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Baby Rhino Birth!

Bowdleflode News No. 38 – July 2021
Baby rhino following its mother through the bush with it nose millimetres from her back leg.

Lobaru following his mother

One of Kenya’s last remaining rhino havens has just witnessed the birth of Lobaru, a black rhino – one of the most endangered mammals on Earth.

If the handsome four-legged fellow lives long enough, over the next 30 years he will witness significant change and milestones in rhino conservation. He will either watch his species be brought back from the brink of extinction, or see them tragically poached beyond the point of no return.

For now, the good news could not be better timed. The events that 2020 thrust on Kenyan conservation were brutal beyond measure – swarms of locusts devastated the country, torrential rains resulted in deaths, landslides and widespread flooding and ecotourism stopped in its tracks from the pandemic.

The Sera Community Conservancy, where Lobaru was born, was able to hold on though, with help from Fauna & Flora International and its partners, as well as vital public donations. The reward – Lobaru’s mother could be kept safe and one more baby black rhino on the planet. Proof that amid such challenges, conservation works and success in saving such creatures and struggling species is well within reach.

Co-Existence Elephant Exhibition opens

A CoExistence elephant sculpture

125 life-size elephant sculptures have gone on display in London as part of a campaign to highlight the need for coexistence between people and wildlife.

The event has been organised by conservation groups Elephant Family (UK) and The Real Elephant Collective (India), in wake of a herd of wild Asian elephants roaming Southwest China’s Yunnan province, which captured global headlines.  The elephants have trekked more than 500km since leaving the Xishhuangbanna National Nature Reserve last year.  The animals’ close proximity to communities and urban areas present dangers to both the herd and humans – highlighting the importance of effective human-wildlife coexistence strategies.  It’s unclear why the heard started their journey, and at best guess it’s thought that elephants are very intelligent and have learned that humans grow lots of nutritious foods.  They move over long distances, exploring environments as ancestors have always done.  Whatever their reason, it’s clear that more studies by wildlife experts are needed to understand what triggered the movement.

The environmental exhibition, titled CoExistence, will be on display until 23 July at Green Park, St James’s Park and Berkeley Square after the sculptures were initially placed outside Buckingham Palace in May.  The sculptures have been created deep in the jungles of Tamil Nadu by indigenous communities who coexist with elephants in denser populations than anywhere else in the world.  After the exhibition, the sculptures will go on sale for between £6,000 and £30,000 each, with proceeds directed to grassroots organisations in India working on peaceful coexistence.

Overfishing by Scandinavian boats threat to puffins

Baby rhino following its mother through the bush with it nose millimetres from her back leg.

A puffin with a successful catch

The RSPB has renewed calls for “urgent action” to curb the fishing practices of Scandinavian boats in UK waters.

Under the original EU quota arrangements that have been extended following Brexit, fishing boats from countries such as Denmark and Norway have an almost exclusive access to sand eel fishing off the UK coast.  Sand eels are the primary foodstuff of the puffin and other sea birds but its supplies have already been affected by climate change.

Conservationists say that the warmer seas have led to a decline in numbers near the coastline and warned that systematic overfishing is further depriving species like puffins, already threatened with extinction.

For many years there has been a huge industrial fishery in the North Sea, mainly for boats from Denmark.  Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sand eels are taken out of the sea annually and not enough are being left to sustain thriving seabird populations and other wildlife.  The eels are not for human consumption, but are broken down into fishmeal/oil which go into all sorts of industrial processes like agricultural feed and fertiliser.  We are currently in a nature, climate emergency so it’s not acceptable for governments to allow industrial fisheries to operate in a way which impacts UK wildlife.

One preferred option would be for ministers to manage British fisheries in their own waters after Brexit, effectively closing UK waters to sand eel fishing – however the political arrangements around access to waters would certainly be a challenge.  The Scottish government has promised to look into the issue as a matter of urgency and manage shared stocks in a sustainable way.

Bowdleflode of the Month

Meet WHITE RHINO MANGROVE SNAKE DRAGONFLY

 

Created by FINN, aged 6 and a half

This month we feature WHITE RHINO MANGROVE SNAKE DRAGONFLY!

Finn describes his creatures as:

Big as a whale shark, with scales and wings.  They live on beaches and eat fish, krill, lobster and crab.  They can be both grumpy but friendly.