Koalas under threat
Koalas are threatened by global warming because higher temperatures and increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could cripple their food supply, new research showed yesterday. Koalas live only on eucalyptus leaves. They face the prospect of falling nutrient levels in eucalyptus leaves, new research led by Ian Hume at Sydney University shows. The study found increased carbon dioxide in the air increases the level of anti-nutrients, toxins and other unhelpful ingredients in eucalyptus leaves. Hume said any significant further rise in carbon dioxide concentrations would strip enough of the nutrients from the leaves to force the animal out of its habitat and towards an uncertain future. He said it was unlikely there would be enough time for koalas to adapt their diet.
Palm oil hurts orangutans
One of the biggest populations of wild orangutans on Borneo will be extinct in three years without drastic measures to stop the expansion of palm oil plantations, conservationists said yesterday. More than 30,000 wild orangutans live in the forests of Central Kalimantan province, or more than half the entire orangutan population on Borneo. Experts believe the overall extinction rate of Borneo orangutans is 9 percent per year, but in Central Kalimantan they are disappearing even faster due to unchecked expansion of palm oil plantations. “The expansion of palm oil plantations is wiping out entire habitats and unless the government takes drastic measures to protect these orangutan sanctuaries there is no way to reverse the trend,” Center for Orangutan Protection director Hardi Bhaktiantoro told a press conference.
Soldier arrested for killing
A fourth former Khmer Rouge soldier has been arrested and charged for his role in the 1996 kidnapping and killing of British mine clearer Christopher Howes, a court official said yesterday. Sin Dorn was charged on Tuesday with premeditated murder over the deaths of Howes and his translator. Authorities arrested Sin Dorn on Friday in the remote northern outpost of Anlong Veng, the Khmer Rouge’s final stronghold, he said. “He has been placed in jail” pending trial, Ke Sakhan said. In November, three other former communist rebels were arrested on the same charges over the deaths of the two men.
■ NEW ZEALAND
Mother’s Day sparks row
A row broke out yesterday over how best to mark Mother’s Day on Sunday — call her on the telephone or send a card? Cameron Brewer, who heads a retail business group in Auckland’s main shopping area, accused the New Zealand Post of “emotional blackmail” in sponsoring radio ads that say sending a card shows that one cares while making a phone call only indicates one has remembered the day. “We are one of the most commercial organizations in the country, yet we would never humiliate people who make the effort to telephone their mother on Mother’s Day,” he said. “The advertising is very poor taste, particularly given NZ Post is a state-owned enterprise owned by Mum and Dad taxpayers.” He said Mother’s Day was one of the biggest events in the retail calendar. “However, it’s very important that we don’t try to emotionally blackmail people who chose to mark the occasion by telephoning, e-mailing, or visiting their mothers. After all it is the thought that counts, and for many mothers including my own, a phone call may be all that they want.”