Tag Archive: animals

Our poo is travelling around the world

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"Our poo is travelling around the world with a billion tourists, spreading microbes and antibiotic resistance genes."

The mass movement of humans and animals is significantly affecting the distribution of essential microorganisms, scientists warn.

A study, published in Science, highlights how wastewater, tourism, and trade are moving microbes around the globe on an unprecedented scale. As humans and animals are transported across the world, billions of bacteria are left at every stop.

As a consequence, there are substantial ongoing changes to the distribution of microbes on the planet. This has the potential to change ecosystem services and biogeochemistry in unpredictable ways.

Study co-author Professor Steven Banwart, from the School of Earth and Environment at University of Leeds, said: "Microbes perform their essential ecosystem services invisibly but the evidence suggests that human activity is having the same effects on the microbial world as it is on the world of larger organisms.

"Human activity is decreasing microbe diversity, with potential for extinctions of certain microbes, and preferential selection of others, all of which could have a huge impact on day to day life."

Lead author Professor Michael Gillings, from Macquarie University in Sydney, said: "The oxygen we breathe is largely made by photosynthetic bacteria in the oceans — and not by rainforests, as is commonly believed."

"Over 95 per cent of the poo in the world comes from humans and the animals we farm. And our poo is travelling around the world with a billion tourists, spreading microbes and antibiotic resistance genes."

"Until 100 years ago all the nitrogen in our food came from bacteria we nurtured in our crops. Now more than half comes from artificial fertilisers."

"And we're moving trillions of ocean microbes around the world in ballast water in ships. Some 100 million tonnes of ballast water are dumped in US waters each year. We know they're introducing foreign starfish, sea snails, and seaweed. But we don't know what invisible changes they're making to ocean microbes."

The study calls for urgent action to monitor and model the changes being made to the microbial world and to improve waste water and manure treatments to reduce the spread of microbes and resistance genes.

Professor Banwart said: "There is an urgent need to model the dispersal of microbes and bacteria and the interactions between physical, chemical, geological, and human processes to help predict future changes in our ecosystems.

"Current models cannot predict these activities, which are centrally important to biogeochemistry and human health."

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Mr Hedgehog’s balloon syndrome sees him inflate to double the size

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RSPCA inspector Sandra Dransfield said it was clear the animal was in pain due to the rare condition: "It's the worst case of balloon syndrome I've seen. This poor chap was almost twice its natural size, literally blown up like a beach ball with incredibly taut skin.” ‘Mr Hedgehog’s’ skin was punctured to release trapped air, and he’s now been given a course of antibiotics and is expected to make a full and speedy recovery.

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Wildlife wipeout: Animal populations set to decline by 67 percent by 2020

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ENDANGERED MANED WOLF:  The loss of habitat by encroaching human populations, and the introduction of certain diseases means that there aren’t many of these animals left in the wild (pic credit: Martin Harvey/WWF)

ENDANGERED MANED WOLF: The loss of habitat by encroaching human populations, and the introduction of certain diseases means that there aren’t many of these animals left in the wild (pic credit: Martin Harvey/WWF)

Unless urgent action is taken to reduce humanity’s impact on species and ecosystems, overall global vertebrate populations are on course to decline by an average of 67 per cent - compared to 1970 levels - by the end of this decade.

New data released by WWF and ZSL (Zoological Society of London) this week has revealed that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have already declined by 58 per cent on average since 1970.  

This is an average annual decline of two per cent, with no sign yet that this rate will decrease.  

Populations that have been impacted by human activity include those of African elephants in Tanzania, maned wolves in Brazil, hellbender salamanders in the USA, leatherback turtles in the tropical Atlantic, orcas in European waters and European eels in UK rivers.

The Living Planet Report 2016 is the world’s most comprehensive survey to date of the health of our planet.

It highlights how human activities including deforestation, pollution, overfishing and the illegal wildlife trade, coupled with climate change, are pushing species populations to the edge as people overpower the planet for the first time in Earth’s history.

WHALES IN DECLINE: Orcas in European waters are nearly extinct (pic credit: naturepl.com/Philip Stephen/WWF)

WHALES IN DECLINE: Orcas in European waters are nearly extinct (pic credit: naturepl.com/Philip Stephen/WWF)

However, widespread approval of the Paris agreement on climate change, new restrictions on the international trade in threatened species including pangolins and African grey parrots, and conservation measures that are leading to increases in global tiger and panda populations indicate that solutions are possible.

Mike Barrett, Director of Science and Policy at WWF-UK said: “For the first time since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, we face a global mass extinction of wildlife. We ignore the decline of other species at our peril – for they are the barometer that reveals our impact on the world that sustains us. Humanity’s misuse of natural resources is threatening habitats, pushing irreplaceable species to the brink and threatening the stability of our climate.”

He continued: “We know how to stop this. It requires governments, businesses and citizens to rethink how we produce, consume, measure success and value the natural environment. In the UK, this demands a serious plan to strengthen protection for habitats and species and new measures to fast track low-carbon growth. Britain, like all developed nations, must take increasing responsibility for its global footprint. December’s conference on the UN Convention on Biological Diversity would be a good place for the UK government to signal that it’s serious about helping tackle the global loss of species.”

Food production to meet the needs of an expanding human population is a key driver of the overfishing, hunting and destruction of habitats that is causing biodiversity loss.

The report examines the enormous strain agriculture places on freshwater systems, accounting for 70 per cent of water use and a substantial loss of wetlands.

While large food industry interests have demonstrated they can feed the world, the report makes clear that the challenge now is to do so sustainably.

This year, international scientists recommended that humanity’s impact on the Earth is now so profound that a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – needs to be declared.  

In the UK, the RSPB’s State of Nature 2016 report shows that over the last 50 years, 56 per cent of native species have declined.

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Raveena Tandon loves animals

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Raveena Tandon

Raveena Tandon

Actress Raveena Tandon, who is known to be an ardent animal lover, believes animals should be treated with love and care.

Actress Raveena Tandon, who is known to be an ardent animal lover, believes animals should be treated with love and care.

Asked if she feels the country needs to make stricter laws to protect animals, Raveena said: "I think it's very important to live in a country where treatment of animals is done correctly because that is reflective of you as a person.

Her comment comes at a pertinent time when stone-pelting at dogs and atrocities against stray dogs has become rampant in the country.

The 41-year-old actress was last seen on screen in filmmaker Anurag Kashyap's 2015 film 'Bombay Velvet'.

Asked what's next for her, Raveena said she’s looking at a couple of interesting scripts. “You have to wait for the official announcements,” she said.

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