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Visit Howletts Animal Park This Half Term And Celebrate Halloween

Visit Howletts Animal Park This Half Term And Celebrate Halloween

If you are planning a holiday this October half term, why not visit Howletts near Cantebury Kent which is one of the UK’s most successful animal parks. This holiday, the park will ensure the kids will have lots of fun with plenty of prizes to be won in various competitions, free activities and educational talks that will be given over the whole holiday.

Activities every day

The fun starts on Saturday 24th October and will continue to Sunday 1st November with activities taking place every day. These include the frightening fact trail which will educate visitors on the dangers animals face in the wild as well as plenty of talks that are filled with fun and facts. There is also a touch table that is simply terrifying that will give visitors the opportunity to build a hotel for bugs that serves to protect creepy crawlies.

“‘We’re open every day throughout half term and we’re encouraging all our visitors to get into the spirit of Halloween early with all our frightful fun activities. This year we are also holding a fancy dress competition, on Saturday 31st October, where participating visitors can win some fantastic prizes.’ Neil Spooner, Animal Director said.

Top attraction

There will be a number of activities to celebrate Halloween including a fancy dress competition, plus visitors will be able to participate in a workshop for pumpkin carving. Later on guests will be able to see the animals enjoy the tasty treats. Howletts Wild Animal Park has consistently been rated as a top attraction by reviewers on TripAdvisor and was recently inducted into the site’s hall of fame.

Lots of things to do and see

The park will have its doors open over the entire half term period and visitors will have the opportunity to wander throughout the 90 acres of extremely beautiful natural parkland and spot rare and endangered species. If you are really lucky you may even get to see the latest arrivals to the park, the adorable baby gibbons and many more.

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WWF Helps To Conserve The Amazon Rainforest

WWF Helps To Conserve The Amazon Rainforest

The world’s largest tropical rainforest conservation scheme is the Amazon Regional Protected Areas Programme also known ARPA. The scheme was launched by the Brazilian government back in 2002 in partnership with WFF and other conservation agencies. The goal was to take 60 million hectares of the rainforest in Brazil and turn it into a combination of strictly protected area and sustainable use.

The scheme is well funded

The scheme received some positive news recently when the government of Germany made the commitment to spend approximately US$ 33 million to finance the programme. A new presidential decree for ARPA also came into effect which brings the original 2002 decree up to date and formalises the scheme’s new goal of achieving complete financial sustainability for all the protected areas covered by ARPA in the next 25 years.

An innovative approach to conservation finance

The innovate approach to financing the conservation process was envisioned by WWF and its partner organisations just few years ago. The method involves a “transition fund” from which money will be given to Brazil over a period of time. The amount of financing the government will receive should be enough to cover the total amount it would cost to maintain the ARPA sites.

Many organisations helped

This has made possible because contributions are coming not just from WWF and Germany but a whole range of organisations. This includes the World Bank, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund, and the Linden Trust For Conservation. Without all these agencies coming together, the programme would never have gotten off the ground, and there is room for hope that one of the earth’s greatest natural resources, the Amazon rainforest will be kept safe for decades to come.

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WWF Says Companies More Aware Of Sustainable Timber Use

WWF Says Companies More Aware Of Sustainable Timber Use

According to WWF, more than100 business were assessed to see whether they were transparent and provided enough information when it comes to their sustainable use of timber. The authors of the report found four companies which scored the maximum ratings for sustainable timber use. These include Carillion, Travis Perkins, Saint-Gobain and Mace. The three tree rating suggests that these companies have made a very public commitment to sustainable timber use and there is visible evidence which suggests that they have implemented policies to ensure that only a sustainable amount of timber is being used in their products.

Lots of companies improving

Some large UK supermarket chains did very well in the study including Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s, so did book publishers Macmillan as did Marks & Spencer. There were a number of brands that occupied the middle ground when it comes to transforming their supply chains which indicated their progress has been solid. These companies include Penguin Random House, Boots and IKEA. Whilst this is good news, most companies have a long way to go.

Awareness being raised

The rating systems took into account the various policies and practices of the companies in relation to their use of sustainably sourced timber and related products. The scoring process was able to increase the awareness of bad practices by the companies that were being studied as well as the problem of deforestation which produces habitat loss and is one of the causes behind climate change.

Consumers are concerned

According to the latest WWF-UK research, consumers are concerned with the kind of timber being used and whether it is being sourced from. However there is very little information available to consumers to ensure they know that they are buying products made from sustainable timber compared to fair trade chocolate and coffee for example.

Change is possible

The results of the study do suggest that change is in fact possible and many consumer product companies are moving forward when it comes to the use of sustainable timber. Some companies in fact are making lots of progress however it is behind the scenes and these companies should also make the effort to make consumers aware.

“Some of the companies who didn’t fare so well have engaged with WWF-UK since they were given their scores, to look at how they can improve their policy and communication around sustainable timber. As a result, we have decided to update the scores in the autumn to reflect immediate changes made by businesses.” Julia Young of WWF-UK’s forest team said

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UNESCO Says Australia Must Restore The Health Of The Great Barrier Reef

UNESCO Says Australia Must Restore The Health Of The Great Barrier Reef

Environmental campaigners and those who depend on the Great Barrier Reef have received support from UNESCO. The agency recently declared that Australia must ensure the treasure must be protected from threats ranging from pollution and reckless industrialisation. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee says it will continue pressuring Australia to deliver on its promises to ensure the Great Barrier Reef is restored to health.

“This vote by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee demonstrates that green advocacy works: the Australian government is now effectively on probation over the protection of the Great Barrier Reef. For this amazing place to flourish again, governments and businesses alike have a crucial role to play. We will be watching progress and continue to protect this and other natural World Heritage sites,” said David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of WWF-UK.

Australia commits to improving the reef’s health

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International says Australia has committed to ensure the health of the reef remains a priority over damaging activities such as dredging and dumping the spoil. He adds that UNESCO will maintain a close watch on the reef and whether its condition improves. The issue is of critical importance to over half a million WWF campaign supporters and the millions of people all over the world who are concerned by the industrial destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.

UNESCO expresses concern

The committee’s final decision on the reef expressed concern that wildlife populations and their habitats have experience a general decline and the overall outlook for the reef is poor. The committee highlighted the fact that there remains major long term threats such as climate change and water pollution which must be tackled.

Australia must live up to its promises

In its decision, the committee requested Australia to make sure all its commitments are rigorously implemented so that the reef’s current documented declines are halted. Australia is required to report back to UNESCO by December 2016 on its progress and then make a follow up report three years after that in order to demonstrate effective and sustained protection of the reef.

Major threats remain

WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman says the major threats to the Great Barrier Reef are climate change and water pollution. He adds that the organisation will work non-stop to ensure that the marine ecosystem is restored to health. The decision by the World Heritage committee will maintain the pressure on Australia to live up to its promises and achieve results. It is important to bring back the corals and marine life that depend on the reef.

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Nepalese Rhino Numbers Rise by 21 Per Cent

Following the latest rhino count in Nepal, the country’s government has released very encouraging results. The good news is certainly a big boost to Nepal’s conservation efforts particularly at this difficult time, when the country is still dealing with the devastating earthquake which struck in April. The latest figures indicate Nepal’s rhino population has risen by 21 per cent during the last four years.

Nepal should be proud

According to the census, there are now 645 rhinos in the country compared with 534 when the last estimate took place in 2011. This means that there are now more rhinos in Nepal than at any other time since the 1950’s which is a huge achievement for the country and one that it should be rightly proud of. Anil Manandhar of WWF Nepal says that whilst these are difficult times for Nepal, it is stories such as these that offer a much needed ray of hope.

WWF provided support

WWF provided the financial and technical support that made the rhino count possible. Since the earthquake WWF staff in Nepal have been preoccupied with providing resources and support for the relief efforts and helping those that have been affected in the regions where they work. Nepal is also celebrating the fact that another 365 day period has passed without a single rhino being poached. This is the third time in five years that this has been achieved.

Hard work pays off

The results are a clear sign of both the commitment and hard work of the government of Nepal working side by side with WWF and other conservation groups and local communities to ensure that there is a bright future for this iconic species. The key to success has been modern patrolling technologies and constant vigilance because poaching threats are an ever present danger. Over the last year in Chitwan alone over 650 people have been arrested for involvement in wildlife crime.

The rhino count took place between April 11 and May 2 and was led by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and Forests Department in collaboration with the National Trust for Nature and Conservation and WWF Nepal.


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RSPCA Tips For Helping Wildlife Get Through Winter

Its freezing in the UK at the moment and the onset of really cold weather can in some cases leaves people with very little time to prepare. Whilst that may be the case, there are some things that people should really try and do in order to cut the risk to their pets and provide assistance to wildlife. Here are a few tips for helping both your pets and wildlife make it through the coldest part of the year.

Small things can make a big difference

You could for example wipe down a horse following exercise which would cut back on the risk of chill. If you have rabbits indoors then an obvious thing to do is provide a tray of grass for them. There are many other simple things that lovers of wildlife can do, and these small things can make a very large difference. You should stop to consider how the weather is affecting not just the people around you, but the animals as well.

Winter is particularly challenging for animals

Winter can be particularly challenging for squirrels, hedgehogs and birds. Anywhere between one to two thousand wild animals are taken to RSPCA shelters every year between December, January and February. These animals are usually suffering from hunger, cold and dehydration. This means it is important for people to understand how to handle situations like this.

There are lots of things people can do to help

There are lots of things individuals can do. For example, you could make your garden friendly for wildlife. This means leaving out food and maintaining your garden pond. Access to unfrozen clean water can make all the difference to whether animals in the wild are able to survive the colder months. Just melting a small hole in your garden pond can make all the difference.

Make sure your cat has access to indoor litter

If you have a cat at home, the RSPCA is recommending that you make sure you provide them with enough litter trays indoors, not just during the cold months, but throughout the year. During the icy weather, the ground outside may end up frozen and if your cat usually goes to the toilet outside, it may be put off from doing so. This means it is really very important to ensure your cat has suitable indoor toilet facilities.

Leave a little food outside for wildlife

If you own a dog, then make sure you dress them in reflective coats when taking them on walks during the night which will help both of you to stay seen and safe. Nicola White, an expert from the RSPCA says it’s the small things that can make the difference. If you leave just a little bit of extra food outside, a hungry badger or robin may be able to last the whole winter.

“We can all struggle when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and our wildlife friends are often the most vulnerable to the extremes the elements take. They just need a bit of a helping hand sometimes.”

Image courtesy of RSPCA

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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

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

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

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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