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Planet Sanctuary celebrating the animal and wildlife Kingdom, the beauty of our planet and highlighting endangered species and habitats in need of preservation and protection.

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Whale Sanctuary Project

Al McNeal
The mission of The Whale Sanctuary Project is to establish a model seaside sanctuary where cetaceans (whales and dolphins) can live in an environment that maximizes well-being and autonomy and is as close as possible to their natural habitat.
Background to The Whale Sanctuary Project
The Whale Sanctuary Project had its origins at a meeting at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in August, 2015. The group, consisting of 23 people, discussed the potential for the development of a seaside sanctuary and the ongoing care of whales and dolphins who might be retired from entertainment facilities or rescued from injury or sickness in the wild. The group included marine mammal scientists, veterinarians and trainers, engineers and architects, marketing, public relations and fund-raising specialists, managers and relevant NGOs.
The meeting concluded with a first draft of the mission and goals for a future organization.
Public Workshop: In December, at the 2015 Society for Marine Mammalogy conference in San Francisco, Dr. Lori Marino, Executive Director of The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, and Dr. Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist for the Animal Welfare Institute, presented a day-long public workshop entitled Sea-Pen Sanctuaries: Progressing Toward Better Welfare for Captive Cetaceans.
The workshop focused on the key issues relevant to developing and maintaining a permanent seaside sanctuary in North America for formerly captive and injured/sick whales and dolphins. There are sanctuaries for other large highly social and wide-ranging mammals, including elephants and great apes, but there are none anywhere in the world yet for dolphins and whales.
The workshop included presentations from some of the most experienced scientists, veterinary clinicians, engineers, attorneys, trainers, business experts and advocates in this field.
Group Workshop: The following day, a group of 25 people with expertise of various kinds related to the creation of a seaside sanctuary met at the offices of Earth Island Institute in Berkeley, California, to discuss the formation of an organization and to agree on its mission and goals, which can be viewed here. There was discussion of legal and policy issues related to the location of a sanctuary and the best way to go about a comprehensive search in North America.
It was agreed that such a sanctuary would be primarily for orcas, belugas and dolphins endemic to colder waters being retired from entertainment facilities or rescued from the ocean. Rescued animals might be returned to the wild, but those retired from the entertainment industry, who have never known life in the wild, would be unlikely candidates for release.
The sanctuary would be open to the public on a regularly scheduled basis in a manner that avoids disturbing the animals, and it would offer a comprehensive conservation and education program.
It was agreed that the next stage of the project was to begin an extensive site search that would narrow possible locations to three or four sites that would need detailed, on-site inspection; and to draw up a strategic plan for the building of the sanctuary, for the transport and continuing care of the first residents, and for the funding necessary to enable all of this.

Votes1 DateJul 4, 2017

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The Ocean Cleanup

Jack Calen
Trash accumulates in 5 ocean garbage patches, the largest one being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California. If left to circulate, the plastic will impact our ecosystems, health and economies. Solving it requires a combination of closing the source, and cleaning up what has already accumulated in the ocean.
Ocean garbage patches are vast and dispersed
Ocean currents concentrate plastic in five areas in the world: the subtropical gyres, also known as the world’s "ocean garbage patches". Once in these patches, the plastic will not go away by itself. The challenge of cleaning up the gyres is the plastic pollution spreads across millions of square kilometers and travels in all directions. Covering this area using vessels and nets would take tens of thousands of years and cost billions of dollars to complete. How can we use these ocean currents to our advantage?
To learn more about how you can get involved, donate and help out

Votes2 DateJun 12, 2017

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National parks

Congos Gorilla Doctors

Angela Horne
Story from:
Nina Strochlic
Saving Gorillas In A War Zone
Congo’s gorilla doctors hike deep into forests swarming with rebels and genocidaires, risking their lives to treat the endangered mountain apes.
The doctors’ scrubs are khakis and T-shirts, with surgical masks slung below their chins. Their ambulance is a four-wheel drive, light tan with a stern-looking gorilla emblazoned on the side. Their surgical instruments are a camera, GPS, and medical chart. Guiding this medical mission are their nurses: a group of steel-witted trackers armed with machetes.
Separating the doctors from their patients is the dense foliage and rebel-filled jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to a quarter of the world’s last 880 mountain gorillas.
On a hazy morning, Martin Kabuyaya and Eddy Kambale embark on a check-up of a family of endangered gorillas living deep in Virunga National Park in eastern Congo. The men with the machetes walk ahead, hacking through the vines. The doctors take the strenuous uphill climb with long, leisurely strides.
Kabuyaya and Kambale are the only two veterinarians tasked with caring for the estimated 200 gorillas who make their home in Virunga, Africa’s oldest and most biodiverse national park. They’re employed by an organization called Gorilla Doctors in one of the world’s most dangerous regions, a place that is perilous both for the animals and for their caretakers.
Their job is not only medical—it’s diplomatic. Eastern Congo has suffered 20 years of violence and lawlessness from a long-simmering war that has left 5 million people dead. Along with gorillas, the 2 million-acre park is home to at least a dozen rebel groups, including the last vestiges of the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. To reach their patients, the doctors must frequently negotiate with various heavily-armed rebels for access to the gorillas. They’re not always successful.
Hacking through the thick brush, Kabuyaya and Kambale and their team have hiked back to the last known GPS location of the ape family. From that point on, the tracking is done by sight: with eyes trained to the ground, they follow crushed leaves and droppings. They’ve already traveled deep into the jungle when they realize that the trail is no longer gorilla-made—it’s the path of a herd of unpredictable and deadly forest elephants. They quickly backtrack. Discarded bamboo sticks are spotted and feces are examined. A gorilla passed here three minutes ago, the trackers say.
“Now you see,” Kambale says in the confusion. “If one rebel group comes in this jungle how can you find them?”
Kambale, a 42-year-old father of three, is the head field veterinarian. He has spent more than a decade treating mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which means he’s navigated more than his share of wars and rebellions.
Within Virunga National Park, a battle rages over land rights, poaching, deforestation, and, most recently, oil. Decades of fighting have left gorillas—and their conservators—in the crossfire. More than 140 park rangers have been murdered in the park since the outbreak of Congo’s first war in 1996.
Gorilla Doctors was created around that the same time, in accordance with an idea that gorilla researcher Dian Fossey had been working on when she was killed in Rwanda a decade earlier. Today, Gorilla Doctors has veterinary teams working in the forested triangle of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Congo, home to the world’s last mountain gorillas.
In the first year of work for both Kabuyaya and Kambale, Virunga National Park was embattled by insurgencies. Kambale started in 2004, the same year a rebel group called the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) invaded the park.
Three years later, they seized area where the gorillas live and occupied it during a vicious two-year battle with the Congolese government. Even deep in the jungle, there was no escaping the conflict. “We can’t go far from politics,” says Kambale.
With permission from the rebels, the doctors continued operating in the park. “They can kill you,” Kambale says. “When we’d come into the forest they were checking our bags. It was stressful. You can lose your life, they can take you out in the forest and you disappear. Nobody would wish to work under those conditions.”
Sometimes, when the road from his home in the nearby city of Goma was too perilous, Kambale traveled a circuitous route into the jungle through the forests of neighboring Rwanda or Uganda. In 2006, he was captured after accidentally stumbling into a rebel’s camping site. They took him and his group into an old building and kept them for the night. He was released after he promised not to come again, but his colleague’s clothes, camera, and car battery were taken.
Yet Kambale shrugs off the work’s dangers, noting that no job in eastern Congo carries a guarantee of zero risk.
After three hours of hiking, a machete swing through the brush reveals a clearing filled with the hulking shapes of a gorilla family. The doctors approach with guttural grunts that signify their good intentions, but the creatures are occupied by a leisurely afternoon snack and barely notice. The doctors strap on their face masks and evaluate their patients.
The enormous, silver-toned patriarch, Mawazo, is lounging on his back, a bamboo stalk in his mouth and a female at his side. His group of eight has sprawled out over a heavily curtained area. There’s a gaping wound on his brow, which is what brought the doctors to him, but they observe it’s healing nicely. “He’s quite strong,” Kambale notes, camera at his eye and notepad in his hand.
Their approach is hands-off. Kambale zooms in with his camera lens as a female yawns, to survey her teeth and tongue. Another gorilla sits down and Kambale counts her breaths to check for respiratory disease, an ailment with the potential to wipe out an entire clan of gorillas. “The animals don’t tell you ‘I have pain here, I’m sick,’” says Kabuyaya. So they must observe from a distance, watching for abnormal behavior.
For more serious medical treatments, a cross-border team of intervention and protection specialists is called in. They might need to dart an animal with sedatives from afar, particularly if it’s a large silverback or a baby protected by its mother, and then perform surgery or take a biopsy on the jungle floor.
This park administration, led by a workaholic Belgian prince, has poured resources into gorilla preservation, with the hopes it will attract the kind of million-dollar tourist industry that has blessed neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
Before park warden Emmanuel de Merode took the reins, Virunga experienced what the staff now refers to simply as “the massacre.” Over the course of two months in 2007, seven gorillas were killed by poachers. Body parts were trafficked out of the park and babies were sold. Rangers found a gorilla head discarded in a toilet. Ultimately, the park director at the time was charged with orchestrating the killings—he apparently wanted the park cleared of gorillas so he could deforest for charcoal production without obstruction from conservationists.
“How can people kill these gorillas? They are like humans,” Kabuyaya says. “You realize they must be protected like humans.”
The 33-year-old Kabuyaya graduated from veterinary school in 2009 and joined Gorilla Doctors three years later. His timing was fortuitous—another militia group seized Virunga that same year. The M23 insurgency refused to let the park’s doctors and rangers in to check on the animals for six months. During that time, rebels filled their coffers by leading gorilla tours for unscrupulous tourists.
“It was not strange for me because in the DRC we are used to fighting,” Kabuyaya says of his job’s rough beginning. There were no widespread killings this time, but tragedy struck when a baby gorilla orphan fell ill with diarrhea at the park’s sanctuary, and the doctors were blocked from making the hour drive to deliver treatment from a nearby city. It died overnight.
After more than five hours of hiking, the gorilla doctors have finished their medical trek and are taking a short break in Virunga’s lodge, a gorgeous open porch that looks over miles of jungle. It’s just a short walk from the sanctuary that held the deceased gorilla baby, and now is home to four others. Kambale shakes his head at the memory. “It was sad, so sad. Shameful. Why couldn’t we save it?”
In the past three days the two doctors have already examined five different gorilla families, an impressive feat considering the distance traveled just this morning. They make the journey into Virunga each month and spend a week tracking, observing, and treating various families. The rest of their time is spent caring for lowland gorillas across the region.
This grueling schedule leaves them only a week per month to see their human families. “Sometimes they say, ‘It’s like you married a gorilla,’” laughs Kabuyaya.
But it’s not just a love of the intelligent apes that keeps the doctors going. It’s a deep patriotism and faith in the Congo’s recovery—a belief that a long-awaited calm will come with from conservation and its benefits.
“I tell people, ’You can’t separate human health and animal health,’” Kabuyaya says. “We’d like to be the first to show it’s important to take care of the animals because our life and health depends on [them].”
“Congolese are conserving for all the world,” he adds.
“Sustainability first,” says Kambale. “Then peace.”
The International Women’s Media Foundation supported Nina Strochlic’s reporting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Story from:

Votes1 DateJun 10, 2017

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Baby Owl Rescued

Angela Horne
An Oklahoma game warden and a Nowata firefighter took to a flooded creek near Oologah Lake to rescue a baby barred owl Thursday.
Game Warden Joe Alexander received a call from a concerned resident who had spotted the juvenile owl stranded on driftwood in Double Creek.
The owl likely blew out of a nest during a recent bout of stormy weather.
“It’s what we do,” Alexander said. “Outside of our normal law enforcement duties, we have a vested interest in our wildlife.”
Alexander said he attempted to wade into the flooded creek to the mess of timber where the owl was stranded, but water was too deep.
The game warden contacted a Nowata firefighter, Donald Belden, to enlist the use of Belden’s personal boat. In a Facebook video shared by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Alexander can be seen riding on the bow of the boat as Belden approaches the driftwood.
The owl, cold and wet, offered some resistance. But the bird calmed down as Alexander and Belden returned to shore.
Alexander said they wrapped the owl in a jacket and took him to the Wild Heart Ranch, a wildlife rehabilitation program in Foyil.
He said the rehabilitation center contacted him Friday to inform him the owl is doing better.Watch the video below.
Article Source:

Votes2 DateMay 6, 2017

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Lions Back To Africa.Org

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Votes1 DateFeb 26, 2017

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Domestic Animals

Votes1 DateNov 4, 2016

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Domestic Animals

Goat Who Lost His Legs Loves To Run

One World Blue, LLC
This goat has a wheelchair — and he loves to use it.
Video by: Keren Aronoff Masser

Votes1 DateOct 20, 2016

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Martial Eagles

One World Blue, LLC
Crowned as the largest eagle in Africa and the fifth heaviest eagle (on average) in the world, the martial eagle has a wingspan of up to 2.6 metres, and it can lift prey weighing up to 8kg (although typically they lift only 1-4 kg). The martial eagle even occasionally preys upon the adult kori bustard, which may well be the heaviest flying animal alive today.
Martial eagles have extremely keen eyesight (3.0-3.6 times human acuity) and can spot potential prey up to five kilometres away!
The martial eagle can be found in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, wherever food is abundant and the environment favourable. Greater population densities exist in Southern Africa, especially in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Generally, these birds are more abundant in protected areas, such as the Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa, or Etosha National Park in Namibia.
They tend to prefer desolate or protected areas. Their territory can vary greatly in size – from more than 1,000km² to areas where nests are less than 10km apart. This disparity is due to differences in food supply.
The diet of the martial eagle varies greatly depending on prey availability, and it can be dictated largely by opportunity. One study of the eagles in Kruger National Park found that 45% of their diet was made up of birds, particularly game birds and Egyptian geese.
The estimated population of the martial eagle is about 30,000 individuals, although this is difficult to ascertain given the eagle’s shy nature and avoidance of humans. Listed as Near Threatened due to a major decline in their numbers over the last few years, this eagle’s greatest threat comes from habitat loss and humans, as is the case with most apex birds of prey.
Viewed by farmers as a threat to livestock, the martial eagle is often poisoned and shot. However, most of this persecution is unfounded, as domestic animals make up a very small part of the eagle’s diet. Other threats come from powerline collisions and habitat destruction. The eagle’s low reproductive rate is also a problem for its long-term survival.
The future success of the martial eagle will depend greatly on educating African farmers to understand that this raptor is an integral part of a healthy environment. An increase in protected areas, so that the martial eagle can hunt and nest, will also greatly increase their chances of long-term survival.
Retrieved from:

Votes1 DateSep 29, 2016

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Animal Instincts: Fear of Open Spaces-How it Affects Us

Samuel Posin
Agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder characterized by people’s irrational fear of open spaces, may be related to a natural behavior among animals to avoid predators, according to a study in Biological Psychiatry.
Most animal species stay close to the edges of open spaces and only later explore the center, an instinctive, self-protective behavior known as thigmotaxis, the researchers said. People with agoraphobia, or at risk of developing the disorder, also spent significantly more time near the edge of large open areas compared with control subjects, the study found.
An exaggerated form of thigmotaxis may be the biological basis of agoraphobic fear, the study suggests. The disorder affects fewer than 2% of U.S. adults, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“Knowing that open fields are evolutionary triggers of anxiety may help patients understand the origins of their fear and reduce their despair,” lead researcher Dr. Paul Pauli, professor of biological psychology, clinical psychology and psychotherapy at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in an email. This knowledge may motivate patients to seek treatment, he added.
The study involved 16 agoraphobics paired with 16 controls without the disorder, and 18 highly anxious people paired with 19 low-anxiety controls.
The subjects, who were 18 to 60 years old, took a solitary 15-minute walk through a soccer field hedged by a natural wall of shrubs and trees. Agoraphobics spent 90% of the walk near the perimeter, compared with 68% by the controls. The high- and low-anxiety subjects spent 78% and 70% of their time near the edge, respectively. The agoraphobic and high-anxiety subjects also walked significantly closer to the wall.
Ann Lukits
Wall Street Journal

Votes1 DateSep 22, 2016

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