August 16, 2011

Tiger     Photo: Dave Stokes/Flickr

Has China Reopened Tiger Trade?

Report alleges sale of tiger skins

An environmental group says that China is allowing the sale of tiger skins, potentially contradicting a pledge the country made last year to end any trade in tiger products. At issue, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency, a conservation group, is a 2007 program that makes legal a market for tiger parts from animals raised in captivity. In a press brief released last week, the group wrote that tiger pelts from captive animals are available for sale online, which it says opens a market for illegal tiger and leopard products from animals killed in the wild. China, which has agreed to ban all tiger products, has not responded to the charges, and the EIA has not substantiated its claim that the tiger products for sale reflect government policy. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, estimates that fewer than 2,500 adult tigers survive in the wild, and has called for an end to commercial breeding of the animals.

Read more at The Guardian


Payette River

Payette River     Photo: Steven A. Wolfe/Flickr

Fidelity Exec Dies in Kayak Accident

Greer directed Legacy Paddlesports

Boyce Greer, an executive at Fidelity Investments and a director at Legacy Paddlesports, died Sunday in a kayaking accident on the Payette River in Idaho. Greer, 55, became trapped in a section of rapids known as Jacob's Ladder on the Payette's North Fork around noon on Sunday. The Valley County Sherrif's office is still investigating the exact cause of death. Greer, who lived in Amherst, New Hampshire, managed Fidelity's institutional investments department in Boston and was an expert kayker. He also held a doctorate in public policy from Harvard University. He was an early investor in kayak company Liquidlogic, which merged with North Carolina-based Legacy Paddlesports in 2006, where Greer remained a director. Greer reportedly paddled the same section of the Payette twice within a week of the accident.



    Photo: Alberto Mari/Flickr

Woman Tumbles Over Niagara Falls

Student slips posing for picture

A 19-year-old Japanese foreign exchange student fell into the Niagara River on Sunday, likely tumbling over the falls to her death. The woman, whose name has not been released, was studying in Toronto. Eyewitnesses and a security camera indicate that the woman had climbed a rock post and straddled a metal guardrail to take a picture on the Canadian side of the falls. When she tried to climb back over the guardrail, she slipped and fell into the river, which would have pulled her 188 feet down into the Lower Niagara. In a strange twist, search and rescue teams recovered the remains of a man in the Lower Niagara while looking for the woman's body. Accidental deaths at Niagara Falls are uncommon, though as many as two dozen people commit suicide there each year. Authorities in Canada are working with the Japanese consulate to notify the woman's family.

Read more at the Toronto Star



Gudgeon     Photo: rjp/Flickr

Chemicals Mutate Fish in France

Drug company waste not regulated

Scientists have found that a fish species living downriver from a pharmaceutical plant in France show both male and female sexual characteristics, suggesting for the first time that waste from drug companies is ending up in waterways in concentrations high enough to be bioactive. Fishers on the Dore River noticed that wild gudgeon looked strange, prompting an investigation funded by French environmental officials that found 60 percent of the species had dual sex traits. Upstream of the plant, which is owned by drug maker Sanofi, only five percent showed both traits. "People thought this could not happen in a country that has high environmental standards and good manufacturing practices," says Patrick Phillips, head of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program at the US Geological Survey. Unlike other chemicals, pharmaceutical releases are not regulated in the United States or the European Union. Bioactive chemicals can remain in water even after it's passed through treatment facilities. Exactly how the pharmaceuticals entered the river remains unclear. The full study will be published in November in the journal Environment International.

Read more at Nature


Crosswalk sign

Crosswalk sign     Photo: Robinsonsmay/Flickr

Florida Dangerous for Pedestrians

On foot, Orlando is riskiest city

Florida is the most dangerous state in the United States to be pedestrian, according to a new study by advocacy group Transportation for America. Four of the five most dangerous metro areas—Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami—were in Florida, the group found. Minorities and the elderly, who are less likely to have access to cars, were also more likely to be killed by automobiles while on foot. “So much of Florida has been built up so quickly in that era of the automobile-oriented design; it’s this sort of the boomer phenomenon," said David Goldberg, Transportation for America's communications director. In response, Orlando officials said they were working to make the city safer for pedestrians. "We don't want Orlando to get a reputation that we have problems here," said Frank Consoli, the city's traffic operations engineer. "We want to make it as safe as possible."

Read more at the New York Times