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Earth Changes


17 Elephants Butchered for Ivory in African Park

Poachers from an array of factions have killed 17 elephants in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo since mid-April, conservationists announced.

The killings of the first 14 animals were announced early last week, and an additional 3 were found Friday.

The rare animals were slaughtered in Virunga National Park, most likely to feed Asia's demand for ivory.

Virunga's ecosystem has come under increasing pressure from a bevy of military groups looking to exploit the natural resources in its jungles to fund their operations.

The Nairobi-based charity WildlifeDirect, which publicized the latest killings, said Rwandan and Mai Mai rebels, Congolese army forces, and even local villagers were all to blame.

Poachers hold a pair of harvested elephant tusks (top) on April 27, 2008. To claim the tusks, which are carved into ivory goods, poachers will butcher an elephant and leave the rest of its body to rot, as seen in an image of a slaughtered elephant (bottom) taken on April 20, 2008.

At least 17 elephants have been found butchered for their tusks since mid-April in Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park, wildlife groups announced.

Arrow Up

The toll is rising: At least 15,000 killed by Myanmar cyclone

At least 15,000 people have died since the Nargis tropical cyclone hit Myanmar on Saturday, China's Xinhua news agency quoted official sources as saying Monday.

Earlier Monday, Myanmar's state television said the death toll was nearing 4,000, with around 3,000 people missing.

Authorities in Myanmar introduced a state of emergency in five regions as the cyclone struck, with wind speeds reaching some 190 km/h (118 mph). Most of those killed were in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta.

The majority of the Southeast Asian country's largest city, Yangon, is still without electricity, and its streets are filled with overturned cars, uprooted trees and other debris. Telephone and Internet communications have also been severely disrupted. Several towns around Yangon have also been flooded.


Myanmar believes cyclone killed at least 10,000: diplomat

Myanmar's military government has a provisional death toll of 10,000 from this weekend's devastating cyclone, with another 3,000 missing, a diplomat said on Monday after a briefing from Foreign Minister Nyan Win.

Better Earth

Quake pattern watched closely: How Reno temblors will affect faults at Lake Tahoe unclear

As earthquakes continue to shake Reno, two reports released this month give new insight into the likely characteristics of a temblor at Lake Tahoe.

A 4.2-magnitude quake shook western Reno at 4:33 a.m. Monday, the latest in a series of quakes that has rocked the Mogul area since February.

Monday's quake is considered an aftershock of a 4.7-magnitude quake that hit the area Friday, after which seismologists warned there was a slightly higher probability of a larger quake.


Cyclone kills nearly 4,000 in Myanmar

A devastating cyclone killed nearly 4,000 people and left thousands more missing in army-ruled Myanmar, state media said on Monday, a dramatic increase in the toll from Saturday's storm.

The death toll only covered two of the five disaster zones where U.N. officials said hundreds of thousands of people were without shelter and drinking water in the impoverished Southeast Asian country.

"The confirmed number is 3,934 dead, 41 injured and 2,879 missing within the Yangon and Irrawaddy divisions," Myanmar TV reported three days after Cyclone Nargis, a storm with winds of 190 kph (120 mph), hit the Irrawaddy delta.

©REUTERS/Xinhua/Zhang Yunfei
People walk past fallen trees on a street in Myanmar's biggest city Yangon on May 3, 2008 in this picture distributed by China's official Xinhua News Agency.


Cyprus has hottest April ever

Cyprus sweated through its warmest April since records began, according to a weather service announcement.


UK: Flocks of ravens in killing spree

Like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, large groups of ravens are flocking together to attack defenceless victims and eat them alive.

Throughout the country, farmers have reported a rise in the number of calves, lambs, and sheep pecked to death. Animals not killed have been left in agony as the birds eat their eyes, tongues and the soft flesh of their underbelly.


Hundreds killed by Burma cyclone

A tropical cyclone has killed at least 351 people in Burma and damaged thousands of buildings, according to state television.

Parts of the Irrawaddy region were hit particularly badly, with three out of four buildings reportedly blown down in one district.

Burma map


Beetle-ravaged forests prompt campground closures in Rockies

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Vacationers will have fewer places to pitch their tents this summer in Colorado and Wyoming, and they can place the blame on bugs.

The U.S. Forest Service has closed some popular campgrounds in the two states because of concern that trees killed by the bark beetles that are ravaging forests across the West could topple onto unsuspecting visitors.

Dead bark beetles
©AP Photo/Troy Maben,File
Dead bark beetles are displayed next to a penny in the Wyatt Williams's lab at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho, in this Aug. 24,2006, file photo. As bark beetles ravage millions of trees across the West, U.S. Forest Service officials in Colorado and Wyoming have closed some popular campgrounds out of concern the infested trees will come crashing down on visitors.

Bark beetles have always been a part of forests in the West, but warming temperatures and an abundance of aging lodgepole pines that haven't been thinned by fires have allowed populations of the hungry insects to explode. They now infest nearly 3,600 square miles of forest in the two states.


Sea lions shot dead on Columbia River as salmon battle rages

PORTLAND, Ore. - Six federally protected sea lions were apparently shot to death on the Columbia River as they lay in open traps put out to ensnare the animals, which eat endangered salmon. State and federal authorities are investigating.

The discovery came one day after three elephant seals were found shot to death at a breeding ground in central California.

sea lion
©AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens
A sea lion swims along the Columbia River, past Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife investigators on Sunday, May 4, 2008 at Bonneville Dam, just east of Portland, Ore. The deaths of six sea lions are under investigation after the bodies of the federally protected animals were found in open traps on the Columbia River and appeared to have been shot.

Trapping will be suspended during the investigation, said Rick Hargrave, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife who was at the scene Sunday.

The carcasses of the four California sea lions and two Steller sea lions were found Sunday around noon below the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River on the border of Oregon and Washington.