Websailor's Wacky Wildlife World: Milestones

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A quirky look at wildlife. To be taken with a pinch of
salt, but with more than a grain of truth!


I have been absent for a while as real life had claims on me that I could not ignore. However, I could not forget the 10th birthday of The Post, and I send my congratulations to the Editors, Post teams and all the contributors, both past and present.

1999 seems such a long time ago, yet in terms of our planet it is no more than the blink of an eye. Since then communication has changed out of all recognition, with computers, camera phones, digital cameras and all manner of gadgets to allow us to keep in touch. Perhaps that is the reason that these ten years seem to have been so life changing: because events have been brought to our doorstep, instantly.

From the green revolution of the 1980s, to the financial boom years of the 1990s, we came to the 'Noughties' and the dawn of reality.

Much of what we saw and heard would have never reached us in the past or at least not until it was all over. The internet has made the world a smaller place and The Post has been there with its own unique blend of news, views, information and humour. Long may it continue.

This decade has been something of a roller coaster for wildlife with good news and bad in equal measure. Floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, drought, fire etc, not to mention wars, have all taken their toll, with almost everywhere affected in some way. So what has happened in those ten years?

Successes and failures are too numerous to mention in detail but here are a few events of note. Not all will have continued success, but at least we tried. Many of the successes have been the result of massive public pressure, driven by NGOs (non governmental organisations) and the internet.

In 1999 the Russians agreed to call off a commercial hunt for Beluga whales used for meat and the US increased conservation funding for the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

2000 was a busy year, with restoration of the Florida Everglades getting off to a good start with a proposed $8billion boost.

The US Environmental Protection Agency agreed to ban the use of the highly toxic insecticide chlorpyrifos for most household purposes and restrict use on apples, grapes and tomatoes.

Shark finning was banned in US waters helping to reduce this barbaric trade, though it still continues apace elsewhere.

2001 In Douglas Adams the UK (and the world) lost a man whose humour and intelligence is much missed. His deep concern for wildlife would have had a much greater impact had he survived. His Last Chance to See BBC programme with Mark Carwardine 20 years ago is even more relevant today. Shortly before the death of DNA a repeat trip was in the planning stages but was never to be. At least not for eight years or so.

Florida's Tortuga Marine Reserve became the largest No-fishing area in the US protecting an endangered coral reef system.

2002: The US rejected plans to begin oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge though the fight to prevent it happening still continues to this day.

Chile stopped illegal rainforest logging.

2003: Australia agreed to protect over 27,000,000 acres of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

New Zealand banned set nets from parts of NZ's coast to protect Mauli's dolphins.

More funding promised for gorilla protection in Africa.

2004: The Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) became international law, beginning to eliminate many man-made chemicals toxic to wildlife and humans.

26th December, Boxing Day. The Asian Tsunami sent shock waves reverberating round the world as live pictures showed the tragedy unfold. The destruction and loss of human life was devastating, but later the realisation dawned that Mangrove forests had more important work to do (in coastal protection) than providing the developed world with BBQ fuel! Wildlife losses would never be properly recorded.

Ecuador backed off from a fishing agreement which could have decimated the Galapagos Island's unique marine environment.

2005: At the time this was considered the best year ever for Barn Owl conservation in the UK.

Over 90 major businesses took part in The British Trust for Ornithology Business Bird Challenge 2004/5, where companies worked on conservation projects and education with their employees and the public. Quarries, wetlands, and nature reserves benefited. Awards to competing companies were presented at Middleton Hall in Staffordshire in June 2005.

2006: Paraguay extended a law to safeguard the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest, home to jaguars, harpy eagles and many other threatened species.

Sumatra: eight out of ten endangered Sumatran elephants were released in to Tesso Nilo National Park, seven weeks after being found chained up without food or water.

US: North-western Hawaiian Islands became a national monument, becoming the largest marine reserve in the world.

2007: Raising captive tigers for trade in tiger parts was rejected by members of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).

Florida's manatees maintained their endangered status after moves to downgrade it to 'threatened' were squashed.

2008: 50 million WWF Supporters around the world switched their lights off for EARTH HOUR to show commitment to slowing climate change. Just a hint of what could be achieved if people of like minds worked together.

Indonesia agreed to double the size of Sumatra's Tesso Nilo National Park giving further protection to endangered elephants and tigers.

The launch of the e-museum called
WildFilmHistory by Wildscreen, the Bristol based conservation charity, to bring together wildlife films and photos of wildlife from as far back as 1895! Much of the film and photography was pioneered in the UK.

2009: The 25th anniversary of the successful reintroduction of the Large Blue butterfly was celebrated in June, its success making Somerset the location of the largest population of these butterflies anywhere in the world.

A new series of Last Chance to See was aired on BBC2, as Mark Carwardine, with Stephen Fry stepping in to DNA's shoes, embarked on a return visit to all the places Mark and Douglas Adams visited 20 years ago. Mark commented in particular on the disappearance of the Northern White Rhino and the massive loss of forests to agriculture and palm oil growing since he last visited Borneo. Fire too has taken its toll over many years.

Orang-utans are considered likely to be extinct in another ten years but back in 1999 a sanctuary for orphaned Orang-utans, Nyaru Menteng, was opened in central Kalimantan, Indonesia by Lone Droscher-Nielson. Without projects such as this the Orang-utan would have no chance of survival whatever. Originally designed to house a hundred orphans, now 10 years later they look after 600!

Another organisation heading for its tenth year is Operation Migration, working in Canada and the US to reintroduce endangered captive bred Whooping Cranes to their ancient migration route from Wisconsin to Florida. They have just completed 10,000 miles of leading Cranes south.

Without all the unpaid volunteers around the world our wildlife would be in a far more parlous state than it is now, and I would like to pay tribute to all volunteers who work tirelessly to make life better for us and wildlife around the world.

I hope you have enjoyed the short trip back in time. I am sure you all have many such memories that this birthday will re-ignite.

Last but not least a tribute to all involved in The Post and h2g2 for giving so much pleasure and support to so many people both here in the UK and around the world.

Happy 10th Birthday!

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