Thursday, October 31, 2013


TOKYO: More than one million whales, dolphins and porpoises have been slaughtered off Japan in the past 70 years – and new analysis by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) indicates these unsustainable hunts are on track to wipe out key species in Japan’s coastal waters.

Launching its new report Toxic Catch: Japan’s unsustainable and irresponsible whale, dolphin and porpoise hunts at a press conference in Tokyo today (October 31), EIA urged the Government of Japan to phase out the hunts over a 10-year period through targeted actions to restore depleted cetacean populations and working with hunters to find alternative livelihoods.

Japan’s hunts of small toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises (known as small cetaceans) constitute the largest directed hunt of cetaceans in the world, yet there is little transparency regarding the methods used to set catch limits and widespread concern that consumers are not informed that the resulting products are toxic with mercury and other contaminants.

“The hunts in Japan’s coastal waters specifically target nine small cetacean species, eight of them with Government-set catch limits which are clearly unsustainable,” said EIA cetaceans campaigner and report co-author Sarah Baulch.

“For 2013, the catch limits allow the slaughter of 16,655 small cetaceans, but our analysis of available scientific data raises very serious concerns about the sustainability of these hunts.”

Favoured species such as the striped dolphin began to decline drastically due to overexploitation long before catch limits were introduced in 1993. Actual catch numbers have since declined to below these limits for most targeted species; this is due in part to falling consumer demand, but there is significant evidence indicating that a number of exploited populations are too depleted to allow quotas to be filled.

“Despite strong indications of population declines, there appears to be little formal monitoring by the Government of Japan,” added Baulch. “For most hunted species, the majority of population estimates are based on surveys more than 20-years-old.

“In using outdated population information and lacking a scientifically rigorous method for setting catch limits, the Government is displaying a lack of responsibility and is failing to implement its own policies of sustainable utilisation. “

In addition to sustainability concerns, Japanese consumers are left largely ignorant of the high levels of pollutants which typically accumulate in the meat and blubber of these top marine predators; some products can reach 85 times the safe limits for consumption of methyl mercury and 140 times the safe limit for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – particularly shocking in light of the recent signing of the Minamata Convention on Mercury in Japan.

Sakae Hemmi, of Japanese NGO Elsa Nature Conservancy, said: “The Government of Japan’s stubborn reluctance to relinquish this archaic industry is not only driving threatened marine species towards extinction, but is endangering the health of its people.”

Austria provides over 2 million dollars in support of the CBD LifeWeb Initiative

Montreal, 31 October 2013 – The Government of Austria has approved a funding package worth US$2.2 million through the LifeWeb Initiative to help implement the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in four countries.

The projects to be supported, in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and others, range from rehabilitation of a biosphere reserve in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the protection of river dolphins in the Sundarbans, the enlargement of protected area systems in Laos and the restoration of habitats where species of wild coffee reside in Ethiopia.

Austria joins the governments of Germany and Finland, the European Commission and other donor countries and international foundations in making strategic investments that assist developing countries to achieve the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets as agreed in Nagoya, Japan, in 2010.

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, said: “The funding provided by Austria is a generous contribution to the implementation of the Convention and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, through the LifeWeb Initiative. It builds the network of partnerships, with organisations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, which we need for implementation. We look forward to further collaboration with Austria and call upon other donors to make their pledges in support of the CBD.”

Cristián Samper, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said: “The CBD LifeWeb Initiative is an invaluable facilitator to bring much-needed funds to the front lines of biodiversity conservation work around the world. We are very thankful to the Government of Austria for their generous support so this crucial work can continue.”

Projects funded by the contribution are as follows:
· Democratic Republic of the Congo: Rehabilitation of the Yangambi Biosphere Reserve. US$585,000 to conduct baseline biodiversity assessments, develop stronger management planning that involves local communities and build the capacity of ranger patrols. Yangambi Biosphere Reserve is very important from a biodiversity perspective as it harbours 32,000 species of trees and provides habitat for Bonobo monkeys, Okapi and the Nile Crocodile.
· Lao People's Democratic Republic: Strengthening and enlarging the Protected Area System of Eastern Bolikhamxay Province - US$685,000. This WCS project will strengthen community outreach efforts and anti-poaching control in eastern Bolikhamxay linking three conservation forests including Phou Chom Voy PPA, Phou Sithone ESCA, and Nam Kading National Protected Area.
· Bangladesh: Protection of threatened river dolphins in Sundarbans Mangrove Forest - US$431,000. This WCS project aims to conserve Ganges River dolphin, at imminent risk of extinction and Irrawaddy dolphins, highly threatened due to numerous activities by humans, through the  establishment of a protected area network in waterways of the Sundarbans mangrove forest.
· Ethiopia: Protection of wild coffee species and protection and restoration of the Yayu forest where they reside - US$500.000. This project will protect the genetic diversity of wild coffee varieties in western Ethiopia through forest protection, restoration of degraded lands and promotion and  marketing of forest coffee products.

The Commonwealth Youth Council

The Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) is an exciting inclusive initiative that seeks to communicate, engage and advocate for youth led participation. The CYC will be an independent entity responsible for youth representation in the Commonwealth. 

Elections for the Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) executive will open soon and young people across the Commonwealth member states as well as those attending the 9th Commonwealth Youth Forum in Sri Lanka will be able to vote and elect their first executive members. The list of candidates is now been published at

Please visit this link and meet all the amazing young leaders from across the Commonwealth running. Kindly circulate to all Ministries of Youth and National youth bodies. Remember to find your country and vote for your candidates !

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Arrival of Black-necked cranes has been observed in Phobjika, central Bhutan this week which is one of the wintering habitats in the country. Generally they are observed since October in Bhutan where they spend around 5 months and then migrate to their summer habitats in Tibet. In 2012, around 368 cranes were observed in Phobjikha alone while it was 487 in whole.
October 22


Release of unsold cattle in the highways of Jammu, northern India is causing trouble to the pedestrians and commuters. The government’s action against removing stray cattle seems just a ‘media show’. On average, the concerned department catches nearly 10 stray cattle daily but nobody comes to claim for them and hence released to the forest which again finds their way to the city.
October 26


The eco-friendly bamboo product from indigenous Dom community is coming to an end. It is due to overmuch use of non-degradable plastic in the local market of Mahottari district in eastern Nepal. Thus, the communities have shifted to other income generating activities like pig farming.
October 26


Among the twelve countries of Asia which convened in the protection of snow leopard, Nepal has been reported success in its conservation efforts. There was a decline in population in the 1960s and 70s, but now it has risen to 500 in the wild, one tenth of the world population. Most of the species are concentrated in Mugu, Humla and Dolpa districts - mid western region of Nepal.
October 25,836


The Tinjure-Milke-Jaljale dense rhododendron forest spread on hundreds of hectares of land in 23 VDC of Tehrathum, Sankhuwasabha and Taplejung districts in eastern Nepal has been decreased to half of its area in the last decade. Similarly, the timber smugglers are also denuding Chure forest for the pine logs in Sarlahi district, central Nepal.
October 24, 26