Kiwi-killing dogs euthanised after rampage

By Tracy Brighten

New Zealand’s endangered national bird suffered another blow in Northland where dog owners thwart conservation efforts

Kiwis for kiwi

The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) recovered eight kiwi killed in a conservation area in North Island’s Northland region over a ten week period from May to August. Post mortem examinations revealed they were mauled to death by dogs. Continue reading

Operation Henkaku exposes Japan’s dolphin slave trade

By Tracy Brighten

Hunters chase profit as they drive bottlenose pod into Taiji Cove; dolphins sold from this single dolphin hunt could bag over US$7 million

Taiji dolphins trapped 

Each year from September through March, hundreds of dolphins are caught in one small cove along Japan’s Pacific coast and either traded as a live commodity, or slaughtered and sold as meat. Continue reading

Beehive fence protects crops from African elephant raids

By Tracy Brighten

An innovative project is using the elephant’s innate fear of honey bees to protect subsistence farmers and elephants from injury and death

Beehive fence

Whether elephants are afraid of mice, or simply surprised by their movement, has long been debated, but there is science based evidence that elephants are afraid of honey bees.

Oxford University researcher Dr Lucy King started a project in 2007 born out of local knowledge that suggested African elephants are scared of honey bees. Dr King carried out scientific studies using playback experiments where honey bee recordings are played to unsuspecting elephants.  Continue reading

‘Searching for Ruru’: a native owl

By Tracy Brighten

An extract from my short memoir on searching for New Zealand’s beautiful native owl

Perico 2 (800x566)

The memoir tells the story of a trip I made with my daughter to a small island in the Hauraki Gulf during her study on vocalisations of morepork, or ruru in Maori. I felt privileged to follow and watch this beautiful owl and my daughter in their natural habitat. Continue reading

Interpol listed ship escapes Thailand with 182 tons toothfish

By Tracy Brighten

The poaching vessel Taishan, detained in Phuket since March, has fled the port with its illegal Patagonia toothfish, or ‘Chilean sea bass’, cargo.

Toothfish

The Thai Royal Navy (TRN) has launched an air and sea search for the illegal fishing vessel Taishan, or Kunlun as it was formerly known, reports AEC News Today. The search involves TRN aircraft and patrol boats, as well as the Department of Fisheries and the Thai police marine division.

Following a joint investigation between Interpol, Sea Shepherd and authorities in Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, the ship has been detained in Phuket since March when the crew attempted to offload 182 tons of illegally caught Patagonian toothfish as grouper fish. Continue reading

Blue whale drags fishing line from Los Angeles to Mexico

By Tracy Brighten

The blue whale entangled in fishing line off the Californian coast has moved south towards Mexican waters and could die if not found

Blue_whale_tail by Michael Baird

On Friday, whale response teams attached a buoy to the whale, found between Santa Catalina Island and the coast, to make it more visible before high seas thwarted rescue efforts, reported the Guardian.

Federal government officials assisted by boats, aeroplanes and helicopters searched the West coast on Saturday and Sunday, but were unable to locate the whale. Continue reading

Disturbing truth behind Australia’s shark nets

By Tracy Brighten

Shark nets and baited drum lines in Australia have killed thousands of marine animals in the bid to protect ocean users from shark attacks
whale in shark net

Whale entangled in shark net

Since 1962, a staggering 84,800 marine animals have been caught in Queensland’s shark control program alone, including vulnerable and endangered species such as turtles and whales, as well as shark species that do not threaten human life. Over 9,000 unborn pups have been lost. Continue reading

Deer hunter blunder kills rare takahe

New Zealand deer hunters culling pukeko on an island sanctuary have killed rare flightless birds in another case of mistaken identity

Takahe

The pūkeko is probably one of the most recognised native birds in New Zealand,” says the Department of Conservation website.

It seems not when deerstalkers are killing critically endangered takahe instead of common pukeko in a case of mistaken identity. Continue reading

Rising tension between Faroe Islands and anti-whaling Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd’s Bob Barker vessel, with 21 activists on board, has been refused entry to the Faroe Islands by Danish authorities protecting whaling. 

A Faroese government statement said the decision was to protect “the legal and regulated activity of driving and killing pilot whales for food,” reported The Guardian. Sea Shepherd believes the action by Danish Customs at the port of Sund is unlawful.

Although Denmark is a member of the European Union that bans whaling, Denmark supports whaling in its Faroe Islands self-governing territory. Continue reading

Taiji dolphin slaughter turns cove into bloodbath

By Tracy Brighten

Despite a ban on Japanese aquarium and zoo association members sourcing live dolphins from Taiji, local fishermen say demand is unaffected 

Each year, from September to March, hundreds of dolphins are caught in one small cove along Japan’s Pacific coast and either traded as a live commodity, or slaughtered and sold as meat. Continue reading

‘No man is an island’: we are interconnected

By Tracy Brighten

No man is an island

I admit to not having a great memory for quotations, but a line from one of poet John Donne’s meditations has stood the test of time: ‘No man is an island, entire of itself’.

What resonates with me is the idea that no-one is self-sufficient – we need each other to thrive in a world that is far greater than one individual. Continue reading

Nature’s song thrush inspires hope in gloomy times

There’s hope in the winter carolings of Thomas Hardy’s frail thrush, giving us a poignant message

Winter landscape

My favourite poem, The Darkling Thrush highlights Hardy’s despair at the changes he witnessed as England’s agricultural based society was impacted by the industrial revolution. The narrator describes a bleak landscape that reflects this despair. He sees a “frail, gaunt, and small” thrush, suggesting that nature is also affected by the changes. Continue reading

Tasmanian devil on mainland could control feral cats

Scientists suggest reintroducing the Tasmanian devil to mainland forests could restore ecological systems and save native species from extinction

Tasmanian devil

Rewilding is being hailed in Europe and the U.S as a potential solution to restore ecological systems that have become unbalanced, often from human impacts including habitat loss, animal culling or hunting, and introduced predators.

Australian researchers from the University of New South Wales and the University of Tasmania have conducted the first study to look at the feasibility of reintroducing the Tasmanian devil to mainland Australia. Continue reading

REM sleep essential to children’s brain development and learning

By Tracy Brighten

Researchers identify that rapid eye movement or REM sleep, usually associated with dreaming, is critical to converting daytime experiences into memories required for normal brain function

REM Sleep

Researchers say their findings help to explain how children’s learning is affected by inadequate REM sleep, and how medication commonly prescribed for hyperactivity or depression interferes with this sleep. Continue reading

Cull of 2 million feral cats by 2020 to save native animals

By Tracy Brighten

Australia has pledged to tackle the soaring feral cat population that threatens more native animals with extinction 
Numbat by Martin Pot

Australian numbat

With 1800 nationally listed threatened species, the Australian Government has set targets for conserving 30 priority plant species, 20 mammals and 20 birds.

“That means humane culling of one of our wildlife’s worst enemies – feral cats,” said Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt in a statement. Continue reading

Starchy carbs made our brains bigger

By Tracy Brighten

Carbohydrates have been left off the menu by dietary fads favouring protein, but a study on human brain evolution suggests a key role for starchy carbs

Ulluco tubers by Eric

Paleolithic diets are increasing in popularity in the belief that a return to our ancestor’s diet can curb the upward trend in obesity and diet related health issues.

Scientists agree there are health gains when our diet aligns with our evolutionary past because our physiology is optimised for that diet. Yet there is little agreement about what makes up a healthy diet and what comprises the Paleolithic diet of Old Stone Age man. Continue reading

Could a legal ivory trade save the African elephant from extinction?

By Tracy Brighten

Legal trade of “conservation ivory” could end black market trade in “blood ivory”, but opponents say stigmatisation and a trade ban is the only solution

Carved elephants by William Warby

African elephants are in crisis, threatened by extinction like the woolly mammoth wiped out by man in the Arctic. Farmers attack when they roam on land that was once elephant habitat; zoos remove them to an unnatural life as exhibits; and trophy hunters take pride in slaying this ‘big five’ giant.

But most of all, elephants are at risk from poachers who hack off their face for tusks. Continue reading

Spotlight on trophy hunting puts poaching in shadows

By Tracy Brighten

Lions may be king, but let’s not forget the elephants with five dead from poaching in Kenya last week. 

Elephant family in Kenya by Benh Lieu Song

The American dentist who lured Cecil from the protection of a national park in Zimbabwe, is reported to have asked for a massive elephant after shooting the GPS-collared lion. Fortunately, the professional hunter who arranged Walter Palmer’s trophy hunt, wasn’t able to find one large enough, so the dentist promptly left Zimbabwe.

While trophy hunting is an abhorrent sport, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that poaching is a much greater problem, and that elephants rather than lions are in the firing line. Continue reading

Trophy hunting: ‘A way of honouring that animal for all time’

By Tracy Brighten

Big game hunters have a perspective on wildlife slaughter that is difficult for the uninitiated to comprehend.

Louis the lion med by Tambako“Of course, it is a personal achievement to harvest any big-game animal with a bow and arrow,” said Glen Hisley of the Pope and Young bow hunting organisation in The Telegraph. “It is a way of honouring that animal for all time.”

This is an interesting perspective and one reserved for the animal kingdom. After all, the desire to honour a person by murdering them, posing beside the body, and keeping the head as a trophy would surely be considered psychopathic. And deriving pleasure just makes matters worse.

If it’s the chase and the thrill of danger that drove Palmer, then killing might have been replaced by capturing living images of “the magnificent, mature lion,” described by his accomplice. But there isn’t the same sense of mastery that must come with a deadly weapon. Continue reading

Gadhimai slaughter festival to be reincarnated

By Tracy Brighten

The Gadhimai Temple Trust says the slaughter festival will be ‘free from bloodshed’ in 2019, but over two million pilgrims must be persuaded first

Calf in Gadhimai killing fields

The statement made by the trust chairman at a press conference in New Delhi this week is an important milestone, with a compassionate plea to make this traditional slaughter festival a blood-free celebration of life.

The decision follows negotiations and campaigning by Animal Welfare Network Nepal, Humane Society International/India and People for Animals, who organised the conference.

Heartbroken at witnessing the bloodshed at Gadhimai, Gauri Maulekhi, of HSI/India and People for Animals, welcomed the announcement. “Animal sacrifice is a highly regressive practice and no nation in the modern world should entertain it.” Continue reading

6 steps to fitness for free

By Tracy Brighten

The great thing about keeping fit at home is that there’s no travelling, you don’t need to wear the latest kit, and it’s free. If you have a cross trainer, exercise bike, or weights, it helps, but it isn’t essential. You do need self-discipline though. Copping out is easier when you’re not letting down a training partner.

6 steps to keeping fit at home: Continue reading

Faroe Islands pilot whale massacre ‘a natural way of life’

By Tracy Brighten      Contains graphic images

Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd estimates 250 pilot whales were killed last week. Is it time tradition was buried with whale bones littering the seabed?

Pilot whale slaughter 2 by Sea Shepherd Peter Hammarstedt

Sea Shepherd protestors have been arrested trying to stop the pilot whale hunts in the Faroe Islands, but video footage and photographs by other group members captured the horrors of the mass slaughter.

The whale hunt known as the grindadráp, or “grind”, is a centuries old tradition with recorded history dating back to 1584, according to whaling proponents Whaling.fo. The whale meat and blubber once provided an important food source for the Faroese people, and whale oil was used for cooking and export. Continue reading

Kiwi genome reveals nocturnal bird’s colour blindness

By Tracy Brighten

The genetic blueprint for New Zealand’s national bird reveals the kiwi’s adaptation to a nocturnal, ground-dwelling lifestyle around 35 million years ago has meant poorer eyesight, but superior smelling powers

TeTuatahianui North Island brown kiwi

Published online in Genome Biology, the study by researchers in Germany identified genetic mutations that have deactivated genes related to colour vision, as well as other mutations that have enhanced the kiwi’s sense of smell compared to other birds.

The kiwi is an evolutionary phenomenon, and an endemic species to New Zealand, a land that was geographically isolated after its separation from Godwana 80 million years ago. This isolation makes New Zealand ideal for studying evolutionary processes. Continue reading

Sirocco kakapo’s rise to stardom

By Tracy Brighten

Stephen Fry and social media launched this rare parrot to stardom, and now this tech-savvy bird is putting fame to good use.

Sirocco by Chris Birmingham (DoC)

Back in 2009, Stephen Fry visited New Zealand’s Codfish Island with zoologist Mark Carwardine to film BBC2’s Last Chance to See, a documentary about animals on the edge of extinction.

Now, with almost 6.5 million views of ‘Shagged by a rare parrot’ on YouTube, their encounter with Sirocco, the flightless parrot, has achieved phenomenal worldwide coverage. Not bad for a species that previously wasn’t well-known even in New Zealand, despite its international critically endangered status.

Today, Sirocco features on the NZ Department of Conservation blog, he has his own Facebook page with 155,000 likes and a Twitter account, as you might expect of a bird. Continue reading

Is sleep deprivation causing teenage depression?

By Tracy Brighten

New research reveals a strong link between sleep deprivation and depression in adolescents that could guide better prevention and treatment

Girl on phone late night

In a new study published in the journal Sleep, U.S researchers found that up to 25% of adolescents slept for 6 hours or less per night, and were classed as sleep deprived. With early school times, weekend jobs and social media, it’s no surprise that adolescents don’t get enough sleep, putting them at risk of major depression. Continue reading

Bat fossil reveals supersize walking bat 16 million years ago

By Tracy Brighten

Scientists in New Zealand unearth an ancient bat fossil, revealing a new bat species that once scurried the forest like its much smaller modern relative, the short-tailed bat

The News Hub - Short-tailed bat by David Mudge Nga Manu TrustIn the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers reveal a new species of bat, Mystacina miocenalis, and its close association with Mystacina tuberculata, the lesser short-tailed bat that still inhabits New Zealand’s temperate old-growth evergreen forests.

The fossilised remains were excavated in Central Otago on New Zealand’s South Island, from sediment left over from Lake Manuherikia that existed in the Miocene era, around 16 million years ago. Continue reading

Owners in denial over cat predation on wildlife

By Tracy Brighten

Research suggests owners are reluctant to accept the cat predation risk to wildlife and a cat welfare approach may be needed 

Wildlife killer cat

Domestic cats have been introduced by humans across the world and growing cat populations are placing local wildlife under greater pressure. Cat predation compounds the survival problem by adding to habitat loss and food scarcity for some species.

Free-roaming cats on islands have contributed to the extinction of native bird, mammal, and reptile species unable to fend off this introduced predator. In mainland environments, cats are impacting local bird and mammal populations, with large numbers killed each year. Continue reading

Time to get off my backside and confront him

He’s been coming round a lot lately, persuading me and pretending to have my best interests at heart when really he’s a self-serving blighter.

When I’m thinking of going for a speed walk he’s telling me, “weather’s not too good today”. When I’m about to pop my kit on for a cross-trainer workout he’s at my shoulder saying, “you can’t exercise on an empty stomach”. Even when I’m thinking about some gentle stretching after a long stint of writing, he’s there with coffee and biscuits… “homemade why don’t you?” He always seems to catch me off guard.

I should never have listened. I gave in far too easily. I’m not usually such a pushover.

I’ve been thinking about where this copping out will get me and today I’m making a new start. I opened the door and threw him out. “And don’t come back,” I yelled so the neighbours could hear.

I’ve made up my mind to stand up to Mr Excuse.

 

Image credit: Pixabay

Scientists develop alternative to antibiotics for farm animals

By Tracy Brighten

England’s Chief Medical Officer calls antibiotic-resistant bacteria a “ticking time-bomb” for both animals and humans
Antibiotic alternative for farm animals

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria

Drug-resistant infection in humans and animals is causing increasing public concern. Microbes adapt to create “superbugs” when repeatedly exposed to antimicrobial medicines, particularly bacteria when exposed to antibiotics. Weak bacteria are killed and resistant bacteria thrive and multiply.

The Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, places this “ticking time-bomb” on the level of the threat from terrorism and pandemic flu. Continue reading

Nordic countries top the world for happiness

By Tracy Brighten

Happy people

The recently released World Happiness Report 2015 identifies those countries where people are happiest and highlights the value to economies of considering people’s well-being when determining public policy.

Produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the WHR examines Gallup survey data from 2012-2014 and past data from 2005-2007, looking at changes in reported well-being and happiness, as well as analysing reasons for happiness variation across nations and cultures. Continue reading

Magical Montessori

By Tracy Brighten

An early education experience for your pre-schooler that teaches life skills, encourages critical thinking, and inspires curiosity about their world

Montessori outdoor play

Little Cheverells Montessori School lay back from the lane behind a Horse Chestnut tree and hedgerows of hawthorn sprayed with white flowers. I’d started a diploma course with the London School of Modern Montessori and I was visiting the school with our two-year-old daughter to learn more about child-centred early education.  Continue reading

Acetaminophen pain reliever may also dull your pleasure

By Tracy Brighten

Next time you take a painkiller, your sensitivity to pain may not be the only thing reduced. You may also be reducing your sensitivity to pleasure

Science Nutshell - Tylenol capsules

Researchers in the U.S have found that the common pain reliever acetaminophen has a previously unknown side effect of reducing positive emotion.

Previous studies show that acetaminophen reduces both physical and psychological pain, but this new study, published online in the journal Psychological Science, is the first to examine the effect on positive emotions. Continue reading

Narcissism created by well-meaning parents

By Tracy Brighten

Telling our children they are better than others and giving them a skewed view of their worth may not be good for them in the long run

Science Nutshell - Doll with big headA recent study looking at the causes of narcissism reveals that parents who overvalue their children may be responsible for their increased self-centeredness and self-importance.

It is well known that narcissistic individuals are self-absorbed, consider themselves to be superior to others and tend to lack empathy. They can react with violence or aggression if they feel humiliated or don’t get the special treatment they deserve, according to past research by authors of this study. However, little is known about what causes narcissism. Continue reading

Endangered porpoise thrown lifeline as dolphins drown

By Tracy Brighten

The Mexican government makes a late bid to save the world’s smallest marine mammal, while New Zealand lets the world’s rarest dolphin drown 

Vaquita porpoise Natural History Magazine

The vaquita porpoise population has declined as a result of drownings when porpoises are unable to reach the surface to breathe after entanglement in gillnets used in shrimp fishing. More recently, the gillnet threat has increased with the illegal fishing of the endangered totoaba fish, whose swim bladder is a Chinese delicacy fetching up to $10,000 a kilogram, smuggled to China via California. Continue reading

Spider venom: A breakthrough in chronic pain relief

By Tracy Brighten

Scientists have found that compounds in spider venom may provide the key to developing a new class of painkillers for chronic pain relief 

Science Nutshell tarantulaThe study, published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, reveals the potential for analgesics without the side effects that restrict the dosage and effectiveness of existing medications. 

Chronic pain affects 15% of the adult population worldwide, causing prolonged suffering and reducing quality of life. The economic cost is significant, and in the U.S. it is estimated at $600 billion a year, exceeding the combined cost of cancer, diabetes and stroke.  Continue reading

Thank you Mr Edwards

By Tracy Brighten

Shakespeare-Notes

You may not remember me now Mr Edwards, with thirty five years passing since I sat in your English class. I was always last to arrive, running late from another lesson. You might remember me as the Olympic athlete. Dr Hadley never invited me back to talk about my sporting experience – I think he was disappointed I didn’t go to university.

Despite my lack of career direction, you never gave up on me though, and I want to thank you for being an inspirational teacher. I thought of you recently when our son asked about my high school education. He was researching the link between educational outcomes and social class and it got me thinking about my experience. Continue reading

Welcome to Nature in Mind

Welcome to Nature in Mind where I write about living a caring and healthy life with nature in mind. I’d like this blog to be a place where we can exchange ideas and help each other create positive change.

I believe an informed, considered, and honest life, one that aligns with our values, is a meaningful life. By keeping nature in mind and caring more, we can enjoy a greener environment and better mental health.

I believe we naturally want to lead the good life and do the right thing. Through education and communication, we can improve conditions in society and the natural world. We can take action to enrich our own lives and those of generations to come.

Knowledge, compassion, and community are key to change. I would love you to join this community and share your experiences and enthusiasm!

Popular posts

Image credit: Muriwai Beach Australasian Gannet Colony by David Brighten

Condemnation and controversy over livestock export of 50,000 sheep

By Tracy Brighten

Animal welfare groups and opposition MPs say slaughter, not breeding, awaits livestock export survivors

The News Hub - Sheep Muster med

The Green party, NZ First and animal welfare group SAFE are concerned the New Zealand government may be using a breeding claim to circumvent the ban on livestock exports for slaughter. The ban was implemented by the NZ Labour government on animal welfare grounds after international public outcry when 5,000 sheep perished in an Australian shipment bound for Saudi Arabia in 2004.

Animals loaded in secrecy

Livestock carrier NADA, registered in Panama, docked in Port Timaru in the South Island on Thursday when 50,000 sheep, and 3,000 cattle were loaded on board the multi-storey vessel overnight. NADA departed on Friday morning carrying the largest ever livestock cargo to leave New Zealand since 35,000 breeding sheep were exported to Mexico in 2007. Continue reading