incorporate into our daily lives. Patience, understanding, thoughtful and purposeful actions are lessons mutually acquired through these equally wanting relationships. For more information, visit www.hartforhorses.org or call 321-543-2924.About the ASPCA®Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first humane organization established in the Americas and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animal welfare. One million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. The ASPCA, which is headquartered in New York City, offers a wide range of programs, including a mobile clinic outreach initiative, its own humane law enforcement team, and a groundbreaking veterinary forensics team and mobile animal CSI unit. For more information, please visit www.aspca.org. To become a fan of the ASPCA on Facebook, go to http://www.facebook.com/aspca. To follow the ASPCA on Twitter, go to http://www.twitter.com/aspca. Click here to view the list of recent Press Releases from Global Federation of Animal Sactuaries


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Conservationists have lodged a formal request for the US government to list giraffes as endangered in a bid to prevent what they call the “silent extinction” of the world’s tallest land animal. A legal petition filed by five environmental groups has demanded that the US Fish and Wildlife Service provide endangered species protections to the giraffe, which has suffered a precipitous decline in numbers in recent years. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which listed giraffes as a threatened species in December, just 97,500 of the animals exist in sub-Saharan Africa today, a drop of almost 40% since 1985. There are now fewer giraffes than elephants in Africa. Giraffes have suffered from loss of habitat, disease and illegal hunting for bushmeat. They also face the risk of collisions with vehicles and power lines. But the petitioners argue that the species is facing added pressure from “trophy” hunters who travel to Africa to shoot their big-game quarry. These hunters overwhelmingly come from the US. According to the groups’ analysis of import data, Americans imported 21,402 bone carvings, 3,008 skin pieces and 3,744 miscellaneous hunting trophies from giraffes over the past decade. At least 3,700 individual giraffes are thought to have been killed for such items. An endangered species listing would place heavy restrictions on any American hunter wishing to travel to Africa and bring back a slaughtered giraffe. A hunter would have to somehow demonstrate the taking of the giraffe trophy was helping sustain the species. The petition states that the US is “uniquely positioned to help conserve these tall, graceful and iconic animals”. It adds: “Considering the ongoing threats to giraffes and their small remaining populations, now is the time for Endangered Species Act protections for this seriously and increasingly imperiled species.” The plight of giraffes, which have necks as long as six feet and tongues that reach 20in, has caught some conservationists by surprise. The peril faced by the animals has somewhat been overshadowed by the poaching crisis engulfing elephants and rhinos as well as high profile controversies such as the slaughter of Cecil the lion by a Minnesota dentist in Zimbabwe in 2015. But recent surveys have painted a stark picture of decline for giraffes, which now live in increasingly fragmented habitats. The role played by trophy hunters was highlighted in August when pictures emerged of a 12-year-old girl from Utah posing beside the slumped body of a dead giraffe. “When I was doing research on giraffes in Kenya a few years ago, they were quite abundant and no one questioned that they were doing well,” said Jeff Flocken, North America regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw). “Only recently have we looked at them critically and seen this huge drop, which has been a shock to the conservation community. This is an iconic animal and it’s in deep trouble.” Flocken said while the US could not do much to prevent the killing of giraffes in Africa, the regulation of trophy imports would be a “significant” step in stemming the decline of the species. “In the past few years, several gruesome images of trophy hunters next to slain giraffe bodies have caused outrage, bringing this senseless killing to light,” said Masha Kalinina, international trade policy specialist with Humane Society International. “Currently, no US or international law protects giraffes against overexploitation for trade. It is clearly time to change this. As the largest importer of trophies in the world, the role of the United States in the decline of this species is undeniable, and we must do our part to protect these animals.” In September, genetic research revealed that there are four distinct species of giraffe, not just one as long believed. However, the endangered species petition requests protection for all giraffes regardless of sub-species. The Fish and Wildlife Service deemed the African lion to be endangered in 2015 in an attempt to conserve the species. Donald Trump’s sons, who are avid hunters, have been pictured holding parts of an elephant and a leopard. However, the process of listing endangered species has not been altered under the new administration. Under federal rules, the Fish & Wildlife Service has 90 days to respond to the petition and determine whether a listing may be warranted. It can then take more than a year to assess and decide upon the request.


Receive press releases from Global Federation of Animal Sactuaries: By Email Imlay, NV, March 02, 2017 --( The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is honored to announce that Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary, in Imlay, NV has achieved GFAS Accreditation. “It is heartwarming to see animals that are unable to be placed back into the wild receiving the high quality, life-long care and respect they deserve at Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary. Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary truly maintains the welfare of their residents as their highest priority as demonstrated by their large natural habitats and excellent environmental enrichment,” says, Jeanne Marie Pittman, GFAS Director of Accreditation for the Americas. Achieving GFAS Accreditation means Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary meets the comprehensive and rigorous definition of a true sanctuary and as such provides humane and responsible care for the animals and meets the rigorous standards for operations, administration, and veterinary care established by GFAS. GFAS is the only globally recognized organization that provides a method for identifying legitimate animal sanctuaries, rescues and rehabilitation centers. The accreditation status provides a clear and trusted means for public, donors, and government agencies to recognize Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary as an exceptional sanctuary. "Going through the certification process with GFAS has helped our organization by further pursuing excellence in providing best care practices”. As the only GFAS Accredited Sanctuary in Nevada, we are excited to bring attention to the distinctions between pseudo-sanctuaries and those that have worked toward providing optimal care for its residents," says Lynda Sugasa, the sanctuary's Executive Director. Safe Haven is dedicated to protecting indigenous wildlife and native habitat and to educating the public about environmental and wild animal conservation. In addition to their rescue and rehabilitative mission, Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary demonstrates their good neighbor and community engagement commitments by: - Augmenting and enhancing education for rural elementary and secondary school campuses in northern Nevada through our educational outreach. Local schools with limited funds for curriculum enhancement appreciate Safe Haven’s “Animal Chronicles Project.” Kids love hearing about Safe Haven residents and they become natural advocates regarding the need to protect wild animals and their habitats. Since inception, Safe Haven’s educational outreached has reached over 20,000 children and adults. - Developing kids’ capacity to become animal ambassadors. Safe Haven reaches children and youth with positive messages about Safe Haven residents, their native habitat, and their role in overall ecosystems. Safe Haven’s educational programs are tailored to specific child and youth developmental levels in order to meet them “where they are at” in their capacity to engage, comprehend, and increase their empathic understanding. - Modelling renewable energy practices. Safe Haven operates as a solar-powered “green” facility, demonstrating innovative energy use approaches. Neighboring communities, kids participating in our educational outreach, and visitors to Safe Haven learn about “green” organizations that are designed to have minimal impact on the environment. About Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the sole purpose of strengthening and supporting the work of animal sanctuaries, rescues, and rehabilitation centers worldwide. The goal of GFAS in working with and assisting these animal care facilities is to ensure they are supported, honored, recognized and rewarded for meeting important criteria in providing care to the animals in residence. GFAS was founded in 2007 by animal protection leaders from a number of different organizations in response to virtually unchecked and often hidden exploitation of animals for human entertainment and financial profit. The GFAS Board of Directors guides the organization’s work in a collaborative manner. While the board includes those in top leadership at Born Free USA, The Humane Society of the United States, International Fund for Animal Welfare, the ASPCA, and American Anti-Vivisection Society, all board members serve as individuals dedicated to animal sanctuaries. www.sanctuaryfederation.org. About Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary, a 501c3 non-profit organization, was founded in 2006 in northern Nevada with a mission to provide interim care to native orphaned and injured wildlife eligible for reintroduction and lifelong care to abandoned, surrendered and confiscated exotics resulting from the pet trade.www.safehavenwildlife.com. Imlay, NV, March 02, 2017 --( PR.com )-- “Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary truly maintains the welfare of their residents as their highest priority as demonstrated by their large natural habitats and excellent environmental enrichment,” says, Jeanne Marie Pittman, GFAS Director of Accreditation for the Americas.The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is honored to announce that Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary, in Imlay, NV has achieved GFAS Accreditation.“It is heartwarming to see animals that are unable to be placed back into the wild receiving the high quality, life-long care and respect they deserve at Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary. Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary truly maintains the welfare of their residents as their highest priority as demonstrated by their large natural habitats and excellent environmental enrichment,” says, Jeanne Marie Pittman, GFAS Director of Accreditation for the Americas. Achieving GFAS Accreditation means Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary meets the comprehensive and rigorous definition of a true sanctuary and as such provides humane and responsible care for the animals and meets the rigorous standards for operations, administration, and veterinary care established by GFAS. GFAS is the only globally recognized organization that provides a method for identifying legitimate animal sanctuaries, rescues and rehabilitation centers. The accreditation status provides a clear and trusted means for public, donors, and government agencies to recognize Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary as an exceptional sanctuary."Going through the certification process with GFAS has helped our organization by further pursuing excellence in providing best care practices”. As the only GFAS Accredited Sanctuary in Nevada, we are excited to bring attention to the distinctions between pseudo-sanctuaries and those that have worked toward providing optimal care for its residents," says Lynda Sugasa, the sanctuary's Executive Director.Safe Haven is dedicated to protecting indigenous wildlife and native habitat and to educating the public about environmental and wild animal conservation. In addition to their rescue and rehabilitative mission, Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary demonstrates their good neighbor and community engagement commitments by:- Augmenting and enhancing education for rural elementary and secondary school campuses in northern Nevada through our educational outreach. Local schools with limited funds for curriculum enhancement appreciate Safe Haven’s “Animal Chronicles Project.” Kids love hearing about Safe Haven residents and they become natural advocates regarding the need to protect wild animals and their habitats. Since inception, Safe Haven’s educational outreached has reached over 20,000 children and adults.- Developing kids’ capacity to become animal ambassadors. Safe Haven reaches children and youth with positive messages about Safe Haven residents, their native habitat, and their role in overall ecosystems. Safe Haven’s educational programs are tailored to specific child and youth developmental levels in order to meet them “where they are at” in their capacity to engage, comprehend, and increase their empathic understanding.- Modelling renewable energy practices. Safe Haven operates as a solar-powered “green” facility, demonstrating innovative energy use approaches. Neighboring communities, kids participating in our educational outreach, and visitors to Safe Haven learn about “green” organizations that are designed to have minimal impact on the environment.About Global Federation of Animal SanctuariesGlobal Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the sole purpose of strengthening and supporting the work of animal sanctuaries, rescues, and rehabilitation centers worldwide. The goal of GFAS in working with and assisting these animal care facilities is to ensure they are supported, honored, recognized and rewarded for meeting important criteria in providing care to the animals in residence. GFAS was founded in 2007 by animal protection leaders from a number of different organizations in response to virtually unchecked and often hidden exploitation of animals for human entertainment and financial profit. The GFAS Board of Directors guides the organization’s work in a collaborative manner. While the board includes those in top leadership at Born Free USA, The Humane Society of the United States, International Fund for Animal Welfare, the ASPCA, and American Anti-Vivisection Society, all board members serve as individuals dedicated to animal sanctuaries. www.sanctuaryfederation.org.About Safe Haven Wildlife SanctuarySafe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary, a 501c3 non-profit organization, was founded in 2006 in northern Nevada with a mission to provide interim care to native orphaned and injured wildlife eligible for reintroduction and lifelong care to abandoned, surrendered and confiscated exotics resulting from the pet trade.www.safehavenwildlife.com. Click here to view the list of recent Press Releases from Global Federation of Animal Sactuaries


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A long-standing mystery among marine biologists is why otherwise healthy whales, dolphins, and porpoises -- collectively known as cetaceans -- end up getting stranded along coastal areas worldwide. Could severe solar storms, which affect Earth's magnetic fields, be confusing their internal compasses and causing them to lose their way? Although some have postulated this and other theories, no one has ever initiated a thorough study to determine whether a relationship exists -- until now. NASA heliophysicist Antti Pulkkinen, who works at the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, has teamed with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, or IFAW, to determine whether a link exists. Strandings occur around the world, involving as few as three to as many as several hundred animals per event. Although a global phenomenon, such strandings tend to happen more often in New Zealand, Australia, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, said project collaborator Katie Moore, the director of IFAW's global Animal Rescue Program. Headquartered in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, IFAW operates in 40 countries, rescuing animals and promoting conservation to secure a safe habitat for wildlife. "These locations share some key characteristics, such as the geography, gently sloping beaches, and fine-grained sediment, which we think all play some role in these events," she said. Another possibility is that these animals' internal compasses are somehow skewed by humans' use of multi-beam echo sounders and other sonar-type equipment used to map the seafloor or locate potential fishing sites, to name just a few applications. "However, these human-made influences do not explain most of the strandings," said Pulkkinen, an expert in space weather and its effect on Earth. "Theories as to the cause include magnetic anomalies and meteorological events, such as extreme tides during a new moon and coastal storms, which are thought to disorient the animals. It has been speculated that due to the possible magnetic-field sensing used by these animals to navigate, magnetic anomalies could be at least partially responsible." Indeed, magnetic anomalies caused when the sun's corona ejects gigantic bubbles of charged particles out into the solar system can cause problems for Earth-orbiting satellites and power grids when they slam into Earth's protective magnetosphere. It's possible they could affect animals, as well, Pulkkinen said. "The type of data that Antti has accumulated, together with the extensive stranding data at our disposal, will allow us to undertake the first rigorous analysis to test possible links between cetacean mass strandings and space-weather phenomena," said Desray Reeb, a marine biologist at BOEM's headquarters in Sterling, Virginia. Reeb approached Pulkkinen about launching a research effort after hearing his presentation about space weather in June 2015. With funding from BOEM and NASA's Science Innovation Fund, Pulkkinen and his collaborators are carrying out a massive data-mining operation. The team will analyze NASA's large space-weather databases, including field recordings and space observations, and stranding data gathered by BOEM and IFAW. "We estimate that records on the order of hundreds of cetacean mass strandings will be available for study, thus making our analyses statistically significant," Pulkkinen said. "We therefore expect that we will be able to reliably test the hypothesis. So far, there has been very little quantitative research, just a lot of speculation," Pulkkinen continued. "What we're going to do is throw cold, hard data at this. It's a long-standing mystery and it's important that we figure out what's going on." The team expects to complete the study by the end of September and publish its findings in a scientific, peer-reviewed journal. Should the study reveal a statistical correlation, team members said the results won't necessarily imply a causal link. However, it would provide the first thorough research into this hypothesis and offer the first step toward determining if it's correct. "The results of this study will be informative for researchers, stranding network organizers, resource agencies and regulatory agencies," Reeb said. "If we understand the relationship between the two, we may be able to use observations of solar storms as an early warning for potential strandings to occur," added Moore, who said she "was immediately keen" to get involved in the study. "This would allow stranding responders in global hotspots, and really around the world, to be better prepared to respond, thus having the opportunity to save more animals." For more technology-related news, go to: http://gsfctechnology.


News Article | January 6, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

In a tiny workshop at his home in the Tai Po district of Hong Kong, 84-year-old Au Yue-Shung shows me an ivory carving he has been working on for months. Measuring just 5x10 inches, Nine Sages in Mount Xiang depicts the 9th-century poet Bai Juyi and eight of his peers in full creative flow in Henan province, far from the imperial court that Bai once served. The point of the story is that the sages tried to maintain their integrity by staying close to nature and art, and away from the ugly politics of the time. This is a piece that Au created for himself rather than a client. It is his statement about life after going through many ups and downs. Born during the Japanese occupation of China in the 1930s, Au joined Guangzhou’s Daxin ivory carving factory at the age of 13 as an apprentice. With only one year’s formal education and with no one caring to teach him, he taught himself drawing and carving in his spare time. Unable to afford drawing paper, he drew on toilet paper. His gift was soon recognised and by the late 1960s he had become a key carving artist at Daxin. Later, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, he decided that he had had enough of the political and artistic repression. He first tried to flee China at the beginning of 1972. “From Guangzhou, I hiked to Huizhou, then Shenzhen,” he recalls. “It took 13 days. I hid and slept during the day and walked after it got dark. I was arrested in Yantian [a port in Shenzhen], and was in jail for four months.” His employers refused to bail him out until they realised they needed him to make a complicated piece ordered by the government. At the time, ivory carving was officially encouraged as one of the few means to earn foreign currency. Not long after he got out of jail, he again started planning his escape. “I had to smuggle myself out of China even though the chance to succeed was only 30%,” he says, “because I had already been disgraced politically.” He made his second bid toward the end of 1972, when border controls were looser because of the cold weather. He again walked for 13 days, then swam for 10 hours from Shenzhen to finally reach Hong Kong. It didn’t take him long to make his name there. “Each piece I did was sold before it was finished or immediately afterwards. Taiwanese loved my works. Some carvers tried sell their works by claiming to be my pupils, but they were not!” He chuckles. Yet he has never made a fortune from his masterpieces. One of his best and most valuable pieces is Platform Sutra, the size and shape of a large book, consisting of more than 20,000 Chinese characters and an image of Huineng, the legendary sixth patriarch of Chan Buddhism. It was the result of years of researching, brainstorming and fieldwork, as well as seven months’ carving. Au estimates that it is now worth at least a million Hong Kong dollars (£100,000). But however much the collector paid him for it – he says he can’t remember – “it probably covered the material and labour only. I let him have it because he appreciates my art. Money is not everything,” he says quietly. His wife nods in agreement. “He had this piece of ivory for over 30 years, but didn’t quite know what to do with it, until Guan Weiqiang suggested something Buddhist.” Guan, the man who ended up with Platform Sutra, won’t say what he paid for it, but describes it as the most significant item in his collection. “Many people want to buy it from me, but I wouldn’t sell it. You simply can’t evaluate it economically. Priceless. It is a masterpiece by a master artist I admire and respect greatly,” he says softly as he pours a cup of tea at Geng Suan Tang, his furniture shop in south-west Guangzhou. Fortysomething Guan, a businessman and celebrity chef known as Prince Dim Sum, says his collection of ivory is small alongside his carvings in jade, quartz, wood and bamboo root. Then he pulls work after work out of his walk-in safe, including a 60-layered ivory ball – the largest in the world according to him – and a miniature engraving of the Mona Lisa. It must all be worth a fortune. Guan brushes the thought aside – collecting has nothing to do with money. “Collecting is art itself, a gift to appreciate beauty. You are what you collect. I was born with this gift.” But he admits that he hasn’t always been so high-minded. “Before I became a mature collector, I had more desire to own the objects than the ability to appreciate art. That desire is like a demon. Because of that, I was tricked into buying a fake antique Buddha statue in 1991.” With time, he has formed a philosophy of collecting: study more than buy; buy expensive genuine art rather than cheap imitations; collect rare rather than generic artefacts. “You can’t let the demon [of greed] grow in you,” he says. “Because of this, I don’t buy that much any more, particularly ivory carving.” But buying ivory at all is controversial, as is carving it. According to many wildlife charities, any trade in products made from elephant tusks, no matter how old, encourages poaching. By one estimate, more than 100,000 African elephants were slaughtered between 2007-14, mostly to satisfy demand for ivory in eastern Asia, particularly China. Daniel Stiles, an expert who investigated the trade in 2015, estimated that more than 90% of all ivory items sold in the country were illegal. Last month, after many delays, the Chinese government announced that all domestic ivory trading and processing will be outlawed by the end of 2017, although doubts have been raised about how effectively this will be enforced and Hong Kong has a separate deadline of 2021. In the meantime, carvers can legally work on tusks imported before 1989, when the international trade in ivory was outlawed, but those stocks are dwindling. Au says he uses only 10kg of ivory a year at the most, all of which he purchased more than 30 years ago. There is popular support for the government’s move. Surveys in the country’s three biggest cities, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, found that 95% of the residents wanted the government to ban the ivory trade in order to protect African elephants. Celebrities ranging from actor Wang Luodan to property developer Wang Shi signed up for an International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) poster campaign pleading: “Say no to ivory products”. While agreeing that elephants should be protected, Guan doesn’t want all ivory to be outlawed. “Overconsumption [of ivory] would cause the elephants to become extinct. But artists like Au should be allowed to use the ivory from elephants’ natural deaths.” Guan’s idea of a demon that drives ivory collectors may sound fanciful. But I heard something very similar from a friend of mine, Chen Zhouqi, deputy director of the Guangdong Province Folk Art Rescue and Protection Centre, a branch of Guangdong Folk Art Association, whose goal is to protect all types of folk traditions, from folklores to traditional architecture. Not long after he started working full-time for the centre, Chen was given four small ivory carvings – two from elephants and two from mammoths. The first gift was from Guan Weiqiang, whom he had interviewed for a book project on ivory carving. It was an ivory piece the size of a thumbnail, with one of Mao Zedong’s poems, Snow, carved in it. “I gave it away to a little boy I met at a story-telling contest in 2007,” Chen says. Wasn’t that a precious gift to give a child, especially one he’d never met before? “You know,” Chen says, “I have a feeling that some artists gave me small gifts partly because they knew I was in a position where I could help to promote their works. It was almost like bribery – kind of scary. And if you display them at home and keep looking at them, you could actually feel greed growing in you. You will desire more.” Like others I spoke to, however, he doesn’t entirely understand why campaigners focus on ivory rather than other animal products. “Elephants are not the only victims. There are others: whales, tigers, giant salamanders, and many more.” Zhang Minhui, like Au Yue-Shung, started his career at the Daxin ivory carving factory and is now an ivory carving artist with a high profile in China. He joined Daxin at the age of 19 in 1972, the year that Au smuggled himself to Hong Kong. His life has taken an altogether grander turn. As well as running his own carving factory, Flower City Boya Craftwork Factory, he has roles in no fewer than 20 associations and organisations. Chairman of this, professor of that, he is most notably Guangdong province’s only National Inheritor of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Representative of Ivory Carving Artists. His ivory carving style is different from Au’s. While Au only does miniature carvings in his tiny home studio with one knife, Zhang and his pupils create larger works with electric tools in his spacious factory. He wouldn’t tell me how big his ivory stock is. When I ask him what he thinks about the government ban, he replies, “Listen to the party, cooperate with the government, strive for support and carry on the tradition of ivory art.” In other words, it will hurt but he’ll have to make the best of it. He has expected this ban and prepared for a transition. Decades ago he diversified from ivory to carve other materials such as mammoth tusks and ox bones. “We have saved some elephant tusks from before 1989 – all legal and certificated,” he says. “As we are finishing our last legal ivory stock, we will use more ox bones and mammoth tusks.” Ox bone has its advantages, he says. “It’s much cheaper, and can be bigger. We have the technique to integrate many bones into one large piece to create carvings much bigger than tusks. Besides, it is the art of carving more than the materials that really matters and should be protected.” Don’t many people still prefer ivory to ox bones or mammoth tusks? “Yes,” he admits. “Its texture and hardness are perfect for carving. Its colour is more appealing to Chinese.” “I think elephants should be protected,” he continues. “The key is stopping poaching in Africa. More should be done in Africa. Much more. Africa, not China, is the source of illegal elephant tusks. Yes, elephants should be protected, but so should the tradition and art of ivory carving. Honestly, we artists don’t need a lot of tusks. Those from elephants’ natural deaths are more than enough for our creative works because each piece takes months, sometimes years, to finish.” “You know what consumes the most tusks?” he asks. “Ivory jewelry and chopsticks. They are easy to make – particularly chopsticks. Modern machines make them in large numbers quickly.” Even these have their collectors, like Szeto Alec, born in Guangzhou in 1958, and now a successful airplane salesman who frequently travels between China and the United States. To him the ban is “imperious governance” – a dictatorial order similar to the one-child policy. The people have no say in it. For the past 10 years Szeto has been collecting chopsticks from eBay, yard sales and estate sales. “Particularly estate sales,” he notes. Why estate sales? “So the life of the deceased can be continued! I don’t buy expensive or artistic big ivory artifacts. I prefer used objects, chopsticks, cutlery, etc. Stuff that has been used has life in it. Each piece has a story. There is a sense of the continuity of life.” The concept of continuity is something that ivory sculptors and collectors mention time and again, though they express it in different ways. For Feng Suijun, a 39-year-old sculptor and art professor at Guangdong Peizheng College, patina is the word. “Antiques touched by hand often have a great patina – a sense of history and life,” he explains in a restaurant near his home in Guangzhou, before turning to his wife, Weng Shaoqiong, who is also a sculptor and art teacher. “We should touch our ivory ball more to give it a patina.” Their ivory ball, a four-layer carving about the size of half a golf ball, was a gift from a deputy director of Guangzhou Folk Artists’ Association. He asked Feng to explore the possibilities for integrating traditional folk arts with modern design concepts, and gave Feng the ivory ball so he could experiment. Feng has just finished his design – a pendant wrapped in silver. “It is a lot of pressure,” Feng says, “but I’d love to integrate and modernise Guangzhou’s top three carving arts: ivory carving, wood carving and jade carving.” He won’t comment on the government’s latest move, but is still fuming about the IFAW campaign. “It is hypocrisy!” he insists. “Each time I see Wang Shi staring from those ads, I feel disgusted. Can’t help it. The look in his eyes is just disgusting. The other celebrities are not much better. You know, they are the ones who can really afford ivory products, not us. “I am not saying elephants should not be saved. My question is, why single elephants out? How are elephants more important than other animals? What about the whales killed and eaten by the Japanese? Also, there have been reports that some African countries have been appealing to the world to lift the ivory ban so their people can make a living. Are elephants more important than the human lives in Africa? Why can’t we have a balance between wildlife conservation and a good use of natural resources? Can we find a way to make use of ivory while at the same time not endangering the elephants? I honestly think western media have gone to an extreme and Chinese media follow them blindly.” Without the ivory trade ban, would he try ivory carving? He specialises in wood sculpture and has never worked in ivory. “I would!” he says firmly. “You know what I think? It is true that elephants are endangered, but the art of ivory carving is in greater danger. Nowadays, how many people can sit still for hours to learn it?”


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

More than 400 pilot whales beached themselves on Thursday in one of the worst whale stranding New Zealand has ever seen. The animals washed up on beaches at Farewell Spit on the South Island, a known black spot for whale strandings. At least 300 died overnight before rescuers began trying to refloat animals. Hundreds of volunteers converged on the site to help this morning. The reasons for beachings remain a mystery. Explanations range from marine noise pollution to suicides, and NASA is even investigating whether solar storms could mess with whales’ navigation. But geography could certainly be a factor, considering several known stranding blackspots share characteristics. “Cape Cod in Massachusetts is also notorious, and there’s another in Tasmania,” says Sharon Livermore, at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “They share similar features such as gently sloping beaches, and the coastal configuration as a whole acts as a whale trap.” At Farewell Spit, where 200 whales beached in 2015, the tide can come in for 5 kilometres, creating a vast stretch of water no more than 3 metres deep at any point, a perilous situation for whales used to deep water. “The water gets shallower, and that’s what gets them disorientated,” says Livermore. Other factors include whales’ incredibly tight social bonding, which is especially strong within groups of pilot whales. “If one is sick, the rest follow, then geological conditions take over, so it could be a combination of whale disorientation and social bonding that causes these strandings,” she says. “It’s really sad.” Around 100 whales have been refloated so far, according to Project Jonah, an organisation in New Zealand that mobilises stranding rescue operations. Livermore says that the success of refloating depends partly on the severity of the whales’ injuries and the depth of the water they are pushed into. If the whales are too injured or are refloated in shallow water, they may not survive or may swim back to the beach. Livermore adds that IFAW runs a rescue and research team in Cape Cod, and that in a study where team members tagged the whales they refloated, some beached again, but many didn’t come back. “The more we understand why the whales beach, the better we can prepare for and mitigate strandings,” she says. One more recent theory as to why some mass strandings happen, put forward by NASA, is that solar storms might trigger strandings by interfering with terrestrial magnetic fields that whales depend on for navigation. “It’s still at the early stage of research,” says Livermore. “We’re looking at all stranding data globally, and lining it up with space data on solar storms,” she says. “We can only find out from large datasets, but if we know that storms are happening and they are connected with strandings, we can make sure we have resources available to respond to any strandings.”


News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

MOSCOW, Russia, Feb. 24, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The cruel trade in Russian beluga whales (the white whale), captured in the wild for sale to aquaria and travelling shows, has been condemned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) as shocking new footage reveals the...


News Article | January 4, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Animal conservationists in Massachusetts have rescued 10 Risso's dolphins that got stranded in a local harbor at the beginning of the year. Members of the nonprofit group International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) responded to reports on Sunday, Jan. 1, about dolphins having been spotted in Wellfleet Harbor. At first, residents reported that there were three dolphins swimming in the harbor, but by the time the rescuers arrived, they discovered that there were actually more of the marine mammals. IFAW spokeswoman Kerry Branon said the animals may have been trying to catch some prey, leading them to get closer to the shore. According to Branon, rescuers tried to herd the dolphins using boats so that they could lead the animals back to open waters. When the tide went out, however, the dolphins suddenly found themselves stuck in a portion of the harbor. The rescuers then decided to enter the cold, muddy water, so that they could safely move the animals out of their predicament. Each one of the dolphins was placed on a stretcher then transported on trucks using special carts. Some of the Risso's dolphins were so large that it took 15 rescuers just to move them from the harbor and into the vehicles. "They are pretty big, and really quite heavy," Branon said. "It's a massive undertaking, 10 dolphins." Branon added that this was the largest stranding of dolphins that they have responded to. Before this, the IFAW had rescued another group of dolphins that became stranded in a cove close to Chequessett Neck Road in September. After securing the Risso's dolphins on the transport trucks, they were then taken to Corn Hill Beach in Truro, where they were set free in the ocean. The rescuers believe the favorable winds in the area will help the animals find their way back into open waters. Branon said the rescue teams received much helped from residents and local authorities in saving the stranded dolphins. Some even handed out mugs of hot cocoa to the rescuers so that they could make it through the cold winter day. Risso's dolphins took their name after Niçard naturalist Giuseppe Antonio Risso. Risso was the first to provide a description of the animals to the public. While some people also refer to the dolphins as grampus, this name is more often associated with their fellow marine mammals, the orcas. Male and female Risso's are known to reach lengths of up to 8.5 feet to 13 feet (2.6 to 4 meters) and weigh between 660 to 1,100 pounds (300 to 500 kilograms). These dolphins have a bulbous head with a vertical crease, and a beak that isn't easily distinguishable. They also have a long, sickle-shaped dorsal fin found in the middle of their backs. Adult Risso's can be differentiated from other dolphin species through their pale gray skin and the heavy scarring on their bodies. These dolphins often end up in tussles with others of their kind and with lampreys and cookie-cutter sharks, which serve as their prey. Despite not being considered an endangered species, Risso's dolphins are still protected through the Marine Mammal Protection Act. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 14, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Activists from a close knit Hollywood group gathered at International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) board member James Costa's home last week to meet the passionate people behind IFAW's work to nurture and protect animals around the...

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