Earth Changes


Unofficially it's 365 rhino killed already in South Africa this year


Rhino drinking
With officials figures hard to come by and a change from regular monthly reports to 'quarterly or so' reports its difficult to find out the current situation on rhino poaching in South Africa. Even with reports and statistics now being published on a quarterly basis the South African government is still finding excuses not to publish the figures.

This is so with the first set of rhino poaching statistics due to be published for 2015. The press conference and publication due today has been postponed because the departments that were to be involved in the press conference had 'timetable clashes'.

With a current investigation going on that will probably lead to South Africa asking for a legal rhino horn trade market at next years CITES meeting it is obviously beneficial to cloud the waters where the scale of the poaching epidemic is concerned.

With official figures hard to come by then unofficial reports need to be used as an indication about the effectiveness of anti-poaching activities.

One of the unofficial statistics compiled on rhino poaching in South Africa is put together by OSCAP (Outraged Citizen Against Rhino Poaching) who have their own system in place to monitor rhino deaths and court cases.

Arrow Down

No big surprise: Bird populations around Fukushima plummet after nuclear disaster

© Taramoto
Scientists have taken a closer look at bird populations and have found that since the March 11 earthquake, which caused the nuclear catastrophe, bird populations have plummeted.
Bird populations may have declined to a large extent in Japan's Fukushima province due to the disaster that occurred there in 2011. Scientists have taken a closer look at bird populations and have found that since the March 11 earthquake, which caused the nuclear catastrophe, bird populations have plummeted.

"We were working with a relatively small range of background exposures in this study because we weren't able to get into the 'hottest' areas that first summer after the disaster, and we were only able to get to some 'meium-hot' areas the following summer," said Tim Mousseau, one of the researchers, in a news release. "So we had relatively little statistical power to detect those kinds of relationships, especially when you combine that with the fact that there are so few barn swallows left. We know that there were hundreds in a given area before the disaster, and just a couple of years later we're only able to find a few dozen left. The declines have been really dramatic."

© Alpsdake/Wikimedia Commons
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica gutturalis) in Japan


Haunting video: Ash rains down on cars fleeing wildfire inferno in Russia

A haunting video emerged online of a wildfire trapping residents in eastern Siberia as they try to flee in their cars. The blaze surrounds the vehicles and what looks like volcanic ash rains down on them.

The grassland fire in Zabaykalskiy region, Russia, bordering Mongolia, has been raging since March 19, displacing people from over 1,200 dwellings in 20 separate towns and villages. Fifteen people have been killed and over 480 people injured.

A total of 22 districts in the Zabaykalskiy region have been affected, with some 93 fires there alone affecting natural reserves, according to local authorities.

All emergency situation procedures are still in place.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally coordinated emergency services operations in Khakassia:


Fish kills reported due to bitterly cold winter in Pennsylvania


Dead fish
Evidence of how brutal this winter was is showing up at ponds in Pennsylvania, including one in Luzerne County.

Pennsylvania's Fish and Boat Commission says the bitterly cold winter killed off nearly the entire fish population at Harris Pond in Sweet Valley. Harris Pond is a popular fishing spot for those who live in and around the Sweet Valley area of Luzerne County.

"That's bad. That's terrible. A lot of people fish in there. The public fishes there a lot," said John Kobal of Sweet Valley.

Hundreds of dead fish have already been cleared from the pond, but if you walk along the water's edge more are still surfacing.

Harris Pond isn't the only place dealing with dead fish.

Black Cat

Man fights off cougar to save girlfriend's large dog in Priddis, Canada


Elvis Xerri and Boomer
Elvis Xerri is nursing a few bruises after fighting off a cougar that attacked his girlfriend's dog on his acreage southwest of Calgary early Monday — but acknowledges his injuries could have been a lot worse.

"It scared the crap out of me. I can't believe I did that," Xerri said. "Would I do it again? For sure, because I wouldn't want to be a bystander. Was it smart? Probably not the smartest thing I've ever done."

Xerri said he and his girlfriend Jacqui were asleep at his property in Priddis. Boomer, Jacqui's nine-year-old Bernese mountain dog, was dozing outside below their open bedroom window with the exterior lights on.

All of a sudden, at around 3 a.m., Xerri awoke to Boomer's yelps and jumped to action wearing only his underwear.

"I was thinking it was a coyote attacking him. But it was the largest cougar I've ever seen, on top of the dog," he said, estimating the animal to be about five feet long.

Adrenalin kicked in and Xerri found himself jumping on top of the big cat, startling it and grabbing its scruff.


Two earthquakes (4.8 and 3.8 mag) rock Assam, India within 2 hours

The Met department put the epicenter at Morigaon and Sonitpur.
Two earthquakes, one measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale and the other 3.8, rocked Assam in a span of about two hours in the early hours of Friday, forcing people to jump out of bed and run outdoors.

While the first tremor, which lasted about seven seconds, was felt at 3:35 AM, it was followed by smaller one at 5:50 AM.

The Met department website put the epicenter of the first earthquake at a place in Sonitpur district at 26.8 N Latitude and 92.7 E Longitude, and that of the second tremor in Morigaon district at 26.3 N Latitude and 92.4 E Longitude. The depth of both the tremors has been put at 10 km.

Geomorphologically located in earthquake zone V of the Indian subcontinent, the Northeastern region is marked as a highly seismic area.

With these, the Northeastern region along with adjoining Bangladesh, Myanmar and Andaman & Nicobar Islands have recorded as many as nine earthquakes in the current month.

Comment: There has been a surge in earthquakes very recently, as Earth continues to 'open up'.


Kenya: World's last male Northern White Rhino placed under 24-hour armed guard

Armed rangers are white rhino's protectors.
After the decimation of his species by poachers, Sudan the rhino finds himself in an extremely precarious position: He is the last male northern white rhinoceros on the planet.

According to The Independent, the 40-year-old animal has been put under 24-hour armed guard in the Kenya game conservancy where he lives. There is hope that Sudan will one day be able to produce progeny -- and possibly save his kind from extinction.

Sudan and two female rhinos of his subspecies are cared for by rangers at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The trio are reportedly three of the last five remaining northern white rhinos in the world. Two other females live in captivity.

Comment: The two remaining females live in zoos in the Czech Republic and the USA. A team of conservationists and scientists are turning to artificial fertilization techniques in a desperate attempt to save the species. Sex cell samples will be collected and stored, while scientists run appropriate tests before they can attempt to use a southern white rhino as a surrogate

To protect him from poachers, Sudan has been fitted with radio transmitters, reports The Independent. The rhino's horn has also been removed as an added precaution. "The only reason his horn has been cut off is to deter poachers," Elodie Sampere of the conservancy told The Dodo. "If the rhino has no horn, he is of no interest to poachers. This is purely to keep him safe."

Comment: Of the 200 South African rhino hunts in 2013, only 15 were genuine hunts. The rest were rhinos shot by mostly Vietnamese 'pseudo hunters', who pay for the privilege of trophy hunting but have no intention of ever mounting their trophy on a wall. The economics are simple: the cost of hunting is about US $20,000, but the 3.5 kg horn is worth many times more when ground up into a fine dust, for sale as a 'medicinal' product. Current prices are estimated at up to US $75,000 per kg. It is now known that rhino horns have no medicinal value at all; chemically they are indistinguishable from horses' hooves and human toenails. But Vietnamese traffickers are fuelling demand by marketing new 'benefits' of rhino horn, as an aphrodisiac or a cure for hangovers, or cancer.

Cloud Lightning

From Texas to Nebraska, another round of severe storms; damaging winds, flooding, tornadoes

Following strong storms on Wednesday, another round of threatening weather will rumble across part of the Central states into Thursday night.

A storm will spin over the Rockies through the end of the week. The storm will push a wedge of dry air into a field of moisture over the High Plains. This dry/moist contrast zone from southwestern Nebraska to central Texas will be the firing point for the storms.

"That upper-level low with the help of the southern branch of the jet stream will pull ample Gulf moisture and warm temperatures into the Plains," said Storm Warning Meteorologist Billy Clark.

The storms will outnumber and outperform the storms on Wednesday that rumbled across the region and brought small hail, downpours and even a funnel cloud in Kansas.
An area from western Kansas to the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas to south-central Texas will be at the highest risk through Thursday evening.

"Damaging winds, localized flooding, hail and even isolated tornadoes are possible," said Clark.

Travel will be risky, especially during the evening commute when these storms could be at their highest potency. Interstate 20, I-40, and I-70 along with state and local roads in between may have delays and slow travel.

Comment: Four dead in massive flooding in Southern US; rockslides close roads in West Virginia, Kentucky


5.2 magnitude earthquake shakes Venezuela, Trinidad, Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela were shaken by a 5.2-magnitude earthquake on Wednesday evening, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The quake was focused at an epicentre around 34 kilometres north-northeast of Irapa in Venezuela and about 105 kilometres west-northwest of Port of Spain in Trinidad.

The quake, which struck at around 9:24 PM local time, was felt across Trinidad and Tobago, with light to moderate shaking the norm.

The quake was felt as far north as St George's in Grenada.

Much of the Caribbean region is located in a seismically active zone.


Six-year-old girl mauled to death in second stray dog attack within days in Guntur, India


Stray dogs in India
In a shocking incident, a six-year-old girl was attacked and killed by a pack of street dogs at Kakumanu village panchayat in Guntur district on Wednesday.

The girl, S K Kousar, was going to meet her aunt, who was working in the fields, around 10 am when a pack of 10 dogs pounced on her and bit her indiscriminately, resulting in her instant death.

According to reports, a shepherd, who was passing by, first heard the cries of the girl and rushed to the spot in the minority colony in the village. Though he managed to drive away the dogs, it was too late as the girl had succumbed to the injuries by then. She was bitten all over the body and her innards had come out.

On being informed, the girl's family rushed to the spot, but they were able to take only her lifeless body home.

Blaming the death on the negligence of the civic officials, who allegedly failed to take proper measures despite repeated complaints over the severe stray dog menace, the villagers, along with the family members and relatives of the victim, staged a dharna on the Guntur-Kakumanu road blocking traffic for nearly four hours. "We have been complaining to the officials about the dog menace for six months now, but to no avail. We are afraid of venturing out even during the day, leave alone nights, as the stray dogs attack pedestrians and vehicle users without any provocation," a protestor said.