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South African court jails rhino poacher for 77 years

In a rare decision a poacher from South Africa has been sentenced to the heaviest penalty available, 77 years, for committing wildlife crimes, after being arrested in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in 2011 for killing three rhino calves.

The long sentence has been handed out partly because the South African court held the poacher, Mandla Chauke, responsible for the death of his accomplice who was killed by park rangers in a shoot-out. As a result, Chauke was also convicted for murder.

Gold Coast whale dies in shark net: Video

This is newly released footage of a lifeless whale just minutes after it drowned at the Billinga shark nets on Sunday July 20.
The resident who made the footage had called the Queensland Fisheries hotline when she and her partner first saw the whale splashing around at 11.20am to alert the Shark Control Program’s Marine Animal Release Team, but the team arrived too late to save the whale.
Experts say the whale might be a brydes or a minke, instead of a humpback calf as reported by Queensland Fisheries Shark Control Manager Jeff Krause on Gold Coast ABC radio.
Witnesses say they saw a larger whale hanging around. It seemed very distressed as it swam back and fourth blowing repeatedly out of its blow hole.
The whale, which appeared to be the mother, moved away after the caught whale stopped struggling and sank to the bottom. The fact that there was a mother with the young whale suggests it was a humpback.
Apparently the caught whale had tried to swim under the shark nets.
Gold Coast Whale research group Humpbacks and Highrises, who posted the video, are calling for all Gold Coast shark nets to be removed during the humpback’s winter migration.
Another whale has been caught in a shark net at Kirra this morning and released by the Sea World boat.
For more details on the shark net issue see here.
To read an interview with the resident who took the footage with her partner click here.

Big surf Lennox Head Saturday July 19

Photos copyright Mic Smith. Water shots of Mic Smith copyright Brent Hayson at surf shotz queensland
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Whale calf dies in Gold Coast shark nets

A humpback calf has died in a shark net off Bilinga Beach in the Gold Coast.

The calf was trying to swim under the net when it was caught, Queensland Fisheries Shark Control Manager Jeff Krause has told Gold Coast ABC this morning.

Mr Krause says the whale was already dead when the Marine Animal Release Team arrived.

It’s been 10 years since a humpback died in a control program shark net, the Manager of the shark net program says.

The mother has gone on her way, he says.

Shark Control Program nets and drumlines, situated near 85 beaches to protect swimmers, snared a total of 713 sharks in 2012, according to Queensland government data reported in a Guardian article about a humpback that was released from a Sunshine Coast shark net a year ago.

A freedom of information-obtained analysis from 2009 shows seven dugongs, 36 sea turtles, 90 dolphins and two humpback whales were caught and killed by shark nets in five years between 2004 and 2009.

Anyone who spots a whale or other marine animal tangled in fishing gear or shark netting should call the 24-hour Shark Hotline on 1800 806 891.

See video of the whale here.

Back to the scene: Broadwater dugong sighting

Surfers used to see dugongs on the seaward side of South Stradbroke up till 5 years ago.

Surfers used to see dugongs on the seaward side of South Stradbroke up till 5 years ago.

Click here to watch Mic Smith’s ABC Open video where a fisherman revisits where he saw a dugong in the Gold Coast Broadwater

Friday night turtle II

Originally posted on Walking the cat:

turtle (1 of 1)Photo taken by the husband in Marsa Fukeri (Egypt) earlier this year. Notice the remora latched onto her back. We repeatedly watched turtles trying to scrape off their somewhat cumbersome passengers but these guys are usually back in place within seconds.

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Palm Beach humpback whale rescue

July 10.

Text and photos by Mic Smith

This young humpback has just been towed out of shallow water but is still in the shallows inside the surf break.

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The whale has been stranded for about 36 hours on Palm Beach, Gold Coast.

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A major rescue attempt has been running since the stranding, with excavators, tents to shield it from the sun, the Seaworld boat, ropes, harnesses and a rescue team. Numerous police have cordoned off  a large crowd to give the whale some space and reduce the stress of the intervention.

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It was emotional for the large crowd during the highs and lows of the rescue. At about 7am the whale seemed very weak and didn’t appear to be responding well to being dragged into deeper water.

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By 8.15, however, the whale was able to swim again and went straight out to sea.


Muttonbird bander baffled by chick’s absence

May 2014.

By Mic Smith

A Port Fairy bird bander is baffled by low numbers of mutton bird chicks in their burrows at a well know nesting area.

Short-tailed Shearwater expert in Port Fairy, Philip Du Guesclin, says in one night only 19 chicks were found.

Mr Du Guesclin, who has been banding the chicks for 30 years, says he is baffled to find so few as he usually finds between 50 and 150 chicks in a night to band.

The banding is done immediately after the adults leave for their annual migration to Japan, Alaska and Siberia. The adults give the chicks a last feed before they go and the chicks follow them a few weeks later in early May.

Mr Du Guesclin says he is not sure if the chicks had left early or weren’t there in the first place.

He says this is the best time to assess the bird numbers as the chicks move out of the nests at night to start to warm up for the long flights ahead, so there is less chance of injuring birds when treading on burrows.

Last year thousands of mutton birds washed up dead or dying along the Australian East coast on their return journey from the northern hemisphere.


Beckham makes stand against rhino horn

David Beckham launches the #WhoseSideAreYouOn campaign against the trade and consumption of endangered wild animal parts. Photo from United for Wildlife Facebook page.

David Beckham launches the #WhoseSideAreYouOn campaign against the trade and consumption of endangered wild animal parts. Photo from United for Wildlife Facebook page.

By Mic Smith

Ask any Vietnamese and they’ll say one of the biggest international stars of football is David Beckham.

So when Beckham the former Manchester United football player launches a campaign against the buying of rhino horn (sung te giac) and ivory, there’s a pretty good chance that people will switch on to what he is saying

Beckham, who debuted with Manchester United in 1992 and played for England in three FIFA World Cups, teamed last week with England’s Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, to put pressure on consumers of illegal wildlife products.

People who are buying or using the parts of endangered animals like rhinos and elephants need to consider what they are doing more closely, he said.

“Are we on the side of the criminals or are we on the side of the animals?” Beckham said.

“It really is devastating and we are in a world where our generation and the younger generation really can make a difference and we need to do it now,” he said.

The “United for Wildlife” campaign led by the legendary footballer Beckham and Prince William aims to bring the trade in wild animal parts like rhino horn out in the open and show the world what is happening.

The campaign slogan #WhoseSideAreYouOn invites people to side with Beckham on Twitter in this “deadly game” against the dealers and consumers of endangered animal parts like rhino horn.

For the campaign to be successful at reducing trade and consumption of rhino horn, Vietnam is an important target for Beckham’s message as Vietnam has one of the highest rates of rhino horn consumption in the world.

In a 2013 article on the official Manchester United website MU’s commercial director Richard Arnold said some 30 million supporters watched the team on TV in 2012 and over 2.4 million Vietnamese fans have registered their interest in the English football club.


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