Fishing rules announced
Authorities announced plans on Friday to restrict fishing in some regions to try to save the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin from extinction. Experts estimate there are only 55 Maui’s dolphins remaining. Unique to the South Pacific nation, the dolphins have short snouts and rounded fins. Conservation Minister Nick Smith said he wants to extend areas around the Taranaki region where commercial fishing nets are banned. He plans to make a final ruling next month following a period of public consultation. About five dolphins have become ensnared and died in fishing nets since 2000. The proposed changes will likely leave a handful of Taranaki fishermen out of work. Chris Howe, executive director of the New Zealand branch of the conservation group WWF, said in a statement that the proposed new measures are a step in the right direction, but do not go far enough to ensure the species’ survival.
Donkey thieves on the loose
In the middle of the night, police cars were in hot pursuit of thieves on a dusty road, finally catching them and recovering the goods. However, it was not gold or jewelry the gang had stolen, it was eight donkeys. The animals were being rustled from Maharashtra state and sold in neighboring Andhra Pradesh, where some communities believe eating donkey meat can increase strength and virility. Demand for donkeys can not be met in Andhra Pradesh itself as their numbers have been falling as farmers replace them with machines. The gang was selling each donkey for 10,000 rupees (US$152), said R.R. Sayad, an assistant police inspector. The thieves had modified a pick-up truck with stalls so they could nab up to 10 donkeys at a time and had made several trips in the last few months, Sayad said. Police suspect there might be more donkey rustlers on the prowl.
Elephant poisoners arrested
Police say they arrested six men accused of killing 41 elephants with cyanide. State media reported on Friday that police official Muyambirwa Muzzah said rangers followed the tracks in the southwestern Hwange National Park that led to several elephant carcasses. Muzzah said a cache of tusks, worth US$120,000 on the illegal ivory market, and other remains were found near water holes that had been laced with cyanide. He said the six were arrested when they returned to collect the ivory and they are suspected of operating from the western city of Bulawayo. The police official said hundreds of wild animals feeding on the dead elephants could also die from poisoning.
Oil killing whales denied
Environmental officials have denied a link between offshore oil production and four dead whales that have washed ashore in recent days. The country’s Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday that the nation’s oil companies have met all requirements regarding drilling offshore. Activists have expressed alarm after the dead whales have been spotted on beaches near the capital and in the country’s Western Region. The environmental agency maintains that whales also have washed ashore in Asia, the Americas and New Zealand, adding: “the phenomenon is global.” Oil was discovered in 2007 and the country began producing it in December 2010. However, a deep divide still exists between those benefiting from the country’s wealth and those left behind financially.