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  1. From an ecological perspective, the cultivation of transgenic crops appear to pose multiple risks to both flora and fauna. Organisms which interact in food webs from different trophic levels such as parasitoids are most likely to effected by induced resistance against herbivores. Paraitoids feeding on plant nectar, sap or to extract pollen may potentially endure poor quality resources from resistant crops. Consequently, the density of both natural host plants and parasitoid arthropods available to predators may become severely depleted. The interference of the production of volatile chemicals that enhance plant appeal to natural enemies may be inhibited. Parasitoids may be particularly vulnerable as they are often host specific. Bt toxins are known to adversely impact larval stages of Lepidoptera and Coleoptera non-target and target species.

    Many laboratory based studies do not test effects on all larval stages of organisms which may be affected by transgenic plants. Laboratory experiments are typically only conducted on a small spatial scale over a short time frame.

    Resistant genes that are continuously synthesised during the growth of transgenic crops
    may release toxins into the soil through roots and after harvest as remnants of plants are broken down in the soil which may expose non-target soil organisms/micro-organisms to impacts residual toxins. Resistant transgene crops may also compete with non-resistant weeds on field margins and roadside verges.

  2. The density of natural host plants and parasitoid arthropods could also be depleted using traditional forms of pest control, like spraying. Bt toxins may be known to impact non-target organisms but can that not be said about insecticides that are applied externally to crops too? And would those sprayed-on chemicals not have even more of an effect on soil and/or aquatic organisms due to run-off?

    • I agree that pesticides as well as genetically induced resistance in crops are likely to impact non-target host specific invertebrates, generalists as well as crop field plants but overall GM crops pose similar risks to conventional crops if not a greater.

      The reason been, I know they allow strains of resistant crops spread to field margins (or cross pollination with wild strains) and beyond which become potentially invasive superweeds which can compete other herbacious perennial plants and would be unpalatable to native invertebrates. The consequences would be a subsequent further decline in biodiversity and as mentioned already interuption of local food webs. Bt crops can also lead to a build up of toxins in soil.

      The most obvious solution could be to produce new herbicides to control the population of ‘GM crop weeds’ which would only cause further environmental impacts. I believe organic crops are the way forward in part, at least on a local scale.

      • Furthermore, I would have reservations on patented male sterile versions of biotech crops which would not be valuable for fruit and seed producing crops and may increase costs for producers.

  3. I chose no opinion, although I do have one. GM crops need to be approved on a case by case basis. As our population keeps increasing we will need to increase food production. On the one hand, developing crops that grow faster or larger could be beneficial, however I am not in favor of crops that produce their own pesticides as I oppose the use of pesticides and insecticides. The reason being, when we kill off pests and insects it has a knock on effect on other species that feed on them. It also has a knock on effect on plants by wiping out pollinators.

    Furthermore if these GM crops were to be approved/denied on a case by case basis, testing would need to be done by impartial scientists with no connection to companies using the GM products.

    • No pesticide or insecticide use would be great but can food production be increased, or even maintained, without them? I think with a crop that produces its own pesticides and stores them internally there may be less impact on other species but potential for more impact on consumers, whether through our food or animal feed. Only the organisms feeding on the plant (and organisms feeding on them, and so on) would be effected by internally held pesticides but if they spray a whole field wouldn’t everything in the field, pest or not, be exposed to the treatment, having knock-on effects in those trophic webs too?

      • Interesting point. It just goes to show how complicated this subject is. Also, while I favour testing, someone needs to fund this testing. This, along with the fines you mentioned add considerable costs, so the companies involved then need to patent their crops to recover those costs, opening up a whole other can of worms.

  4. A title I am sure pretty much every zoology graduate in the country can relate to! Thanks for contributing Ciara although the work sounds exhausting dirty and smelly … still really interesting! especially the different ways the octopus is kept entertained

  5. Cheers for the contribution Steve! Just shows what a committed passionate group of people can do to aid local biodiversity!

  6. Great article Ciara! I can’t wait for future updates from Canada. I think what annoys me most when people ask if you’re going to work in a zoo is the condescending tone that’s often used. I think it’s a fantastic career path, even if it is a bit smelly!

  7. Please remember that this is a licensed survey under national parks and wildlife. Any disruption of the felts and the lizards without a licence is illegal and could jeopardise further surveying. Plenty of opportunities to observe lizards in the dunes or basking on the felts from a distance 🙂

  8. Cheers for the article Jack brings back excellent memories and you were a pleasure to work with! (And socialise with). Never forget your 2nd day when I took you out with a group to collect camera traps and I got us lost on a “short cut” and we’d to go through that big gorge type place full of really sharp painful bush. Haha sorry again and thanks for keeping faith after that!

  9. Cheers DK for the insight and info from maybe a different angle to that of most of our contributors. Very interesting and possibly worrying events, also a great opportunity to just emphasize again, that the results of research should be always published if the research was done correctly regardless of some vested interests.

  10. People must remember that these surveys are aimed to safeguard wildlife and conservation, therefore it is not necessary to handle wild animals. You’re trying to preserve wildlife, not add to the human impact.

  11. Rebecca,
    Great article. You are right you were so lucky to be a part of that experience. Perhaps some day we can do a turtle adventure together. Maybe even work with a leatherback or two??
    Take care.

  12. This article is right on. I am in the process of scheduling a field trip for science kids and their families to visit The Lab of Ornathology. If you come to upstate NY I will take you to this magnificent location. Hopefully this field trip will lead to more family outings and spark their nature gene.
    Cheers.

    • Thanks Wendy! That sounds like a great trip for the kids! They’re lucky to have you. It’s exactly what they need. I am already planning on a US trip next year, so I’ll definitely have to visit you guys.

  13. Peter you paint such a extraordinary picture of KwaZulu-Natal, up till now I’ve been roughly 70% excited to head down 30% nervous about it. Reading your article has definitely bumped the excitement up a good few % at the expense of the nerves!

  14. Thanks for the fascinating insight into these amazing birds Sean! It was great to hear the first chicks fledged this year. Hopefully the new Irish population will become well established and the birds stay clear of any danger.

  15. Great article. It’s interesting that people always say children lose touch with nature, rather than children not being introduced to nature. It seems quite clear that we’re all born with a connection to nature, but many people lose it over time.

    You’re right too about not needing to live in the country. Even if you’re living in the centre of the city, the Phoenix Park and Stephens Green are perfect places to bring kids.

  16. Thanks for the stats Karl! I find them very encouraging for the EU as well! I believe Ireland has a unwarranted stigma towards nuclear energy unfortunately ( course I am open to changing my mind on the issue if I see sufficient data, but to date that is my opinion). To a degree I believe it is warranted with tragedies like Chernobyl of course. I believe though that with the quick evolution of technology and especially technology in relation to the safety aspects this kind of tragedy can hopefully be a thing of a past. Flying is statistically one of the safest forms of travel based on the number of people who use it because all the safety precautions are taken extremely seriously. As we know though when accidents happen inflight there normally fatal and devastating, but nobody is seriously looking for a ban on large scale flying rather the safety procedures and technology for flying are constantly being improved and I believe this is the way nuclear energy should go. First and foremost I would like to see the debate for nuclear energy in Ireland more open and better broadcast to hopefully shake of some old stigmas. A article in the Irish Times only today states with the government’s new white paper the country plans to be fossil fuel free by the end of the century. I believe this transition can be done far more cost effectively and smoothly with Ireland accepting a commit to produce nuclear energy. The climate is telling us we need to act fast and nuclear I believe is a option we can no longer ignore.

    • I’ve found 2 stoneflys today in a pond I dug a year ago, it’s been left to totally naturalise by itself, seen these lads floating around today with their bodies submerged but tails sticking up above surface, they’re about five foot apart

    • Cheers Karl! Yeah I was super lucky with that one, didn’t even notice the grasshopper until I looked at the photo after it was taken haha. It’s a great way to show how small these guys are

  17. Great article Oisin, cheers for the contribution! loved the photos and the fact you found your first queen in a rarely used carpark in Waterford! Really illustrates the fact when nature is given the chance it can flourish anywhere, and you just have to keep your eyes peeled always!

    • Thanks a million Cormac, I really appreciate it.
      The odd thing about the car park is that there’s only a few food sources there during the winter, Ivy along the tree line, planted Heather and the Viburnum mentioned above. This makes looking for them quite easy, it’d be amazing to see what else would turn up to the car park if there was some pollinator friendly wildflowers planted or even just the green space let go a little bit wild.

  18. Hopefully since it’s rarely used it will be allowed go a bit wilder! Do you know if local councils and county councils have any specific plans or guidelines to promote the planting of pollinator friendly wildflowers? Or if not is there groups lobby for such plans?

    • With the car park in question I believe it’s owned by a hotel and used as an overflow car park. There’s a few raised curbed areas where they’ve planted some shrubs and a few plants, but unfortunately the very small amount of green space appears to be cut on a regular basis.
      The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is doing a great deal to make people more aware of pollinators in general and ways they can benefit these incredibly important creatures.

  19. Great article Ben really informative! I’ve always been completely behind reforestation projects in Ireland using native tree mixes. I didn’t know how useful native reforestation can be for flood prevention as well as the rural economies and environment. Personally do you believe there’d be a need or place for a modern and safe nuclear option in Ireland out of interest, much like France and Germany? Thanks again for the contribution!

    • Hi Cormac, thanks very much. The benefits of native reforestation are immense but not just in respect of our changing climate but also in respect of biodiversity. Our invertebrate populations would surely flourish leading unsurprisingly to tropic effects in terms of benefits for birds and mammal species. Economically it couldn’t make more sense. Upland farmers are paid to farm the likes of uplands unsustainably and at a cost to the E.U. taxpayer. Reforestation projects could potentially be looked at as possible tourist areas especially for hikers adding a new perspective to a struggling rural Ireland. There’s is a lot of benefits to be taken from such projects.

      I can’t help but feel uneasy about nuclear energy. However, when it comes to nuclear energy I wouldn’t be too knowledgeable. There’s more media coverage that hits mainstream media about the negative side of nuclear energy so I would imagine that could be a factor – behaviorally tuned to be cautious of it. But it must be looked at as a potential long term option. If we need to start decarbonizing now, it probably doesn’t fit the bill because of the length of time needed to plan and build but I would possibly welcome it in the future in conjunction with renewable energies that we should be investing in now.

  20. Thanks a million for the piece Lawrence I really enjoyed it and hope it reaches as many people as possible before the vote tomorrow! Seems a FF Green coaliation would be the best outcome for the environment then if I read correctly? We must remember I think though that we had that coalition before and the only stand out extra plus I remember was the banning of the stag hunt. Of course they must have done more and if any contributor remembers something else please post! We must make sure this time that the manifestos don’t just become empty promises and allot of hot air which is exactly what the climate doesn’t need! On saying that the best hope I think is with the individual and attitude change in the public and private industry sector which actually looks like it is happening regardless of political parties encouraging it or not. Let’s just hope the victorious party(ies) this election remember how strongly the electorate feels about making Ireland a excellent place to live in, not just for people but for all of the Country’s biodiversity as well.

  21. A thought-provoking (if dispiriting) article. I just noticed a typo in one of the sentences in the second paragraph: “….after a campaign IN launched.” where it should be “after a campaign IS launched.” It certainly would be interesting to see an update from the author on the current situation of fur farming in Ireland in 2016.

  22. It would be interesting to see the amount of methane produced per kilogram of food for cattle. For example, if a steer is slaughtered at two years for meat it has produced two years of methane for 500KG of food. But a dairy cow produces 5,000L of milk per year ( http://www.ifa.ie/sectors/dairy/dairy-fact-sheet/ ). So although a dairy cow produces approximately twice as much methane they produce ten times the amount of food by weight. So it would seem like beef is still by far the most damaging type of food. Obviously very rough back of the envelope calculations that don’t take into account the size of animal and length of time it takes cows to reach milk producing age etc.

  23. haha it’s amazing work site right?! It isn’t the most accessible place though unfortunately. Hopefully we get up there though, if not 100% St Lucia one of South Africa’s best wetlands reserves you’ll see everything there and is closer to Durban and more tourist friendly. Who know’s though we could try squeeze in both!

  24. Fantastic article Amy! Really enjoyed it! Must pay Fota a visit when I am back in Ireland next…. think my best “selfie” ever taken in Ireland was with one of Fotas quite confused kangaroo’s. Excellent advice for people in the limbo period too completely agree with you, once people remain patient and keeping searching something will come up for them! Hope as many school kids in Cork and further afield get the chance to go to Fota and be inspired by the excellent work done there by yourself and all the fota staff.

  25. haha hopefully! Great to see your researching into the area! I can’t wait to visit Hluhluwe-iMfolozi myself. One of the oldest proclaimed nature reserves not just in SA but on the entire continent! It’s a incredibly diverse area and a biologists dream basically!

  26. Excellent article with very important issues highlighted. I agree, the only way we are going to start taking how we treat the environment seriously and start taking steps to change this is by reconnecting with nature on a meaningful and productive level. I think this needs to be in ways that do not exploit nature, however. I have seen it time and time again that those who wish to gain from spending time in nature (relaxation, mental health, exercise) miss the point and end up exploiting or abusing nature solely for their own gain…the interconnection bit gets lost somewhere along the way. I think you hit the nail on the head with regards to the importance of the role education and media have in fostering knowledge and appreciation of our interconnectivity with nature.

    • Thanks for the feedback, April! I definitely agree that there needs to be a balance so that nature benefits people but doesn’t get exploited or abused. It’s sad too that some people need to be shown what nature does for them in order for them to want to protect it, rather than protecting it because it’s the right thing to do. Maybe if younger generations are given the opportunity to engage more with nature they’ll have a higher appreciation and desire to protect it than many generations around have now.

      • Hi Rebecca, I admire your stance, I really do. Unfortunately in this country there is not enough money to be made from environmental policy so while we posture and appear to be doing all we should with regard to EU Directives, the truth is we are really under performing very badly indeed – Heather Humphrey’s decision to extend hedge cutting, as you mentioned, is an example. Ireland will never become an environmentally friendly country so long as the agricultural sector maintains its stranglehold on policymakers. The result of which is an extended hedge cutting season or, far more worryingly, in the run up to the general election three different government ministers all declared “Economics are far more important than the environment”.
        You want to know the really depressing part? One of them was the minister for the environment at the time. Our ‘dear leader’ asked for an Irish exemption at the last climate change conference!!!
        Many damaging practices in the agricultural sector are slowly stripping away wild and natural habitat and enrichment of our waters is playing havoc with aquatic ecosystems. Here’s a piece I wrote a few weeks ago on the issue:

        http://kayakfishermanireland.com/portfolio-type/the-elephant-in-the-room/

  27. Thank you for a very thought provoking article Rebecca. On reading it, my first thoughts were to ask myself when or how did the disconnect between “us” and our environment / biodiversity become so deep, so pronounced? As to when , I feel it’s very much a generational thing. From a rural background, my parents and folk of their generation had a greater “feel” (albeit perhaps less of a scientific understanding) for nature and biodiversity. They marked seasons with the arrival of spring flowers or the first swallow or the harvest moon or leaf fall. They “read” nature ( perhaps some of it a mix of fact and fable) in a way that appears to be lost on many these days, certainly on our young people.
    As to why the disconnect between nature and “us”, the answers are everywhere, changing lifestyles, faster pace of living, the “competitiveness” for our attention and spare time, the seemingly irreconcilable challenge of complementing and maintaining progress and intensification in production and output, while at the same time safeguarding and protecting our habitats and biodiversity as witnessed in the current CAP “green washing”.
    Possible solutions have been already identified in your article and by others here in their comments. I agree that we need to start in education, by fostering an awareness and understanding of the value of nature and biodiversity, the dividends for society in maintaining and engaging with our natural environment and our responsibilities as “minders” of nature and biodiversity, not exploiters of our natural resources. If this means promoting appropriate modules in environmental science and awareness learning from early age, educating our young people in all these values, perhaps it would be a start ? Our children of today become our policy makers of tomorrow, perhaps sowing the seeds of wonder and valuing our environment now in young minds will bear fruit in years to come and help to rediscover and mend the lost connection with our environmental heritage you described so succinctly in your article. Well done !

    • Some really good points there, Tom. It definitely is so important to start teaching more environmental education in schools- not just teaching it, but fostering a love of the environment in young people. Maybe they would be more likely to protect the environment in the future if they had a love of it.
      Thanks for the great feedback!

  28. Great article Rebecca, interesting reading for me as I have a foot in both camps in that I have spent much of the last 10 years promoting Sustainability, Community Resilience and care for the environment through projects and groups here in West Cork and at festivals such as Electric Picnic & Body & Soul; I am now in the set up stage of an Eco Tourism business Goleen Harbour. The idea of a collective marketing of the environment is very appealing, there has been a lot of research work carried out by various bodies on the economic impact of hill walking and other activities so the awareness is there. I believe that by bringing families to our bit of beautiful West Cork where they can stay in a luxurious, contemporary Geodome looking our at the Atlantic and Fastnet Rock, providing environmentally friendly activities and locally sourced Organic food whilst subtly giving them messages about the importance of this precious environment many of them will return home with a better understanding and appreciation of it. See http://www.goleenharbour.ie for info I’d love to hear what you think. Matt

  29. Thank you for this article. I have been sickened recently by the brutality of the hedge cutting going on along roads recently brancehs and trunks bashed and splintered. It’s as if someone designed a machine to do as much damage as possible to the trees and shrubs. Why? Is it just economics? People can’t afford to do the job right any more? People are scared of being sued for trees falling on the road. I think that there is an emotional element here. In some way we are acting out our own trauma and taking it out on the land and that a strategy to change things must address this as well. Looking at it purely in economic terms will only lead to more exploitation. Wish I had time to write more now.

    • Thanks for the feedback, John! From discussions I’ve had with people sadly part of it is that they are afraid of being sued for trees falling on the road. Definitely not the only reason though! I agree that if you look at it purely from an economic perspective it can cause even more damage, but an awareness of the financial advantages the environment brings us (e.g. the cost that would result if bees decline further and plants have to be hand-pollinated) is good too. If you do get some time we would love you to write a piece for BioWeb.ie- the more people writing about the environment and getting the discussion going the better!

  30. Hey Antara
    Thanks for the piece! I felt very similar when I was in Kathmandu and saw the non-existent waste management. I also had the urge to “correct” people but held back, at the time it felt cowardly but looking back I’m glad now. I’m glad as it would have been unfair to the people who have to live through this on a regular basis and are just trying to continue as best they can. The longer I stayed in Nepal I found the people have a respect and appreciation for nature in particular their incredible bird diversity. The people living in Kathmandu much like Mumbai I imagine have been just terribly let down by their leaders and educators. The urge you had to get out and spread awareness is excellent must be done in the correct channels and must be funded correctly by city leaders. Again thanks for highlighting such a important issue Antara and lets hope educators and politicians refuse to ignore it any longer and help the people who elected them get the living standards and clean environment they were promised and deserve.

  31. Nice article, Holly. The international push to highlight the issues with vultures is one that pleases me. BirdLife South Africa even posted a press release last year about a NEW BIRD species named the ‘tuluver’, which I was unsure of at first. However, the eventual reveal had a powerful message, which will stay with me forever.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMHmscle9dg

    My girlfriend, Morgan Pfeiffer, is studying Cape Vultures at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (same uni as Cormac). Going to the vulture colonies (Cape Vultures are a communal cliff-nesting species) has been one of the most amazing experiences one could hope for. I am aiming to visit a colony with Cormac in the next few months to monitor nest success.

    I’ve been fortunate to see pretty much all southern African vulture species; the exception being RĂĽppell’s vulture, which is extremely uncommon.

    Which other species did you see?

  32. Sounds like it was an amazing internship – what an incredible opportunity!

    Pity about the lack of urgency to encourage awareness and curb demand – and demand there is! I find it hard to go to the supermarket and even pick out a loaf of bread without finding palm oil used as an ingredient. So many products use it!

    • Well said, Ben. There is definitely an element of companies trying to hide it now that people are becoming more aware as well – I’ve seen lots of packaging disguising it behind ‘vegetable oils’. Sometimes I find myself being hypocritical as a conservationist but where I can avoid it, I will.

      Also, apologies for the delayed reply!

  33. Any observations of crab predation on Aldabra tortoise or marine turtle eggs and/or hatchlings?

    • Hello Dean. I was not on the island long enough to witness either of those, but I’m sure they do (the Sea Turtles at least). With regards to the tortoises, they are most likely introduced to the island. Most were adults, though I do remember seeing one subadult Aldabra Tortoise (which was still bigger than 99.99% of tortoises elsewhere in the world.

      The island also had two introduced radiated tortoises (originally from Madagascar); one apparently accidentally introduced with a crate of coconuts; and the other subsequently introduced as a mate. The male radiated tortoises is known to wander through the Sooty Tern colony chomping away at their eggs. Again, I did not witness this, but when I found the male, he was, perhaps not surprisingly, close to the tern colony.

      I had two interesting predation observations; one involved seeing an already dead sooty tern being dragged down a burrow by a single ghost crab, and subsequently getting stuck in the entrance; and a second involving a Caspian Tern with a meal.

      For the second instance, a tern had landed on the beach with a comparatively large fish; one that it could not fly easily with and could not swallow whole. The tern was being chased by probably 20-30 ghost crabs. The tern was forced to fly and land several times before giving up on its meal.

      • Dear Martyn,

        Thanks for your reply to my query. Both your observations were of considerable interest, and definitely publishable as a short natural history paper in one of the journals, particularly the second observation which is particularly notable as an example of group predation by an invertebrate species. However, my particular interest, and one of my research ‘themes’, is ‘predation on amphibians and reptiles by invertebrates’, so if you come across any examples, let me know if you would be interested in collaborating in natural history notes for one of the herpetological journals; you should have my email address. All the best,

        Regards, Dean (herpetologist, based in Sydney, Australia).

  34. Such a beautiful rendition of memories that leaves us, the readers is absolute awe! I am truly envious of your stupendous adventure and would love to read more of your sharing! If you have not already, have you considered to be an author, Geetha? Best wishes to you and your passion!

    • Hi Lavania! I am very happy to hear that this piece left you in such awe 🙂 I hope to continue sharing more of my passion and work through my writing. Thank you very much for your encouraging words. My best regards to you, Geetha

  35. A simle water tray is excellent as the birds need to drink & bathe. It’s lovely to watch them splashing about from your window!

  36. “rather brilliant Oostvardesplassen project”

    Do you mean where the enforced starvation of over 8,000 animals due to resource limitation from the fencing preventing them from migrating to new food sources is the closest you will get in Europe to a demonstration of the ecological meltdown from unrestrained herbivory that John Terborg observed on predator-free islands created by a hydroelectric impoundment in Venezuela. Moreover, the complete loss of woodland cover at OVP, and studies that show woodland regeneration – even where spikey mantle shrubs have been planted -is completely inhibited by the herbivore pressure there, desperate for something to eat, demonstrates how bogus predator-free “rewilding” with herbivores is, as is also Vera’s theory about landscapes and woodland development being driven by herbivores.

  37. This a very informative piece on a topic that rather conveniently rarely gets a look in the mainstream media in Ireland (as well as many other environmental issues). I didn`t realise that corporations had so much control over the seed market in Europe. I have also read many articles on how agri-corporations are flooding the market with high priced patented seed in many countries and as you mentioned Jori, brings an increased need for pesticides and fertilzers not to mention misery to farmers. Lets hope the resistance on mainland Europe pays off and spreads to Ireland and that CETA + TTIP fail.

  38. The village that we worked with was right alongside the boarder of the national park- there was a lot of elephant activity all year round. The fences that have been established for a few years with several active beehives would often help in preventing elephant raids in the sense that the bees would, once the elephants had breached the wire barrier, scare the elephants away. The problem with this is obviously that there are still elephants trespassing on farmland but the important part is that the majority of the time they do minimal damage to the crops. Our fences won’t have active hives for at least the next year, until a wild colony inhabits the hives. Hopefully the team next year will let us know!

  39. Stunning photos Katrina! Snowdonia is definitely a natural place in the UK on my bucket list! I think its important to stress as well that these beautiful wild places, particularly in developed heavily populated countries like the UK can only be protected through public participation, via volunteering and citizen science surveys. Thanks for sharing!

  40. Great article, Steven. The illegal pet trade is an unfortunate reality, and certainly should be something that should be discussed in more detail to the wider public. How many regular people know about the Asian Turtle Crisis? Very few, I would imagine. As a tortoise enthusiast, I think I should add that 80% of the world’s tortoise species are listed as at least ‘Vulnerable’, and that all tortoise species are listed on either Appendix I or II.

    I am now (mostly) against the pet trade for exotic animals. Yet, in reality, it was the pet trade that introduced me to the world of tortoises. Hermann’s Tortoises were one of my first pets growing up (still have them today). If it were not for them (and perhaps the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), I imagine there is a very small chance that I would have been involved in tortoise research in the US or South Africa. I am certain that the pet trade has encouraged this enthusiasm for herpetology in countless others too.

    The world is in a sad state. There are so many different issues that are impacting our wildlife that most people don’t even consider the pet trade to be responsible.

    To any readers, though I’m sure it is an unnecessary statement, I encourage you to buy legally. If you are abroad and see wildlife for sale that you suspect was captured by illegal means, DO NOT buy and release. You are only fuelling the trade.

  41. Excellent piece Steven thanks for the share! I also couldn’t agree with you and Martyn more in terms of ethical and unethical trade. Same as Martyn if it wasn’t for starting out at a young age keeping red eared sliders and corn snakes I’m not sure I would have ended up pursuing herpetology as a career or research path. I still believe its vital to get hands on with these animals to encourage your passion. Luckily for me my sliders were rescues I re-homed and the corns (and later other species) were all captive bred from a very reputable ethical specialist reptile store. I’ve also thought something countries should consider is making pet shops that deal in reptile and amphibians (and other exotic animals) make potential buyers of these animals sit a examine on husbandry and finding out their genuine interest in buying these animals. At the end of the day it also nearly entirely boils down to supply and demand. If the demand was only coming from educated and ethical potential collectors and keepers they will not accept animals coming from illegal or cruel circumstances thus if the demand is fair the supply would be fair. Unfortunately I can’t see a appetite for such a scheme as there is just too much money involved.

  42. fascinating Will thanks for the share! I never knew? I wonder if there is recordings of bees doing the same thing between the UK and Ireland? As I think at its more narrow point it is only 60 miles between the islands?

  43. Great article, Melanie! Though, I doubt there are many people from outside SA that know what the Muthi trade is without making a guess.

    Surprisingly, the Bearded Vulture was the first vulture species I encountered in South Africa, when I went on a raptor-ringing weekend with Dr. Shane MacPherson. We saw two Beardeds that day! They are probably one of the most attractive vulture species, though I will argue that the King Vulture of South America can compete with them.

    I look forward to hearing your results. Keep up the good work!

  44. Great list – another one is not to overdo it with the autumn cleanup of died-back perennials. Leaving some of the died-back leaves in place protects roots from the harsher frosts – and of course provides cover for all sorts of small creatures.

  45. Excellent article – many of the characteristics of the Black Mamba seem to apply to most snakes in their choice of escape over confrontation if an escape route is possible. I wish snakes in general were given the respect and credit which is their due! It would mean more lives (both snake, human and pet) would result!

  46. Hi Rory
    Yes your article is very interesting. What I did find is that Wild Cities did have an effect on the public as many days when we were out doing the petition on the streets, People signed it because they saw the programme. Would they have signed it had Merlin Woods not been a feature ,I am not sure ,possibly not. I think we need to do more to highlight our environment on a much more consistent basis through national ,local media. The problem with local media is usually down to vested interest and this is the problem we found , not being able to get our story out enough. I also noticed on Social media , some people who were supportive were afraid to share info incase they would be seen going against the hospice , so it took very strong people to fight for the environment. We shouldnt have to fight to preserve these areas but yet we have too unfortunately. It makes me sad too that everyone loves these programs but when it comes to the crunch , they still don’t value their own local environment enough to stand up for it and prefer to leave it up to someone else. But at least we have a good few here after four years of showing the value of Merlin Woods ,they are valuing it and that is through education in many different ways and support for us as a group from many different NGO groups and individual experts who we couldn’t have got this far without and the surrounding communities. At the end of the day it was the elected Councillors who let us down , lets hope the planners wont fall so quickly. Caroline Friends of Merlin Woods

  47. Nice email Rory. You may know that Galway City Council applied for, and were awarded a Green Leaf award for 2017. I have no idea why? A majority of Councillors indeed voted to rezone sensitive lands at Merlin Woods and to take lumps out of the Terryland Forest Park for a new road. One of the principles of EU Green Leaf is that green space is kept as green space. Galway City Council has fallen at the first hurdle, in their failure to respect public green space.

  48. Great article Alec hope people are in spiced to make changes to their use of plastic in daily-weather-forecast lives

    • How odd it was meant to say inspired not in spiced and daily not daily-weather-forecast thats a SMART Phone for you! Well done on great article

  49. Great share Rebecca!! Really looking forward to this plan taking off and being able to visit the much needed first national wildlife rehab and teaching centre in Ireland.

  50. Wonderful blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress
    or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m
    totally overwhelmed .. Any recommendations? Thanks!
    allposts

  51. With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infeingemrnt? My site has a lot of unique content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my permission. Do you know any ways to help prevent content from being ripped off? I’d truly appreciate it.

  52. You work in the office of a church? Damn, I love the Michael Corleonean aesthetic.As for religion oppressing women — it doens’t even merit a secondary affirmation. If it isn’t obvious to someone that almost every mohi-tneistoc religion was dreamed up at least partially to put the threatened boot of mankind firmly on the throat of womankind, then nothing I say will convince him or her.Once again, I recommend one book and only one book…Sam Harris’s The End of Faith.It makes the danger of religion and its true believers crystal clear.

  53. Hey Sophie excellent piece really enjoyed it! The study on the isle of rum sounds amazing and such a long term data set is incredible!! Just wondering what were the reasons behind why the females had a collar and ear tag,whereas the males had only a ear tag? Also the collars are just for marking out different individuals correct? Or are they telemetry collars (GPS/VHF)? Cheers again!

    • Hey Cormac,
      Only just seen the comment so sorry about the delay.
      Someone from the project may well step in and correct me, but from my understanding the females are more heavily marked as they remain in the study area for their entire life. Females don’t move far and therefore need to be identifiable for over 10 years. Males are more likely to disperse, they may only come back to the study area during the rut or not at all. Individuals need to be identifiable by maternal descent in order to achieve the individual based nature of the study.
      The collars are purely visual markers so no GPS of VHF.
      Hope that answers your question!
      Sophie

  54. Good information regarding corridor. Well written Ms.Kate. Request you to give more information on assessing or identifying the corridor area, why should we say this is very potential corridor to connect habitat one another like that.

  55. Well done, Holly. Thank you for your unique perspective and for citing some good research on this incredible, important and often misunderstood member of the natural world. Certainly a vital component of our entire health as a world community, and one well worth safeguarding!

  56. Alec – nicely put! We need more people like you to be the bridges between conservationists and those people who are not informed about the value of conservation. With your passion, charisma and enthusiasm you can inspire just like Steve and David, and with your expertise you can create a real change. Keep up the good work, and I will look forward to your contributions in the near future!

  57. Lovely post Sophie! Kudos on finding great ways to see joy and intrigue in the challenging life of a researcher! It’s tough work, but essential to our collective understanding of important relationships. I like your outlook and the fun way that you discovered a scientists life is never what’s expected, as a good researcher is open and willing to find results and new questions that lead them in directions they hadn’t anticipated! Thanks for showing us through your eyes, the flexibility and passion for information that is paramount to a good science-based search for understanding.

  58. The Indian Army (Special Operations Group) is extremely fascinated with these snakes and has begun to breed them in large numbers in special facilities on the Kiltan island of the Laskhadweep archipelago off India’s South Western coast.
    This is a special operations no go zone and is directly under the Defense ministry.

    Here Indian Soldiers also arrive for training courses and practice snake handling techniques and there is also a venom extraction center on the island.

  59. Interesting idea. I admit I am always skeptical of management practices that require a lot of human intervention long-term, but this was clearly addressed in the article as a limitation of the program. Also liked the acknowledgment that current policies do not adequately support farmers and their needs. Will be interested to see this work unfold…

  60. An excellent article Laura. Well written & well explained. Makes us wonder what more one can do.

  61. Delightful article, Euan. I’m glad it all worked out so well for you! All the best for you future.

  62. Compassion in action – this is such a badly needed facility for all vulnerable animals in Ireland – wonderful people doing wonderful work with the common purpose of protecting and saving wildlife

  63. Why isn’t the American Prairie Foundation helping to preserve save the buffalo in Yellowstone? These are constantly being hazed out of the park, then rounded up slaughtered as they are deemed a threat to the Montana ranchers nearby (due to brucellosis)? There are too many ranchers on lands where the buffalo are native who seem to be threatened if the native “cow” is near their herds.How is the Foundation going to work with these ranchers to get them to accept the reintroduction of the buffalo into the natural ecosystem?

  64. In Northern Germany the newly reintroduced Wolves which migrated from Poland, are free to transit farmlands. This allows wolf packs to access smaller woodland areas where wild boar are plentyfull. It also allows the wolf pack to maintain their large roaming area.

  65. Something I forgot to mention above is around prioritisation. Many final year projects also run at the same time as other modules and courses. Many of these have imminent deadlines, and so it can be harder to find time to work on a “long burning” thesis. It can be important to think about weightings, and in the end of the day how much different exercises are worth. In many cases your thesis is weighted much more heavily (often 15-20 ECTS) than a single assignment that’s only a small part of a course worth 5 credits. So ensure you get your priorities right and give your thesis the time its worth! Good luck!

  66. Does cutting some Herb Robert while mowing a shady path cause any serious damage to the plant? The roots are not being destroyed, only some of the flowers and leaves that overflow into the pathway.

  67. Hi. We have a small hibernating or rather dormant tortoiseshell in our house at the moment. I’ve put her in a box in an unheated bathroom but every evening she has moved a bit by the time I come home from work. I’m worried that she’ll use up her energy if this keeps happening. I don’t want to put her in the shed as I’m afraid of spiders or other predators getting to her. Any advice? Thanks very much.

  68. Hi Oisin. We have a small hibernating or rather dormant tortoiseshell in our house at the moment. I’ve put her in a box in an unheated bathroom but every evening she has moved a bit by the time I come home from work. I’m worried that she’ll use up her energy if this keeps happening. I don’t want to put her in the shed as I’m afraid of spiders or other predators getting to her. Any advice? Thanks very much.

  69. The part where you mentioned that we are depriving future generations of witnessing the beauty and diversity of wildlife if we were to push more species closer to their extinction state made me realize the importance of focusing on wildlife. A discussion from one of my classes today tackled a lot of animals that are about to be classified as endangered and it made me worry a lot about younger kids who won’t be able to see them. I’m now thinking of donating to organizations that dedicate their time to preserving African wildlife in order to contribute even in my own simple ways.

  70. Ich finde es gut, dass die Jugend das Thema “Klimawandel” anpackt und vielleicht den ein oder anderen Verantwortlichen zum Nachdenken anregt.Auch wenn das ein langer Weg ist. DEr mensch muss langsam begreifen, dass wir nur einen Erdball haben und sorgsam mit Ihm umgehen mĂĽssen

  71. Thank you for an informative article. As a (brit) long-term resident of Himachal, above Mcleodganj, and wildlife enthusiast, I can never find enough info on local fauna!

  72. Here in Oceano , CA working to save out local dunes from OHV and vehicle activities along with massive bull dozing. You mention carbon sequestration which I have only just begun to hear about. Is there any more information about this as it relates to dunes?

  73. This is a powerful, informed and articulate piece. It deserves widespread circulation. It articulates the root problems and suggests deliverable solutions. I would implore the author to reconsider anonymity and allow attribution which would add to its value. Politicians, councillors, policy makers,NGO’s, lobby groups, the Irish Farming Association-yes seriously! Teagasc,etc etc All would find something to enlighten, inform, maybe enrage. We have to nail the Big Picture stuff: policy change, resourcing of experts and paying landowners to do the right thing, provided that Right Thing is overseen and followed up on by appropriately qualified personnel.

  74. Vielen Dank fĂĽr diesen Artikel. Hoffentlich merken die Menschen irgendwann, dass die Natur schĂĽtzenswert ist und kein Weg daran vorbeifĂĽhrt. Wir mĂĽssen stets mit der Natur und nicht gegen sie arbeiten. Sonst ist Corona wirklich erst der Anfang. Hoffen wir das Beste

  75. You’re welcome! Yes, I completely agree. Something must be done before time runs out. The natural world is incredibly important. Thank you for reading my article!

  76. thankyou for this informative article. a couple days ago i saw what i now believe was a rat snake and that prompted my search for resources related to snakes in himachal. the knowlege regarding snakes in himachal is very poor and lack of information on the net doesnt help either, yours is the only decent article ive found uptil now so thanks and congratulations, hope you enjoyed your trip to our tiny state, hoping to welcome you soon.

    • hi,
      I’hv recently shifted to himachal
      and i’m interested in the fauna specifically demography of snakes in
      Himachal..if ur aware of any societies,group working in this direction pls ping me or reply here.

  77. The reason why Ireland doesn’t have enough woodland is because of us humans. We have destroyed our country with little to no biodiversity and ecological sites. The introduction of wolves would change this. We plant the woodland and let them look after it, just like gatekeepers. Everyone is cutting beautiful trees down, because of leaves falling or not enough light, well trees were there first, people shouldn’t of built there house there or bought that particular house. We all should plant more trees, Irish species even in small gardens. Prune them and let nature take its course. We would all be better of health wise and mentally in tune with nature. Bring back the wolves look what they did for Yellowstone. They don’t like humans, they are scared of us, and right they are, we should’ve scared of ourselves, we are destroying this country.

    • Your right they deserve a chance extend Wicklow national park and add 10 wolves there and help integrate them into the landscape

  78. I would like to know about the process of converting duckweed from a lagoon to use as fodder. Is it safe to use straight or is there a process prior to feeding?

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