16 February 2017

Africa: Through the Lens

analysis

Stolen penguins and newly discovered sharks are just a few of the environmental events that made headlines this week. Join us as we take a look through these green stories.

The case of a missing penguin took a turn for the worse Thursday when the bird was found dead in a car park. The Humboldt penguin had been snatched from Luisenpark's zoo enclosure in the German city of Mannheim on Saturday. Keepers noticed the flightless bird was missing after a routine afternoon headcount. Zoo officials quickly ruled out an attack by predators or a daring escape by the juvenile penguin. Suspicion soon turned to criminal activity. The park's director said the staff was "shattered over its death." Humboldt penguins are at home along Peru and Chile's rocky Pacific coastline and are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. This is the latest in a string of thefts from German zoos. In December 2015, two hyacinth macaws were taken from Krefeld Zoo. Just six month earlier thieves nabbed three Golden Lion tailed monkeys from the same zoo.

Even the deepest parts of the ocean can't escape pollution it seems. The Mariana Trench extends up to 10 kilometers (7 miles) below the seas surface. But scientists have discovered incredible levels of toxic pollution there, according to a new study published in the Journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. Small crustaceans living in the trench's depths, captured by a remotely operated vehicle, had 50 times more toxic chemicals than crabs in China's heavily polluted rivers, writes Damien Carrington at The Guardian. Another recent study from the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research found rising levels of litter in the depths of the remote Arctic Ocean too. The concentration of marine litter at a deep-sea measuring station in the area is 20 times higher than a decade ago, say the study authors. Many animals dwell in the depths of the ocean, including the Crossota norvegica (pictured), a species of jellyfish at home in the Arctic.

Valentine's Day has come and gone but did you know that the roses on sale in your local florist likely made a long journey to get there? Kenya has in recent years become the third-largest flower grower in the world. And blooms from the country make up a third of those bought in the EU - with most purchased in Germany and the United Kingdom. Surprisingly, roses from Kenya may produce fewer carbon dioxide emissions than those grown in greenhouses in The Netherlands. But pesticide runoff, for instance, is taking its toll on Kenyan lakes.

Good news in the animal world. Researchers from Florida International University and Belize's fisheries department discovered a previously unknown species of Sphyrna or hammerhead shark this week. It's range is small and it requires clean water to survive, which demonstrates the health of the 300 kilometer Belize Barrier reef, where it was found.

This week, Germany banned fracking - kind of. The new legislative package that went into effect Saturday, bans controversial "unconventional" fracking until at least 2021 and tightens the rules for "conventional" fracking. Environmentalists criticized the new laws, saying they didn't go far enough. What is needed is a "clear ban on every type of oil and gas fracking," says Kai Niebert, the chairman of Deutscher Naturschutzring, an umbrella organization for German environmentalist groups.

'Extraordinary' levels of pollutants found in 10km deep Mariana trench

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