The decision to allow Chinese firms explore national parks in Zimbabwe, including the grand Hwange game park for coal has been revoked after a campaign against ecological degradation. The movement involved a series of court proceedings against the government who previously sanctioned and licensed the exploration of coal by two firms in Hwange. Hwange is home to a plethora of wildlife, including the endangered black rhino and about 40,000 elephants. It is also the biggest national park in all of Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) in their court papers filed on Monday warned that the natural integrity and ambience of the park may be in danger if it becomes a “site for drilling, land clearance, road building and geological surveys,” – common practices that are part of coal exploration.
A cabinet meeting on Monday sealed the decision to ban coal mining in all the national parks and it was announced by Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa. In her words, “Steps are being undertaken to immediately cancel all mining titles held in national parks.”
Her announcement also disclosed a ban on mining along most river beds- a decision that is certain to hit small-scale Chinese and local gold miners really hard.
Zimbabwe and China have ties in the international world. The East Asian country is a major investor in Zimbabwe and a close government ally. A “Look East” policy to boost the struggling economy has been long sought by China, following sanctions imposed by Western juggernauts triggered by the government’s controversial land reform program and human rights record.
The plan was for two Chinese firms to join forces with the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation in mining coal resources of the national parks.
Coal exploration in the country’s biggest park was always going to be a sensitive issue, and as expected, the decision to allow foreign companies mine the area did not receive a friendly reception. The government suffered a lot of backlash from the public and even on social media with the hashtag #SaveHwangenationalpark trending on Twitter in Zimbabwe. Environmental and wildlife enthusiasts argued that coal mining in the parks would be the end of wildlife as well as tourism.
The government caved to the outcry of the public, and announced the ban on exploration rights to the Chinese. This came only after the vigorous and fierce non-acceptance of the previously approved policy. State-run The Herald newspaper quoted Mines minister Winston Chitando saying that the mining rights were given in 2015 but exploration only began recently.
The decision is unlikely to affect ties between Zimbabwe and China. The governments of both countries are aware of the delicate situation, and such kickback against the policy was surely expected.
Despite the decision to revoke the Chinese exploration rights, many Zimbabweans want more. They argue that years of gold mining along rivers has led to environmental degradation, and therefore want the ban to be lawfully constituted in a bid to protect the environment and prevent possible future occurrences.
African Emerald Cuckoos Are Beautiful and Intriguing
Just a step above the brown birds is the beautiful green birds. I mean this in terms of my level of interest in birds. Green is a beautiful color but it is meant for birds to blend in easily and hide. This takes away from the beauty of the green bird. With that being said, please do not take this out of context because green is still one of my favorite colors.
Sometimes, however, I still come across a green bird that always proves me wrong. Every so often I may stumble across one. When I do, it is hard for me to take my eyes off of it.
One of them happens to be the African emerald cuckoo. I can bet you have probably never heard or seen this one before.
Girl Scouts Welcome a New Cookie into the Fold
Are you ready for a new Girl Scout cookie? Even if you are one of those occasional cookie shoppers, this seem to be good news. And if you are a shopper who knows the Girl Scout cookies by name, one more choice is a great idea.
The Cuban Tody Is A Tiny, Colorful Gem Of A Bird
There are so many beautiful birds in the world that the skies are full of every possible color. Some birds have such interesting coloring that they develop a following among animal lovers. This is certainly the case with the Cuban tody. This little bird is a tiny one, and its colors are nothing short of amazing. It’s so colorful that it almost looks like a toy bird.
Even without its famous coloring, the Cuban tody is an interesting bird to look at. The tiny bird measures only 4 inches from the tip of its beak to the end of its tail. It weighs just 2 ounces. However, it has a large head for such a tiny bird. As you may have guessed from its name, the Cuban tody is native to Cuba. They have such beautiful coloring to help the bird to not be seen among the bright flowers of the region.
The Cuban tody has a diet that consists mostly of insects and spiders, but they will supplement their diets with fruit and will even eat small lizards when they’re available. They are very adaptable birds and have made homes in virtually every area of Cuba. This bird tends to be more friendly and tame than the vast majority of wild birds. They will even stay in place when humans approach to greet them.
This species is not yet on the endangered animal list, but it may just be a matter of time until it is. There are pesticides being used in Cuba that may shrink their numbers. Further research is needed to find out how pesticides can be used that won’t harm this adorable little bird. It seems that a bird so small it could fit into the palm of your hand may have a big impact on farming in Cuba.
This cute little bird is so small that its head from the back all the way to the end of the beak is only 34 mm long. It can make three different sounds. It’s “totting” sound is the most common sound that it makes, but it also makes a sound at a lower frequency. It also creates a sound by flapping its wings. It’s most common sound, totting, is high pitched as you would expect from a tiny animal. It makes its “tot” sound in rapid-fire bursts.
The only predator that it has in the wild is the mongoose. To avoid that animal, the Cuban tody hunts 9 feet above the ground and higher. It is often found hiding in lush vegetation, making it hard to get a clear photo of this bird. It also prefers areas that have low lighting. When it flies, it flies too fast to be able to photograph it. This bird is a ravenous hunter, able to to catch up to two insects every minute. It spends all day hunting and eating.
The White Honduran Bats Look Like Tiny Camping Cotton Balls
Adorable and fascinating, this cute species of bats is known by many names. They have been called the Honduran Whit Bat, the Caribbean Tent Making Bats, the Cotton Ball Bats, and the Camping Bats. These tiny fluffy pure white bats make use of their natural jungle habitat and fashion adorable structures to protect them from the elements and from predators. They are found naturally in the lush and tropical rainforests found in the farthest eastern regions of Honduras primarily. They also have habitats in northern Nicaragua, as well as isolated parts of both Costa Rica and Panama.
During the daylight hours when they need to roost and sleep these crafty little bats create tens to sleep in. They find their favorite plant, the heliconia, and turn the leaves into little tents. They pull the leaves by cutting slits into the leaves with their teeth. This made the leaves fold downward and inward slightly and creates a little tent-like structure that is the perfect size for these tiny fuzzballs. The bats can make a solo sleeping tent but most often they will be found snuggled together in groups of 5 or more and some larger groups can number as many as 15-20 inside a single leaf!
Their natural tents are perfectly designed to shield them from the hot tropical sun while also doing a good job and shielding them from the worst of the tropical rains that fall. The bats are careful about where they make their nests and always try to find heliconia leaves far enough off the ground so possums, snakes, and other ground-dwelling predators can’t reach them. The tents are also designed so the bats are shielded from above, which protects them from the prying eyes of owls and hawks flying overhead. These adorable bats eat mostly fruit and occasionally seeds and some insects so they are often found near fruit trees, which means they don’t have to venture far from their protective tents to find food.
These bats are adorably tiny at only around 1.5–1.9 inches long in most cases. Their diminutive size means that most only weighs 0.18–0.21 oz. However, number two on the list of the smallest bats in the world. The number one award goes to absolutely tiny Kitti’s hog-nosed bat, that only reaches a length of 1.1 to 1.3 inches and weight that barely tips the scale at 0.071 oz!
There are several amazing features that set these bats apart from their more well-known relatives. First is the pure white fuzzy fur coats they all have. Scientists believe this is a type of counter camouflage as the bright sun shines down and makes them almost disappear in the glare of the sun off the tropical foliage. They also have markedly orange skin that is most noticeable on their face and nose. Their small size is also believed to be an evolutionary adaptation that helps them hide and appear more like a fuzzy flower or uninteresting clump of mold rather than a tasty treat.
While these absolutely adorable bats are not officially considered to be endangered, they are currently noted as being ‘near-threatened’. The primary threat facing them is rainforest destruction which is destroying their natural habitat and making it harder for them to hide, survive, and reproduce. Their homes are vanishing at a pretty rapid rate. The best way to help these little bats have a fighting chance for survival though is to learn more about rainforest habitats and deforestation and to fight for safer and more environmentally sound processes that protect the natural habitats of amazing animals like the Honduran White Bats.
Lost Dog Looks to Vet to Help Him Get Home
It’s every pet owner’s biggest worry to have something happen to their beloved animal. A pet running away or getting lost is a huge concern, as unfortunately sometimes these animals never make it back home safely. Thankfully, there are a lot of good people in the world looking out for animals who seem a little lost, especially passionate animal lovers, carers and veterinary professionals.
One adorable pooch knew just what to do when he ended up out and about away from home. A recent dog rescue and reunion story is making the rounds on Facebook and YouTube after a sweet black dog headed to the vet in hopes of being reunited with his owner. The heartwarming moment unfolded in Bang Pu, Thailand at the Putahracsa Veterinary Clinic. A security camera at the center’s front entrance detected the dog’s solo arrival. It’s not uncommon for dogs to be wandering the streets of Thailand, but it can be dangerous for them with busy traffic levels and lack of food, water or shelter.
Appearing to be thirsty, he took a long drink from the water bowl outside before pressing his nose against the window, as though he was trying to get the busy workers inside to notice him. The tactic worked, as he only barked one or two times while waiting patiently for the door to open. As soon as the clinic staff spotted him on the other side of the glass, they opened the door and quickly learned he was all by himself.
The precious black pooch with the sweet face was recognized as a patient who had been vaccinated at the clinic. Staff members were able to track down his owners and call them to come and pick him up, setting a heartwarming reunion in motion. The puppy, just a few months old, was greeted warmly by his family upon their arrival at the clinic. Although it’s not clear how long he was gone for, the vet confirmed everyone was happy, healthy and safe. Chances are his owners will be keeping a closer eye on him now after his previous disappearing act.
The sweet video of the successful reunion story has since been shared and viewed thousands of times, with many pet owners around the world smiling at the thought of a happy ending for the dog and his family. It’s an important reminder of the need to protect pets from running away, and also how handy ID tags and microchips are for identification purposes. If this dog in Thailand wasn’t a patient at the vet clinic, it would have been a lot harder to find his family and he may have ended up in a shelter, where the chances of being reunited are slim. After all, even in a country like the U.S. with strong microchip technology and pet tracking devices, approximately 10 million pets go missing every year, with only 15 percent of unidentified dogs being reconnected with their families.
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