Wildlife in danger as demand from restaurants rises

VietNamNet Bridge – Encouraged by profits, restaurant owners are hunting for precious wildlife and serving dishes made from animals listed in the Red Book.

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The image sent by a restaurant owner to reporters

Despite the ban on trading wildlife, restaurants are still selling dishes made of wild birds and animals. The restaurants are well known to people, and are reportedly known to the police and state management agencies.

Nguoi Lao dong’s reporters managed to contact Long, 49, a taxi motorbike driver at the Thanh Hoa farm produce market in Thanh Hoa district of Long An province.

Long is one of 10 drivers who specialize in carrying wild birds and animals from the market to restaurants in HCMC.

Long said he has four shipments to HCMC a week. He also told reporters, who acted as buyers, to call him if they wanted to buy pangolins, mink and snake in from sanctuaries, or come to the market and contact Hung, Ba, and Tu. The three men have supplies from Vietnam and Cambodia.

Despite the ban on trading wildlife, restaurants are still selling dishes made of wild birds and animals. The restaurants are well known to people, and are reportedly known to the police and state management agencies.

From Long, reporters got the mobile phone number of Khang, the manager of a restaurant in district 1, HCMC. Khang said on the phone that he has weasel, porcupine and black coot available, while the supply of pangolin has been interrupted for half a month.

Just some minutes later, Khang sent images of wild animals to reporters’ phones.

N is not the only restaurant that serves wildlife meat in HCMC. The other well known names include ones in district 3, 1, 7 and 3. However, only loyal clients or special guests can order dishes made of rare and precious animals.

Along Highway No 1, in Hau Giang province, there are two well known markets that sell fresh wildlife, including the Nga Bay snake market and the wild bird market in Cai Tac Town.

In the markets, some products are displayed in open air, while rare and precious animals are hidden and will be shown to clients after they accept the prices.

B.R Restaurant on Nguyen Thi Dinh street is the most ‘famous’ in Buon Ma Thuot City of Dak Lak province. The woman at the restaurant said she only sells real wildlife meat, and if clients want live animals, they should arrive 30 minutes early to see how the animals are slaughtered.

“If your group has 20 members, you should order one 3 kilogram of weasel, with which we can prepare three dishes, and one 3 kilogram cobra,” she said.

“If you want something more precious, you could order pangolin, VND4 million per kilogram. This is only affordable for the rich,” she said.

https://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/environment/211311/wildlife-in-danger-as-demand-from-restaurants-rises.html

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As Chinese companies make inroads into Bolivia for infrastructure and resource extraction, locals have found that they can earn up to $215 selling jaguar fangs to Chinese employees. This new demand has now inspired hunters to go into the Amazon jungle to hunt commercially.  Sadly, that is part of a trail of blood spattered across the planet, taking the shape of Chinese characters for trinkets and various “traditional medicines” that spell out ivory, rhino horn, jaguar fangs, swim bladder, shark’s fin and a host of other ghastly products.

The color red signals danger in primates and in many human cultures, but in China it symbolizes good luck. The seas, forests, plains, and deserts of the world are now soaked in blood thanks to an ancient demand for wildlife parts to cure human maladies and to serve as status symbols that sadly have been found to have no medicinal value by scientific tests. That’s one narrative, but there is another, something more sinister than primitive superstition: eat it because it’s exotic. This is going on every day, all over the world.

Jaguar fangs in the end market in China are worth as much as their weight in cocaine. National Geographic recently published a stunning article about how the cats are “killed to order” in Suriname for the overseas Chinese market.

A scientist I know who works in the tropical forests of Guyana, far from Bolivia on the north coast of South America, says he has heard that local hunters are in touch with Chinese agents in country’s capital city of Georgetown to procure jaguars. If it’s happening in Bolivia and also in Suriname and Guyana it’s easily conceivable that jaguars are being hunted for their fangs everywhere in between across the Amazon basin. The King of the Amazon, it seems, is nothing more than a potential gaudy trinket for China’s nouveau riche to hideously flaunt.

Chinese state-owned companies have sunk their fangs into forests adjacent to Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park—called the world’s most biodiverse ecosystem by scientists—while just last year Chinese poachers were arrested at sea with 300 tonnes of endangered sharks in Ecuadorian waters. That illegal haul equaled 6,000 sharks and the crew of 20 Chinese poachers were given sentences of up to four years in prison. In fact, Chinese demand for shark’s fin basically blankets the planet.

In 2016, a staggering 8 million dead seahorses were intercepted in Peru bound for China. Farther down on the South American continent in Argentina a Chinese poaching vessel was caught (and later destroyed) carrying 180 tonnes of illegally caught squid in Argentinean waters. And Chinese appetite for South America’s wildlife is not limited to the surf and turf, but also the skies. In 2016 HK$2 million worth of wild and illegally-imported macaws were intercepted by marine police and customs officers before they could be offloaded in Shenzen.

If the Amazon railway that China envisions for South America ever becomes a reality, linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, wildlife poaching and deforestation will no doubt rapidly increase. The same can be said of the proposed and China-backed Nicaragua Canal if that ever happens.

In Mexico, the vaquita is down to perhaps just a dozen individuals, thanks to Chinese demand for its swim bladder, and there are no other known populations of this incredibly beautiful sea creature. Vaquita fish bladder can be sold to the Chinese for US$30,000 and is now considered “the cocaine of the sea.”

Farther out to the east in the Caribbean Sea, Chinese appetite for rare land turtles—as well as sea turtles—was documented in the late Archie Carr’s classic book The Windward Road. Carr followed up a report that a Chinese merchant in Trinidad was in possession of a rare yellow-footed tortoise(Carr classified it as Testudo denticulate at that time).

Carr finally located Mr. Yow: “He was the most outrageous-looking Chinese I ever saw, a character from a poor melodrama, a debauched Fu Manchu. He was short, fat, and unwashed, with spiky hair, mouth slacked open, and belly hanging free…Yow said that he had only two and that he kept them to eat, not sell.”

Carr was trying to save the tortoises by purchasing them, and his friend finally prevailed by reminding Yow that he had “done favors for him in the past.” Finally: “Yow looked at the tortoises for a moment with a rapt reverence and they stirred him so deeply he could not be silent.…His voice trailed off in a long moan of falsetto ecstasy.”

Carr eventually procured the tortoises. That was in Trinidad in the 1940s, and what it shows is that there is no place that is too far away or obscure for Chinese demand for wildlife, and there never has been.

Farther north in Canada, a bear poaching ring was recently broken up and the customers of these illicit Canadian gunslingers were those seeking bear gallbladders on the Asian market. South of the border, two Michigan men were arrested for poaching black bears to sell to the traditional Chinese medicine market. Even in North America, bears are not safe from Chinese demand for their gallbladders. Chinese mining companies threaten wildlife habitats as far afield as Greenland.

Exploitation of Africa has been well-documented, with elephant herds and rhinoceros populations plummeting in recent years thanks to Chinese as well as Vietnamese demand. Nonetheless, it’s worth mentioning some specific cases here. Gabon’s forest elephants are coming under major pressure for their ivory, which will be shipped to China if the great beasts are unfortunate enough to encounter a poacher, and the same goes for the elephants of MozambiqueBotswanaKenyaEthiopia, and every other African nation that has elephants, ditto for rhinoceros.

Chinese demand and poaching are so rampant in Namibia that Namibian Chamber of Environment recently published a letter stating that the bush meat trade flourished anyplace that Chinese nationals were working on infrastructure projects, and in addition that Chinese citizens are involved in “illegal collection of shellfish on the Namibian coast Capturing and killing of Carmine Bee-eaters at their breeding colonies by means of nets; Importing Chinese monofilament nets via Zambia to the northeast of Namibia, which are destroying the fisheries of the Zambezi, Chobe, Kwando and Okavango Rivers.”

Off the coast of West AfricaChinese fishing (poaching) vessels are clearing out the sea of any and all fish species. They are literally robbing African fishermen of their livelihoods. Ploughshare tortoises in Madagascar are rounded up and snuck onto flights bound for China. The number of African pangolins being hunted and sent to China is simply mind-blowing. Chinese infrastructure projects in Africa, like the new train line in Ethiopia, will, in addition to spurring the bush meat trade as it did in Namibia and elsewhere, also drive resource extraction and environmental degradation.

There is simply no end in sight. A stack of heavy books could be written on Chinese consumption of wildlife in South America, North America, Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, and everywhere in between (even tiny Palau has the Herculean task of chasing away Chinese and Taiwanese fishing vessels). And when Chinese nationals are caught by local authorities for engaging in the wildlife trade, what happens?

It seems that if you throw a bunch of money their way, freedom is yours, as was the case in Suriname when Chinese nationals caught with jaguars were “fined” and then walked away. If this is how justice is carried out across the globe, and especially in the tropics, there won’t be much left of the world’s natural heritage in the not-too-distant future.

___________________________________________________________________

By: Gregory McCann

This is the first installment of the author’s series on how China chew its way through the natural resources of its Asian neighbors. Check out the other stories in this series:


There is a monster chewing its way through the wildlife of its smaller, weaker Southeast Asian neighbors. The monster can change forms—like a shape-shifter—but it goes by one name: China. The region’s wildlife is rapidly disappearing, being sucked into the vortex of the illegal wildlife trade that leads to China.

In the Burmese border town of Mong-La, everything from tree-dwelling civets to clouded leopards, from tiger claws to elephant skin, and from pangolin scales to bear gall bladder is on sale, with the vast majority of customers coming over the border from Yunnan. National Geographic just this month ran a stunning if disturbing article on the plight of the “dinosaur of the skies”—the majestic Helmeted Hornbill.

The Hornbills’ numbers are crashing and in a few short years have been downgraded from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered by the IUCN. The Chinese are after their heads, literally. Their solid red casques are considered “red ivory” They are actually made of keratin, the same stuff as your fingernails and, incidentally, rhino horn, and rhinoceros are another species which have been virtually wiped off the face of the Southeast Asian map thanks to a misplaced belief that ground rhino horn can cure cancer and a host of other human ailments.

So dire is the situation of the Helmeted Hornbill that governments in this species range (Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, and Myanmar) have recently formed a joint management and conservation plan to attempt to ensure that this otherworldly bird has a future outside of China’s markets. Asia Sentinel also published a story specifically about the hornbill hunters of Sumatra last year, and how those hornbill heads are sold to Chinese middlemen in the city of Medan.

Mainland Chinese investors in Singapore and Chinese Singaporeans are buying—mostly illicitly—so much sand from Cambodia’s coastal Koh Kong province that irreparable environmental damage is now becoming manifest. A well-informed source told me that one sand barge was so enormous that it took eight tugboats to pull it to Singapore. Activists from the NGO Mother Nature were arrested after filming illegal sand barges in Cambodia, and some of this group’s members had to flee to Thailand. The removal of riverbed sand—which is prized construction material—annihilates the river’s ecology, decimating fish populations and the wildlife that depends on them, such as river dolphins, otters, and fishing cats. Chinese investors are also behind the recent clearing of mangrove forests in Koh Kong, another nefarious activity that will cause significant environmental degradation.

Chinese developers, backed by Beijing, have begun the initial stages of construction on a highly controversial hydroelectric dam in Sumatra’s Batang Toru forest, which is home to a Critically Endangered population of Sumatran Orangutan, as well as Sumatran tigers and Helmeted Hornbills—all listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered, with the last two being Critically Endangered largely due to Chinese demand for their carcasses. Now they are all even more endangered as a result of this dam, which will flood prime forest habitat and put the 800 or so orangutans—as well as other species—at immediate risk of extinction (in the case of this sub-species orangutan, which is only found in Batang Toru) and local extinction (for tigers and helmeted hornbills).

Over in Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo, China Power Investment, a hydroelectric company, is investing US$17 billion in a massive dam project on the Kayan River, a project which will flood primary forest in the Heart of Borneo and put a myriad of wildlife species at risk and will forever change the ecology of this region. Chinese companies are also connected with illegal logging in prime Bornean orangutan habitat in West Kalimantan’s Sungai Putri Landscape, a debacle which has been ongoing for over two years’ now.

The ghastly trade in elephant skins from Myanmar has been driven largely by Chinese demand, as is so often the case for wildlife products from the region, and Burmese timber continues to make its way into Yunnan. Much has already been written about the Chinese enclave in northern Laoswhere casinos also serve up barbecued tiger, bear, and other protected species. One can only imagine what is being taken out of the surrounding seas and forests in the Chinese enclaves of Sihanoukville and Koh Kong in Cambodia, not to mention the South China Sea.

Mong-La in Myanmar, Botun in Laos, Sihanoukville in Cambodia, and Medan in Sumatra all serve as major conduits—some might even say black holes—for the region’s wildlife into the great Chinese illegal wildlife market (vortex). The “sucking sound” is heard loudly in these places today, just as it always has in Bangkok’s Chinatown and continues to be heard there today.

Sea turtles, sea horses, sea cucumbers, shark finsyellow-margined box turtles in Taiwan, tiger bones and furs and penis, pangolin scales, rhinoceros horn, elephant skin and ivory, clouded leopard pelts, helmeted hornbill casques, bear bile, deer antlers, red coralrosewood treesmassive cave-riddled limestone outcrops (which are ancient coral reefs) ground up into construction powder, and even sand itself as mentioned at the beginning…are all being robotically sucked up in the most hideous vortex of greed and ignorance the world has ever known. If it moves, eat it; if it doesn’t move, build with it. That seems to be the Chinese mantra. Use, use, use, until there is nothing left to use anymore.

China is building so many dams on the Mekong River that this great river of the world will likely be rendered unrecognizable in the near future, and its plans for the Brahmaputra, which spills out of Tibet and into India and Bangladesh, and other Himalayan rivers, are just as scary. And it is worth noting that the Brahmaputra runs through India’s world class Kaziranga National Park, and a significant drop in the river levels there could imperil Asia’s largest population of rhinoceros, as well as further endanger tigers, elephants, leopards, and a host of other species that find refuge in Kaziranga.

China is also far and away the biggest polluter of the world’s oceans, dumping many times more plastic into the seas than any other country on the planet. Research carried out in China shows that air pollution there is so bad that it is equivalent to losing a year’s worth of education. Chinese factories are also pumping out massive amounts of the banned ozone-killing chemical CFC-11, threatening to erase over a decade’s progress in repairing damage to the ozone layer caused by this substance.

The planet, apparently, is just a place to trash, with the skies a vast chimney and the oceans the toilet bowls. This is not, of course, an attitude unique to China (though the consumption of exotic wildlife is, with Vietnam in second place), but because of China’s size and rising wealth—and the accompanying desire for more consumer products and other forms of wealth like cars and additional homes—this country’s footprint on the Earth will be gargantuan, and most likely irreparable.

Are there any signs of hope? The Chinese appear to be walking away from a dreadful hydroelectric project in Nepal, and Malaysian PM Mahathir has shut down several key Chinese-backed infrastructure projects in his country that were part of the supposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), all of which would have caused environmental damage, would have threatened wildlife, and plunged the country deep into debt. Mahathir also recently made a statement casting doubt on whether “foreigners” (Chinese) would get visas to live in the massive Forest City project in Peninsular Malaysia. More Southeast Asian countries need to carefully scrutinize any BRI projects lest they become “debt traps.” From an environmental perspective, the BRI is just about the worst thing that could possibly happen.

China itself is moving to protect what remains of its intertidal mudflats on the coast of the Yellow Sea, which are vital stopover points for migratory shorebirds. However, in North Korea, which still has vast intact tidal mudflats, Chinese investment threatens—and already is—transforming these into places where migrating birds cannot stopover. The trashing of Tibet continues unabated.

And of course China’s trashing of the natural world isn’t limited to Asia. Jaguars are being slaughtered for their fangs, which are sold as trinkets to Chinese consumers, and this is putting pressure on the largest wild cat of South and Central America.  The vaquita porpoise is down to a dozen individuals in Mexican waters, thanks to Chinese superstitious beliefs in the medicinal use of its swim bladder.

Nearly 100 African elephants were recently found slaughtered in Botswana with their tusks missing, which are probably already in China or Hong Kong, while fleets of government subsidized long-distance fishing vessels scour the Earth’s oceans, plundering the most remote corners and stealing from the exclusive zones of sovereign nations. I could go on, but that’s another article.

Some can argue that we need China’s cooperation, so perhaps it is better not to call the country out the way I have. Cooperation is needed, that’s true. But there is no guarantee that the world going to get it, or at least anywhere near in the amount that is needed, or get any meaningful cooperation at all, for that matter.

What will work? Economic sanctions? Good luck with that. Who has the guts to follow through with the tough sanctions that might force real, meaningful changes in China? Maybe all we can really do is be ecotourists and see what remains before it’s gone.

Nonetheless, fight the good fight. It’s worth fighting, even if the chances of success are slim.

Gregory McCann is the Project Coordinator for Habitat ID and the author of the book Called Away by a Mountain Spirit: Journeys to the Green Corridor. You can find him on Twitter, and you can support his conservation projects in Cambodia and Sumatra here.

The Effects of Meat Consumption on Climate Change and What Needs to Change in Liberia

 0
Arthur R.M. Becker

Shifting diets away from meat could slash in half per capita greenhouse gas emissions related to eating habits worldwide and ward off additional deforestation which is a major contributor to climate change. The Environmental impact of meat production varies because of the wide variety of agricultural practices employed around the world.


By Arthur R.M. Becker


All agricultural practices have been found to have a variety of effects on the environment. Some of the environmental effects that have been associated with meat production are pollution through fossil fuel usage, animal methane, effluent waste, and water and land consumption. Meat is obtained through a variety of methods, including organic farming, free range farming, intensive livestock production, subsistence agriculture, hunting, and fishing.

The 2006 report Livestock’s Long Shadow, released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, states that “the livestock sector is a major stressor on many ecosystems and on the planet as a whole. Globally it is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases (GHG) and one of the leading causal factors in the loss of biodiversity, while in developed and emerging countries it is perhaps the leading source of water pollution. A 2017 study published in the journal Carbon Balance and Management found animal agriculture’s global methane emissions are 11% higher than previous estimates based on data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.Some fraction of these effects is assignable to non-meat components of the livestock sector such as the wool, egg and dairy industries, and to the livestock used for tillage. Livestock have been estimated to provide power for tillage of as much as half of the world’s cropland.

According to production data compiled by the FAO, 74 percent of global livestock product tonnage in 2011 was accounted for by non-meat products such as wool, eggs and milk.Meat is also considered one of the prime factors contributing to the current sixth mass extinction. A July 2018 study in Science asserts that meat consumption will increase as the result of human population growth and rising individual incomes, which will increase carbon emissions and further reduce biodiversity.

In November 2017, 15,364 world scientists signed a Warning to Humanity calling for, among other things, drastically diminishing our per capita consumption of meat

Consumption Trends

Changes in demand for meat in Liberia may change the environmental impact of meat production by influencing how much meat is produced. It has been estimated that global meat consumption may double between 2000 to 2050, mostly as a consequence of increasing world population, but also partly because of increased per capita meat consumption (with much of the per capita consumption increase occurring in the developing world). Global production and consumption of poultry meat have recently been growing at more than 5 percent annually. Trends vary among livestock sectors. For example, global per capita consumption of pork has increased recently (almost entirely due to changes in consumption within China), while global per capita consumption of ruminant meats has been declining.

The effects of meat consumption in Liberia like many other countries contributes significantly to the emissions driving climate change. It has been estimated that livestock production contributes:
• 14.5% of overall greenhouse emissions;
• Significant amounts of particular gases (5% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions; 44% of anthropogenic methane emissions; and 53% of anthropogenic nitrous oxide emissions);

Sources of emissions include:
• Direct sources such as enteric fermentation by ruminants (39% of emissions) and manure (26%)
• Indirect sources such as the production, processing and transport of animal feed (which accounts for 45% of sector emissions).

Wider environmental problems include the degradation of grazing land due to problems such as overgrazing, as well as pollution from animal waste and runoff from pesticides/fertilisers used to grow feed crops.

Climate change potentially affects quality and availability of fodder and feed and may accelerate degradation of grazing land (e.g. because of increased drought or flood risk) as well as the threat of disease (e.g. because of warmer temperatures). At particular risk are arid and semi-arid grazing systems in vulnerable regions such as sub-Saharan Africa.

What needs to Change in Liberia?

If the effects of meat consumption is this challenging to causes of global warming and climate change the following need to change, through Climate SMART Animal.

Farming/Agriculture in Liberia:

• Breeding more productive animals;
• Improving diets so that animals produce more protein with less feed and lower emissions;
• Better manure management (e.g. composting);
• Better herd management to improve output, including better herd health management with less reliance on antibiotics;
• Better management of grassland (e.g. sowing improved varieties of pasture, rotational grazing)
• Public Awareness raising;
• Climate SMART Animal Farming/ Agriculture policies introduced and implemented;
• Trainings on Climate SMART Animal Farming for local farmers

We need to act now in a collective and global way to ensure that the impacts of Climate Change associated with meat consumption is robustly tackled by every person and every nation through the meaningful strategies and Climate SMART change behavioral patterns/trends we employ.

We are hopeful that Liberia and other countries will choose some of these best practices associated with Climate SMART Animal Farming or agriculture; as these steps recommended will help mitigate the herculean challenges associated with tackling the impacts of Climate Change due to the effects of meat Consumption.

Every steps counts in tackling Climate Change, and that first step begins with everyone and every country of which Liberians and Liberia is of no exception.

Arthur R.M. Becker is Project Officer for Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) Environmentalist & Junior Climate Change Negotiator at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Liberia

Eating too many hot dogs is linked to mania, study finds

 

https://www.seattlepi.com/science/article/hot-dog-mania-episode-beef-jerky-johns-hopkins-13086597.php?utm_source=newsarticle&utm_medium=toppicks&utm_campaign=cps

Updated 

According to a new study, beef jerky, hot dogs, and other cured meats may contribute to mental health disorder, mania.

Media: Buzz 60

Watch out, Joey Chestnut.

A new study by scientists at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has linked eating too many hot dogs and salamis with the onset of mania.

ALSORuth Bader Ginsburg issues controversial ruling that hot dogs are sandwiches

The study, published Wednesday in Molecular Psychiatry, found that the nitrates present in processed and cured meats like hot dogs, salami. bacon and beef jerky may contribute to mania, a high-energy mood state that can manifest as part of bipolar disorder or, more rarely, schizoaffective disorder.

In order to qualify as a manic episode, a mood disruption must last a week or more and go along with some combination of decreased need for sleep, inflated grandiosity, a surge in talkativeness, racing thoughts, heightened distractibility and agitation, and excessive involvement in risky pleasure-seeking activities like sex and spending money, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Mob slaughters 300 crocodiles in Indonesia following death of local man

The mass killing was in retaliation after a villager was recently killed by crocodile.
by Associated Press /  / Updated 
Image: Local residents look at the carcasses of hundreds of crocodiles

A mob slaughtered nearly 300 crocodiles at a breeding ground in retaliation for the death of a local man, officials said Monday.Olha Mulalinda / Antara Foto via Reuters

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A mob slaughtered nearly 300 crocodiles at a breeding ground in Indonesia’s West Papua province in retaliation for the death of a local man, officials said Monday.

A total of 292 crocodiles were killed by hundreds of villagers on Saturday following the funeral of a 48-year-old man who was killed by crocodiles after entering the area around the breeding pond, said Basar Manullang, the head of the local Natural Resources and Conservation Agency.

The man was believed to have entered the sanctuary in the Klamalu neighborhood of Sorong district to cut grass for his cattle.

“Since killing the crocodiles is illegal, we are coordinating with the police for the investigation,” Manullang said.

The agency said in a statement that the villagers were armed with machetes, hammers, shovels and other sharp weapons. They killed two large crocodiles of up to 13 feet and many babies measuring 20-60 inches.

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Witnesses said about 40 policemen came to the scene but were too outnumbered to stop the mob.

Police said about five witnesses have been questioned but no suspects have been named.

Police are encouraging mediation between the victim’s family and Mitra Lestari Abadi, the company that operates the sanctuary.

Report: meat industry responsible for largest-ever ‘dead zone’ in Gulf of Mexico

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Most people know by now that a plant-based diet is better for one’s mental and physical well-being. But did you know that reducing your consumption of meat — whether from bovine, chicken or pig — can also benefit the environment? It’s an important revelation, one more people need to learn, as a new report reveals that toxins poured into waterways by major meat suppliers have resulted in the largest-ever “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf of Mexico, dead zone, animal agriculture, meat, pollution, toxic, waterways, ocean, algae blooms,

The report was conducted by Mighty, an environmental group chaired by former congressman Henry Waxman. It was determined that toxins from manure and fertilizer which companies are pouring into waterways are contributing to huge algae blooms. This, in turn, creates oxygen-deprived areas in the gulf, the Great Lakes, and the Chesapeake bay.

As a result of the pollution and worsening algae blooms, it is expected that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) will confirm that the Gulf of Mexico has the largest ever recorded dead zone in history. Concerned environmental advocates predict it to be nearly 8,200 square miles or roughly the size of New Jersey.

The report blamed American citizens’ vast appetite for meat for driving much of the harmful pollution. Small businesses, as well, are “contaminating our water and destroying our landscape,” said the report. Said Lucia von Reusner, campaign director at Mighty, “This problem is worsening and worsening and regulation isn’t reducing the scope of this pollution. These companies’ practices need to be far more sustainable. And a reduction in meat consumption is absolutely necessary to reduce the environmental burden.”

Gulf of Mexico, dead zone, animal agriculture, meat, pollution, toxic, waterways, ocean, algae blooms,

To determine the findings, Mighty analyzed supply chains or agribusiness and pollution trends. It was found that a “highly industrialized and centralized factory farm system” is primarily responsible for converting “vast tracts of native grassland in the midwest” into mono-crops, such as soy and corn. When it rains, the stripped soils can easily wash away, resulting in fertilizers entering streams, rivers, and oceans.

Related: Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone” in 2017 could be the largest on record

Tyson Foods, which is based in Arkansas, was identified as a “dominant” influence in the pollution. This is because the company is a major supplier of beef, chicken, and pork in the United States. The Guardian reports that every year, the supplier slaughters 35 million chickens and 125,000 cattle every week. Its practices require five million acres of corn a year for feed. Unfortunately, Americans’ appetite for animal products is only expected to increase in future years, which spells trouble unless the majority of the United States adopts high-quality, organic plant-based diets which require fewer resources to grow and are less detrimental to the environment.

Mighty is urging Tyson and other firms to use their influence and to ensure grain producers, such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, implement practices that reduce pollution in the waterways. These changes include not leaving soil uncovered by crops and being more efficient with fertilizers so plants are not sprayed with so many chemicals. While more action needs to be taken, the report, at the very least, raises awareness about the pervasive issue which demands attention.

Via The Guardian

+ Mighty

Images via WikimediaPixabay

Meat glut in U.S. a fear in trade war

By Nathan Owens

This article was published today at 4:30 a.m.

 

Arkansas farmers, ranchers and producers have been hedging their bets and bracing for the fallout from a potential U.S. trade war with China.

After the decision by President Donald Trump’s administration to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products, the U.S. singled out China with plans to impose duties on $34 billion in Chinese imports. Chinese trade officials have said they are prepared to impose an extra 25 percent tariff on 500 U.S. products, including beef, pork and soybeans.

Travis Justice, chief economist of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, said he fears the tariffs could lead to a domestic meat glut. When production surpasses demand because of higher prices — an oversupply is common, Justice said.

“Because of the huge reliance on China, it’s going to make feed costs lower, which will be supportive of raising more beef,” Justice said. “I see a meat glut coming in response to this.”

While slipping beef and pork prices are a concern to Arkansas, Justice said “the biggest impact is on the row-crop and soybean side. Roughly half of those imports or more go into China.”

Soybeans account for more planted acreage in the state than rice, corn and wheat combined, according to the Arkansas Farm Bureau. Arkansas ranks 10th in the nation in soybean production, and China is the largest buyer of U.S. soybeans.

[FULL LIST: Chinese products that will be subject to additional tariffs + more products under review]

Arkansas-raised meats, by comparison, do not rely as heavily on China’s market. Citing data from the International Trade Administration, the Arkansas World Trade Center said almost half of the state’s exports go to Western Hemisphere nations. The bulk of Arkansas-raised meat — $2.1 billion — goes to Canada or Mexico, data show. Agriculture accounts for 43 percent of the state’s exports to Mexico (27 percent) and Canada (16 percent), followed by Haiti (10 percent) and Hong Kong (6 percent).

China is the third-largest buyer of U.S. pork, but the Arkansas’ hog production is not what it used to be. Cash receipts attributable to hogs fell from $100 million in 2007, to just under $57 million in 2016, according to the Arkansas Farm Bureau.

U.S. chicken products were also placed on China’s tariff list, but U.S. chicken products have been banned from import in China because of a bird-flu scare three years ago. According to the National Chicken Council, the ban is still in effect.

Meanwhile, consolidated food companies, such as Tyson Foods — with beef, pork and poultry operations across the nation — fear the loss of their competitive edge because of the ongoing trade dispute.

“With the current volatility in trade relations, we’ve experienced day-to-day uncertainty in our ability to deliver products and services to customers,” a Tyson spokesman said in an email. “With countries imposing retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products, Tyson Foods as well as others in U.S. food and agriculture, will lose our competitive advantage in critical export markets like Mexico, Canada and China.”

A sliver of the total beef raised in Arkansas goes to China. U.S. beef accounts for 1 percent of China’s imports after regaining access last summer, when a 14-year ban that stemmed from a mad-cow disease scare was lifted, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Justice did not have state-specific numbers for Arkansas beef exports, because most of the cattle raised in Arkansas is processed elsewhere.

According to the Arkansas Farm Bureau, Arkansas-raised cattle account for 14 percent of the total value of U.S. beef exports. These include exports to the state’s largest trading partners: Mexico and Canada. The latter enacted additional tariffs on U.S. beef at the beginning of July.

Dan Wright, a member of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, said he’s been involved in the beef industry for 45 years. Wright, 57, raises poultry and produces hay on his farm in Waldron.

“I don’t see anything happening until some of this stuff can be hashed out,” Wright said. “What’s really going to affect our prices is the NAFTA deal.”

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, $339 million of exports from Arkansas are threatened by the trade war. A recent study, which compared each state’s top three annual exports, shows that cotton ($12 million), aluminum scraps ($2.8 million) and bone-in, fresh or chilled bovine ($211,000), are the top Arkansas exports targeted for retaliatory tariffs by China.

Justice said he expects to see the fallout from a trade war later this year, when calving season starts and soybean farmers harvest their crops. He has seen prices for beef, pork and soy dip lower with each updated forecast.

“The ramifications come in the prices,” Justice said.

Business on 07/06/2018

Humans just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals – study

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/21/human-race-just-001-of-all-life-but-has-destroyed-over-80-of-wild-mammals-study

Groundbreaking assessment of all life on Earth reveals humanity’s surprisingly tiny part in it as well as our disproportionate impact

Cattle farm at Estancia Bahia, Agua Boa, Mato Grosso, Brazil
 A cattle farm in Mato Grosso, Brazil. 60% of all mammals on Earth are livestock. Photograph: Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace

Humankind is revealed as simultaneously insignificant and utterly dominant in the grand scheme of life on Earth by a groundbreaking new assessment of all life on the planet.

The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to the study. Yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, while livestock kept by humans abounds.

The new work is the first comprehensive estimate of the weight of every class of living creature and overturns some long-held assumptions. Bacteria are indeed a major life form – 13% of everything – but plants overshadow everything, representing 82% of all living matter. All other creatures, from insects to fungi, to fish and animals, make up just 5% of the world’s biomass.

Another surprise is that the teeming life revealed in the oceans by the recent BBC television series Blue Planet II turns out to represent just 1% of all biomass. The vast majority of life is land-based and a large chunk – an eighth – is bacteria buried deep below the surface.

“I was shocked to find there wasn’t already a comprehensive, holistic estimate of all the different components of biomass,” said Prof Ron Milo, at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, who led the work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“I would hope this gives people a perspective on the very dominant role that humanity now plays on Earth,” he said, adding that he now chooses to eat less meat due to the huge environmental impact of livestock.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2018/05/all_life-zip/giv-3902Sgt2JYGV7lbj/

The transformation of the planet by human activity has led scientists to the brink of declaring a new geological era – the Anthropocene. One suggested marker for this change are the bones of the domestic chicken, now ubiquitous across the globe.

The new work reveals that farmed poultry today makes up 70% of all birds on the planet, with just 30% being wild. The picture is even more stark for mammals – 60% of all mammals on Earth are livestock, mostly cattle and pigs, 36% are human and just 4% are wild animals.

“It is pretty staggering,” said Milo. “In wildlife films, we see flocks of birds, of every kind, in vast amounts, and then when we did the analysis we found there are [far] more domesticated birds.”

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2018/05/livestock-zip/giv-3902QQbv2wCQM1xg/

The destruction of wild habitat for farming, logging and development has resulted in the start of what many scientists consider the sixth mass extinction of life to occur in the Earth’s four billion year history. About half the Earth’s animals are thought to have been lost in the last 50 years.

But comparison of the new estimates with those for the time before humans became farmers and the industrial revolution began reveal the full extent of the huge decline. Just one-sixth of wild mammals, from mice to elephants, remain, surprising even the scientists. In the oceans, three centuries of whaling has left just a fifth of marine mammals in the oceans.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2018/05/wildlifelosses-zip/giv-39025SaTVRineiu5/

“It is definitely striking, our disproportionate place on Earth,” said Milo. “When I do a puzzle with my daughters, there is usually an elephant next to a giraffe next to a rhino. But if I was trying to give them a more realistic sense of the world, it would be a cow next to a cow next to a cow and then a chicken.”

Despite humanity’s supremacy, in weight terms Homo sapiens is puny. Viruses alone have a combined weight three times that of humans, as do worms. Fish are 12 times greater than people and fungi 200 times as large.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2018/05/humanvother-zip/giv-3902p90ROfRxGU0x/

But our impact on the natural world remains immense, said Milo, particularly in what we choose to eat: “Our dietary choices have a vast effect on the habitats of animals, plants and other organisms.”

“I would hope people would take this [work] as part of their world view of how they consume,” he said. ”I have not become vegetarian, but I do take the environmental impact into my decision making, so it helps me think, do I want to choose beef or poultry or use tofu instead?”

The researchers calculated the biomass estimates using data from hundreds of studies, which often used modern techniques, such as satellite remote sensing that can scan great areas, and gene sequencing that can unravel the myriad organisms in the microscopic world.

They started by assessing the biomass of a class of organisms and then they determined which environments such life could live in across the world to create a global total. They used carbon as the key measure and found all life contains 550bn tonnes of the element. The researchers acknowledge that substantial uncertainties remain in particular estimates, especially for bacteria deep underground, but say the work presents a useful overview.

Paul Falkowski, at Rutgers University in the US and not part of the research team, said: “The study is, to my knowledge, the first comprehensive analysis of the biomass distribution of all organisms – including viruses – on Earth.”

“There are two major takeaways from this paper,” he said. “First, humans are extremely efficient in exploiting natural resources. Humans have culled, and in some cases eradicated, wild mammals for food or pleasure in virtually all continents. Second, the biomass of terrestrial plants overwhelmingly dominates on a global scale – and most of that biomass is in the form of wood.”

Police arrest pet owner who killed dog hunter in China

Police arrest pet owner who killed dog hunter in China
Screenshot of the CCTV still posted taken from Asia Wire via Metro. It shows the assailant shooting the dog and leaving

The pet owner is now being questioned by police

Police arrested the pet owner who reportedly killed a dog hunter at Yangzhou in Jiangsu province of China.

The dog hunter has allegedly killed the detainee’s dog with poison dart.

The pet owner chased and slammed the assailant “into a brick wall [of a shop] with his car” when he discovered his dying dog.

Meanwhile, the deceased is accused of killing half a dozen dogs using the darts, according to the Metro.

CCTV footage, which was shared online, reveals the dog hunter on his scooter shooting a dog with the dart gun and leaving.

Yangzhou city police confirmed that the man died at the scene.

The pet owner is now being questioned, they added.

The owner’s family have reportedly claimed that he got “the pedals confused as he was driving and did not intend to ram the suspected dog thief with his car.”

In December last year, eight gang members were reportedly arrested after 200,000 dogs were poisoned. The vendors hunted dogs and traded dog meat in restaurants, reports The Telegraph.

The dart, which instantly kills dogs, contains a large dose of muscle relaxant suxamethonium which could harm people who ate the dog meat.

https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=https://www.google.com/url?rct%3Dj%26sa%3Dt%26url%3Dhttps://www.dhakatribune.com/world/2018/01/21/police-arrests-pet-owner-rammed-dog-killer-china/%26ct%3Dga%26cd%3DCAEYCCoUMTA5OTA3MDI5OTM0Mzg2MTgwMjEyGmQzNWFhYmI2YmE2MTljMmU6Y29tOmVuOlVT%26usg%3DAFQjCNHxwFzAvNQJL9tpYbZsBRVizI8CjQ&source=gmail&ust=1525369361273000&usg=AFQjCNH0a3BAIqg07env3bmDE0t-DWGkgA

Fossilized footprints tell a story of how our ancestors hunted giant sloths

giant sloth hunting

There’s plenty that archaeologists and paleontologists can learn from the bones and other artifacts left behind by ancient creatures and mankind’s own ancestors. Researchers can figure out what they looked like, where they lived, and who ate who, but painting a detailed picture of more advanced behavior is much more challenging. How ancient humans hunted, for example, is a huge topic of interest for many scientists, but evidence to support any theories is pretty rare.

A newly-discovered collection of fossilized footprints is giving researchers a rare glimpse into the past and helping them tell the story of how our ancestors once brought down a now-extinct creature that would have towered over them: the giant sloth.

The footprints, where were discovered at the White Sands National Monument, part of which is a US military testing ground. Today, the dry, barren location is a great place to test missiles without the risk of casualties, but 10,000 years ago it was the site of an epic battle between ancient humans and a massive ground sloth.

Giant sloths went extinct thousands of years ago, but at one time they were the target of human hunters. The reason for the species’ extinction is still debated, but some scientist blame overhunting as the cause. What these new footprints tell us for sure is that our ancestors seemed to have a pretty good idea of how to take them down, with circling footprints of multiple hunters surrounding one such sloth distracting it while others presumably attacked it with spears or other crude weapons.

“Geologically, the sloth and human trackways were made contemporaneously, and the sloth trackways show evidence of evasion and defensive behavior when associated with human tracks,” the researchers write in the study, published in Science Advances. “Behavioral inferences from these trackways indicate prey selection and suggest that humans were harassing, stalking, and/or hunting the now-extinct giant ground sloth in the terminal Pleistocene.”

Whether violent confrontations such as this were ultimately the cause of the giant sloth becoming extinct will likely never be conclusively proven, but the evidence that humans hunted these so-called “megafauna” on a large scale is mounting. Maybe that’s why modern animals are so darn small?