The Cuckoo – under threat in the UK.

A cuckoo sits on a perch in the rain on Thursley Common, England.
The United Kingdom has seen a 71% decline in the breeding population of cuckoos over the last 25 years.
The decline is thought to be linked to the migration routes to wintering grounds in the Congo Basin in West Africa.
The environmental conditions at stop over sites are thought to be the main thing that determine the birds’ migration success with drought and wildfires on the shorter routes having a negative effect, according to scientists.
Image Credit: Photograph by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.
Source: The week in wildlife – in pictures | Environment | The Guardian

Scottish Wildcat disappearing from Highlands.

The Scottish wildcat is one of the United Kingdom species most at risk of disappearing, according to the State of Nature report published this week.
A quarter of mammals and nearly half of birds assessed are at risk of extinction.
Photograph: Peter Cairns/Courtesy of Scottish Wildcat Action
Source: The week in wildlife – in pictures | Environment | The Guardian

The ‘disappearing’ Hippopotamus.

Photographer Tim Flach’s latest book Endangered, with text by zoologist Jonathan Baillie, offers a powerful visual record of threatened animals and ecosystems facing the harshest of challenges.
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Common hippopotamus, Hippopotamus amphibius.
IUCN Red List status: Vulnerable.
In 2003, surveys showed that the number of hippos had dropped by 95% during eight years of civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Hippos are hunted for bushmeat but have become the focus of poachers interested in their ivory canines following the 1989 ban on trading elephant ivory.
International trade out of several African countries is restricted, but the law is not yet enforced on the ground.
Today, African elephants outnumber hippos four to one.
Source: Tim Flach’s endangered species – in pictures | Environment | The Guardian

How the world got hooked on palm oil.

Image Credit: Orangutans rescued near a palm oil plantation in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photograph by Vier Pfoten/Four Paws/Rex
It’s the miracle ingredient in everything from biscuits to shampoo. But our dependence on palm oil has devastating environmental consequences.
Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there grew a magical fruit. This fruit could be squeezed to produce a very special kind of oil that made cookies more healthy, soap more bubbly and crisps more crispy.
The oil could even make lipstick smoother and keep ice-cream from melting. Because of these wondrous qualities, people came from around the world to buy the fruit and its oil.
In the places where the fruit came from, people burned down the forest so they could plant more trees that grew the fruit – making lots of nasty smoke and sending all of the creatures of the forest scurrying away.
When the trees were burned, they emitted a gas that heated up the air. Then everybody was upset, because they loved the forest’s creatures and thought the temperature was warm enough already. A few people decided they shouldn’t use the oil any more, but mostly things went on as before, and the forest kept burning.
This is a true story. Except that it is not magic. The fruit of the oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis), which grows in tropical climates, contains the world’s most versatile vegetable oil. It can handle frying without spoiling, and blends well with other oils.
It’s a combination of different types of fats and its consistency after refining make it a popular ingredient in packaged baked goods.
Its low production costs make it cheaper than frying oils such as cottonseed or sunflower. It provides the foaming agent in virtually every shampoo, liquid soap or detergent.
Cosmetics manufacturers prefer it to animal tallow for its ease of application and low price. It is increasingly used as a cheap raw material for biofuels, especially in the European Union.
It functions as a natural preservative in processed foods, and actually does raise the melting point of ice-cream.
Palm oil can be used as an adhesive that binds together the particles in fibreboard.
Oil palm trunks and fronds can be made into everything from plywood to the composite body of Malaysia’s national automobile.
Now read on via Source: How the world got hooked on palm oil | News | The Guardian

Maasai Warriors help Protect Lions.

Maasai warrior Kamunu Saitoti scans the Kenyan rangelands for a signal from a number of lions that have been fitted with radio collars.
Saitoti is part of an organisation called Lion Guardians, a conservation initiative started in 2007 to find ways for the Maasai and lions to coexist.
Scientists estimate that lion populations in Africa have fallen by more than 40% in the past 20 years and the 20,000 or so wild lions that remain occupy just 8% of the species’ historical range.
Image Credit: Photograph by Marcus Westberg/Life Through A Lens.
Source: Travel photo of the week: the warriors helping to protect lions in Kenya | Travel | The Guardian