Category: Animals

Bees get a boost from Welsh action plan

The impact our bees have on the environment is no secret; their work pollinating crops is a crucial eco-system service, and without our furry friends we’d lose a third of our food stock. Sadly, they’ve been in severe decline for the last 30 years, raising fears for both the environment and the economy.

However, an ambitious new plan is committed to halting this decline and boosting the bee population. Welsh Environment Minister John Griffiths has announced a Pollinator Action Plan for Wales – the first of its kind within the UK. As part of the programme, road verges and embankments will be planted with pollinator-friendly plants, and the planning system will be altered so that future developments support and nurture the airborne buzzers.

In light of the proposed plan, the Minister said that Wales will be leading the way on this “vitally important” issue, adding that the value of pollinators to the UK Government is “conservatively estimated to be £430 million”.

The plan will be implemented in line with the Welsh Government’s ‘Sustaining a Living Wales’ programme.

Scientists puzzled by hundreds of dead penguins

More than 700 Magellan penguins have washed up dead on the beaches of south Brazil over the last month, capturing headlines worldwide and leaving scientists puzzled.

The penguins are currently migrating from Patagonia to south Brazil – a journey which no doubt claims some lives but not at this magnitude.

According to the Brazilian Center for Coastal Studies at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, however, the penguins likely died of natural causes.

In a press release, the center said it had analysed the dead animals’ conditions and found that most of the birds were young, and showed no signs of external injury or oil in the plumes.

According to biologist Mauricio Tavares: “Birds in the first year of life are inexperienced,” adding that dead birds at this time of year is common and the result of “the process of natural selection”.

Some questions have been raised as to just how natural this occurrence is, however. According to TreeHugger, dead penguins washing ashore happens with “disturbing” regularity.

A more detailed report on the latest penguin deaths is expected later this month.

Animal lovers encouraged to save the planet for their pets

Tinned pet food – a bit gross, isn’t it? Just slop it out, toss the can and let Rover get on with it. Easy.

But did you know that recycling a 400g steel pet food can could save enough energy to power a fridge for over two and a half hours? This is just one of the messages pet care company PURINA is touting in its new campaign ‘Together We Can’.

The Nestle-owned brand surveyed more than 1,000 dog and cat owners and found that the recycling rate for pet food tins falls below the rate for other waste materials, with just 66 percent of respondents saying they always recycled their tins. Curiously, though, a third of those that claim to recycle their cans say they do so to protect the environment for their pets.

PURINA’s Regional Marketing Director Antal Van Hout said: “We know the special bonds between pet owners and their pets mean that many will go out of their way to make their pets’ lives happy and healthy.

“We also know that the environment we all live in is as important to our pets as it is to our own health and wellbeing and we want to encourage British pet owners to help make a difference to all our pets’ futures by recycling their steel pet food cans.”

The brand’s new campaign encourages pet owners to pledge to recycle their pet food cans, and offers them the chance to win a whopping £2,000 off their energy bills. Check it out here.

Are cats having an ‘apocalyptic’ effect on the environment?

BBC Springwatch star Chris Packham stirred controversy last week after claiming that domestic cats could have an ‘apocalyptic’ impact  on the environment.

In an interview with Radio Times magazine he said: “In Australia, introduced species such as foxes, rabbits, rats and cats have had an apocalyptic impact.

“They’ve decimated the indigenous fauna and as a direct consequence the natural ecosystems of this continent have been damaged.

“In urban areas, cats are the culprits and when they go feral they wreak havoc in the countryside, killing bandicoots, wallabies, quolls and bettongs; the intricate relationships of the entire ecosystem are destroyed and it collapses and dies.

“Although it’s in a very different part of the world, it makes you wonder what an impact Tibbles has on our own beleaguered, battered and badly damaged ecosystems.”

According to Packham, over 200 million creatures are killed by domestic cats each year. This figure could be reduced by as much as 50 percent if owners introduced a ‘cat curfew’, he says.

In response to horrified cat owners’ complaints, he added: “I love cats, I think they are beautiful, a wonderful predator. But what’s the point of feeding birds in the garden if you’re feeding them to your cat?”

Flatulent cows’ effect on environment to be scientifically measured… by lasers

It sounds like the premise to a bad joke, but a team of scientists using lasers has been commissioned to find out just how much gas Britain’s cows are releasing into the atmosphere.

The agriculture industry is thought to be responsible for around eight percent of all British greenhouse gas emissions, thanks mainly to the less-than-fresh releases from cattle and other farm animals. But the exact figure is unknown. After all, how straightforward would it be to measure the methane escaping from a cow’s derriere?

As the government is committed to reducing greenhouse gases by 34 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, Defra has asked a team of experts from the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington to develop an accurate way of measuring the flatulence from a herd of cows. The endeavor will be part of a £12.6m project into understanding how farming leads to climate change.

To reliably measure the gas, scientists plan to use lasers to monitor the atmosphere across an entire field.

Alan Brewin, who is overseeing the project, told The Telegraph“We use lasers to interact with the gas in the field. The way the light is absorbed tells you what gas there is, how much of it there is, which direction it is flowing in and how fast.”