World News Roundup: March 18, 2017
This week’s news highlights some unlikely heroes, including a Kenyan pea farmer who drives hours each day to quench the thirst of wild animals and skydiving dogs doing their part to thwart poachers in Africa. Also included: new cases of avian flu, dog bites in Japan, and dogs interviewing prospective candidates at an Edinburgh University.
“In a land as parched as Kenya's Tsavo West National Park, no visitor arrives with more fanfare than the water man. That would be Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua. And when he rumbles down the dusty road bearing some 3000 gallons of fresh water, the elephants, buffalo, antelope, and zebras come running. They've come to know the water man by the rumble of his engine and his lifesaving cargo.”
“Three Labradors joined Edinburgh Napier University academics interviewing hopefuls vying for a place on a popular veterinary nursing course. Staff said Simba, Tia, and puppy Fern helped create a ‘tension-free’ atmosphere in the recruitment room.” Including dogs in the process also allows for a dog’s eye view of the candidates’ ability to communicate with animals.
It’s Tick Time (CBC News)
It may still be cold and snowy in many parts of North America, but Canadian veterinarians “want you to think about ticks, and think about them now. March is tick awareness month for the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, because ticks don't wait for winter to disappear.” In fact, ticks can be active in temperatures as low as 4°C (39°F).
According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) has been reported in the Spanish province of Castilla y Leon. The good news? “A spokesman at Spain's agriculture ministry said the case it detected would not lead to any restrictions on trade or affect consumers.”
Trying to flee the worsening drought that is plaguing his country, Ahmed Haji “trekked thousands of kilometers with a herd that once numbered 1200. But hundreds perished during the arduous trip to Puntland, in northern Somalia, in search of greener pasture.” With more than half the population engaged in the livestock industry, the drought threatens their main sources of nutrition and survival.
Endangered Big Cats Get New National Park in China (ZME Science)
“In China, many animal body parts (especially tiger body parts) are considered to have healing properties,” which has led to significant poaching. “In a massive win for big cats, Chinese officials have approved plans to establish a massive national park in the northeastern corner of the country. Most notably, this will be a sanctuary for two felines close to extinction: the Amur leopard and the Siberian tiger.”
Dog Bites a Serious Problem in Japan (Japan Today)
The death of a 10-month-old baby following a bite from the family golden retriever earlier this month has led to much speculation and controversy among Japanese citizens. “According to the Animal Welfare and Management Office of the Ministry of the Environment, 4208 incidents involving serious dog bites were reported throughout Japan in 2015, of which two involved deaths of people who were neither the owners or the owners’ family member.”
“A national council responsible for monitoring animal welfare in research laboratories is investigating hidden camera footage … that appears to show mistreatment of dogs, pigs, and monkeys used for testing at a Montreal-based facility. Filmed by an undercover lab technician working for the animal rights group Last Chance for Animals, “the video shows dogs aggressively thrown into cages, pigs restrained as they squeal, and technicians slamming animals onto stainless steel operating tables.”
Skydiving Dogs Thwart Poachers (CBS Evening News)
With a third of Africa’s elephants killed in the past 7 years, the Paramount K9 anti-poaching group has enlisted the help of elite skydiving dogs to sniff out poachers. “In one region, they caught more than 100 poachers in 18 months.” Says one handler, “That is the most effective tool against poaching ever used and it’s low technology, it’s low cost compared to other technologies, and it works.”
“Animal rights groups have slammed Norway for slaughtering pregnant whales, calling it ‘even more unacceptable’ as they carry the next generation of the mammals. The criticism follows a new documentary featuring the murder of female whales carrying a fetus. The documentary film, dubbed The Battle of Agony, about the killing of pregnant whales, was released on … a public television network, earlier in March.”
Avian Flu in Malaysia and Poland (University of Minnesota)
Earlier this month, Malaysia “reported its first highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza outbreak since 2007,” and “Poland … reported one more highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreak,” according to reports from the World Organisation for Animal Health.