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Positive Conservation News - June 2019

June 30, 2019


Half way through the year and conservation successes continue to occur! June passed by and saw governments and businesses continue to commit to reducing their plastic outputs, marine and terrestrial habitat protected, a phenomenal breeding season for a threatened bird species and much more! 


Species


Road signs featuring a hedgehog image will start to appear on UK roads in the hope to protect hedgehogs, squirrels, otters and badgers from traffic. The signs will be placed in wildlife hotspots where accidents are common to warn drivers of the presence of small animals.

This month saw Canada become the first G20 country to ban the import of shark fins. Shark finning involves cutting off the fins from live sharks before tossing the rest of the body back into the ocean. The shark fin trade threatens global shark populations, and an estimated one-third of fins comes from at risk species.

Five zoo-born Eastern black rhinos, three female and two male, have been released in Akagera National Park. They will spend their first few months in an enclosure until they are deemed settled enough for life in the wild. Akagera was chosen due to its armed security and high tech anti-poaching practices. The rhinos are descendants of rhinos that were taken from East Africa to be displayed in European zoos, so the project has been described as "the perfect opportunity to take them back to their homeland."

Niassa, one of Africa's largest wildlife preserves, has announced there have been zero elephants killed by poachers over the past year. This is a huge success in an area which has seen thousands of animals killed in recent years. The result is thought to be thanks to the introduction of police force, assertive patrolling and air response.

Figures released this month revealed that the Scottish government met their annual tree planting targets for the first time with around 11,200 trees planted in 2018. Ministers will increase targets for 2024 from 10,000 to 15,000 hectares as part of their commitment to tackling climate change.

It's been a phenomenal breeding season for the near threatened Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) at Lake Natron in northern Tanzania! Reports released this month from a survey in February show a 130% increase in adult birds, and a 600% increase in chicks! The success is thought to be thanks to the good weather and support of local communities who are working to restore water catchments to improve the breeding habitats.

Environmental protection


It's good news for minke whales and basking sharks, whose feeding grounds around Scotland will become protected. The four new Marine Protected Areas will cover 5,000 square miles. This legislation will also benefit other species including Risso's dolphins.

Belize's government has approved the protection of the Maya Forest Corridor. The corridor connects two protected areas, the Manatee Forest Reserve and the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area, which connect with the Maya Mountain Block and the northern Maya lowland forests which is shared by Belize, Guatemala and Mexico. This could result in the largest protected block of forest in Central America and would be a welcomed boost to jaguars, the Central American river turtle, the Baird's tapir and Central American spider monkey.

The first whale and dolphin trail was launched in the UK, and features over 30 sites for spotting marine mammals along Scotland's west coast. The project will allow people to see wild whales, dolphins and porpoises from the land, and hopes to inspire more to support marine conservation.

Waste management


Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the country will ban single use plastics from 2021. The items will be chosen based on a review, but they are currently considering plastic bags, bottles and straws. This is a positive move for Canada, where less than 10% of plastic is reported to be recycled.

Waitrose began trialling a refill station in Oxford where customers can bring their own packaging in a bid to reduce plastic waste. The scheme offers 160 loose fruit and vegetable products, frozen fruit pick and mix, automatic detergent and washing up liquid dispensers from Ecover, wine and beer on tap, ground coffee, pasta, rice, grains, lentils, dried fruit and cereal. The trial will run until 18th August, so make sure to visit if you live in the area and feedback your opinions to the store!

Sainsbury's has committed to step up in the fight against plastic by announcing they will remove plastic bags for fruit, vegetables and bakery items. From September, paper bags will be available for customers purchasing loose bakery items. Customers can bring their own bags for fruit and veg, or buy a re-usable bag made from recycled materials. This move will see the company reduce their plastic output by 489 tonnes!

Boots have responded to customer criticism for dispensing medicine in plastic bags by switching to unbleached, brown paper bags. It is the first UK pharmacy to do so, and will start in 53 stores before rolling out to all 2,485 stores by 2020. This change will reduce their plastic output by over 900 tonnes! Profits from the bag sales will go to Children in Need to support disadvantaged children in the UK.

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