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Concern Worldwide Doing Some Great Work In Bangladesh

by
Sharat
on
Dec 15 2014
Concern Worldwide Doing Some Great Work In Bangladesh

Concern Worldwide is partnering with Bangladeshi parliamentarians to make sure the issues which affect the country’s most vulnerable and poorest citizens are being dealt with. The aid agency is working with two All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG’s) comprising 30 members of the Bangladeshi parliament who will prioritise the issues which affect two groups of people that are severely disadvantaged.

Concern working with two groups of people

The two groups include people who live in the disadvantaged haor regions, which are wetland areas that are particularly prone to extreme seasonal flooding. The other group consists of urban pavement dwellers. Both groups are marginalised as a result of extreme poverty which means they are under-represented by the political system. Concern is trying to ensure that the issues affecting both groups of people gain visibility politically and the agency says it is reaping positive results.

Protecting communities

The haor region can be submerged under water for nearly half the year, which means that agriculture is adversely affected. It also means that people who live there don’t have access to basic social services or communications, as a result they are in need of help. The political advocacy work undertaken by Concern has meant there has been funding of essential maintenance work to dams and embankments in advance of seasonal flash flooding.

Ensuring recognition

Concern has also successfully lobbied for pavement dwellers to be officially recognised in significant national policy papers such as the “ City Corporation Ordinance”. When the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development formally approves the inclusion of the term pavement dweller, it will ensure they get access to vital social services they so badly need.

Advocacy for the disadvantaged

The two parliamentary groups have published two books which highlight the plight of urban pavement dwellers and the people of haor. The books offer recommendations as to how the members of parliament might address the issues that are at stake. Concern is presently looking to extend the partnership for an additional three years as it seeks to build on the great work already done.

Image courtesy of Concern Worldwide

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World Vision Marks One Year Anniversary Of Typhoon Haiyan

by
Sharat
on
Nov 30 2014
Haiyan

November 8th marked the one year anniversary of the world’s strongest typhoon slamming into the Philippines with devastating force. Over the last 12 months World Vision has been working hard to enable those that survived the terrible storm to start rebuilding their lives for what will hopefully be a brighter future. The organisation has managed to provide assistance to 750,000 people, nearly three quarters of which were unfortunately children.

A sombre occasion

Andrew Rosauer World Vision’s Response Director says whilst he is proud that his team gave one hundred per cent to the response, the one year mark was a sombre occasion that is dedidcated to the emotional loss people suffered from the storm. To that end, Mr. Rosauer and his team chose to commemorate the occasion with a candlelight memorial in Tacloban.

“It is important to remember those who lost their lives this time last year, and to honour the survivors’ courage, tenacity and strength. It is also a time to acknowledge the people who are still finding it difficult to adjust with so many losing loved ones, their homes, and their livelihoods. We have had a focus on ‘building back better’, but there are still many challenges ahead as we work with the communities to restore livelihoods and to prepare for disasters yet to come.”

Long term income is the biggest problem

The biggest problem seems to be one of finding and sustaining long-term income opportunities after so many people either lost their primary income earner, or their usual sources of income in the storm. Another problem is reducing the people’s vulnerability to future emergencies and improving their resilience. World Vision has provided assistance to 2,500 households that are the most vulnerable, including single parent or child headed families as well as the elderly and disabled.

Lots of people have been helped

Aside from providing shelter, the affected families were given help with their livelihoods, education and health. The agency organised cash-for work programs that supported over 85,000 individuals, with more than 21,000 receiving benefits such as livestock distribution, business start up tool kits and skills trainings.

“This year has had so many disasters that required the world’s attention: From the crisis’ in Syria, Gaza, South Sudan, the Ukraine and the Ebola outbreak– it’s fair to say that the typhoon has been sharing the world stage with other pressing issues. But the 8th of November is a time for the typhoon to be remembered. Filipino’s are always smiling and have a remarkably positive outlook. Behind the day-to day commitment of moving on, there are many heavy hearts.” Mr. Rosauer said.

Final phase of the emergency response

World Vision has now moved into the rehabilitation stage which is really the last phase of its response. Mr. Rosauer says he understands the critical part the communities play in both physical workmanship and decision making when it comes to rebuilding, so that they have the skills to deal with any other future shocks and also feel empowered.

Image courtesy of World Vision

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WWF Concerned By Accelerating Deforestation In Amazon

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Sharat
on
Nov 15 2014
WWF Concerned By Accelerating Deforestation In Amazon

Recently it was confirmed by the National Institute for Space Research that the amount of deforestation in the Amazon touched 5,891 square kilometres between July 2012 and August 2013. That represents an increase of approximately 29 per cent compared to the previous year. The deforestation rate exceeded government forecasts by 1 per cent. The government forecast was made publicly available following pressure from non- governmental organisations and with figures like that, it is hardly surprising that many people are worried.

Will Deforestation Quicken?

WWF Brazil’s Marco Lentini says he wonders whether the announcement means that in the coming years there will be an increase in the deforestation rate in the Amazon rainforest. The most recent rate may have been caused by government regulation such as the new Forest Code. However Mr. Lentini says it is only possible to confirm this hypothesis when the preliminary rates for 2013 to 2014 are made available, which should occur following the Brazilian general election.

“The government talks about ‘efficiency’ in the fight against deforestation, with a 79% reduction since 2004’. But any deforestation – particularly illegal – is totally unacceptable and should be stopped immediately”, said Mr. Lentini.

There Are Huge Consequences

Aside from the loss of biodiversity, deforestation in the rainforest means that economies and communities that depend on the Amazon face an uncertain future. There are of course consequences for the climate as well which are caused by changes in the rainfall levels and increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Lentini says it is important to strengthen the mechanisms which are used to protect and value the rainforest such as the Forest Code. There is a need to monitor deforestation across all Brazilian biomes which also contain a wide range of biodiversity and are losing their vegetation cover without people noticing.

Government Should Implement Conservation Proposals

WWF-Brazil has made several proposals designed to encourage sustainable development and defend Brazil’s natural riches that were debated by the main candidates in the 2014 election. WWF has said there should be monitoring of deforestation on an annual basis as well as the implementation of prevention and control plans for each biome which would put a halt to illegal deforestation so that the target of zero vegetation loss is achieved. With support from the Dilma Roussef government it is hoped that much of the deforestation that is threatening the Amazon rain forest will soon be curtailed.

Amazon rainforest by Nguyen Ngoc Chinh, on Flickr

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Elephant Population In Mara-Serengeti Rises Says WWF

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Sharat
on
Oct 30 2014
Elephant Population In Mara-Serengeti Rises Says WWF

There has been an increase in the number of elephants living in the world famous Mara-Serengeti ecosystem that straddles Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa. According to the results of the latest aerial survey, the elephant population in the region has increased from 2,058 elephants in 1986 to 7,535 this year.

The wet season Serengeti-Mara aerial census report was released by Tanzania’s Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism and called for closer cooperation between Tanzania and Kenya to ensure poaching and the illegal wildlife trade in the region is kept at bay.

Poaching Prevalent Outside Protected Areas

During the survey there were a total of 192 elephant carcasses that were counted, of which 75 were found in Tanzania and 117 were in Kenya. The ratio of carcasses to live elephants was well within the normal range of what is required to maintain a stable or increasing population of elephants.

Despite the increase in elephant numbers in the region, conservationists remain concerned by the fact that 84% of the dead elephants found in Kenya lay outside the Masai Mara National Reserve. What was more worrying was the absence of tusks. This suggests that elephants that do not live in protected areas could be threatened by poaching.

Conservation Communities Want Governments to Improve Policy

The conservation community in Tanzania and Kenya are calling on their governments to improve their elephant management policies as well as make use of technology in the fight against the illegal trade in wildlife. Additionally the conservationists want there to be better management of elephants who live outside the protected areas. Both governments remain keen to partner with conservationists to achieve durable solutions to the challenges faced by endangered species including the rhino as well as the elephant.

WWF Looking To Find Long Term Solutions

The WWF and other conservation organisations are working closely with the governments to find long term solutions to the menace caused by poaching. A lot of the efforts are focused on technology and anti-poaching equipment. There is also engagement with the private sector and engaging communities though anti-poaching campaigns. Efforts are also being made to work with communities to reduce conflict between wildlife and humans and developing national and regional databases that will manage rhino and elephant populations.

According to WWF the Mara-Serengeti landscape is a priority and the organisation has focused its funding on conservation in this region. WWF is lobbying for the introduction of strong cross border cooperation between Tanzania and Kenya to manage poaching across the entire landscape.

Image Courtesy of WWF

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The Aspinall Foundation Returns Five Javan Primates To Their Original Home

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Sharat
on
Oct 15 2014
The Aspinall Foundation Returns Five Javan Primates To Their Original Home

World renowned conservation group The Aspinall Foundation which has had unrivalled success in captive breeding of endangered species, says that it is beginning to take the initial steps of returning a group of Javan primates to their original home land where they have nearly been hunted to extinction.

The Aspinall Foundation says it will return a total of five Javan grizzled langurs. The organisation has already flown out the animals to the Javan Primates Rehabilitation Centre (JPRC) in West Java. There were two males and three females that have been returned plus an additional three Javan ebony langurs were also sent home from the Foundation’s Port Lympne Reserve.

Back To The Wild Initiative

Returning the animals to their original stomping ground is part of the Aspinall Foundation’s “Back to the Wild” initiative. Under the program, the charity is returning captively bred animals ranging from endangered species such as gibbons, black rhino, European bison, clouded leopards and gorillas to their native homeland where the survival of these species is being threatened.

Before leaving the UK the langurs were given a battery of veterinary checks to make sure the animals were not carrying any infectious diseases. The process will continue throughout their pre-release phase whilst they are in quarantine in Java. Once the langurs are released into the wild their breeding patterns, habits and movements will be closely monitored by a team of scientists.

Rebuilding Populations In The Wild

The purpose of the Javan project is to rebuild viable populations of primates in the wild, where numbers have dropped as a result of hunting and habitat destruction. Damian Aspinall, Chariman of the Foundation said:

“It is our guiding philosophy that modern conservation must embrace the over-riding need to breed endangered species and then return them safely to the wild in order to restore populations devastated by mankind. These animals belong in their natural habitats on the planet and therefore merely breeding animals and keeping them two by two in captivity for the entertainment of the public can no longer of itself be a valid conservation aim.”

Aside from increasing the indigenous population with captively bred primates and those primates that have been rescued by the charity’s East and West Java centres, the Foundation along with the government of Indonesia is seeking to reduce the practice of poaching and trading of the species through awareness, education and information.

Image Courtesy Of The Aspinall Foundation

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WWF Condemns Seismic Testing In Virunga

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Sharat
on
May 24 2014
WWF Condemns Seismic Testing In Virunga

Despite intense international opposition and local protests, British company Soco International PLC will begin the seismic testing phase of its hugely controversial Virunga National Park oil exploration project.

According to residents who live near the park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), parts of Lake Edwards will be shut to fishing whilst the company explores for oil reserves. If oil deposits are indeed found then the WWF says it believes the company will drill oil exploration wells on the lake

“WWF condemns in the strongest terms Soco’s unacceptable operations in Virunga National Park. It is irresponsible for Soco to disregard the national and international laws protecting this World Heritage Site. The company is putting the livelihoods of thousands of people at risk,” said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Conservation at WWF International.

The fishery at Lake Edwards is responsible for annual income of US$30 million for the people who live near Virunga National Park says WWF who commissioned a study which also found that 50,000 households depend on the lake for their drinking water.

Apart from the loss of revenue and fishing jobs, the environmental report commissioned by Soco itself suggests that exploratory drilling could result in air pollution, water contamination, pulmonary diseases, and habitat loss in the incredibly fragile ecosystem.

The British foreign office reiterated concerns by expressing its opposition to the Soco’s plan in Virunga. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has also voice strong objections as well as EU member states.

“Fishermen, farmers and local entrepreneurs who depend on Virunga are objecting vehemently to Soco’s presence in their park, and numerous members of the international community have joined them. Virunga could be a source of hope for eastern DRC if is fisheries, hydropower and ecotourism potential is developed sustainably. Soco should not be allowed threaten the future of this irreplaceable park. As a publically-traded company, Soco is accountable to its shareholders. We urge investors to reject exploration in Africa’s oldest and most biodiverse national park,” Gustavsson said.

Image Courtesy of WWF

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Ambam The Gorilla Celebrates Birthday At Port Lympne

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Sharat
on
May 14 2014
Ambam The Gorilla Celebrates Birthday At Port Lympne

Ambam is arguably the most famous western lowland gorilla and is a resident at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park. He is celebrating his birthday in style after achieving fame when his gorilla walks like a man video went viral back in 2009 registering over 5.9 million hits. Ambam weighs 220 kilograms and has the ability to stand fully upright and is one of the few gorillas who is able to do this. If you are visiting the park you should also keep an eye out for Ambam’s sister Tamba who also has a two year old son Kabale, both of whom also have the ability to walk upright.

Recently Ambam celebrated his 24th birthday with a cake that was baked especially for him by SugarRush Baking Company in Hastings. The cake was completely gluten and sugar free and made using pumpkin seeds, bananas, apples and carrots. The bottom tier of the cake was made with icing made from apple puree and beetroot, whilst the top of the cake iced with ingredients such are swede puree, carrot and parsnip. The cake itself was decorated with almonds, banana chips, grapes, and aubergine.

Lynsey Mclean, owner of SugarRush Baking Company explains: “I was delighted to be asked to bake a birthday cake for Ambam and had a lot of fun designing it.”

Phil Ridges, Head of Gorillas adds: “All gorillas have the ability to stand upright to some degree although they often choose not to, but Ambam and his sister have a particular talent at standing and walking completely upright on two legs.”

At present Port Lympne Wild Animal Park serves as home to 20 lowland gorillas which are listed as being critically endangered. Gorilla numbers have declined by over 60 per cent over the last quarter century in response to habitat loss, disease induced mortality and high levels of hunting. Last summer the Park working in collaboration with the Aspinall Foundation sought to relocate a family of Gorillas from Kent back to Africa.

Image courtesy of The Aspinall Foundation.

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Cancer Research UK Says Organic Food Does Not Lower Risk Of Cancer

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Sharat
on
Apr 28 2014
Cancer Research UK Says Organic Food Does Not Lower Risk Of Cancer

According to a new study in the British Journal of Cancer, women who usually eat organic foods are no less likely to develop cancer than woman who follow a more conventional diet.

Cancer Research UK scientists say they could not find any evidence that would suggest a diet that is free from pesticides results in a reduction in the overall risk of a woman developing cancer.

The researchers polled 600,000 women aged 50 or above about whether they consumed organic foods. In addition to that they tracked the development of the 16 most common cancers during a period which lasted nine years following the survey. During that period, as many as 50,000 participants developed cancer.

When the scientists examined the results for the 16 types of cancer they found a reduction in the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma but a small increase in the risk of breast cancer. However it must be stated the results could be the product of chance or other factors.

Pesticides are used extensively in agriculture and concerns have been raised that their use could result in an increase in the risk of developing cancer. Until now however the evidence has not been strong enough to provide concrete answers. Conventionally grown fruit and vegetables do contain tiny amounts of pesticides but so far there has been no evidence that it increases the risk of cancer.

Dr Claire Knight, Cancer Research UK’s health information manager, says the results of the study adds to evidence that organic food consumption does not mean a lower risk of cancer. For those people who are concerned about pesticide residue on their fruit and vegetable, the best thing they can do is wash before eating.

“Scientists have estimated that over nine per cent of cancer cases in the UK may be linked to dietary factors, of which almost five per cent are linked to not eating enough fruit and vegetables. So eating a well-balanced diet which is high in fruit and vegetables – whether conventionally grown or not – can help reduce your cancer risk.”

Image courtesy of Cancer Research UK

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WWF Says IPCC Report Shows Climate Change Impacting Humans And Animals

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Sharat
on
Apr 14 2014
WWF Says IPCC Report Shows Climate Change Impacting Humans And Animals

The latest IPCC report says climate change will most certainly impact communities and wildlife however there is still time to act.

The report which was recently released details the most comprehensive evidence that the planet is in desperate need of our help. It confirms the fact that climate change is occurring and it is affecting the things that matter the most.

The report combines the impact of climate change on both humans and nature and highlights our vulnerability to a warmer world.

According to the evidence, climate change is having an effect on some of the world’s most endangered species. Droughts throughout South East Asia are being predicted which will lead to a fragmentation of tiger habitat and impact the ability of the tiger to both breed and hunt. The panda is also at risk of losing its essential food source bamboo and the future of the snow leopard is also in doubt with the prediction that their Himalayan forest habitat will decline.

The research also shows that there will be increasingly intense extreme weather such as the floods experienced by the UK last year. The report also predicts that economic well being around the world is likely to be negatively impact without any rapid reduction in emissions that are the product of our use of fossil fuels.

The good news however is it’s not too late according to Samantha Smith, leader of the WWF Global Climate & Energy:

”The [IPCC] report makes it clear that we still have time to act. We can limit climate instability and adapt to some of the changes we see now. This report tells us that we have two clear choices: cut emissions now and invest in adaption or do nothing and face a world of devastating and unmanageable risks and impacts.”

Whilst the distance between what governments are doing and what the science is predicting is huge with the support of ordinary people like yourself we can lobby our elected representatives to do something and start building a more stable future for all of us.

Image courtesy of WWF

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The Aspinall Foundation Pleased To Announce The Arrival Of A Gelada Baboon

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Sharat
on
Mar 25 2014
The Aspinall Foundation Pleased To Announce The Arrival Of A Gelada Baboon

The mission at Howletts Wild Animal Park is to preserve animals. Therefore it goes without saying the park is thrilled to announce the birth of a new Gelada Baboon.

It is still far too early to be able to tell the sex of the two week old infant however keepers are very happy with how well Sereba the mother of the new addition is caring for her new born. The Gelada Baboon is a unique species of primate in that it is the only type that feeds primarily on grass. The species is sociable and lives in large hierarchical groups.

Adam May a Primate Keeper at the park says he is extremely pleased that Sereba is taking care of her new born so well. Mr. May says the new addition should be a good playmate for its brother Leena who was born back in 2010.

Howletts Wild Animal Park likes to distinguish itself from regular zoos because of its dedication to animal conservation. The Park is well known for its extreme commitment to animal welfare. Howletts provides large enclosures that allows animals the freedom to enjoy foliage and privacy as they choose. The Park as a result has become one of the top breeding sanctuary’s for some of the most en

Howletts Wild Animal Park, near Canterbury in Kent, distinguishes itself from conventional zoos through its devotion to animal conservation and is well known for the high standards of its animal welfare. The park offers fantastic large enclosures that allow the animals to enjoy natural foliage and privacy as they choose. As a result, the park has successfully become a breeding sanctuary for some of the world’s most endangered animals.

Neil Spooner, Animal Director commented: “We are committed to providing the highest standards of animal conservation and hope to lead by example to other zoos. It has been great to celebrate so many animal births recently, and we are very proud of our latest gelada baboon infant.”

Port Lympne and Howletts Wild Animal Parks both work very closely with The Aspinall Foundation which is a leading animal conservation charity. In 2013 the charity was responsible for the successful return of a family of Western lowland gorillas from Kent to the African wild.

Image Courtesy of The Aspinall Foundation

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