Old boy Sass farewelled.
Sadly we euthanized one of our Stewart Island founder kakapo, Sass, yesterday. Sass had been of relatively poor condition for the last few years and has gone down hill steadily over the last 3 months.
He was extremely light weight, had developed cataracts in both eyes recently, and in the last few days appeared to have been suffering from kidney failure.
As an adult of unknown age, Sass was found in April 1980 and transferred to Codfish Island in July 1987 (along with Nora, he was first to be transferred to Codfish).
He had fathered 6 chicks – ‘Robbie’, ‘Palmersan’, ‘Te Kingi’, ‘Blake’, ‘Kumi’ and ‘Kuihi’. He also had 3 grand-chicks through Kuihi – ‘Awarua’, ‘Waihopai’ and ‘Hokonui’, so his genetics are relatively well represented in the population.
Birds of an unknown age account for 34% of the kakapo population. Seeing some age related mortality is not unexpected, but reminds us of how rare and precious the kakapo are.
Sass’s passing takes the world kakapo population to 123. He will be greatly missed, but his legacy lives on.
update: back in 2005, my friend matthias rohaut was lucky enough to meet sass at his feeding station, and he was also able to take pictures. (matthias got to see more kakapo than any of us). he also gave me permission to post them here, so i’ve uploaded two photos.
kakapo (strigops habroptilus)
there has been a major breakthrough in the kakapo recovery programme this year: semen specimen were collected earlier last year, and a total of six female kakapo were artificially inseminated, resulting in 2 confirmed successes: two of the fertilized eggs were a direct result of artificial insemination.
AI is especially important because there are a few males who dominate the gene pool of the 124-strong population.
whale wars season 2 is coming up on june 5th in the US, and they’ve released a trailer and some clips on youtube:
earlier this year, i wrote about the then-upcoming EU vote to ban seal products from “commercially harvested seals”. it took place last tuesday, and the bill passed with an overwhelming majority .
Europeans Limit Seal Imports, as Canadian Officials Protest
In a blunt challenge to Canada and thousands of Canadian seal hunters, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to ban the importing or sale of furs and other products from commercially harvested seals.
Canadian officials immediately criticized the ban, which could take effect within several weeks, for not exempting countries like Canada that have guidelines requiring humane, sustainable hunts.
The vote, 550 to 49 with 41 abstentions, was welcomed by animal welfare groups that have fought the seal hunts for decades.
The European ban would not cover products from seals killed in subsistence hunts by the Inuit and other indigenous northern communities.
more information: press release of the european parliament
the regulation will be effective 3 weeks from now.
it feels good to be a european!
there’s a brand-new entry on the kakapo recovery programme website:
11 March 2009
The chick tally rises to 14 this season, pushing the kakapo population into three figure territory with a grand total of 105 and counting. The kakapo team and its numerous dedicated volunteers are excited to hit the 100 milestone. Celebrations have been brief though as the team focus on ensuring the good health of the new arrivals, and continue to monitor the remaining 23 fertile eggs.
Austria, Hungary keep their GMO bans
EU environment ministers defeated a proposal on Monday that would have forced Austria and Hungary to lift their bans on growing certain genetically modified crops.
But there has been a bitter debate over genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, which are widely used in U.S. agricultural products. Most GMO products are banned in Europe, for fear that their seeds will accidentally spread and alter natural surroundings.
The EU Commission proposal was rejected by 22 of 27 member states on Monday, meaning the two nations can maintain their bans.
France and Greece also have imposed similar “safeguard” bans on the MON810 variety, citing studies that find it unsafe to the environment. Their bans also are facing scrutiny from the EU Commission.
without a doubt, genetically modified organisms have a great potential for medicine, agriculture etc..
in my view, there’s just a big difference between corporations making more money and enslaving farmers (such as monsanto and syngenta), and addressing the world’s most significant nutrition problems (such as vitamin A deficiency and golden rice).
partly related: GloFish was the first genetically modified animal to be available in pet stores (2002).
Canadian Senator Mac Harb Introduces Legislation To End The Seal Hunt
For the first time ever, a Canadian poliician has introduced legislation to put an end to the largest remaining marine mammal slaughter in the world: Canada’s commercial seal hunt.
The Honourable Senator Mac Harb (Liberal) successfully introduced Bill S-229, casually referred to as the “Harb Seal Bill”, for first reading in the Canadian Senate. The bill would bring an end to the commercial hunting of seals in Canadian waters, while protecting the rights of aboriginal peoples to hunt seals.
there’s an email campaign from the IFAW that could really make a difference.
meanwhile, in other parts of the world: [more...]