Archive for 07/31/2011

Jakarta Globe –

Madagascar police have arrested two men attempting to smuggle out nearly 200 threatened tortoises, including two dozen of the rarest species on Earth, a conservation group said on Thursday.

The shipment was destined for Indonesia.

The 26 specimens of Ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora) seized comprise about five per cent of the estimated surviving wild population of the critically endangered animal, native to northern Madagascar.

Authorities found the live tortoises in a box and three bags on the tarmac at Antananarivo’s Ivato Airport, according to Traffic, which monitors illegal trade in wildlife.

The contraband was minutes from being loaded on a plane, and was destined — after transfers in Nairobi and Dubai — for Jakarta, Indonesia, police reportedly said.

“In the case of rare, high value species like these, they would certainly have been destined for the pet trade in Asia,” Richard Thomas of Traffic said of the Ploughshare tortoises.

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The Telegraph – 

They hope to make history by rowing 450 miles across the Arctic sea to the magnetic North Pole.

The trip to the Pole, which they estimate will take between four to six weeks, has not been done before. It is only possible now because of more ice-melt in the Arctic, organisers said.

Mr Wishart is leading the Old Pulteney Row To The Pole challenge to highlight the effect of climate change on the ice around the polar regions.

He has taken part in two previous expeditions to the North Pole and has also rowed across the Atlantic Ocean.

Before setting off on Saturday, he said: “No one has ever attempted this before, so we are quite literally heading off on a voyage into the unknown.

“I’ve seen the satellite images showing a route through the ice in late summer for the last two years, so as the expedition leader, I’m looking forward to meeting the challenge for real and making a bit of history at the same time.

“What will I miss most? A glass of malt and a change of clothes.”

Dumfries-born Mr Wishart captained the team which broke the London-to-Paris rowing record in 1999 and in 1992 was part of the first group to walk unsupported to the geomagnetic North Pole.

The crew set off from Resolute Bay in Canada at around 5.15pm UK time.

Cyclist Mark Beaumont, who is also on the boat, said: “I’m making a documentary about the voyage.

“So for me, the thing I’m anticipating most is filming the journey, its ups and downs and excitement, trying to capture the spirit of an unprecedented journey.”

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