The Earth Organization is an international, independent, non-profit group which seeks to reverse the dwindling spiral of the plant and animal kingdoms and our environment through education and action.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

New Earth Organization Namibia Website and Logo

It's with great pleasure that we wish to announce the launching of the new Earth Organization Namibia website as well as the new logo which honours the founder of our Organization, Lawrence Anthony who passed away earlier this year.  Our website is now at https://sites.google.com/site/earthorganizationnamibia/ The link to this blog remains active and you can find the direct link to the blog on the website under "News Blog."

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Petunia Investments Uranium Exploration

There is another application for Uranium Exploration in a National Park in Namibia.  Please see below for the details and please distribute as you wish. 

Petunia Investments Three (Pty) Ltd wishes to apply for Environmental Clearance from the Environmental Commissioner in terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations (Government Notice 30, Government Gazette 4878 of 6 February 2012), Environmental Management Act 7 of 2007 for limited exploration activities (drilling and possibly trenching for nuclear fuel minerals) to be undertaken in the EPL 3780 area.

LM Environmental Consulting has invited all Interested and/or Affected Parties (I&APs) to attend a Public Scoping Meeting to be held on Tuesday 22 May 2012 at 18h00 at the Atlantic Hotel Conference Room, Walvis Bay.

For more information and/or to register as an Interested and Affected Party, please contact:
Lima Maartens
Tel: +264 61 255 750
Mobile: +264 81 245 8790
Fax: 088 61 9004
Email: lima@iway.na or

Please be sure to make your concerns heard!  Thanks for all of your time and efforts!

Poaching of Game A Major Concern Along Namibia's Coastal Regions

Over the last year, there have been ongoing reports of increased poaching activity in the Brandberg West area towards the Ugab River and in the areas around the Sori Sorris and Tsiseb Conservancies.  Springbok and Kudu are facing serious threats as illegal game hunting is increasing.  In the past week, it was reported that between 20-40 Kudu Calves (still suckling) have been left without mothers and will eventually die.  Some of the illegal game meat is being sold in local butcheries and grocery stores at the Namibian Coast, often without the knowledge of these establishments.  Please be responsible and opt out of eating or purchasing game meat unless you know where it comes from and whether the animal was legally killed.  If you have any knowledge about potential culprits or see any suspicious activity, please report this to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism's Victor Katanga at +264 81 293 1602

Monday, 7 May 2012

"Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides For 80 Years"

"No, this isn't a make-believe place. It's real.

They call it "Ball's Pyramid." It's what's left of an old volcano that emerged from the sea about 7 million years ago. A British naval officer named Ball was the first European to see it in 1788. It sits off Australia, in the South Pacific. It is extremely narrow, 1,844 feet high, and it sits alone.

What's more, for years this place had a secret. At 225 feet above sea level, hanging on the rock surface, there is a small, spindly little bush, and under that bush, a few years ago, two climbers, working in the dark, found something totally improbable hiding in the soil below. How it got there, we still don't know.

Here's the story: About 13 miles from this spindle of rock, there's a bigger island, called Lord Howe Island.

On Lord Howe, there used to be an insect, famous for being big. It's a stick insect, a critter that masquerades as a piece of wood, and the Lord Howe Island version was so large — as big as a human hand — that the Europeans labeled it a "tree lobster" because of its size and hard, lobsterlike exoskeleton. It was 12 centimeters long and the heaviest flightless stick insect in the world. Local fishermen used to put them on fishing hooks and use them as bait.

Then one day in 1918, a supply ship, the S.S. Makambo from Britain, ran aground at Lord Howe Island and had to be evacuated. One passenger drowned. The rest were put ashore. It took nine days to repair the Makambo, and during that time, some black rats managed to get from the ship to the island, where they instantly discovered a delicious new rat food: giant stick insects. Two years later, the rats were everywhere and the tree lobsters were gone.

Totally gone. After 1920, there wasn't a single sighting. By 1960, the Lord Howe stick insect, Dryococelus australis, was presumed extinct.

There was a rumor, though.

Some climbers scaling Ball's Pyramid in the 1960s said they'd seen a few stick insect corpses lying on the rocks that looked "recently dead." But the species is nocturnal, and nobody wanted to scale the spire hunting for bugs in the dark.

Climbing The Pyramid
Fast forward to 2001, when two Australian scientists, David Priddel and Nicholas Carlile, with two assistants, decided to take a closer look. From the water, they'd seen a few patches of vegetation that just might support walking sticks. So, they boated over. ("Swimming would have been much easier," Carlile said, "but there are too many sharks.") They crawled up the vertical rock face to about 500 feet, where they found a few crickets, nothing special. But on their way down, on a precarious, unstable rock surface, they saw a single melaleuca bush peeping out of a crack and, underneath, what looked like fresh droppings of some large insect.

Where, they wondered, did that poop come from?

The only thing to do was to go back up after dark, with flashlights and cameras, to see if the pooper would be out taking a nighttime walk. Nick Carlile and a local ranger, Dean Hiscox, agreed to make the climb. And with flashlights, they scaled the wall till they reached the plant, and there, spread out on the bushy surface, were two enormous, shiny, black-looking bodies. And below those two, slithering into the muck, were more, and more ... 24 in all. All gathered near this one plant.

They were alive and, to Nick Carlile's eye, enormous. Looking at them, he said, "It felt like stepping back into the Jurassic age, when insects ruled the world."

They were Dryococelus australis. A search the next morning, and two years later, concluded these are the only ones on Ball's Pyramid, the last ones. They live there, and, as best we know, nowhere else.
How they got there is a mystery. Maybe they hitchhiked on birds, or traveled with fishermen, and how they survived for so long on just a single patch of plants, nobody knows either. The important thing, the scientists thought, was to get a few of these insects protected and into a breeding program.

That wasn't so easy. The Australian government didn't know if the animals on Ball's Pyramid could or should be moved. There were meetings, studies, two years passed, and finally officials agreed to allow four animals to be retrieved. Just four.

When the team went back to collect them, it turned out there had been a rock slide on the mountain, and at first they feared that the whole population had been wiped out. But when they got back up to the site, on Valentine's Day 2003, the animals were still there, sitting on and around their bush.

The plan was to take one pair and give it a man who was very familiar with mainland walking stick insects, a private breeder living in Sydney. He got his pair, but within two weeks, they died.

Adam And Eve And Patrick
That left the other two. They were named "Adam" and "Eve," taken to the Melbourne Zoo and placed with Patrick Honan, of the zoo's invertebrate conservation breeding group. At first, everything went well. Eve began laying little pea-shaped eggs, exactly as hoped. But then she got sick. According to biologist Jane Goodall, writing for Discover Magazine:
"Eve became very, very sick. Patrick ... worked every night for a month desperately trying to cure her. ... Eventually, based on gut instinct, Patrick concocted a mixture that included calcium and nectar and fed it to his patient, drop by drop, as she lay curled up in his hand."
Her recovery was almost instant. Patrick told the Australian Broadcasting Company, "She went from being on her back curled up in my hand, almost as good as dead, to being up and walking around within a couple of hours."

Eve's eggs were harvested, incubated (though it turns out only the first 30 were fertile) and became the foundation of the zoo's new population of walking sticks.

When Jane Goodall visited in 2008, Patrick showed her rows and rows of incubating eggs: 11,376 at that time, with about 700 adults in the captive population. Lord Howe Island walking sticks seem to pair off — an unusual insect behavior — and Goodall says Patrick "showed me photos of how they sleep at night, in pairs, the male with three of his legs protectively over the female beside him."

Now comes the question that bedevils all such conservation rescue stories. Once a rare animal is safe at the zoo, when can we release it back to the wild?

On Lord Howe Island, their former habitat, the great-great-great-grandkids of those original black rats are still out and about, presumably hungry and still a problem. Step one, therefore, would be to mount an intensive (and expensive) rat annihilation program. Residents would, no doubt, be happy to go rat-free, but not every Lord Howe islander wants to make the neighborhood safe for gigantic, hard-shell crawling insects. So the Melbourne Museum is mulling over a public relations campaign to make these insects more ... well, adorable, or noble, or whatever it takes.

They recently made a video, with strumming guitars, featuring a brand new baby emerging from its egg. The newborn is emerald green, squirmy and so long, it just keeps coming and coming from an impossibly small container. Will this soften the hearts of Lord Howe islanders? I dunno. It's so ... so ... big.

What happens next? The story is simple: A bunch of black rats almost wiped out a bunch of gigantic bugs on a little island far, far away from most of us. A few dedicated scientists, passionate about biological diversity, risked their lives to keep the bugs going. For the bugs to get their homes and their future back doesn't depend on scientists anymore. They've done their job. Now it's up to the folks on Lord Howe Island.

Will ordinary Janes and Joes, going about their days, agree to spend a little extra effort and money to preserve an animal that isn't what most of us would call beautiful? Its main attraction is that it has lived on the planet for a long time, and we have the power to keep it around. I don't know if it will work, but in the end, that's the walking stick's best argument:

I'm still here. Don't let me go."



"That’s Not a Crumb, It’s a Tiny Chameleon"


"Four new species of chameleons, each just tens of millimeters in length, have been discovered on the island of Madagascar. They are among the smallest reptiles in the world. 

“On islands you find extremes,” said Frank Glaw, a reptile specialist at the Zoological State Collection of Munich, who reported the discovery. “You find very big species and very small species.” 

One new chameleon was found on Nosy Hara, an islet off the coast of Madagascar. Named Brookesia micra, it is the smallest of the four species. Juveniles are small enough to stand on the head of a match. 

All the chameleons are brown and generate a white stripe across their back when they are stressed. But though the lizards look very similar, genetic studies revealed that they are rather distinct. “They separated millions of years ago,” Dr. Glaw said. 

At one time, islands like Madagascar also had giant animals, Dr. Glaw said. 

“They went extinct after humans arrived, but the small animals survived,” he said. “Big species are vulnerable because they need big habitats and they are hunted by humans.” Small species require relatively few resources and very little space. 

Today, Dr. Glaw said, even small animals like the miniature chameleons face habitat destruction. But the chameleons do have the advantage of seeking out spots that humans might avoid. 

“They live small pockets of leaf litter in between limestone blocks,” Dr. Glaw said. “So maybe this is some kind protection for them.” 

He and his colleagues reported their findings in the current issue of the journal PloS One." 

"Thousands march as Japan shuts off nuclear power"


Associated Press - Sat, 5th May 2012 03:31 PM


"TOKYO (AP) — Thousands of Japanese marched to celebrate the switching off of the last of their nation's 50 nuclear reactors Saturday, waving banners shaped as giant fish that have become a potent anti-nuclear symbol.


Japan was without electricity from nuclear power for the first time in four decades when the reactor at Tomari nuclear plant on the northern island of Hokkaido went offline for mandatory routine maintenance.


After last year's March 11 quake and tsunami set off meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, no reactor halted for checkups has been restarted amid public worries about the safety of nuclear technology.


"Today is a historic day," Masashi Ishikawa shouted to a crowd gathered at a Tokyo park, some holding traditional "koinobori" carp-shaped banners for Children's Day that have become a symbol of the anti-nuclear movement.


"There are so many nuclear plants, but not a single one will be up and running today, and that's because of our efforts," Ishikawa said.


The activists said it is fitting that the day Japan stopped nuclear power coincides with Children's Day because of their concerns about protecting children from radiation, which Fukushima Dai-ichi is still spewing into the air and water.


The government has been eager to restart nuclear reactors, warning about blackouts and rising carbon emissions as Japan is forced to turn to oil and gas for energy.


Japan now requires reactors to pass new tests to withstand quakes and tsunami and to gain local residents' approval before restarting.


The response from people living near nuclear plants has been mixed, with some wanting them back in operation because of jobs, subsidies and other benefits to the local economy.


The mayor of Tomari city, Hiroomi Makino, is among those who support nuclear power.


"There may be various ways of thinking but it's extremely regrettable," he said of the shutdown.


Major protests, like the one Saturday, have been generally limited to urban areas like Tokyo, which had received electricity from faraway nuclear plants, including Fukushima Dai-ichi.


Before the nuclear crisis, Japan relied on nuclear power for a third of its electricity.


The crowd at the anti-nuclear rally, estimated at 5,500 by organizers, shrugged off government warnings about a power shortage. If anything, they said, with the reactors going offline one by one, it was clear the nation didn't really need nuclear power.


Whether Japan will suffer a sharp power crunch is still unclear.


Electricity shortages are expected only at peak periods, such as the middle of the day in hot weather, and critics of nuclear power say proponents are exaggerating the consequences to win public approval to restart reactors.


Hokkaido Electric Power Co. spokesman Hisatoshi Kibayashi said the shutdown was completed late Saturday.


The Hokkaido Tomari plant has three reactors, but the other two had been halted earlier. Before March 11 last year, the nation had 54 nuclear reactors, but four of the six reactors at Fukushima Dai-ichi are being decommissioned because of the disaster.


Yoko Kataoka, a retired baker who was dancing to the music at the rally waving a small paper carp, said she was happy the reactor was being turned off.


"Let's leave an Earth where our children and grandchildren can all play without worries," she said, wearing a shirt that had, "No thank you, nukes," handwritten on the back."