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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

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

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

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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WWF Thrilled Nepal Has Year Of Zero Poaching

The WWF says it is pleased to announce that Nepal was able to achieve a zero poaching incidence rate for the year ending February 2014.

The WWF has been working very hard to increase awareness around the illegal trade in wildlife all over the world so the news from Nepal is fantastic particularly when you consider rhinos, elephants and tigers are being rampantly poached in other parts of the world. This is the second year Nepal was able to celebrate a zero poaching success rate after having a fantastic year in 2011.

“The success of achieving zero poaching throughout the year is a huge achievement and a result of prioritizing a national need to curb wildlife crimes in the country. A national level commitment is key to encouraging complementing efforts, right down to the grassroots level, in order to address this biggest threat to wildlife not just in Nepal but across the world.” said Megh Bahadur Pandey, Director General of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.

Zero poaching in Nepal was achieved by increased enforcement efforts and strengthened protection efforts which were led by the Nepalese government. The announcement was made to coincide with World Wildlife Day on the 3rd of March 2014.

Anil Manandhar the WWF representative in Nepal said it was something to be very proud of to be able to mark World Wildlife Day with the announcement that there had been zero poaching in Nepal for a year. He added that the WWF remains committed to working with the government and other conservation partners to ensure that efforts are maintained to sustain the success.

The WWF will also honour nine other organisations that played an important role in achieving the success of zero poaching in Nepal. This includes the Nepal Police, Nepal Army, Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park, as well as the National Trust for Nature Conservation.

Image Courtesy of WWF

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Smoking Rate In England Drops To 80 Year Low

According to a new study by scientists from University College London shows the number of people who smoke cigarettes in England has dropped to its lowest level in nearly 80 years.

The data comes from a national study that has been surveying the smoking habits of people in England going back to 2006.

According to the study’s results in 2013 less than 20 per cent of adults were smokers. It’s very encouraging to see this snapshot of the number of smokers in England. Reassuringly, the figures are going down but it’s vital to remember the many millions of people who remain addicted to a lethal product. Half of all long-term users will die from smoking.” Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s head of tobacco policy, said.

Last year over 22,000 people over the age of 16 were polled and the percentage of smokers found was less than 20 per cent.

In the 20th century, there was a rapid increase in smoking rates which peaked just before the publication of a report which linked smoking and lung cancer in 1962. At that point nearly 70 per cent of males and 40 per cent of females were smokers.

The new data was published during the same week that legislation was passed in the UK to allow the introduction of plain standardized packaging.

“Reducing the numbers who smoke and the number of young people who start smoking must remain a focus. Plain, standardised packaging is key to protecting children from tobacco marketing. This week’s votes in parliament showed unprecedented support for tobacco control measures that will protect children from tobacco marketing and from second hand smoke. We urge the government to take the next steps to make standard packaging a reality as soon as possible.” Ms. Cox added

Smoking tobacco causes an estimated 60,000 cases of cancer in the UK each year and is responsible for approximately one in four cancer deaths in the UK.

Image courtesy of Cancer Research UK

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World Vision Joins Forces With HarvestPlus To Combat Hidden Hunger

Last month during the World Economic Forum in Davos, World Vision signed an agreement with HarvestPlus that committed both organisations to work together as they seek to improve nutrition for hundreds of millions of people that suffer from what is known as hidden hunger.

Hidden hunger is the absence in diets of crucial minerals and vitamins that puts both adults and children at risk of a variety of diseases and afflictions such as stunting, anemia, and even death. It is estimated that approximately one in three people suffer from hidden hunger with women and children at the greatest risk.

The new agreement sees both organisations combining to improve access to nutritious staple foods both for consumption at home and for sale at local markets.

Howarth Bouis Director for HarvestPlus says staple crops that are very nutritious are more readily available. There are over half a million cultivating such crops which provide higher levels of minerals and vitamins.

Mr. Bouis stressed that his organisation has limited reach and will have to work with partners who have experience in scaling up crop production. He added that World Vision has both the depth and reach needed to scale production in rural communities around the world. Both organisations are committed to exploring how best to do this together and gain a wider reach quickly with the most nutritious food.

The biofortication process is used to breed nutritious food crops. These varieties offer both higher yields and have greater resistance to pests and disease with some varieties even adapted to drought.

“World Vision is committed to improving nutrition for the world’s hungriest children, their families and communities. We can only do so much on our own. We believe more can be achieved by linking our comparative strengths with organizations like HarvestPlus, UN agencies like the World Food Programme, and companies like DSM.” said World Vision International President, Kevin Jenkins.

HarvestPlus and World Vision will begin their partnership by focusing on African countries such as Sierra Leone, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania and Burundi.

Image Courtesy of World Vision

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UNICEF Providing Assistance In South Sudan

UNICEF says it is growing more concerned about the safety of South Sudanese women and children as violence continues in the country and children are at high risk.

According to said Iyorlumun Uhaa of UNICEF South Sudan, roughly 194,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes and most of those people are women and children. Mr. Uhaa says that because the situation is so fluid the real number of people who have fled is probably much higher.

He added that the most vulnerable in any conflict are always the children many of whom lack shelter from the intense heat of the sun and are forced to sleep out in the open during the cold nights.

There are two UN compounds in South Sudan with the compound in Juba sheltering an estimated 25,000 people and despite intense fighting posing difficulties in reaching civilians seeking in Bor, humanitarian aid is reaching the Juba compound

UNICEF and other agencies are delivering sanitation food and water supplies into various towns around the country. The agencies are building toilets as they seek to bring hygiene and reduce the risk of disease. Emergency health care is being provided at the compounds and UNICEF is providing high energy biscuits for children aged between six months to five years that give the children much need nutrients.

UNICEF and its partners are delivering clean water supplies to camps and setting up tents. The agencies are registering families who have fled and helping reunite parents who have become separated from their children.

“UNICEF and the United Nations are committed to protecting civilians in South Sudan, regardless of their ethnic group, but it is really the leaders of this, the world’s youngest nation, who have the responsibility to protect their citizens and particularly their children. We urge all of the country’s leaders to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict and avoid further escalation.” Mr. Uhaa said.

Image Courtesy of UNICEF

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World Vision Joins “No Lost Generation” Initiative For Syria

A number of aid agencies which includes World Vision have combined to lend their voice to a call for governments, NGO’s and the general public to champion Syrian children by backing the “No Lost Generation” initiative.

The agencies are so worried about the crisis facing millions of children in Syria that they have all united behind the call for public support and donations to fund vital protection and education programmes designed to alleviate the problems of mental and emotional distress for Syrian children.

Conny Lennenberg World Vision’s Regional Leader for the Middle East and Eastern Europe says millions of children in Syria are in serious need, no longer in school and living in extreme vulnerability so it is important to try to support them.

Ms. Lennenberg added that all actors around the world should to do more to avoid the loss of a generation of children. The strategy is being called the “No Lost Generation” and will be formally rolled out to the public just ahead of a major conference in Kuwait that is designed to raise money.

You can find out more information about the plight of children in Syria on social media with the hashtag #childernofsyria. Alternatively there is a website where you can find information and learn about how children are being affected by the conflict.

World Vision Brussels and EU Representation Director of Advocacy and Justice for Children, Deirdre deBurca says World Vision is very pleased that the European Commission’s Humanitarian Office has chosen to support the website.

Ms. deBurca says that the EU is the single largest donor to the region and this means they must continue to support these efforts without which the children of Syria may well never end up recovering.

To get a sense of the unfolding crisis, nearly one million Syrian refugees are children with approximately half that number aged under five and there are three million displaced children in Syria itself who face an even more dire situation.

The “No Lost Generation” strategy has roped in a number of aid agencies and nongovernmental organisations that operate throughout the region. The strategy will funnel as much as $1 billion into prragammes that will provide protection from exploitation and deliver safe education. The programmes will also seek to prevent abuse and violence as well as offer psychological care and support.

Image Courtesy of World Vision

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Violence Against Women and Girls A Big Problem

World Vision says a one major problem that remains prevalent around the world is violence against women and girls, which is a particular problem either during an emergency or immediately in its aftermath.

“As the aid response to the Philippines disaster intensifies, and horrors continue to emerge from the war in Syria, the prevention of violence against women and children must be at the front of everyone’s minds. We know from experience working in emergencies for more than 60 years, that sadly, in emergencies children are at their most vulnerable. Studies show violence increases and it is often women and girls who suffer the most. And yet, protecting them is the most consistently under-funded aspect of emergency responses, receiving on average less than a third of what is needed.” said David Thomson, head of policy and programmes for child-focused aid agency World Vision.

Whilst governments and UN agencies debate how to prevent violence against women and girls during emergencies World Vision says efforts should focus on prevention and improving what it calls “survivor led accountability”

Mr. Thompson said the agency will know it is doing a good job when victims say so. Violence often worsens in response to lack of shelter, cramped conditions and a general lack of privacy. In many cases victims are simply too afraid to report violence or they do not know how. For this reason raising awareness and focusing on prevention is key.

As the world has been reminded with the impact of the typhoon in the Philippines and the continuing violence in Syria focusing on root causes will help prevent child abuse.

Image Courtesy of World Vision

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