Dead whale in Philippines had 40 kg of plastic in stomach

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In this photo taken on March 16, 2019, Darrell Blatchley, director of D' Bone Collector Museum Inc., shows plastic waste found in the stomach of a Cuvier's beaked whale in Compostela Valley, Davao on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. (AFP)
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In this photo taken on March 16, 2019, Darrell Blatchley, director of D' Bone Collector Museum Inc., shows plastic waste found in the stomach of a Cuvier's beaked whale in Compostela Valley, Davao on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. (AFP)
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In this photo taken Tuesday, March 12, 2019, provided by The Marine Mammal Center, experts from the center and its partners at the California Academy of Sciences attempt to pull a gray whale carcass from the edge of the surf at Angel Island State Park, Calif. (AP)
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In this photo taken Tuesday, March 12, 2019, provided by The Marine Mammal Center, a gray whale carcass is examined by experts from the center and its partners with the California Academy of Sciences at Angel Island State Park, Calif. (AP)
Updated 20 March 2019
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Dead whale in Philippines had 40 kg of plastic in stomach

  • The animal died from starvation and was unable to eat because of the trash filling its stomach, said Darrell Blatchley, director of D’ Bone Collector Museum Inc.

MANILA: A starving whale with 40 kilos (88 pounds) of plastic trash in its stomach has died after being washed ashore in the Philippines, activists said Monday, calling it one of the worst cases of poisoning they have seen.
Environmental groups have tagged the Philippines as one of the world’s biggest ocean polluters due to its reliance on single-use plastic.
That sort of pollution, which is also widespread in other southeast Asian nations, regularly kills wildlife like whales and turtles that ingest the waste.
In the latest case, a Cuvier’s beaked whale died on Saturday in the southern province of Compostela Valley where it was stranded a day earlier, the government’s regional fisheries bureau said.
The agency and an environmental group performed a necropsy on the animal and found about 40 kilograms of plastic, including grocery bags and rice sacks.
The animal died from starvation and was unable to eat because of the trash filling its stomach, said Darrell Blatchley, director of D’ Bone Collector Museum Inc., which helped conduct the examination.
“It’s very disgusting and heartbreaking,” he told AFP. “We’ve done necropsies on 61 dolphins and whales in the last 10 years and this is one of the biggest (amounts of plastic) we’ve seen.”
The 15.4-foot (4.7-meter) long whale was stranded in Mabini town on Friday where local officials and fishermen tried to release it, only for the creature to return to shallow water, said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
“It could not swim on its own, emaciated and weak,” regional bureau director Fatma Idris told AFP.
“(The) animal was dehydrated. On the second day it struggled and vomited blood.”
The death comes just weeks after the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternative released a report on the “shocking” amount of single-use plastic in the Philippines, including nearly 60 billion sachets a year.
The Philippines has strict laws on garbage disposal but environmentalists say these are poorly implemented.
The problem also plagues the archipelago’s neighbors, with a sperm whale dying in Indonesia last year with nearly six kilograms of plastic waste discovered in its stomach.
In Thailand, a whale also died last year after swallowing more than 80 plastic bags. A green turtle, a protected species, suffered the same fate there in 2018.


Rwanda’s rhino population grows, tourists expected to increase

Updated 25 June 2019
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Rwanda’s rhino population grows, tourists expected to increase

  • There are only about 1,000 black rhinos left in the wild, Jes Gruner, the Akagera National Park manager, said
  • In 2017 tourism earned Rwanda $437 million

KIGALI: Rhino keepers who successfully delivered five endangered black rhinos to Rwanda spent months hugging and coddling them inside their transport boxes to prepare them for the journey, a rhino handler said as the animals were freed on Monday.
The two male and three female eastern black rhinoceroses were flown from Safari Park Dour Kralove zoo in the Czech Republic, where they had been getting to know each other after arriving from separate European parks.
“The preparation process took several months. It started in autumn last year when two animals were brought here from Denmark and England. They started to bond, which always takes weeks because black rhinos are very alert and nervous animals,” said rhino handler Jaromir Sejnoha from the Dvur Kralove Safari Park.
“In the final phase (of preparations) the rhino is trained to stay inside the box for several minutes. We feed them and hug them in there, so they aren’t scared of the box and become accustomed to it, and so on the day of transportation they don’t get nervous and the whole transportation goes smoothly.”
There are only about 1,000 black rhinos left in the wild, Jes Gruner, the Akagera National Park manager, said. The new arrivals mean Rwanda is home to 25 of them.
Tourism is a key foreign exchange earner in the East African nation, home to mountain gorillas and the so-called “Big Five” African game animals — lions, rhinos, elephants, buffalo, and leopard.
“Every year our tourism numbers are going up and bringing these rhinos I am sure will help,” Gruner said.
The park received 44,000 visitors who generated over $2 million last year, Gruner said.
In 2017 tourism earned Rwanda $437 million. Clare Akamanzi, chief executive of the Rwanda Development Board, said 2018 numbers were not yet ready due to a change of methodology.
The push for tourist dollars in not without controversy. The government’s 2018 deal to pay British football club Arsenal £30 million ($38 million) to have “Visit Rwanda” emblazoned on the team’s jersey was criticized by politicians in some donor nations who questioned whether it was a good use of money by a government still heavily dependent on foreign aid.