For years, environmentalists have been warning that the world’s seemingly insatiable demand for palm oil, the reddish oil extracted from palm fruit that’s used in thousands of everyday products from margarine to cosmetics, poses a major risk to animals in the southeast Asian rainforests that are being cleared for palm cultivation.
In Indonesia — a major palm oil producer which Nature reports is losing rainforest at the most rapid rate on the planet — hundreds of endangered orangutans have been killed by plantation workers, according to a disturbing BBC News report.
Now, a newly-published study in Cell Biology warns that the growing push to clear forests for palm oil cultivation in Africa may spell doom for that continent’s great apes as well.
In some African countries, 80 percent of the land suitable for palm cultivation overlaps with the habitat of chimpanzees, bonobos and other apes.
“There is an urgent need to develop guidelines for the expansion of oil palm in Africa to minimize the negative effects on apes and other wildlife,” Liverpool John Moores University primate researcher Serge Wich and colleagues conclude.
Friends of the Earth warns that palm oil cultivation is a threat in particular to the Cross River gorilla, one of the least known and most endangered ape species.
Only about 250 of the creatures still survive on the border of Nigeria and Cameroon — an area where palm oil producers happen to be developing 50,000 acres of new plantations.
A bearded vulture has been seen flying once again over Romania, for the first time in 83 years, according to a statement of the Romanian Ornithological Society.
The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is one of the four species of vultures that used to live in Romania.
However, the vulture was last seen on Romanian territory in 1933.
The vulture that is now flying over Romania is named Adonis and is one of the birds that were supposed to contribute to the restoration of the bearded vulture population in France.
The vulture was released in the Massif Central in France in 2014, but didn’t stay there.
The bird left France and flew over several countries such as Denmark, Slovakia, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, and now Romania.
A satellite transmitter tracks the bird’s route. The bearded vulture is a diurnal bird of prey, characteristic to mountain areas, being typically present at altitudes between 500 and 4,000 meters.
However, it was also found at 7,500 meters altitude, in the Himalayas. It is 105 –125 cm long and weights between 4.5 and 7.8 kg. The female is slightly larger than the male. The wingspan is between 235 and 275 cm.
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.