Lions on the loose in Kenyan capital’s urban jungle

Terra Daily.com
by Staff Writers
Nairobi (AFP)


When Danish author Karen Blixen penned her autobiography “Out of Africa”, she wrote of the fierce leopards and lions that prowled the coffee estate she farmed at the foot of Kenya’s Ngong hills.

Today, that farm is a leafy upmarket suburb of the rapidly growing capital Nairobi, swallowed up by breakneck urbanisation that has turned a century-old colonial railway yard into a traffic-clogged major city.

But the sharp toothed big cats have remained, finding themselves under growing pressure as one of Africa’s fastest growing cities creeps onto ancient migration routes and hunting grounds.

“There have been no attacks on humans — only dogs — but as the encroachment increases the probability of attacks grows,” said Francis Gakuya, chief vet for Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), as captured lion cubs growled in the background.

Pacing in a cage at the KWS headquarters in Nairobi, four orphaned cubs hiss and snarl at vets taking care of them — then give a surprisingly powerful roar for a two-month-old baby already the size of a small dog.

Wildlife rangers were forced to shoot dead the cubs’ mother after it was spotted in Nairobi’s Karen suburb and it charged before it could be darted. The cubs are now being looked after.

But it is not the only recent case. Conservationists warn of the growing likelihood of closer interaction between wildlife and humans if development is not managed in a sustainable manner.

Another lioness captured last month later escaped back into the park, a 117 square kilometre (45 square mile) wilderness where buffalo and rhino roam just seven kilometres (four miles) from the bustling high-rise city centre.

Wildlife officials have issued warnings to residents near the park to call them “should they see another lion in their area as it is possible more than one lion had strayed from the park.”

Traps are set out when a big cat is reported but the wily lions have so far avoided the baited cages – sparking concern in residents, fearful at night when guard dogs howl that a lion could be hunting in the back yard.

“Lions can hide invisible in the long grass so it’s frightening they could be around waiting to pounce,” said Mary Okello, who lives close to where recent lions were caught.

Visit the park and one is rewarded by the bizarre sight of long-necked giraffes running through wide plains of yellow grass with the gleaming skyscrapers of Nairobi’s business district rising in the distance.

— ‘The lion loses out’ —

Although fenced in on the city side — some bars even have terraces where one can view animals over a cold drink — the park is open-sided elsewhere else to allow the annual wildlife migration in search of grazing.

Zebra and wildebeest in the park migrate from the protected Nairobi national park through informal wildlife corridors, areas where pastoralist herders graze their cattle. But Kenya’s population is quickly growing.

The land is under threat from increasing urbanisation and more intensive agriculture, and the routes used by migrating herds in search of fresh grass — and the carnivores that follow for fresh meat — are growing narrower.

“Some can’t find their way through, and they get stranded,” said Nicholas Oguge, President of the Ecological Society for Eastern Africa.

“There is an urgent need for an effective land policy…without establishing formal wildlife corridors, Nairobi National Park will become like an island, a large contained zoo,” added Oguge, a professor at the University of Nairobi.

The situation has changed dramatically in recent decades. In the 1970s residents used to report roaming herds of wildebeest several hundred thousand strong. Today, in comparison, there are just a relative handful of wildebeest left.

Conservationists say wildlife protection is a low priority for city officials struggling with multiple challenges in a grossly unequal capital of some 3.5 million people with overstretched basic services and infrastructure.

In Nairobi, lavish villas rub shoulders with squalid slums and cramped high rise apartments.

“Nairobi National Park is a microcosm of what is happening elsewhere,” said Luke Hunter, president of the wild cat conservation group Panthera, noting that lions have lost over 80 percent of their historic lands across Africa.

“In protected areas lions do well… but outside they are getting hammered.”

Kenyan wildlife officials and other conservation groups are working to support the establishment of a wildlife corridor, including mapping the key routes, but it is no easy matter, said Paul Mbugua, KWS assistant director.

“It would be good to have corridors in place, but we have a challenge as all the land to the south of Nairobi is owned by somebody,” Mbugua said.

Land in Kenya is both increasingly expensive and a highly political issue.

Kenya plunged into violence after disputed 2007 elections, with land grievances a key contributing factor to the explosion of brutal killings, and demarcating protected corridors is harder than simply drawing lines on a map.

Lion attacks on livestock are reported, but there have been no recent attacks on humans in Nairobi, experts say, but contact will grow as the city expands.

“Lions respect and fear people and try to get out of the way,” added Hunter.

“But with development in areas important to lions, people and lions will mix more and more… and an individual lion can be incredibly dangerous. In that mix, inevitably it is the lion that loses out.”

Related Links
Africa News – Resources, Health, Food

Kenyan Teen’s Invention Saves Lions, Helps Farmers

© AfriGadget. Young inventor Richard Turere with his family’s cattle.

A 13-year-old inventor in Kenya has come up with a low-cost, eco-friendly way to protect his family’s livestock that could also serve as a solution to a serious problem in his country — managing human-wildlife conflict.

With their land located near Nairobi National Park, an area boasting the world’s highest density of lions, Richard Turere’s family often saw their cows, sheep, or goats fall prey to the hungry big cats. But Richard, who herds and protects the family’s livestock, noticed that lions stayed away as long as someone was walking around outside with a flashlight. The African innovation blog AfriGadget describes the clever idea he concocted next:

[Richard] took the LED bulbs from broken flashlights and rigged up an automated lighting system of four or five torch bulbs around the cattle stockade. The bulbs are wired to a box with switches, and to an old car battery charged with a solar panel that operates the family television set. The lights [point] outwards into the darkness. They flash in sequence, giving the impression that someone is walking around the stockade.

Reducing Human-Animal Conflict
Since installing the system, Richard’s family has experienced no problems with night predation by lions, though neighboring homesteads lost animals before he set up the lights in their yards too, AfriGadget reported.

© AfriGadget. Richard’s illustration of his invention.

Human-animal conflict is on the rise in both Africa and Asia as wildlands get converted to agricultural use and human settlements encroach ever-closer on animal habitat. Typically both sides suffer, with farmers losing valuable animals and crops and many lions and other wild creatures being killed in retaliation.

Due in part to conflict with humans, along with habitat destruction and climate change, the Kenya Wildlife Service predicted in 2009 that the country’s lions could be extinct within 20 years or less.

A Cheap, Local Solution
From chili-treated ping-pong balls to beehive fences, a lot of creative solutions are being developed to allow people and wildlife to live in harmony. Richard’s lighting system, which he created with no books or access to technical information, costs less than $10, compared to lion-proof fences that require $1,000 worth of materials plus transportation and labor.

First Ever Map of Floating Plastic Aims to Save Baby Sea Turtles

jemasmith/CC BY 2.0

A PhD student at The University of Western Australia is working on an ambitious project. Julia Reisser, who has studied sea turtles for the last nine years, wants to create the first map that shows distribution of floating marine plastics in Australian waters. That map will be overlapped with information about pathways of sea turtle hatchlings, and hopefully will shed light on where the most dangerous areas for growing sea turtles may exist.

“The early life of sea turtles occurs at the ocean’s surface, where there’s an increasing amount of floating plastics that are proving fatal to hatchlings,” PhD student Julia Reisser says in an article from University of Western Australia. “My work is identifying the places contributing most to the increase in plastics in Australia’s oceans and how this links to sea turtle life cycles.”

The problem of plastic pollution in our oceans cannot be understated. Many marine species mistake the plastic for food, which can be lethal. As you can see, a bit of floating plastic could look a lot like these jellyfish a Green sea turtle is munching on:

© Jaymi Heimbuch

Mistaking plastics for food has devastating consequences, causing internal damage or starvation:

The idea of creating a map of floating plastic is exciting, but also extremely challenging. One of the biggest issues behind marine plastic pollution is that it is extremely hard to quantify and understand because the ocean is so vast and forever moving, carrying plastics with it. Luckily, though, researchers like Reisser are not giving up, and her research could mean a lot of saving sea turtles. Six of the seven sea turtle species on earth are listed as threatened or endangered, so the more we can do to help hatchlings reach adulthood, the better.

Floating dock from Japan carries potential invasive species

Terra Daily.com

by Staff Writers
Newport, OR (SPX)

Workers from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife remove marine organisms in order to prevent invasive species from a derelict Japanese dock that washed up on Agate Beach. Credit: OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.

When debris from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan began making its way toward the West Coast of the United States, there were fears of possible radiation and chemical contamination as well as costly cleanup. But a floating dock that unexpectedly washed ashore in Newport this week and has been traced back to the Japanese disaster has brought with it a completely different threat – invasive species.

Scientists at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center said the cement float contains about 13 pounds of organisms per square foot. Already they have gathered samples of 4-6 species of barnacles, starfish, urchins, anemones, amphipods, worms, mussels, limpets, snails, solitary tunicates and algae – and there are dozens of species overall.

“This float is an island unlike any transoceanic debris we have ever seen,” said John Chapman, an OSU marine invasive species specialist. “Drifting boats lack such dense fouling communities, and few of these species are already on this coast. Nearly all of the species we’ve looked at were established on the float before the tsunami; few came after it was at sea.”

Chapman said it was “mind-boggling” how these organisms survived their trek across the Pacific Ocean. The low productivity of open-ocean waters should have starved at least some of the organisms, he said.

“It is as if the float drifted over here by hugging the coasts, but that is of course impossible,” Chapman said. “Life on the open ocean, while drifting, may be more gentle for these organisms than we initially suspected. Invertebrates can survive for months without food and the most abundant algae species may not have had the normal compliment of herbivores. Still, it is surprising.”

Jessica Miller, an Oregon State University marine ecologist, said that a brown algae (Undaria pinnatifida), commonly called wakame, was present across most of the dock – and plainly stood out when she examined it in the fading evening light. She said the algae is native to the western Pacific Ocean in Asia, and has invaded several regions including southern California. The species identification was confirmed by OSU phycologist Gayle Hansen.

“To my knowledge it has not been reported north of Monterey, Calif., so this is something we need to watch out for,” Miller said.

Miller said the plan developed by the state through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon State Parks is to scrape the dock and to bag all of the biological material to minimize potential spread of non-native species. But there is no way of telling if any of the organisms that hitchhiked aboard the float from Japan have already disembarked in nearshore waters.

“We have no evidence so far that anything from this float has established on our shores,” said Chapman. “That will take time. However, we are vulnerable. One new introduced species is discovered in Yaquina Bay, only two miles away, every year. We hope that none of these species we are finding on this float will be among the new discoveries in years to come.”

The possibilities are many, according to Miller.

“Among the organisms we found are small shore crabs similar to our Hemigrapsus that look like the same genus, but may be a different species,” Miller said. “There were also one or more species of oysters and small clam chitons, as well as limpets, small snails, numerous mussels, a sea star, and an assortment of worms.”

Invasive marine species are a problem on the West Coast, where they usually are introduced via ballast water from ships. OSU’s Chapman is well aware of the issue; for several years he has studied a parasitic isopod called Griffen’s isopod that has infested mud shrimp in estuaries from California to Vancouver Island, decimating their populations.

In 2010, an aggressive invasive tunicate was found in Winchester Bay and Coos Bay along the southern Oregon coast. Known as Didemnum vexillum, the tunicate is on the state’s most dangerous species list and is both an ecological and economic threat because of its ability to spread and choke out native marine communities, according to OSU’s Sam Chan, who chairs the Oregon Invasive Species Council.

It is difficult to assess how much of a threat the organisms on the newly arrived float may present, the researchers say. As future debris arrives, it may carry additional species, they point out. However, this dock may be unique in that it represents debris that has been submerged in Japan and had a well-developed subtidal community. This may be relatively rare, given the amount of debris that entered the ocean, the researchers say.

“Floating objects from near Sendai can drift around that coast for a while before getting into the Kuroshio current and then getting transported to the eastern Pacific,” Chapman said. The researchers hope to secure funding to go to Japan and sample similar floats and compare the biological life on them with that on the transoceanic dock.

The scientists say the arrival of the dock is also a sobering reminder of the tragedy that occurred last year, which cost thousands of lives.

“We have to remember that this dock, and the organisms that arrived on it, are here as a result of a great human tragedy,” Miller said. “We respect that and have profound sympathy for those who have suffered, and are still suffering.”

Related Links
Hatfield Marine Science Center
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
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A world of storm and tempest

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Cyber Space

Boeing Receives It’s First International Cybersecurity Contract


by Staff Writers
Tokyo, Japan (SPX)

File image.

Boeing reports that Sojitz Corporation, a global trading company headquartered in Tokyo, has entered into an agreement with Boeing’s Information Solutions division for advanced network assessment.

The contract is Boeing’s first international cybersecurity agreement and highlights the company’s commitment to growing its cybersecurity business in Asia.

The value of the contract is not being disclosed.

“Boeing recognizes the significant level of trust placed in us with this award by Sojitz Corporation,” said Bryan Palma, vice president of the Secure Infrastructure Group in Boeing Information Solutions.

“Expanding our longstanding relationship into network security reinforces the priority of cybersecurity in the Japanese market.”

“Sojitz is making major investments to strengthen our network infrastructure and requiring more integrated solutions to manage the security of these assets,” said Ken Kuribayashi, Sojitz Aerospace Department general manager.

“This agreement allows Sojitz to take advantage of Boeing’s extensive cybersecurity expertise by providing the tools and integrated solutions needed to improve our situational awareness and response capabilities.”

Related Links
Boeing Defense, Space and Security
Cyberwar – Internet Security News – Systems and Policy Issues

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Northrop Grumman Awarded Cybersecurity Contract

by Staff Writers
McLean VA (SPX)

File image.

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a cybersecurity contract to develop, integrate and sustain cloud-based information repositories in an integrated product development team environment with the government.

The competitively awarded, multimillion-dollar contract from the Maryland Procurement Office is for one year with four additional option years.

“The win is a major step toward our strategic goal of becoming the leading systems integrator of cloud-based information management systems for cybersecurity,” said Kathy Warden, vice president and general manager for Northrop Grumman’s Cyber Intelligence division. “We are committed to supporting our customers and helping them achieve their mission goals.”

Northrop Grumman has a legacy of strong program performance in large data repository programs with the intelligence community. Further, Northrop Grumman has invested in cloud-based information management performance test beds and works with many leading vendors to characterize and measure product performance.

Northrop Grumman is an industry leader in all aspects of computer network operations and cybersecurity, offering customers innovative solutions to help secure the nation’s cyber future. For more about cybersecurity at Northrop Grumman, go to http://www.northropgrumman.com/cybersecurity.

Related Links
Northrop Grumman
Cyberwar – Internet Security News – Systems and Policy Issues


Survival / Sustainability

How to prevent identity theft in 10 easy steps

by M.D. Creekmore (a.k.a Mr. Prepper) on June 14, 2012

This guest post is by  Cody R and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

Here are some statistics to start: During a recent training class on identity theft I learned that bank robberies in the past year resulted in around $60 million in loses to US banks with the average incident being around $4,300.00. In the same your, bank fraud/identity theft resulted in around $20 billion with the average incident being around $79,000.00!!!

With numbers like that it is easy to assume that almost every adult today has either had their identity stolen or knows someone who has had this wonderful experience. With such heavy dependence on computers and heavy usage of mobile banking, smartphones, Wi-Fi, “Wi-Fi” credit cards and poorly handled personal data, it is easy to see why so many of us fall victim to this. As a police officer in the largest city in Texas, I respond to a very high number of incidents involving identity theft and have received additional training and education in dealing with this type of crime. Here I am going to provide some insight on how to prevent you from falling victim to this with some simple, practical and free advice that will greatly decrease the probability of your identity or that of your family members (and kids) from being stolen.

1. Limit the personal information you carry in your wallet/purse.

I will start by saying that there are VERY few reasons to carry a Social Security Card in your wallet, yet in nearly every robbery and/or burglary of a motor vehicle I have worked where someone’s wallet or purse was stolen, one article always missing is the victim’s Social Security Card (and many times the SSN’s of other family members including young children). Once this information is “out there” it can be nearly impossible to recover it in its entirety. It’s like ripping open a bean bag and then trying to pick up every spec of Styrofoam. This can be especially problematic when this information belongs to a minor, whose credit won’t become an issue until they are much older and begin applying for credit cards, jobs, military, etc.

It is also smart to only carry the credit cards you will be using that day and for each card you have, store the 1-800 number and card number so you can contact the appropriate personnel in the event of a lost or stolen card. Keep all sensitive information (Social Security Cards, credit cards, passports) in a secure place, preferably a fireproof safe or safety deposit box.

Also, check your credit cards to determine if they are “WIFI” enabled. (Pic enclosed) If they are you need to take special care with such cards and there are several options to choose from. You can wrap these cards in foil or purchase a special foil lined sleeve. Another way to disable this feature is to take a screwdriver and hammer and smash the Wi-Fi chip or simply take your card to your bank and ask to trade out your current Wi-Fi card for a more vintage (Wi-Fi-less) model.

There are many cases of credit card information being stolen via electronic pick pocketing at crowded locations like airports where a person passes in close proximity to another carry a briefcase with an electronic scanner and is able to obtain your credit card information just as if you were scanning it for a purchase transaction. (Check out this news story)

2. Never shop online with a credit card that is attached to your primary bank account.

If you must purchase products online (as I do frequently), use a prepaid credit card or open a separate account that has limited funds available to meet the demands of the purchase and no more.

Also, do not check bank accounts or make purchase on unsecure /free Wi-Fi, work computers or smartphones. We would like to think we can trust family members, friends and co-workers (especially other officers!), however, many thefts, including identity thefts are perpetrated by those closest to us. (look up the word purloin!)

3. Never provide anyone with social security information over the phone as there are plenty of other ways to prove your identity. (No financial institution will EVER call you and ask you to prove your identity.)

Read Full Article Here

Knife Sharpening : Knife Sharpening: Common Mistakes

Uploaded by on Oct 1, 2008

Some people make the mistake of beginning with a stone that is not coarse enough. Learn how to avoid common knife sharpening mistakes in this free tools video.

Expert: Thomas Stuckey
Bio: Thomas Stuckey of Knife Sharpest has been sharpening knives for 20 years. He also designs and crafts custom knives and is a professional knife and tomahawk thrower.
Filmmaker: Mark Bullard

500 showers heated from one small compost pile how to tutorial

Uploaded by on Dec 20, 2009

Brian Kerkvliet from Inspiration Farm tells us about his little compost pile that provided 500 hot showers. Compost heat can, indeed, be captured to heat water. After the hot showers, you have a lovely pile of compost! The moisture from the shower feeds mushrooms! Hot water, compost and mushrooms. Permaculture!


Articles of Interest

Australia to create world’s largest marine reserves

by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP)

Australia on Thursday announced it will create the world’s largest network of marine sanctuaries, with limits placed on fishing, oil and gas exploration off the coast.

The new reserves cover 3.1 million square kilometres, or more than one-third of Australian waters, taking in significant marine breeding and feeding grounds.

The announcement, after years of planning and consultation, came ahead of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development next week in Brazil, which Environment Minister Tony Burke and Prime Minister Julia Gillard will attend.

“It’s time for the world to turn a corner on protection of our oceans,” Burke said. “And Australia today is leading that next step.

“This new network of marine reserves will help ensure that Australia’s diverse marine environment, and the life it supports, remain healthy, productive and resilient for future generations.”

The network will increase the number of marine reserves from 27 to 60, expanding protection of creatures such as the blue whale, green turtle, critically endangered populations of grey nurse sharks, and dugongs.

Related Links
Water News – Science, Technology and Politics

Must See: Time-lapse Video Shot Over 6 Years Across 24 Countries

It has taken six years of traveling to all seven continents to pull together the footage featured in this amazing short film by Sean White, an award-winning photographer and film-maker with credits with the likes of National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, History Television, PBS, Sports Illustrated, and more.

White writes, “Terra Sacra Time Lapses is a short film featuring remote landscapes and ancient monuments from around the globe. These images were photographed during my assignments and personal travels between 2006-2012. I’ve combined my favourite shots from these trips into non-narrative film that touches on a theme close to my heart: Sacred Earth.”

According to Matador Network, White wants to create a feature-length version of this film: “I would love to revisit many of the locations in this film and other powerful sacred sites around the world to create a feature-length “Terra Sacra”. The film would combine real-time, slow-motion, and motion control time lapse imagery – all in stereoscopic 3D. If you are an angel investor, potential sponsor, broadcaster, distributor or someone deeply passionate who would would like to get involved, please don’t hesitate to contact me.”

We highly hope that if you’re one of the folks listed above, you please please contact him. We would love a feature-length Terra Sacra!!

[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]