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Four Tanzanians facing trial for the murder of a British conservationist whose helicopter was shot down have been jailed for 20 years for possessing firearms, lawyers said Friday. Roger Gower, 37, died when suspected poachers gunned down his helicopter during a patrol of the Maswa Game Reserve in northern Tanzania, close to the world famous Serengeti National Park, on January 29. Photographs of the crashed helicopter show twisted metal, apparent bullet holes in the fuselage and smears of blood on the pilot's seat.
The animals are widely known as some of the most intelligent mammals on Earth, and the new findings strengthen a hypothesis proposed by Charles Darwin: that elephants are "tool users" because they can use their trunks to manipulate their breath and help grasp hard-to-reach food. The researchers saw that when pieces of food were too far away for the elephants to grab with their trunks, the animals would blast air to bring the treats closer. To test their theory, researchers at Kyoto University and The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI), both in Japan, mapped out a digital grid of the elephants' enclosure and placed pieces of food — such as apples, hay, leaves, potatoes and bamboo — in different locations.
Wild leopard cats may have been domesticated by farmers in China more than 5,000 years ago, according to a new study of feline fossils. Today's pet cats (Felis catus) descend from the wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) native to the Middle East and Southwest Asia. But recent discoveries of cat fossils in China have muddled that narrative.
By Sarah Young LONDON (Reuters) - A sixth sperm whale has died on a British beach, the latest of nearly 30 to have become stranded in shallow waters on the coastline of Europe's North Sea over the past month. As marine pathologists cut samples from the whale's carcass on the windswept expanse of sand at low tide, scientists said it was too early to know exactly why so many whales had taken a wrong turn into the North Sea. Since mid-January, 29 sperm whales have died on beaches in the Netherlands, France, Germany and Britain.
Two giant pandas at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo have been given some private time in a bid to create a romantic environment in which the bashful creatures can mate. Public viewing was halted on Thursday in the hope that male Ri Ri -- who zookeepers confirmed has looked friskier in recent days -- will take advantage of the fleeting window that female Shin Shin is in heat. "There's really only a couple of days a year when a panda can get pregnant," a spokesman from Ueno Zoo's education department told AFP.
An animal rights group has released a list of the world’s cruelest animal tourist attractions that includes riding elephants and taking selfies with tigers. Following the death of a Scottish tourist who was trampled and gored to death while riding an elephant in Thailand this week, the World Animal Protection group released a study identifying the top 10 cruelest wildlife entertainment activities. According to the group, three out of four wildlife tourist attractions involve some form of animal abuse or conservation concerns, and up to 550,000 wild animals live in suffering in these venues.
A Sri Lankan-born man received an 18-month suspended sentence in Germany Tuesday for membership of the rebel group the Tamil Tigers which Germany considers a terrorist organisation. The 53-year-old German national, identified only as Yogendran G. by the court in the northern city of Hamburg, was convicted of having raised funds in Germany from 2007-2009 for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE committed a string of attacks against civilian targets and national infrastructure during Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war that killed more than 100,000 people and ended in 2009 when government forces crushed the rebels.
Tension flared in the deeply divided town of Burns, Oregon, on Monday as 500 demonstrators on both sides of an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge squared off, brandishing signs and yelling at each other days after one of the occupiers was shot dead by state police. Residents angered by the four-week presence of the armed occupiers and their supporters started crowding the streets in front of the Harney County Courthouse in late morning, seeking to serve as a counter-protest to a noon (2000 GMT) demonstration called at the courthouse by supporters of the occupation. Shortly before noon, the mostly residential streets around the courthouse in this community of less than 3,000 had swelled with protesters - about 300 opposed to the occupiers and 200, some of them from out of town, in favor.
A US flooring retailer that used timber harvested in the habitat of Siberian tigers and other endangered species was sentenced Monday to pay a record criminal fine over illegal trafficking. Lumber Liquidators was sentenced to pay $13.2 million dollars in a federal court in Virginia, the US Justice Department said in a statement. The department noted it was the largest financial penalty for timber trafficking under the Lacey Act, a law that bans trafficking in illegal wildlife and plant products.
Eight dead sperm whales have washed up on a German beach, just weeks after 12 of the giant mammals were found dead at other sites on the North Sea, officials said Monday. The eight whales found near the northern town of Friedrichskoog were young bulls, around the same age as the animals discovered three weeks ago at various North Sea spots. Since the 1990s, a total of 82 sperm wales have been found stranded in the Wadden Sea in Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany.
Tanzanian authorities have launched a manhunt after poachers shot down a helicopter and its British pilot during an operation to track down elephant killers, officials said on Sunday. British pilot Roger Gower was tracking poachers on Friday in the Maswa Game Reserve when his helicopter was hit by an AK-47 rifle fired from the ground, Tanzania's tourism and natural resources minister, Jumanne Maghembe, said. The mission had been a collaboration between the Friedkin Conservation Fund and the Tanzanian government, which has struggled to respond to what conservation groups say has been an explosion of "industrial-scale" poaching in recent years. "The government has launched a manhunt to find those responsible for this attack," Maghembe told reporters.
At the entrance to the sprawling Ivindo national park in central Gabon, wildlife guards in paramilitary uniform scour a fisherman's dug-out canoe, going through his bags of worn clothes and bait. Gabon, which along with Democratic Republic of Congo now has Africa's biggest forest elephant populations, is deploying scores of "eco-guards", as they are called, to ward off poachers honing in on a prime continental target. The wild territory in the heart of central Africa's tropical forest basin on the border with Cameroon and the Congo has seen a massive jump in ivory smuggling in recent years.
By Emma Farge DAKAR (Reuters) - Mali's elephants, one of just two remaining desert herds in the world, will be gone in three years unless the government does more to protect them, a conservation group said on Thursday. Poachers have taken advantage of the chaos from a growing Islamist insurgency and other unrest in the lawless north to step up ivory trafficking - a trade that the United Nations says funds militants. Sixteen elephants have been killed so far this month, adding to more than 80 slaughtered in 2015, said Susan Canney, director of Mali Elephant Project for the WILD Foundation.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a story Jan. 27 about artist Rafael Mantesso and his dog Jimmy Choo, The Associated Press reported erroneously that their apartment was in New York. The apartment is in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, not New York. Also Instagram account first used was @rafaelmantesso, not #jimmythebull.
The photo of a famous Spanish bullfighter training in the ring while holding his baby daughter created a stir on Tuesday, sparking an official complaint by a child protection agency. The picture sparked an immediate uproar in a country increasingly torn between animal rights activists and those who want to abolish Spain's legendary bullfights, and others who want to keep an age-old tradition going.
By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday said government officials may shoot down migratory birds flying near New York City airports to protect aircraft, rejecting claims by an animal rights group that such killings are excessive. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a federal permit issued to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that allowed bird shootings in emergency situations. The group Friends of Animals challenged a June 2014 permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that empowered the Port Authority to stop any "direct threat to human safety" posed by migratory birds.