Wednesday, October 18, 2006


And you thought your neighbours were a bunch of loud, wild, violent monkeys.

From the National Georgraphic :
Conflicts between baboons and humans in the suburbs of prosperous Cape Town have gotten so bad that monitoring teams have been deployed to keep the animals away.

The large monkeys invade people's homes in the coastal Table Mountain region, sometimes confronting people who try to scare the baboons off.
Residents are now basically waging war on the baboons, shooting and poisoning them, and running them down in their cars. The baboons, meanwhile, have worked out how to open doors and windows, zeroing in on the fridges, lazing around on the furniture and taking dumps on the carpet.

Sounds like some of my old house guests, back in the early 1990s.

The situation has also caused rifts within communities. In a suburb ironically named Welcome Glen, rival societies have formed, with some trying to protect the baboons and others wanting them removed or killed.

Amazing stuff. The baboons are no longer scared of the local humans.

"I have had them in my house several times, even while I was there. They simply brushed past me. I had to get out of the way," Laing said. "Even my husband got threatened by a baboon."

"They move in a troop of about 30, and they are so wide apart that it is impossible to stop them slipping into built-up areas."

Teams of humans are now lying in wait for the baboons to make a move on the populated areas, they then keep up with monkeys as best they can and try to scare them off when they try and get inside the houses.

But the baboons aren't dumb. They've already worked out what's going on. So some of them have given up the daylight raids, and get up before dawn to sneak into the towns before the locals can get organised into their patrol units.

Apparently they also know the days when rubbish is collected. They get into the garbage bins and bags before the rubbish trucks arrive.

The source of the problem is human encroachment into the baboons' historic habitat.

There are about 370 baboons in the area, and they are essentially trapped by coastal cliffs to the south and nearly complete development on the plains to the north.

Some 250 baboons live in the region's Table Mountain National Park, but it is hardly a secure home.

At about 148,260 acres (60,000 hectares), the park is a narrow, jagged strip of mountainous terrain, which is surrounded and in places fragmented by urban development.

A few years back, one of the locals decided it was time to try and freak out the baboons, by catching one and painting it white. The idea was that this would somehow scare off the others.

....all it led to was the heartbreaking sight of the rest surrounding it and grooming it until all the paint was off...
Go Here For The Full Story

Monday, October 16, 2006



Taking a remote control car, filling it with high-powered explosives, and then running it into a crowd or under a real vehicle, is an idea that has been used in countless American action movies.

Now, in Sri Lanka at least, there are real fears that remote control trucks, cars, aircraft and fire engines could become the latest weapon of 'terrorists' in the region. All such toys have now been banned.

From the TimesOnline :

(Sri Lanka) Customs officials have been ordered to seize shipments of the toys and confiscate them from tourists bringing them into the country as presents.

Amid rising violence, the decision reflects government fears that separatists are becoming ever more creative in their bomb-making skills.

“Even small objects could be packed with one or two kilogrammes of plastic explosives,” R. M. K. Ratnayake, the Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, said.

“Anyone mischievous, not necessarily the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam], could use a remote-controlled device. We just want to prevent it. This is for national security.”

The arrival of international aid after the devastating 2004 tsunami brought with it container loads of foreign-made toys.

The ministry said it has evidence that some were used as bombs.

While most of the fighting is restricted to the northeast of Sri Lanka, Colombo has been rocked by car bombs in recent months and there is concern that the violence could spread as the tourist season looms.

The ban doesn't affect all the remote control toys already on store shelves, or the thousands that arrived in the country via charities. If terrorists hadn't already thought of using these toys as weapons of minor destruction, they certainly will now.

Thursday, October 12, 2006



From :

When Jennifer Eddy first saw an ulcer on the left foot of her patient, an elderly diabetic man, it was pink and quarter-sized. Fourteen months later, drug-resistant bacteria had made it an unrecognizable black mess.

Doctors tried everything they knew -- and failed. After five hospitalizations, four surgeries and regimens of antibiotics, the man had lost two toes. Doctors wanted to remove his entire foot.

"He preferred death to amputation, and everybody agreed he was going to die if he didn't get an amputation," said Eddy, a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

With standard techniques exhausted, Eddy turned to a treatment used by ancient Sumerian physicians, touted in the Talmud and praised by Hippocrates: honey.

Eddy dressed the wounds in honey-soaked gauze. In just two weeks, her patient's ulcers started to heal. Pink flesh replaced black. A year later, he could walk again.

"I've used honey in a dozen cases since then," said Eddy. "I've yet to have one that didn't improve."

Eddy is one of many doctors to recently rediscover honey as medicine. Abandoned with the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s and subsequently disregarded as folk quackery, a growing set of clinical literature and dozens of glowing anecdotes now recommend it.

Most tantalizingly, honey seems capable of combating the growing scourge of drug-resistant wound infections, especially methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, the infamous flesh-eating strain.

These have become alarmingly more common in recent years, with MRSA alone responsible for half of all skin infections treated in U.S. emergency rooms. So-called superbugs cause thousands of deaths and disfigurements every year, and public health officials are alarmed.

Though the practice is uncommon in the United States, honey is successfully used elsewhere on wounds and burns that are unresponsive to other treatments. Some of the most promising results come from Germany's Bonn University Children's Hospital, where doctors have used honey to treat wounds in 50 children whose normal healing processes were weakened by chemotherapy.

"We're dealing with chronic wounds, and every intervention which heals a chronic wound is cost effective, because most of those patients have medical histories of months or years," he said.

Honey, formed when bees swallow, digest and regurgitate nectar, contains approximately 600 compounds, depending on the type of flower and bee. Leptospermum honeys are renowned for their efficacy and dominate the commercial market, though scientists aren't totally sure why they work.

"All honey is antibacterial, because the bees add an enzyme that makes hydrogen peroxide," said Peter Molan, director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. "But we still haven't managed to identify the active components. All we know is (the honey) works on an extremely broad spectrum."

"The more we keep giving antibiotics, the more we breed these superbugs. Wounds end up being repositories for them," Eddy said. "By eradicating them, honey could do a great job for society and to improve public health."

Thousands die each year in the West from superbugs, and yet a widely acknowledged cure is right there on the supermarket shelf.

It's absolutely shocking that such a simple and widely available cure, that produces virtually no side effects, is not in total common usage around the world.

Another chapter in the Lost Knowledge of our modern world.

If you don't believe honey works as described above, simply try it for yourself. I've been using it for years for everything from burns to shaving cuts.

Saturday, October 07, 2006



Dolphin and whale watchers have known the truth about these remarkable creatures for years, but it's taken time for the scientific researchers to catch up. And they seemed startled by revelations that environmentalists, fighting for the protection of dolphin and whale habitats, have been telling the world for decades.

Dolphins and whales are not just smart, they can tools, language, express grief, show empathy and compassion and solve complex problems.

From The UK Independent :

A growing number of behavioural studies strongly suggest that whale and dolphin brain power is matched only by the higher primates, including man....

For instance, captive animals have been shown unequivocally to be able to recognise themselves in a mirror, which was previously known to be the domain only of humans and the great apes.

Dolphins can "point" at objects with their heads to guide humans to them, and they can also manipulate objects spontaneously, despite their lack of fingers and thumbs.

There is a well-documented use of tools in an Australian population of wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins...

They show remarkably human-like emotions, ranging from joy to grief to care for the injured.

(In one example cited in a report) a 30-strong pod of false killer whales which remained with an injured member in shallows for three days, exposing themselves to sunburn and the risk of stranding, until it died.

Go Here To Read The Whole Story

Dolphins Can Feel Joy And Sadness

Whales And Dolphins Show Distinctive Human Traits

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I've spent far too much time, since coming online in 1996, looking at literally hundreds of thousands of wildlife photographs. And the picture above, without doubt, is one of the most extraordinary images I've ever come across.

Lions Hunting Elephants is a new phenomenon that is freaking out animal experts, and wildlife documentary film-makers, and wildlife photography addicts.

In nature, nothing is stagnant, nor anything too sacred. Lions and elephants have moved amongst each other in Africa for hundreds of thousands of years, but there are few, if any, credible reports of lions hunting and killing elephants, until now.

The image above was taken by a BBC crew in Botswana, where a pride of lions have been apparently driven by hunger to turning on one of the few animals that poses a serious threat to their lives.

Excerpts From Feature Story In The 'London Times :

Lions are among the animal kingdom’s most brutal and efficient predators but no one had heard of them hunting elephants before. These two big beasts of the savannah have plenty of mutual respect and normally give each other a wide berth.

The lions hunt elephants because they have discovered that they can. The Savute elephant killers are an unusually large pride that fluctuates between 30 and 50 animals. The dry season has always been a desperate time for wildlife in northern Botswana. One year, perhaps, water, and therefore prey, was scarcer than ever and a small or weak elephant was killed in a moment of bold opportunism. Then there was no turning back.

Most of the hunting takes place at night when it is cool and the elephants, with their poor night vision, are at a distinct disadvantage against lions.

By day the elephants rule, dominating the water holes that are at the centre of the nocturnal dance of death.

The balance of power shifts as night falls. Breeding herds start to pass through. Groups of female elephants guide their young to the water hole, which becomes crowded with as many as 30 or 40 elephants, noisily sluicing and splashing.

...when the roaring begins, it comes as such a surprise that we are surrounded by lions. The noise is intended to intimidate the herds passing through. The lionesses check out the elephants as they pass, looking for vulnerable targets. They get very interested in a calf and its mother and other adults have to close ranks to shepherd it through the pride.

The elephants trumpet with panic as they crash through the undergrowth. One of the lionesses jumps on the young elephant’s back and another grabs its haunches. The hind-leg tendons are severed and the animal crashes to the ground. The rest of the lions pile in. The mother thunders off into the bush, apparently realising that there is nothing she can do to protect her child from this onslaught. “

The hunt, from the moment the lionesses spotted their victim until they felled it, lasted just 30 seconds.

The whole story of the BBC crew witnessing, and filming, the lions taking down and devouring elephants is worth a read. But it's not pretty.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Tigers would happily rip into a goat or a cow in the wild, so is it cruel to feed them to tigers in a zoo? While the public looks on?

Is it lunch or is it demented live entertainment for the Chinese, who copped a pasting in Western media last week for the 'Animal Olympics' in Shanghai, which saw monkeys weightlifting, bears attempting gymnastics and kangaroos boxing...clowns.

Live mice and rats are fed to snakes in zoos, and many would argue rats are more intelligent than goats.

Does it come down to a question then of the size of the 'live lunch'?

Why should tigers miss out on something still kicking when snakes can gorge themselves and the RSPCA says nothing?

Ahhh, moral quandries.

Meanwhile the photos are indeed damn spectacular.

From the :
According to officials at Changchung Wildlife Park, staff are training the big cats to kill live prey in order to hone their hunting skills.

But animal rights campaigners questioned the park's motives and said the practice of feeding goats and calves to caged tigers raised serious welfare concerns.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: 'We would question the motives behind feeding live animals to tigers in a non-wild environment. It raises concerns over animal welfare on behalf of the livestock being fed to these tigers.

'Throwing live animals to caged tigers doesn't re-create anything that happens in the wild, if that is their aim.'

Tigers are one of the world's most endangered species, with only 6,000 remaining in the wild. In the past century alone, three sub-species of tiger has become extinct die to illegal hunting and a continued loss of habitat.