>> Twenty-four nations whose fishing fleets ply the Mediterranean have pledged to help dwindling stocks with measures including nets that allow young fish to escape. The nations have also signed off a recovery plan for threatened blue-fin tuna.
>> Illegal coffee farming, going on in 45,000 hectares of Indonesia's protected forestland, is threatening the country's wildlife, notes a recent press note of WWF. If the trend is not halted, the rhinos and tigers will be locally extinct in less than a decade, it warns.
fencing landmines The UN has rejected Pakistan's recent decision to fence and mine the border with Afghanistan to prevent cross-border militancy. Following mounting pressure from the international community to prevent infiltration of Taliban militants (believed to be hiding along the country's porous border with Afghanistan), the Pakistan government had planned to plant landmines and build a fence in 'selected places' along its 2,400-km border with Afghanistan. The decision also prompted demonstrations along the border in east and southeast Afghanistan, where mainly the Pashtoon (the majority ethnic group) live. Millions of this community live on both sides of the border. The move goes against a global treaty on the use of landmines, that has been ratified by more than 150 countries. But Pakistan is one of 40 countries, including the US, that have not signed up.
Landslide kills At least 16 people were killed and around 60,000 displaced in recent landslides caused by heavy rains in the central and southern Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya, a mountainous region, was the worst hit with an estimated 9,000 persons homeless across 15 villages. According to local media reports, access had been cut off in some areas and the military is carrying out relief operations. However, resettling the displaced residents of more than 100 villages in the areas of Walapone and Hnguranketha divisional secretariat has been difficult as the land is prone to more slides.
Chikungunya hits The mosquito-transmitted viral fever chikungunya is fast spreading across the Maldives. According to the public health department's report, of the 20,853 reported cases, 3,634 are confirmed with the virus. So far, the maximum number of cases are reported from the islands in Raa atoll. Health officials say the mosquito breeding control programme is a failure due to poor support from the residents. The education ministry has extended the vacation period for some schools, as the disease has affected a large number of students and teachers.
fight for Arizona bald eagle The Center for Biological Diversity and the Maricopa Audubon Society recently filed a suit challenging the Bush administration's suppression of scientific reports concluding that the Arizona Bald Eagle should remain on the endangered species list.The suit seeks an injunction barring the US Fish and Wildlife Service from removing the Arizona eagle from the endangered list and requiring it to incorporate the scientific studies in its management plans.
Nationally, the bald eagle has experienced an extraordinary recovery, growing from just 416 pairs in 1963 to about 10,000 pairs today. But the recovery of Arizona population has been modest. Historically, the US Fish and Wildlife Service managed the Arizona bald eagle as a population distinct from all other eagles and has its own recovery plan and programme. In 1999, however, the agency proposed to treat all eagles, at a dwindling number of 48, as a single population and remove them from the endangered list.
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