This past week has seen the poisonous Lionfish species spread through the Mediterranean, a return of Hazel Dormice to the United Kingdom, a proposed plan to relocate hundreds of migrating Elephants set in place and the aftermath of Brexit. Here’s your weekly Frontier environment news roundup:
Poisonous fish spreading through the Mediterranean
Last week conservationists warned that the Lionfish may be spreading through the Mediterranean. The fish is adorned with poisonous barbs and a painful sting that has been known to kill humans in rare cases. Lionfish are normally found in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean and conservations have referred to sightings of the fish in the Mediterranean off the coast of Turkey and Cyprus as "concerning". The arrival of the fish in the Mediterranean has sparked concerns not just for the Lionfish but for the native species of the habitat that it is now emerging within. It is currently uncertain whether the Lionfish have migrated by themselves or if they were introduced into the ocean by humans but whatever the reason, there are now very real fears that their appearance is set to cause a catastrophic result for the native Mediterranean ecosystem.
Mass relocation of Elephants
Last week it was revealed that wildlife experts in Malawi will begin to move 500 elephants to a sanctuary next month. It is believed that the mass relocation will be complete next year but for now it involves a complex process of darting the elephants from a helicopter, hoisting the animals by crane and loading them onto trucks before transferring them across the 185 miles to Malawi’s Nkhotakota wildlife reserve. Despite the complex process, it is thought that this move will be vital to the future of these gentle giants and as elephants are facing increase pressures from the growing demand for ivory, this mass migration is being implemented at a crucial time for the species as a whole.
The Saiga Antelopes Population Is Back On The Rise
Following a serious bacterial infection last year, the Saiga Antelopes population took a serious hit after about 200,000 of the already critically endangered species died in Betpak-Dala. This, understandably, worried conservationists but thankfully last week the results of an aerial survey taken in April and May this year were published and revealed that the numbers of all three Saiga populations are on the rise again. The recent survey showed the population to be sitting at 108,300 adult Saigas now and while this is still below the 242,000 animals that were counted in 2015 prior to the mass-die off, the rise is promising for the future of the antelope species.
Rare Hazel Door Mice Return To The UK
Last Thursday 20 breeding pairs of rare Hazel Dormice were reintroduced into the Yorkshire Dales national park, 100 years after they were last recorded in the location by Victorian naturalists. The aim of the reintroduction is to reverse the decline of this small mammal which was once widespread throughout England and Wales. Dormice depend heavily on woodlands and hedgerows for their survival, both of which suffered serious decline as a result of changes in land use that stemmed from the second World War and as such their population is still currently listed as vulnerable so reintroduction schemes such as this one are vital for the maintaining of the species as a whole.
'Brexit' - The Result Of The EU Referendum In The UK
Of course, outside of the environment focused news, last week saw the United Kingdom vote out of the European Union in the referendum held on Thursday 23rd June. While it was firmly believed by many that the EU membership was vital to the upkeep of the environment and while leaving the union now puts around 70% of UK environmental legislations at risk, there is no reason for the environment to begin to decline as a result of Brexit. There have been no plans put in place to stop these legislations from standing as they always have done and for the time being at least the UK is still firmly a part of the EU so right now there is no need to panic for ourselves or for the environment but rather than waiting for article 50 to be put in place, our focus now sits with many other environmental conservationist groups as we look into the somewhat uncertain future and begin to strive to make the result work for the environment.
By Shannon Clark - Online Journalism Intern
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