January 23, 2008

Toxic Devils Prompt Health Review
The Australian - theaustralian.news.com.au
23 Jan 2008
M Denholm
Area: Tasmania, Australia

Public health authorities will examine whether there are implications for people from the discovery of toxic flame-retardant chemicals in the fatty tissue of Tasmanian devils. The Australian yesterday revealed the chemicals, linked to thyroid and reproductive disorders and cancers, had been found at what experts described as high levels in wild devils.

Wildlife biologists yesterday called for further work to determine whether the chemicals, used in computers, white goods and carpets, could be a trigger for, or a factor in, the spread of the tumour disease plaguing devils. There were also calls from opposition parties and experts for an assessment of the potential for human contamination by the chemicals, currently being considered for a global ban.

Tasmania's director of public health, Roscoe Taylor, said humans, like devils, had the potential to bioaccumulate some chemical pollutants. "It warrants a look in terms of assessing the raw data and seeing where we go from there," he said.

Endangered Gharial Deaths Pose Mystery
Associated Press [posted by dsc.discovery.com]
22 Jan 2008
B Banerjee
Image courtesy of Discovery News
Area: India

Conservationists and scientists scrambled Tuesday to determine what has killed at least 50 critically endangered crocodile-like reptiles in recent weeks in a river sanctuary in central India. Everything from parasites to pollution has been blamed for the deaths of the gharials -- massive reptiles that look like their crocodile relatives, but with long slender snouts. The bodies, measuring between five and 10 feet long, have been found washed up on the banks of the Chambal River since early December, according to conservationists and officials.

The precise number of gharials that have died remains unclear, with the Gharial Conservation Alliance saying 81 bodies have been found since early December, butt Chief Wildlife Warden D.N.S Suman putting the number of dead animals at 50. Conservationists believe there are only some 1,500 gharials left in the wild, many of them in a sanctuary based along the Chambal, one of the few unpolluted Indian rivers. The Chambal contains the largest of three breeding populations in the world.

In early December, officials found the bodies of at least 21 gharials over three days. The bodies have continued washing ashore in the weeks since. The latest possible clue to what's killing the rare reptiles is an unknown parasite that scientists found in the dead gharials' liver and kidneys, according to Dr. A.K. Sharma of the Indian Veterinary Research Institute.

15 Whales Die in NZ Beach Stranding
Associated Press [posted by news.yahoo.com]
22 Jan 2008
Area: New Zealand

Fifteen pilot whales died in beach strandings Wednesday in southern New Zealand while rescuers refloated another 15 and monitored their progress toward safer waters, conservation officials said.

The whales, ranging from calves to 20-foot adults — were found beached at two locations on Farewell Spit on New Zealand's South Island, Conservation Department ranger Nigel Mountfort said.

Refugee Link to Wildlife Decline
BBC News - news.bbc.co.uk
22 Jan 2008
R Black
Photo courtesy of S Milledge/TRAFFIC
Area: Tanzania

Conservation groups say they have found an unusual threat to East Africa's wildlife - hunting by hungry refugees. A report from the wildlife trade monitoring body Traffic says wild meat is covertly traded, cooked and consumed in Tanzanian refugee camps. Traffic suspects species affected may include chimpanzee, buffalo and zebra. Tanzania hosts more refugees than any other African nation, a legacy of conflicts in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


In 1994, when intense ethnic fighting in Rwanda drove an estimated 600,000 refugees into the area of Tanzania surrounding Burigi National Park, wildlife in the park declined sharply. Buffalo numbers fell from about 2,670 to just 44. Roan antelope declined from 466 to 15 and zebra from 6,552 to 606, while the estimated population of 324 Lichtenstein's Hartebeest, a type of antelope, vanished completely.



First Canadian outbreak of West Nile virus disease in farmed domestic ducks in Saskatchewan [no abstract available]
Can Vet J. 2007 Dec;48(12):1270-1.
C Wojnarowicz et al

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