“Apes’ voice change signals good food”

Bonobos ‘chat’ about good foods
By Ella Davies
Earth News reporter


Bark and peep for a kiwi

Bonobos communicate where to find their favourite food using barks and peeps, scientists have found.

In the first study of its kind, researchers in the UK found the apes gave each other specific details about food quality.

The combination of five distinct calls into sequences allowed others to concentrate their foraging around areas known to contain preferred kiwi fruits.

Scientists say the evidence suggests an extensive intelligence in the species.

Bonobos grunt when they encounter food, in a similar way to their close cousins chimpanzees, as a way of communicating their find to the group.

In these situations however, bonobos are also known to give four more distinct calls.

Scientists from the University of St Andrews, Scotland wanted to test whether bonobo vocalisations were a reliable indicator of food quality.

“We always suspected that bonobos may be able to understand something from listening to each others vocalisations, but so far, nobody had done an experiment to test it,” said primate expert Dr Zanna Clay.

They recorded the calls made by the apes at Twycross Zoo, UK when they encountered kiwi fruits and apples in their enclosure.

Researchers found that when the bonobos discovered their preferred food, kiwis, they emitted higher pitched long barks and short “peeps”.

When the bonobos found less-preferred apples they made lower pitch “peep-yelps” and yelps.

The primates made these calls in sequences which the researchers recorded and played back to others.

Scientists observed that the successive foragers were then able to direct their search to specific locations after listening to the calls.

When the calls were less acoustically distinct, the foraging activity was more confused, the researchers report in the journal PLoS One.

However, the foraging bonobos were observed making much more effort at sites communicated with high-preference calls in order to find their favourite kiwis.

Scientists point to this behaviour as evidence that the call sequences convey meaning about the quality of food in a specific location.

“These animals are highly intelligent and this kind of study highlights their ability to extract meaning from listening to each other’s vocalisations,” said Dr Clay.

Dr Clay explained that although bonobos’ communication is not comparable to that of humans, their listening skills are remarkable.

Banya, a bonobo involved in the study (c) Zanna Clay

Banya was one of the bonobos involved in the study

“Although we found that the bonobos produce sequences of calls, the way they produce them is unlike syntax in language, or how we structure words and sentences together in strings,” she said.

“However, the way that the listening bonobos interpreted these sequences as meaningful shows some similarities with how we listen to language and understand it.”

Together with chimpanzees, bonobos are man’s closest living relatives and both have large brains in comparison to their body size.

Unlike chimpanzees however, male bonobos do not engage in aggressive raids on neighbouring territories.

The species are also known as the “emotional” apes for their use of peaceful communication, particularly sexual contact, to diffuse community disputes.

Thanks to BBC for this article.

Shared courtesy of BBC    http://bbc.in/mNaYdO


“Toads come on it’s spring!”

Spring has sprung across most of the USA  now and flowers are everywhere. My roses abound after the freeze gave them a rest this winter in the Tucson desert. So much beauty and so little time in the desert to enjoy spring.

Time to invite those frogs and toads to the party of insects beginning to emerge in and around your garden. In Tucson generally we see lots of Colorado river toad around monsoon time in the summer, but where it is cooler frogs and toads will be heard croaking through the spring and  summer into the fall.

Happy spring everyone. Remember to plant those flowers that the pollinators love to visit like the herbs, flowers, and flowering trees and bushes.

Gardening with the family helps the whole family and the planet.

Video courtesy of  youtube.com and  Cindy Hoffman of Defenders of Wildlife

Toads just love to eat plant-destroying insects, making them a great addition for any garden. In this video, Defenders’ Cindy Hoffman demonstrates how to attract these amazing amphibians to YOUR backyard.

Image courtesy of   http://bit.ly/gZJxPP

“Join Climate Ride today”

Join our Climate Ride Team.

This spring is your chance to make a difference for the climate, connect with other climate advocates, and enjoy five days of fossil-fuel-free bike commuting down the East Coast, on the fourth annual Climate Ride, from New York to DC, May 13 – 17.

It’s also not too early to start thinking about the West Coast Climate Ride, from Eureka to San Francisco, October 2 – 6.

As one of two Green America board members elected by Green America individual members, I’m a three-time Climate-Rider and two-time team captain, so take it from me: Climate Ride will inspire you to take your sustainability to a whole new level.

Some experiences really change you. My participation in Climate Ride convinced me to completely integrate the mission of Green America into my career and daily life: my wife and I just moved to a farm in western Massachussetts that will operate as a CSA. This spring, I’m diving into my work learning my new community farming schedule (including working with my new draft-horses — truly solar-powered vehicles!). I hope my personal example of the way Climate Ride inspires its participants convinces you to join the ride.

And when it comes to the urgency of educating about the climate, it’s time to gear up the mobilization. That’s why Green America needs you to join the Climate Ride today.

Climate Ride takes care of all the details, including bio-diesel support vehicles, maps and water bottles, meals and snacks. You raise money for climate action by recruiting supporters, and Climate Ride provides a chance for all fundraisers to win prizes like bikes, messenger bags, and bike accessories.

Check out this video, and you’ll be so excited to join the ride:

Climate Ride VideoClimate Ride is an inspiring challenge, one that has the potential to change your life. Please consider joining our team.

In cooperation,

Bernard Brennan,
Green America Board President

P.S. Can’t join us on the road this year? Two of our team-members are running climate fundraisers. Climate Rider Paul Keegan is raffling off a custom-built single-speed bicycle when you donate to him here(one chance per $5 donation increment) , and Climate Rider Rob Hanson is holding a fundraiser at Franklin’s Brewery in Hyattsville, MD on Tuesday, April 26. (Or you can donate directly to Rob here.)


“Brazil enviro What’s the beef ?”

Brazil issues $1.2 bln in fines on beef companies
Brazilian authorities announced Thursday they are seeking $1.2 billion in fines against 14 companies accused of buying beef from farms exploiting illegally deforested areas or slave labor in the Amazon.

Federal prosecutor Anselmo Henrique Cordeiro Lopes told AFP that he gathered evidence for more than a year and tried unsuccessfully to get companies to sign a deal banning the practices.

Among the accused was JBS Friboi, the world’s largest beef exporter, which told AFP that the complaint was “a surprise” because it was in advanced stages of negotiations with prosecutors on an agreement.

The farms are located in the Amazon state of Acre. Brazil is one of the world’s largest beef producers, but it is estimated that that livestock has caused 80 percent of deforestation in the Amazon in recent years.

The complaint also named Brazil’s Institute for the Environment, which was accused of failing to supervise the companies.

Prosecutors are seeking $625 million in fines and the same amount in compensation for environmental damage, according to Cordeiro Lopes.

JBS Friboi and three other large meat producers had signed a pledge in 2009 banning the purchase of cattle from certain deforested areas in Amazonian states.

It’s not the first time prosecutors have cracked down in illegal farming practices.

In 2010, Brazil fined Lima Araujo Agropecuaria $2.9 million for keeping 180 of its workers in slavery on two of its properties.

Among the 180 enslaved workers freed from the two ranches in the northern state of Para were nine adolescents and a child of 14 years, officials had said.

Article courtesy of  http://bit.ly/ePPc7F

“The ultimate cheetah dies”

CCF logo

Chewbaaka, the beloved cheetah ambassador for the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia. A systemic infection caused by an attack of a rabid kudu that had jumped into his enclosure in late February  caused his passing. At almost 16 years old, Chewbaaka had far surpassed the typical lifespan of a captive cheetah, which is 12 to 13 years. Because he had been vaccinated for rabies, the disease did not contribute to his death.

“I do hope that all who have had the pleasure of knowing him will keep his memory alive, as a gentle ambassador for his species,” said Dr. Laurie Marker, founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund. “He lived an amazing life and shared so much with so many. We will follow in his footsteps.”

In July 1995, a rancher’s dog killed all but one of a litter of cheetah cubs. The farmer brought the 10-day-old survivor to Marker. Extremely ill, the cub required round-the-clock nursing by Marker for several weeks. An intern suggested they name the cub after Han Solo’s furry sidekick in the original Star Wars movie. As few Namibians had seen the movie, his name was a curiosity his entire life.

Due to his hand-rearing by Marker, Chewbaaka became so habituated to people that he could be brought out to the bush to meet visitors, including children, without a collar or leash. Yet he still retained many wild cheetah behaviours, such as the instinct to climb and mark “playtrees”–trees with low limbs that cheetahs frequent to keep track of other cheetahs in the area. He also chased a lure, reaching speeds in excess of 50 mph, to demonstrate the species’ incredible acceleration and speed. Tens of thousands of visitors to CCF over the years met the regal cheetah. He had been featured in dozens of television shows and magazine articles about CCF.

Chewbaaka was raised with an Anatolian shepherd, Koya, at CCF’s International Research and Education Centre. Marker breeds Anatolians, a Turkish breed, to give to livestock farmers to protect their small stock from predators. Koya and Chewbaaka became such constant companions that the two were often brought out to meet the public together so that Marker could explain to guests the role the guarding dogs were playing in saving the cheetah. Numerous zoos around the world have followed suit, raising young cheetahs with Anatolians to use as “ambassadors.”

Chewbaaka was chosen as the cheetah representative for the Genome 10K, an ambitious project to map the genetics of 10,000 vertebrates in five years. His DNA will be used to map the species’ genome.


Dr. Laurie Marker with Koya and Chewbaaka

CCF’s Executive Director, Dr. Laurie Marker, with Anatolian shepherd Koya, and Ambassador Chewbaaka. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund

Chewbaaka - An Ambassador of its Species

Chewbaaka, an Ambassador of its species. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund

Dr. Marker caring for Chewbaaka in his last days.

CCF’s Executive Director, Dr. Laurie Marker, shared a bond with Chewbaaka since the cat arrived at CCF as a 10-day old cub. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund, 2011.


Editor’s notes:

  • The Cheetah Conservation Fund is a Namibian non-profit trust dedicated to the long-term survival of the cheetah and its ecosystems.
  • Since 1990, the organisation has developed education and conservation programmes based on its extensive bio-medical and ecological cheetah research studies, published scientific research papers and has presented educational programmes to more than 350,000 outreach school learners, donated over 370 livestock guarding dogs to commercial and communal farmers as part of the CCF innovative non-lethal livestock management programme, and has established a cheetah genome resource bank of cheetah sperm, tissue and blood samples.
  • Research into cheetah biology and ecology has greatly increased our understanding of the fastest land animal and education programmes for schools and the farming community help change public attitudes to allow predator and humans to co-exist. However, despite the many successes of CCF programmes, the cheetah is still Africa’s most endangered big cat with ~10,000 cheetahs remaining.

Please make a donation in Chewbaaka honor today.

For more information:

Cheetah Conservation Fund
PO Box 1755, Otjiwarongo, Namibia
Tel: +264 (0) 67 306225
Fax: +264 (0) 67 306247
E-mail: cheetah@iway.na
Website: http://www.cheetah.org


“Sunset over the North Pole”

Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2011 08:49:05 -0600


This is the sunset at the North Pole with the moon at its closest point last week.
a scene you will probably never get to see in person,
so take a moment and enjoy God at work at the North Pole.
And, you also see the sun below the moon, an amazing photo and not one easily duplicated.

You may want to pass it on to others so they can enjoy it.

The Chinese have a saying that goes something like this:
‘When someone shares with you something of value,

you have an obligation to share it with others!’
We just did.

“Please take care of each other and our beautiful planet so there is more to share.  Thanks “ -Mother Nature

Submitted by MS photographer unknown.

“When the snows melt”

File image courtesy AFP.

Winter is passing and there are signs that spring is coming to the northern hemisphere. But for University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) environmental chemist Torsten Meyer, springtime has a two peaked dark side.

There are two peak con­t­a­m­i­nant releases from the melt­ing snow pack: “one at the begin­ning of the melt period involv­ing water sol­u­ble chem­i­cals, and one at the end involv­ing par­ti­cle asso­ci­ated chemicals.”is the dark murky side of springtime snow melt pollution.

“During the winter months, contaminants accumulate in the snow and …when the snow melts, these chemicals are released into the environment at high concentrations.”

In a specially designed, temperature-controlled laboratory at UTSC-which includes a homemade snow-gun and a chemical pump-Meyer creates large baths of fresh snow already tainted with organic contaminants.

This one-of-a-kind set-up enables the researcher to slowly melt his “dirty” snow, collect the melt-water and track which chemicals emerge from the snow pack and when.

Meyer’s research reveal:

The spring peak contaminant flush at the very beginning of the melt,…that comes with a deluge of pollution.

When the snow turns black with muck and grime, many harmful chemicals – including those from pesticides, car exhaust, telecommunications wiring insulation, water repellent clothing, paints or coatings – may have already seeped out of the snow and into the surrounding ground water or surface water.


How can municipalities choose their snow dump sites to avoid the rush of pollutants?

How can aquatic organisms and amphibians, fish and invertebrates be protected are at a vulnerable stage of their life cycles during the spring snow melt flush?

Suggestions anyone?

Excerpts and Image courtesy of   http://bit.ly/f3O3x9

“2 Thumbs Up Award to Macedonia tree planting”

Three million trees planted to revive forests

Thousands of locals took a day off work on Thursday to plant three million trees to revive the nation’s forests after fires ravaged an estimated 35,000 hectares (86,000 acres) of greenery.

“There is no better feeling than when you plant a tree and after some time come and see it growing,” Macedonian opera singer and UNESCO Artist for Peace Boris Trajanov told reporters.

Trajanov launched the initiative three years ago, gaining wide support from the government, local authorities, non-governmental organisations, foreign representatives and businesses.

Around 30 million trees have previously been planted on more than 8,500 hectares.

“This has become a nice tradition that is not only increasing the awareness among citizens about need for protection of the environment, but is making Macedonia more green and more clean,” the Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska said as she planted a tree near the capital Skopje.

Along with human rights activists and artists, many citizens took the opportunity of a day off work as volunteers to plant the trees.

Wildfires caused by human error,and the extreme temperatures in July.

Destroyed in 2006 and 2007 at least 35,000 hectares of forests and  causing damage worth up to 30 million euros (37.8 million dollars), it could take up to 50 years to restore the damaged ecosystem.

Congratulations to Macedonians for caring enough to replant their devastated forests and give Mother Nature a helping hand! – Mother Nature

Article and Image courtesy of  http://bit.ly/fAVSas