Snake Population On The Decline On Three Continents

Distinct populations of snake species on three continents have crashed over the last decade, raising fears that the reptiles may be in global decline, according to a study published recently.The pattern across the eight species monitored was alarmingly similar despite their geographical isolation, which points to a common cause such as climate change, the researchers said.

Other factors known to play a role include habitat loss, pollution, disease, lack of prey and over-exploitation, either for food or trade.The study showed that 11 of 17 snake populations in Britain, France, Italy, Nigeria and Australia dropped off sharply over a four-year period starting in the late 1990s.“Our data revealed an alarming trend,” the authors reported in the British Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
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Swimming Elephant Takes Man For A Dip !

Perched between the tusks, an Indian ‘mahout’ or elephant driver is photographed on his steed in this arresting image.It was taken in the Andaman Islands, a remote archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, where Rajan, a 60-year-old elephant, lives.

The six-ton elephant learnt to swim 40 years ago to help work for logging companies there. For years the elephant felled trees with Nasru, his 58-year-old driver.But in 2002 logging was banned in the islands and most of the 200 elephants were sent back to the Indian mainland.
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Activists Sue After Austrian Pigs Buried Alive In snow

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Animal rights groups are pressing charges over an Austrian experiment in which 29 pigs were buried alive under deep snow to study human survival chances in avalanches, prosecutors said Monday.An Austrian and a German animal rights group filed a joint suit against the authors of the experiment, claiming it was cruel, said public prosecutor Wilfried Siegele.

Prosecutors in Innsbruck would now decide whether to proceed with the case.The experiment was actually called off after only a few hours last Friday for fear of public protests.Nevertheless, 10 of the 29 pigs died.Animal rights groups condemned it as “bizarre” and “macabre” and activists had gathered in Tyrol’s Oetz valley, where the research was being conducted by the medical faculty of Innsbruck University and the emergency medicine centre at Bolzano, Italy.

The scientists, who had wanted to study the effect of air pockets that form under snow during avalanches on victims’ survival chances, argued that the pigs were sedated and that the authorities had given their approval.One in five people hit by an avalanche found themselves with an air pocket, and the pig experiment could allow the development of new life-saving rescue techniques, scientists said.

(source)

Oscar The Dog : Hound The World In 80 Days

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A dog called Oscar is has laid claim to the title of the animal kingdom’s most intrepid explorer after visiting famous landmarks around the world. His travels include five continents, 29 countries and stopping off everywhere from the Eiffel Tower to the Taj Mahal.Oscar was rescued from a South African kennel by owner Joanne Lefson five years ago. In May the pair began an epic journey hoping to inspire millions to help save his fellow canines living as strays on the streets.

Dodging crocodile-infested rivers, walking on the Great Wall of China and escaping Italian police Oscar finally finished his tour last week.The £250,000 six-month trip – which Joanne funded by selling her home – also took in 15,000 shelter dogs and at more than 50 charity-run rescue centres.The pair capped off the tour at Brazil’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, Brazil.

Ms Lefson, who is half British and half South African, had the idea to take the titanic trip dubbed ‘The World Woof Tour’.
She said it was a miracle Oscar was alive let alone a globe trotter.She said: “If I hadn’t gone to the kennel that fateful day Oscar had one more day left and would have been put down.”When I discovered what a wonderful dog Oscar was it broke my heart to think how many ‘Oscar’s’ are still out there and simply just don’t get that second chance.
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