About Whale of a Time

Whale of a Time is riding the wave of change, promoting successful stewardship of our planet to create a peaceful, morally just, humane and sustainable culture, while ensuring survival of all species and their natural habitats. Whale of a Time organises creative and fun, inspiring and empowering events on environmental issues to encourage active participation living a sustainable lifestyle inspired by a positive attitude. We engage young and old from all walks of life through the Whale of a Time Community, the Whale of a Time Festival and the Whale of a Time Workshop. Our work has been recognised by many national and community and environmental awards schemes.

Whale of a Time Tweats

Thursday, 22 September 2011

World Rhino Day, September 22nd

On World Rhino Day, we’re working to call attention to the plight facing the world’s rhinos. Rhinos in Africa and Asia are facing a battle for survival, with the situation in Africa particularly dire. This year, more than 285 rhinos have been lost to poaching in South Africa alone – experts predict that more than 475 animals will be killed by the end of the year. No more than 27,000 rhinos are left on Earth.

For centuries in Asia, rhino horn has been used to treat fevers and other infections, although studieshave shown that it has no real medicinal value and many traditional Asian medicine practitioners have come out against its use. International trade in rhino horns was banned in 1977 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) after a massive groundswell of poaching threatened to annihilate rhino populations. The demand for horn has peaked again in the past few years after false claims about its cancer-curing ability emerged from Vietnam. Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same protein found in human fingernails and hair.

With black market rhino horn value surpassing that of diamonds and cocaine, rhino poaching is a high-stakes, organized endeavor undertaken by a range of shady characters, from government officials and foreign diplomats to gangs of violent criminals. In addition to China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan, a new market in Vietnam, sparked by the cancer-cure rumors, has emerged with a vengeance. In addition to killing wild rhinos on the hoof, rhino horns are even being stolen from museums. According to Europol, there have been at least 40 thefts or attempted thefts from European museums since January.

Although more than 90% of the world’s rhinos have been decimated by poaching over the last 40 years, black, white, and Indian rhino populations have been increasing over the past decade. After so much effort and funding has been ploughed into rhino protection in Africa, we cannot lose the momentum. We look to each country’s national authorities to hold up their side of our shared commitment to conserve rhinos.

In South Africa, two Vietnamese were recently sentenced to maximum jail terms after they were arrested with 20 rhino horns that had been illegally acquired from legal hunts. In Zimbabwe as well, poaching convictions are more often leading to maximum sentences now. If strict sentences continue to be imposed, there may finally be a chance that the poachers will back away from their all-out assault on rhinos.

African rhino species are not the only ones in trouble. In Indonesia, the Javan rhino is down to no more than 44 animals in one population. Work is underway to lay the foundation for establishing a second population. Ironically, the last Javan rhino is thought to have been poached from Vietnam this year. Sumatran rhinos, which now live only on the island of Sumatra and in the state of Sabah, Malaysia, have had their population cut in half over the past few decades; the species is now down to no more than 200 individuals.

It’s not all gloom and doom though. We know how to bring these species numbers back up. But we have to get poaching and other human-induced losses under control. Along with all of our partners, we hope to call attention to the good, the bad and the hopeful news through World Rhino Day this Thursday. Please help us.

What can you do to celebrate World Rhino Day?

Help educate others about the rhino poaching crisis – forward this email to your friends and co-workers. (You can also visit our website to find more materials to educate yourself and others.)
Make a donation to support anti-poaching efforts.
Check out these ideas for raising awareness and funding for rhino conservation.
Learn about ways to reduce your own impact.
Make posters, buttons, or other materials to display in your home, workplace or school on World Rhino Day. (Visit the World Rhino Day facebook page and Saving Rhinos' website for ideas and downloads.)
And, finally, let us know how you’re celebrating! Please share your photos, ideas and comments on IRF’s facebook page.

Watch this video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvYpn84dL14&feature=player_embedded

How can you help the rhino?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

How Far Will Dolphins Go to Relate to Humans?

The Wild Dolphin Project: For 25 years, Denise Herzing has returned to the same place in the Bahamas to study a group of wild dolphins. Next year, she will pioneer a project to communicate with them.

OFF THE BAHAMAS — In a remote patch of turquoise sea, Denise L. Herzing splashes into the water with a pod of 15 Atlantic spotted dolphins. For the next 45 minutes, she engages the curious creatures in a game of keep-away, using a piece of Sargassum seaweed like a dog’s chew toy.

Dr. Herzing is no tourist cavorting with marine mammals. As the world’s leading authority on the species, she has been studying the dolphins for 25 years as part of the Wild Dolphin Project, the longest-running underwater study of its kind.

“I’m kind of an old-school naturalist,” she said. “I really believe in immersing yourself in the environment of the animal.”

Immerse herself she has. Based in Jupiter, Fla., she has tracked three generations of dolphins in this area. She knows every animal by name, along with individual personalities and life histories. She has captured much of their lives on video, which she is using to build a growing database.

And next year Dr. Herzing plans to begin a new phase of her research, something she says has been a lifetime goal: real-time two-way communication, in which dolphins take the initiative to interact with humans.

Up to now, dolphins have shown themselves to be adept at responding to human prompts, with food as a reward for performing a task. “It’s rare that we ask dolphins to seek something from us,” Dr. Herzing said.

But if she is right, the dolphins will seek to communicate with humans, and the reward will be social interaction itself, with dolphins and humans perhaps developing a crude vocabulary for objects and actions.

Other scientists are excited by the project. “ ‘Mind-blowing’ doesn’t do justice to the possibilities out there,” said Adam Pack, a cetacean researcher at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and an occasional collaborator with Dr. Herzing. “You’ve got crystal-clear warm water, no land in sight and an interest by this community of dolphins of engaging with humans.”

How far will dolphins go to engage?

Read more

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Cove: Help Save Japan's Dolphins

Target: President Obama, Vice President Biden and Japanese Ambassador to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki

Sponsored by: TakePart.com/TheCove and SaveJapanDolphins.org
In The Cove, a team of activists and filmmakers infiltrate a heavily-guarded cove in Taiji, Japan. In this remote village they witness and document activities deliberately being hidden from the public: More than 20,000 dolphins and porpoises are being slaughtered each year and their meat, containing toxic levels of mercury, is being sold as food in Japan, often times labeled as whale meat.

The majority of the world is not aware this is happening. The Taiji cove is blocked off from the public. Cameras are not allowed inside and the media does not cover the story. It's critical that we get the word out in Japan. Once the Japanese people know we believe they will demand change.

Send a letter to President Obama, Vice President Biden and Japanese Ambassador to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki urging them to address this issue. Everyone who signs the letter will be able to have their name displayed in a widget that will be posted on top social networks, web sites and blogs in Japan. ...

Sign petition here

Peru leads the way for Latin America's indigenous communities

Posted by Mattia Cabitza Monday 12 September 2011 14.23 BST guardian.co.uk

A new law recognising the land ownership rights of Peru's native inhabitants sets an important regional precedent

In February, after a legal battle lasting nearly two decades, little-known indigenous communities in Ecuador's Amazon region won a multi-billion dollar landmark ruling against the oil giant Chevron. The company was accused of polluting a large part of the Amazon basin by dumping billions of litres of chemical-laden materials, which campaigners said destroyed crops, killed livestock and increased cancer rates among the local population.

The oil firm is appealing the ruling, so the indigenous population and other residents affected by the years of environmental damage may never see a cent from Chevron for the clean-up of their lands. Yet, whatever the outcome, it is rare for indigenous people in Latin America to be awarded compensation for damage to their ancestral lands. From northern Mexico to the southern tip of Chile, it's more usual for commercial interests to get their own way when it comes to development projects affecting indigenous people or their territories.

In Brazil, for instance, the construction of the Belo Monte dam, which will flood a huge area, is going ahead even though it will force the displacement of indigenous Amazon tribes, threatening their very survival. In Guatemala, gold extraction at the Marlin mine continues despite an international ruling calling for the suspension of mining operations, and regardless of the fact that the resulting pollution is detrimental to the health of the surrounding indigenous Maya communities.

Against the wider backdrop of a struggle that pits the ancestral owners of untapped natural resources against greedy governments and corporations, Peru's new law on the right of indigenous people to prior consultation may set a regional precedent in avoiding lengthy legal battles and, more importantly, in the prevention and reduction of social conflicts.

Getting to the law has not been easy. In June 2009, more than 30 police officers and indigenous protesters were killed in Bagua, in the Peruvian Amazon, after months of demonstrations over the sale of rainforest for oil and mining exploitation turned violent. The deadly clashes in Bagua prompted the Peruvian congress to grant indigenous people the right to prior consultation on legislation or infrastructure projects that would affect them or their territories. But it wasn't until Ollanta Humala became president two years later that the bill finally became law.

The bill was signed on Tuesday in the town of Imacita, in Bagua province itself. Afterwards, Humala dismissed the reasoning behind his predecessor's veto. Alan García had argued that foreign investment in indigenous land was needed for Peru's economic growth; the mining sector represented some 60% of the country's exports last year. Instead, Humala told state TV that the new legislation would "strengthen investment" because the government would be able to use consultations to reduce the risk of social conflicts that drive investors away.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights praised Peru for finally complying with its international obligations and catching up with the rest of the region. But for Carla García Zendejas, from the Washington-based Due Process of Law Foundation, Peru's new law goes further in its regional accomplishment. "It marks an important moment for Latin America," she says. "The hope is that other countries will follow [in Peru's footsteps]."

All Latin American countries with considerable indigenous populations are signatories of International Labour Organisation Convention 169, which recognises tribal people's land ownership rights and envisages the right to prior consultation. But Peru is "the first [nation] to fully implement the language of the ILO convention," continues García Zendejas, who believes this is an important precedent as "some countries think it's not necessary [to have a law] because they have signed international treaties". It's the absence of mandatory national legislation that makes politicians believe they can "still push forward development projects without consultation", in disregard of their countries' international obligations, says García Zendejas.

The need for Peruvian-style legislation has most recently become evident in neighbouring Bolivia, where the language used in its constitution in recognition of the right to prior consultation is vague and subject to interpretation. Indigenous people believe that being consulted implies having the right to veto. But the Bolivian government argues consultations are not binding, and has pushed ahead with the construction of a controversial highway without seeking the approval of locals. As a result, indigenous people from the lowlands have been marching since mid-August in protest at the government plan, saying their constitutional right is not being respected.

Peru does now have a law with more precise language than Bolivia, but the legislation follows the argument of the Bolivian government nevertheless; it gives the state, and not indigenous people, the right to make the final decision if a dispute arises. It may have succeeded in greatly reducing the likelihood of another Bagua. But the law does not eliminate the risk of social conflicts altogether: the government and indigenous people could clash again if they find themselves unable to compromise after having carried out consultations in good faith. Like his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales, Humala may come to realise that adopting a consultative approach to government is not necessarily easier. Across the continent, meanwhile, indigenous people, governments and corporations alike will be watching how Peru fares.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Shell: Take Your Toxic Drilling Elsewhere!

The oil industry is at it again. Oil giant Shell is planning to conduct coalbed methane drilling in a beautiful and remote area of British Columbia called the Sacred Headwaters. If completed, Shell will construct a network of gas wells that would underlie a large portion of the Headwaters.

Coalbed methane developments have grave impacts for the environment. Methane drilling can contaminate groundwater and disturb natural ecosystems — like the one at the Sacred Headwaters that's home to salmon, caribou, and wolves. And not only is it home to precious animal life, the Sacred Headwaters was declared one of British Columbia's most endangered rivers.

The Sacred Headwaters are home to countless species of invaluable plants and animals. We can't allow big oil conglomerates like Shell to operate in areas that should only be preserved.

Write to Shell executives imploring them to take their toxic drilling elsewhere.

Sign here

36 hours to end ocean clear-cuts

Our oceans are being systematically destroyed, and we have 36 hours to raise the alarm. The seafood industry uses long chains of heavy metal disks to drag nets across the sea floor in search of fish, crushing everything in their path. This bottom-trawling is like clear-cutting a forest to catch a parrot -- and only our outcry can stop it.

In two days, UN policy-makers are meeting to review the impacts of this deadly practice. Pacific island nations are fighting to save the oceans and have appealed to Avaaz members to stand with them. This is our chance to win -- if enough of us speak out now, it will strengthen their hand against big fishing countries, and will embolden serious players like the US and Australia, who have already banned bottom-trawling in their waters, to push for protection everywhere.

Let's build an urgent call to stop the senseless destruction of our oceans -- and delegates will deliver our voices directly to the UN meeting. Sign now on the right and help us reach half a million voices in the next 36 hours:

Sign here


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

EU court bans honey contaminated by genetically modified crop

*EU court bans honey contaminated by genetically modified crop*

Beekeepers should be compensated - Greenpeace

*Luxembourg, 6 September 2011 - *The Court of Justice of the European Union
(ECJ) today banned beekeepers from selling honey contaminated by a
genetically modified (GM) crop.

The court ruled that honey from a German beekeeper could not be sold after
being contaminated by pollen from Monsanto‚s MON810 maize, one of only two
GM crops cultivated for commercial purposes in Europe.

*Greenpeace EU agriculture policy adviser Stefanie Hundsdorfer said:* *„The
ECJ ruling highlights how conventional and genetically modified agriculture
cannot co-exist. When a GM crop is grown in open fields, contamination is
impossible to stop. It‚s a scandal there‚s no Europe-wide liability regime
to protect beekeepers or farmers affected by GM crops. Monsanto and the
Bavarian state that grew the crop should be held fully liable for this
genetic pollution and compensate any beekeeper affected.‰*


The German beekeeper‚s hives were 500 metres from a test field of MON810 on
Bavarian government land. MON810 is currently authorised for a limited
number of food uses, excluding GM pollen in honey, and the court‚s ruling
upholds the EU‚s zero tolerance rules for unauthorised GM contamination. The
ruling could make it easier for German beekeepers to claim compensation,
something still to be decided by a German court.

In Europe, MON810 is grown mainly in Spain, and to a much lesser extent in
Portugal, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Romania.