Nature’s Crusaders Ice Gallery # 5

We hope that daily during the holiday season we will share the beauties of

Mother Nature’s Crystal Ice gallery6944-1200931550-ice-crystal-xp comes to you from various generous photographers on the web.

Please send us images or links to your favorite images too.

Thank you for such a beautiful reflection of Mother Nature’s Ice Gallery.

Click on image to enlarge.

Image courtesy of

Check out our other ice crystals in Nature’s Crusaders Gallery

Ice crystal image 1

ice crystals #2

ice crystals #3

ice crystals #4

ice crystals #5

Great Apes get Legal Rights in Spain!

Legal rights for all great apes – does your country have them?

In Europe and Australia, great apes are inching toward obtaining the same legal rights as humans.

In Spain the parliament’s environmental committee voted to approve resolutions committing the country to the Great Apes Project, designed by scientists and philosophers who say that humans’ closest biological relatives also deserve rights. The resolution, adopted with cross party support, calls on the Government to promote the Great Apes Project internationally and ensure the protection of apes from “abuse, torture and death.” Resolutions adopted on June 25, 2008 gave great apes, grant legal rights to great apes, covering chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orang­utans. The resolution, expected to be enacted into law by June 2009, gives great apes the right to life and protects them from harmful research practices and exploitation for profit, such as use in films, commercials, and circuses and freedom from arbitrary captivity and protection from torture.

Spain is the first nation to extend human rights to mankind’s closest genetic relatives. It bans harmful experiments on apes and make keeping them for circuses, television commercials or filming illegal under Spain’s penal code.

A court case from Austria could go further, if it declares a chimp a person so the animal could have a legal guardian and funds for upkeep. The European Court of Human Rights is considering an appeal in the case of Matthew Hiasl Pan, a 28-year-old chimp from Austria. If Matthew should win, the case would set a legal precedent across Europe to treat apes with some of the same rights as people, says his lawyer, Eberhart Theuer of Vienna.

The world’s first legislation that would grant legal rights to all great apes passed the parliament of the Balearic Islands, an autonomous province of Spain, on February 28, 2007. About a year after which parliamentary committee set forth resolutions urging Spain to grant the primates the rights to life and liberty.

chimp rights

Other Europian nations attempted to create legislation to help the great apes as well. In 1992, Switzerland amended its constitution to recognize animals beings and not things. Although in 1999, their constitution was completely revised and replaced. A decade later, Germany guaranteed rights to animals in a 2002 amendment to its constitution, becoming the first European Union member to do so.

Keeping apes in zoos will remain legal, but their conditions will have to improve. ” The philosophers Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri founded the Great Ape Project in 1993, saying that hominids such as chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans should enjoy the right to life and freedom and not to be mistreated.

  • Humans and chimps share 99 per cent of their active genetic material
  • 7,300 Sumatran orang-utans remain in the wild
  • The mountain gorillas of the Democratic Republic of Congo have dwindled to 700, and the Cross River gorilla is believed to number only 250

The UN predicts that some species of great ape could be extinct within a generation without our intervention and protection.


The World Atlas of Great Apes; Times archives

Activists pursue basic legal rights for great apes – Jeffrey Stinson USATODAY 7/15/2008.

Apes get legal rights in Spain, to surprise of bullfight critics – Thomas Catan

Times ONLINE June 27, 2008.

The animals have the right to life and protection from harmful research practices.
– Apoorva Mandavilli  Discovery Magazine December 10, 2008.

Endangered Sumatran Rhino 20 single seeks mate to save the species needs a dating service

This lonely 20 year old Sumatran Rhino named has not found a lady friend in 20 years, but WWF and Malaysian government are encouraging this old boy to take another chance at love, because the survival of his species may depend on whether Tam can find a serious relationship soon.wwfimgfullitem1692

This male rhinoceros recently rescued on the edge of Borneo’s rain forest is expected to become the first participant of a Malaysian breeding program for his critically endangered ilk. Tam, whose species is known for its solitary nature, has been resettled to a wildlife reserve in Malaysia’s Sabah state, the last preserve of the Borneo Sumatran rhino  a subspecies of the bristly, snub-nosed Sumatran rhino.

The Sumatran, or hairy, rhino is the smallest of the living rhinoceroses and the only Asian rhino species with two horns. It has wrinkles around its eyes. The front horn is usually under 10 inches long, while the posterior horn is usually quite small and often no more than a hump.

Calves are born with a dense covering of hair which turns reddish brown in young adults and becomes sparse, bristly and almost black in older animals. The body length ranges from 6 – 9 feet and usually about 3 feet in height. Body weight has been estimated at 0.5 – 1 ton.

Logging, plantations, development and rhino horn poachers have caused the rapid demise of the Borneo Sumatran rhinos in recent decades as their habitat has been lost.

Hope for these rhinos
The rhinos in Sabah’s 300,000-acre (120,000-hectare) reserve will probably be able to find each other through their scent and mate without human interference, Payne said. “If they are not stressed out by people, the chances of success should be better,” he said.
Authorities hope to bring at least five male and female rhinos into Sabah’s reserve over the next few years so that they can mate and produce offspring, said Junaidi Payne, the senior technical adviser for the World Wildlife Fund’s Malaysian Borneo chapter. Hope for the subspecies was boosted after Malaysian government officials and WWF experts found new evidence of them in the wild in May 2005.

Rhino protection units have since launched patrols to deter poaching of this critically endangered mammal.

“Their numbers are so low that they might drift into extinction if no one does anything,” Payne told The Associated Press.

Experts estimate there are range from between 10 to 30 individual rhinos, many of them isolated from others in their species left.

Conservationists have warned the rhinos could face extinction in the next 10 years unless we help save them.
Single male rhino, 20, seeks mate to save species –  SEAN YOONG, A P  Dec 24, 2008.;_ylt=AtMOGey_yiOvqxWNLOxhcMIPLBIF

Image courtesy of WWF

TVA gives worst environmental Christmas present

An environmental disaster of epic proportions just happened in Tennessee and the nation’s new services have hardly mentioned it.. December 22, 2008 at night 2.6 million cubic yards (the equivalent of 525.2 million gallons, 4o times more than the Exxon Valdez spill by volume) of radio-active coal ash sludge broke through a dike of a 40-acre holding pond at TVA’s Kingston coal-fired power plant covering 400 acres up to six feet deep, damaging 12 homes and wrecking a train.tva-pond-kif_aerial_no_t6001

This event represent a failure to maintain an old (some reports say 60-years) dike or embankment that was clearly too close to houses and which contained a fluid that easily got away. It will take time to decide if those to blame are consultants, regulators, or the power plant operators. Most likely it is a combination of all of them, grown happy and complacent with age and the festivities of the season. But we repeat: this is no a mining-related incident.

No such thing as clean burning coal

Clean burning coal – no such thing even if the CO2 could all be removed, you still have so many other toxic waste bi-products like mercury, arsenic, lead, beryllium and cadmium to get rid of safely there is no way it is safe and clean. Burning coal and its carbon emissions are just another part of the problem. What happens to this sludge produced in the mining of coal? It is put in what is called “holding ponds” which are dammed areas that are suppose to hold these poisons back from spilling into the area and getting into the water supply and other wildlife, plants, air and people. This is a big order for these aging dikes or dams. Now most of these structures are aging fast due to extreme weather conditions and poor planning and maintenance so the potential for more disasters like the one on 12/21/08 in Tennessee is looming. These disasters threaten the health and ecology of all people in the immediate area and downstream communities. The Tennessee Valley Authority is delinquent in its duties to protect its people and the environment.

How many other holding ponds are out there waiting to burst?
What price are we wiling to continue to pay for dirty coal?

No one knows the extent of the problems the release of these poisons will have because it will take years for the cancers or neurological problems caused by exposure to these toxins to be counted.

A new EPA report measuring the health risks posed by disposal practices at coal ash dumps confirms what residents who live nearby know only too well – pollution from these sites significantly increases both cancer and noncancer health risks and degrades water quality in groundwater supplies.

By examining 181 coal combustion waste, or coal ash disposal sites throughout the country, the EPA report estimates risks to health and the environment from coal ash disposal. The report found that unlined coal ash waste ponds pose a cancer risk 900 times above what is defined as acceptable.

The EPA report also finds that coal ash disposal sites release toxic chemicals and metals such as arsenic, lead, boron, selenium, cadmium, thallium, and other pollutants at levels that pose risks to human health and the environment.The EPA has the data. They know how grave the health risk is and yet still millions of people remain exposed to this dangerous waste.

Coal ash is our country’s second largest source of industrial waste, and it’s time the EPA made these polluters do their part to clean up. At least 23 states have poisoned surface or groundwater supplies from improper disposal of coal ash.

The EPA claims the cleanup will take at least several weeks, but could take years. Officials also said that the magnitude of this spill is such that the entire area could be declared a federal superfund site.


2.6 Million Cubic Yards of Toxic Coal Ash Slurry Released in Tennessee Dike Burst
– Matthew McDermott Tree-huggers on December 24, 2008

Ash Christmas
TVA coal disaster is toxic wake-up call
– Jeff Biggers December 23, 2008

Important historical facts

Image courtesy of KnoxNews

Tucson lion is star Vasectomy patient

l106101-1-11On Dec. 1, 2008 in Tucson Arizona, a team of doctors headed up by Dr. Sheldon Marks, MD urologist known for his expertise in vasectomy reversal in humans. and three veterinarians performed a vasectomy on the younger of two Tucson Reid Park Zoo  lions, Kitabu. This vasectomy is part of the zoo’s plan to slowly  nuture a breeding population of lions.

“The lion anatomy is surprisingly similar to human anatomy, except covered in a thick, heavy skin and then everything is covered in a thick, dense fur,” Marks said. “Once you’re in, it’s the same as a human vasectomy. It’s just the challenge of getting to where you got to be.”

To prepare Kitabu, staff tranquilized the 363-pound lion using a dart and moved him to the zoo hospital. “Once the lion was anesthetized and resting comfortably, we did exactly like we do humans, which was we put on numbing medicine, made a tiny incision, went down and cut out the Vas, sewed it up, made it really pretty,” Marks said.

Until October the zoo had three lions: Kitabu and his parents, M’Bali and A-Tatu. A-Tatu. Kitabu’s mom was euthanized due to poor health. In the spring she will be replaced by  a young breeding age lioness from the San Diego Wild Animal Park with proper genetics.

Neither  Kitabu or M’Bali will  father  cubs because their history and family lineage is not well known even though they are healthy older lions. So the vasectomy was needed. Modern zoo breeding programs worldwide are cooperatively managed by the nation’s accredited zoos for genetic and conservation purposes. This selective breeding program needs lions with known lineages, This means that if someone wanted to read the family tree, one could trace it back to forefathers caught in the wild. This would make it possible to follow health histories of animals carefully.

“It was one of the greatest honors that they would want me to do that; to do something so unique and special,” Marks said. “It was probably one of the highlights of my life.”

Kitabu has recovered nicely, with no complications. Other residents of Reid Park Zoo who have had vasectomies include a gibbon, a lion-tailed macaque, and two mandrills, Barton said.

Performing vasectomy on lion is no easy task – ANNE T. DENOGEAN  Tucson Citizen December 25, 2008.

Image courtesy of Dr. Sheldon Marks

Concave-eared Torrent frog uses ultrasound to find a mate

Most female frogs can’t call, because they lack or have only primitive vocal cords. A typical female frog selects a mate from a chorus of males and then silently signals her potential mate. However, the female Concave-eared Torrent frog, Odorrana tormota, uses a direct way of showing her interest in a male.: She emits a high-pitched sound that to the human ear sounds like a bird’s chirp. This call for a mate is composed of both regular and ultrasonic frequencies.o-tormota
O. tormota lives in a noisy environment on the brushy edge of streams in the Huangshan Hot Springs, in central China, where waterfalls and rushing water provide a steady loud din. So this frog has developed resessed eardrums that are allow this frog to create and hear higher pitched sound frequencies. It seems to be able to fine tune its sound much like the tuner on a radio can shift from one frequency to another. It is the only known example of an animal that can actively select what frequencies it hears. Also it can localize sound with precision.

When the male hears a female call, he leaps directly toward the sound with 99% accuracy better than any other frog tested.
The eardrum of O. tormota is transparent, so while researchers watched the eardrum move in the lab, they saw a dark shadow on the eardrum suddenly appear and disappear. They realized that they were watching the frog opening and closing its Eustachian tubes. These two narrow channels connect either side of the pharynx (part of the upper throat) to the left and right middle ear. No other animals’ hearing anatomy is arranged like this.

How do these tubes help the frog hear so acutely ?

When the Eustachian tubes were open, the laser light held by the researcher was visible through the eardrum. When the tubes closed, the circles of light glowing out through the ears disappeared. This lets the frog isolate specific sounds. So inspite of loud noises surrounding the frog, its eardrums became more sensitive to high frequency and ultrasounds when their Eustachian tubes were closed, compared with when they were open. When the Eustachian tubes were open, the eardrums responded mostly to low frequency sounds.

By unraveling the frog’s fine tuning abilities, researchers may be able to improve hear aids for humans with hearing loss.

Listen to the frog’s call,


Odorrana Tormota – Female Frog’s Ultrasonic Way Of Asking For Sex ScientificBlogging May 11, 2008

Ultrasonic frogs can tune their ears to different frequencies ScientificBlogging July 22, 2008

Frog call courtesy of

Nature’s Crusaders Ice Gallery #4

We hope that daily during the holiday season we will share the beauties of Mother Nature’s Crystal Ice gallery will you from various generous photographers on the web..

Please send us images or links to your favorite images too. Click to enlarge.image-4-ice_crystal_structure

Thank you for such a beautiful reflection of Mother Nature’s Ice Gallery.

Image courtesy of

Check out our other ice crystals in Nature’s Crusaders Gallery

Ice crystal image 1

ice crystals #2

ice crystals #3

ice crystals #4

ice crystals #5

Panda couple ambassadors of “good”will

panda-3-beautifulfreepicturesA pair of giant pandas made their last public appearance in China on Monday  December 22, 2008 and will  be loaded aboard a plane taking them to their new home in Taiwan. This gift and others  marks the start of a new relationship  between the island and its arch rival Taiwan.

The active and healthy pair of ambassador pandas from a panda base in Sichuan, southwest China were met by a Taiwanese delegation on Monday to bring them to the self-ruled island.
The pandas’ new keeper Yu Hsueh-ying from the Taipei Zoo, who was among a team of 20 animal experts to take care of the pandas, came to Sichuan 10 days ago in preparation for their relocation.
The two four-year-olds, earthquake survivors, named “Tuan Tuan” and “Yuan Yuan”, are at a base nestled in the scenic Bifeng Gorge in Ya’an, They were evacuated from the famed Wolong reserve due to damage in the May 12 earthquake. When their names are joined as one “Tuanyuan” this combination of the characters means “reunion” in Chinese.

The relocation of the pair comes amid hopes on both sides that the goodwill gesture will be matched by an increased willingness to work towards warmer cross-strait relations.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, but Beijing still considers the island to be part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

A group of local children came to  say goodbye to the pandas and some of these children were to perform at a farewell gathering due to take place on Tuesday in Ya’an.

The pandas will then travel to the provincial capital Chengdu where authorities will see them off in a ceremony before they board a chartered jet from Taiwan’s Eva Airways, heading straight for their new home in Taipei.

The city will hold a welcoming ceremony for the panda couple on Wednesday, but the two main characters will not be there, as they will begin a 30-day quarantine immediately upon arrival.They are both expected to be unveiled to the Taiwanese public during the Lunar New Year holidays starting January 25, 2009, if they complete the quarantine with a clean bill of health.

Beijing’s pandas usually come with enormous rental fees, but in this case the Chinese have said there will be no charges for Taiwan.The Taipei city government, which has invested around 10 million US dollars in an enclosure at Taipei zoo, expects them to attract six million visitors a year.

Taiwan-bound panda couple to bid farewell to China.- Staff Writers

Ya’An, China (AFP) Dec 22, 2008
http://Taiwan News at reported in Terra

Image courtesy of

Pacific walrus needs protection

The pacific walrus is a distant cousin to the bear .It is one of the largest living sea mammals weighing in 4,400 lb (1,996 kg) at While isolated Pacific males , most weigh between 1,760 lb (798 kg) and 4,000 lb (1,814 kg). Females weigh about two thirds as much as males.

Young walruses are deep brown and grow paler and more cinnamon colored as they age. Old males, in particular, become nearly pink. Because the blood vessels in the skin constrict in cold water, the walrus can appear almost white when swimming. Males also acquire significant nodules, called bosses, particularly around the neck and shoulders.

The walrus has an air sac under its throat which acts like a flotation bubble and allows the walrus to bob vertically in the water and sleep.
The walrus prefers shallow shelf regions and forages on the sea bottom down to 80 m (262 ft). It can remain submerged for 1/2 of an hour. The walrus feeds on more than 60 kinds of marine organisms including shrimps, crabs, tube worms, soft corals, tunicates, sea cucumbers, various mollusks especially clams it forages by grazing along the sea bottom.  Sweeps over the sea floor using its sensitive vibrissae or whiskers to clear the murky bottoms with jets of water and its flipper. The walrus  holds the clam tightly with its lips. Then it drills its tongue into the shell with rapid piston-motion creating a vacuum. Then the walrus sucks the meat out. Other foods the walrus eat are seal in the Pacific and seabirds. Besides foraging for food the walrus the disturbance to the ocean floor it causes the release of nutrients into the water column, encouraging mixing and movement of many.

Stop walrus massive hunts!
While walrus hunts are regulated by resource managers in Russia, the U.S., Canada and Denmark and representatives of the respective walrus hunting communities an estimated four to seven thousand Pacific Walruses are harvested in Alaska and Russia, including a significant portion (approx. 42%) of struck and lost animals. Several hundred are removed annually around Greenland.

The majority of the Pacific Walrus population spends the summer north of the Bering Strait in the Chukchi Sea along the north shore of eastern Siberia, around Wrangel Island, in the Beaufort Sea along the north shore of Alaska, and in the waters between those locations. Smaller numbers of males summer in the Gulf of Anadyr on the south shore of the Chukchi Peninsula of Siberia and in Bristol Bay off the south shore of southern Alaska west of the Alaska Peninsula. In the spring and fall they congregate throughout the Bering Strait, reaching from the west shores of Alaska to the Gulf of Anadyr. They winter to the south in the Bering Sea along the eastern shore of Siberia south to the northern part of the Kamchatka Peninsula, and along the southern shore of Alaska.


A 28,000 year old fossil walrus specimen was dredged out of the San Francisco Bay, indicating that the Pacific Walrus ranged as far south as Northern California during the last ice agePlease support my mates at the Endangered Species Coalition who are working to save us from global warming.

Walrus distribution map

The Pacific walrus needs to be listed as an endangered species.

Please sign the petition to list the walrus as endangered.


Bush holiday gift to Wolves hunt them

Give Greater Yellowstone’s Wolves a Fighting Chance!

Help Save Wolves.

Bush officials will finalize their plan to strip Northern Rockies wolves of their endangered species protection,.

Letting the wolfs be open to target practice and extinction through massive public hunts by the states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

NRDC is ready to take legal action to save Greater Yellowstone’s wolves from slaughter.

Please make an emergency holiday donation right now.

This deadly parting shot by the Bush Administration couldn’t come at a worse time. Scientists are predicting a crash in Yellowstone’s wolf population — and wolf pups are dying from an outbreak of a yet-to-be-determined disease.

Your immediate holiday donation is critical to their defense.

I’m sure you remember what happened the last time the Bush Administration removed federal protections from wolves in the Northern Rockies. More than 110 wolves were brutally killed in as many days. The slaughter stopped only after NRDC filed suit in federal court.

The Bush Administration is racing to put its newest wolf-killing plan into effect before it leaves office.

Please make a tax-deductible holiday donation today — when it can make the biggest difference to wolf survival.

Please help us give Greater Yellowstone’s wolves the legal defense they so urgently need and deserve!


Frances Beinecke, President
Natural Resources Defense Council

P.S. Remember, the online contribution you make today will help NRDC work right through the holidays to give wolves a fighting chance.

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