On Earth day 2023 we have much to celebrate and even more work to do to save our planet. The recent news of India’s tiger population rebounding after near collapse is greatly heartening.
In the early 1970s, things looked grim for India’s tigers. A wild population estimated in the tens of thousands at the time of independence in 1947 had shrunk to around 1,800. The tigers’ decline also held worrying implications for the nation’s environment because the apex predator is part of a complex but fragile ecosystem. Something had to be done.
On Sunday, as India celebrated the 50th anniversary of an intensive conservation effort known as Project Tiger, there was success to report: The tiger population had nearly doubled in the decades since, to 3,167.
Conservation analysts and forest officials say the collapse in tiger numbers in the middle of the 20th century was caused mostly by a rapid expansion of trophy hunting, a practice formerly restricted to the colonial elite. While tiger numbers dwindled drastically, cheetahs disappeared entirely from India.
“The time between independence and 1972 was one of the worst periods for wildlife in India. Tigers were one of the main targets,” said Yadvendradev Jhala, a former dean at Wildlife Institute of India who studied the tigers for nearly two decades. “If Project Tiger had not happened, arguably India may have lost its tigers by now.”
Steps the government took to reverse the decline included introducing anti-poaching measures; relocating villages to expand tiger reserves and buffer areas; and improving those reserves.
When the efforts began, there were nine tiger reserves covering an area of more than 5,405 square miles. Over five decades, that expanded to 53 reserves in 18 states, consisting of 28,958 square miles — about 2.3 percent of India’s total area.
the nation now feels rich enough in tigers to consider sending some abroad. Indian authorities are in discussion with Cambodia to help revive the population there, which was wiped out by poaching and hunting.
For more on this article by Harry Kumar visit NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/09/world/asia/india-tiger-conservation-success.html
On the contrary in Africa the Elephant population is in a sharp decline because of the increasingly frequent clashes between humans and wildlife in the Unesco-designated biosphere reserve are exacerbated by the proliferation of new commercial farms growing crops such as avocados for the west and China. Beijing opened its doors to Kenyan avocados in August and expects to import 20,000 tonnes of the fruit this year.
Incidences of “crop raiding”, where elephants damage or trample cultivated land, more than doubled from 156 in 2020 to 363 last year,
“It’s skyrocketing . . . because the space is shrinking,” Samuel Tokore, a senior official at Kenya Wildlife Service, said of the human-wildlife conflicts.
Kenya’s elephants, a must-see for tourists who contribute 10 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, have traditionally been free to traverse through and between its national parks to find food and water, and roam over the border into neighbouring Tanzania.
But the fenced farms growing cash crops have drastically reduced their ability to travel freely. Tall barriers have been thrown up across their ancient migration routes while farmers have shown a willingness to use lethal force to protect their crops.
Such incidents have caused the deaths of more than 50 Amboseli elephants over the past decade. The problem has been heightened by one of the worst droughts on record, which last year killed more than 200 elephants in Kenya alone.
Benson Leyian, Big Life chief executive, said the animals were simply following traditional routes, but the new farms blocked “critical migratory corridors that are key to elephants moving between Amboseli” and nearby Chyulu and Tsavo national parks.
His group has calculated that elephants used one particular route close to the new commercial farms almost 3,000 times last year. Other wildlife, including leopard and giraffe, crossed almost 18,500 times.
Paula Kahumbu, chief executive of conservation group WildlifeDirect, said: “Nobody wants to wonder if they’re contributing to the deaths of elephants — their favourite animal — every time they bite into an avocado from Kenya.
About 8 per cent of Kenya’s land mass is protected, including 23 national parks and 28 national reserves. Yet WildlifeDirect’s Kahumbu said even this was not enough for the animals to live freely. “The destruction of wildlife buffer zones and corridors for industrial farming is at a tipping point. We need to reverse the damage, protect more land, secure our protected areas better and open up more corridors between national parks,” she said. Kenya has already lost about 70 per cent of its wildlife over three decades, according to the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association.
For more on this article by Andres Schipani in the FT visit: https://www.ft.com/content/339921c7-e0be-43f4-852b-50060184a201
In Asia the Orangutan faces the same problem only far worse with the goliath Palm Oil Industry in Malaysia and Indonesia cutting down pristine rainforest to make way for their palm oil plantations. The loss of habitat for the Orangutan and Tapir is driving them to extinction. It is estimated that 1,000 to 5,000 orangutans are killed a year and 300 football fields of forest are cleared every hour for palm plantations. Other animals are also at risk. Palm oil development creates easy access to habitats for poachers.
It’s not too late! This horrific trend can be stopped with a little help from all of us. Your consumer dollars can be the key to help save orangutans from extinction. The palm oil industry only thrives as long as there is a demand for palm oil and consumers keep buying products that contain palm oil. The way that consumers spend their money determines what gets produced and what gets sold.
Not only is palm oil detrimental to animals and the environment, but with regards to consumer health, it isn’t all that great for you either. Palm oil is high in saturated fats, and just one tablespoon contains a third of the recommended daily intake of saturated fat. While palm oil is better consumed in fresh form, the majority is generally consumed in an oxidized (processed) form. Oxidation is a refining process which increases its palatability for culinary use – this usually occurs when the fresh form is subjected to extreme heating at various time intervals. However, almost all palm oil on the market is heavily refined and as a result, nutrients and vitamins that would have naturally occurred in the oil, are lost through oxidation. As palm oil is high in saturated fat, oxidized and heavily refined palm oil presents even greater health risks to the human body.
Oxidized palm oil – often used in many baked goods, snacks or when frying food – generates toxins that adversely affect vital organs including the liver, lungs, kidneys and heart. Palm oil can reduce the effectiveness of medicines that are designed to reduce blood clotting, such as warfarin and enoxaparin. Aside from the threats mentioned, the consumption of palm oil could also potentially increase blood cholesterol levels as well as raise high blood pressure.
Say NO to palm oil and encourage your social circle to boycott palm oil. Many people are unaware of how many products contain palm oil, how many names palm oil goes by, and the dire conservation crisis facing wild orangutan populations and their tropical rain forest habitats. Start a conversation including ways in which we can help. Point them to orangutan.org/palmoil for more info.
Let companies know you care. Email to express your concern that a product contains palm oil or submit inquires to see if a product contains any form of palm oil, including “sustainable” or RSPO palm oil. OFI supports a 100% boycott of palm oil, as certification schemes such as “RSPO” continue to permit deforestation and the destruction of peatland forests for plantation development.
Remember there is no such thing as sustainable palm oil. The rainforest was cut down to make way for the palm oil plantation even if it was done last year it is still killing orangutans and causing climate change.
Try to go Palm Oil free as much as possible. You can also make some of these products at home.
I read in the New York times today about how toxic chemicals are criss crossing the U.S as freight and causing untold damage to humans as well as the environment.
About 4.5m tons of toxic chemicals are shipped by rail each year and an average of 12,000 rail cars carrying hazardous materials pass through cities and towns each day, according to the US Department of Transportation.
The next derailment ‘could be cataclysmic’ if action isn’t taken after the incident near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, says expert Tom Perkins Sat 11 Feb 2023
Five days after a train carrying vinyl chloride derailed and exploded near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, crews ignited a controlled burn of toxic chemicals to prevent a much more dangerous explosion.
Thousands in East Palestine, a town of about 5,000 people, evacuated, and officials warned the controlled burn would create a phosgene and hydrogen chloride plume across the region. Phosgene is a highly toxic gas that can cause vomiting and breathing trouble, and was used as a weapon in the first world war.
Though no one died in the accident, the catastrophe serves as a wake-up call to the potential for more deadly freight rail derailments, public health advocates warn. By one estimate, 25 million Americans live in an oil train blast zone, and had the derailment occurred just a few miles east, it would be burning in downtown Pittsburgh, with tens of thousands of residents in immediate danger.
The vinyl chloride that burned in an Ohio town was made in La Port Texas and was bound for New Jersey a 1,600 mile trip.
The problem is the nations soaring manufacturing and use of plastics. The chemicals shipped by Oxy were key ingredients in PVC widely used in water pipes, furniture, floor tiles and packaging.
Plastic manufacturing is booming in America, fueled by cheap and plentiful shale gas. It has become an increasingly important business for Occidental, a major oil company based in Huston, as nations start moving away from burning fossil fuels, the main driver of climate change.
Texas and Louisiana have become global chemical hubs as oil and gas companies expand their plastics production to offset the possibility of declining demand for oil as fuel.
PVC plastics plants reported releasing more than 400,000 pounds of vinyl chloride into the air in 2021.
The United Nations officials said in 2021 that pollution-linked cancer rinks near these chemical petrochemical plants along the Mississippi river far surpassed those of other areas.
Some cities in the US and elsewhere, including New York, Boston, Seattle and San Francisco, have adopted policies aimed at phasing out the use of PVC and other products linked to pollution, limiting public purchases and mandating alternatives. A handful of countries, including Canada, Spain, and South Korea, have restricted or banned the use of PVC packaging, and legislators have pursued a similar ban in California.
Sweden, which adopted restrictions on PVC use 30 years ago, is phasing out its use altogether by replacing PVC packaging with plant based materials.
I have to ask why is the United States so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to plastic they are almost prehistoric.
Most counties in Europe have not used plastic packaging for years and in France you cannot get a plastic bag in a shop you must bring your own shopping bag or you cannot shop.
In England most shops use either biodegradable bags or paper bags. Single use plastic bags should be banned worldwide.
Plastic bags are an absolute scourge on our planet they get into our water system and end up in the sea they wash up on idyllic beaches like Bali and kill fish and turtles on the way. We eat and drink the plastic particles in our food every day are we mad this must be stopped!
On Earth Day and every day let’s all try to stop using plastic bags. Take a shopping bag with you when you go to the grocery store this is not difficult, keep at least one in your car at all times and don’t let the checkout girl give you plastic there are paper bags available in most stores.
For more on this article in the NY Times visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/17/climate/train-fire-palestine-plastics-pvc.html