US Lifts Ban on Import of African Elephant Hunting Trophies

Earlier this week, the Trump administration lifted a ban on importing hunting trophies from African elephants into the United States, claiming that this policy change would benefit elephants — but conservation officials are skeptical.

Representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced yesterday (Nov. 16) that the department would begin issuing permits allowing the import of sport-hunted trophies collected from elephants killed in Zimbabwe from Jan. 21, 2016, through Dec. 31, 2018. However, a ban remains on importing elephant trophies from Tanzania, according to the statement.

According to the FWS, hunting trophies are defined as raw or preserved animal parts collected by a recreational hunter “for personal use.” This may include “bones, claws, hair, head, hide, hooves, horns, meat, skull, teeth, tusks or any taxidermied part, including, but not limited to, a rug or taxidermied head, shoulder or full mount.”

The African elephant’s (Loxodonta africana) conservation status is listed as “vulnerable” by (IUCN), which is applied when a species’ numbers have declined by more than 30 percent over the past decade or when their habitat is fragmented, deteriorating or greatly reduced. It warns that the species is facing a high level of vulnerability in the wild.

However, many conservation organizations are skeptical of the benefits of legal and trophy collection for preserving and protecting elephants. In addition, there is the additional concern that lifting the trophy ban will send a troubling message to poachers about the United States’ commitment to ending trade in animal products from threatened and endangered species

This is the wrong move at the wrong time for protecting Africa’s wildlife, according to conservationists.



Madagascar – Plague: Epidemic phase of the outbreak is ending

The number of new plague cases in Madagascar has steadily declined since mid-October. From 6 to 15 November 2017, 149 probable (12) and suspect (137) pneumonic cases, 18 bubonic cases and 8 unspecified cases of plague have been reported to WHO


Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.8 Earthquake hits the Izu Islands off Japan.

5.6 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.3 Earthquake hits the Drake Passage.

5.2 Earthquake hits south of Panama.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands, New Zealand.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current Tropical Storms.


Thailand – Torrential rain on Tuesday night triggered flash floods that hit parts of the five southern provinces of Krabi, Surat Thani, Songkhla, Phatthalung and Yala yesterday, affecting thousands of people. In Krabi, the downpours caused flash floods from 3am onward in several communities in Khao Phanom district. In Yala, more than 500 houses in the flood-prone zones of this district were flooded yesterday. Several roads, at least 40 houses and more than 500 rai of farmland in three tambons of this district — tambon Phru Tiaw, tambon Khao Phanom and tambon Khao Din — were affected by the sudden flooding. Schools in affected areas were closed for two days.


Seahorses Return

A breeding population of short-snouted seahorses has been discovered living in England’s River Thames in what biologists say is proof the once-polluted waterway is becoming cleaner.

The creatures are typically found from the Mediterranean Sea and Canary Islands to the English Channel.

Announcement of the discovery was delayed until the species became protected under law, with fines or imprisonment imposed on those found killing, injuring or capturing the seahorses.

Bat Slaughter

The carcasses of dozens of rare grey-headed flying foxes have been found along Australia’s Queensland coast after a slaughter locals describe as “horrific.”

The protected species is Australia’s largest bat and is crucial for pollination in Queensland’s forests.

The killings are the latest in a spate of animal mutilations that have mainly been focused in Victoria state, and include kangaroo, wallaby and koala.

Those who found the bat carcasses said they tried to help the baby bats whose mothers had been killed, but were able to save only two.


Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45.0 degrees Celsius) in Catamarca, Argentina.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 55.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 48.3 degrees Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week of 8 November – 14 November 2017

Agung | Bali (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that white plumes from Agung rose as high as 500 m above the crater rim during 8-14 November. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4), and the exclusion zones remained intact (at 6 km, and an additional expansion to 7.5 km in the NNE, SE, S, and SW directions).

Aira | Kyushu (Japan) : JMA reported that an explosion at Minamidake summit crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) detected at 1025 on 7 November generated an ash plume that rose 1.3 km above the crater rim. A very small event occurred at the same crater on 13 November. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).

Cleveland | Chuginadak Island (USA) : AVO reported that during 8-13 November elevated surface temperatures in Cleveland’s summit crater were identified in satellite data, possibly indicative of a lava flow in the crater. No significant eruptive activity was detected by seismic or infrasound sensors; both sensors detected a signal associated with low-level emissions during 0056-0059 on 12 November. A small explosion was recorded at 0315 on 14 November. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch.

Dukono | Halmahera (Indonesia) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery, wind model data, and notices from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 8-14 November ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions.

Ebeko | Paramushir Island (Russia) : Based on observations by volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island), about 7 km E of Ebeko, explosions during 5 and 7-8 November generated ash plumes that rose as high as 2 km (6,600 ft) a.s.l. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Katmai | United States : On 13 November AVO reported that a cloud of ash, resuspended by strong winds in the vicinity of Katmai and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, was blown about 120 km SE over Shelikof Strait and Kodiak Island at an altitude of up to 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. The ash was originally deposited during the Novarupta eruption in 1912. The Volcano Alert Level remained at Normal and the Aviation colour Code remained at Green.

Kilauea | Hawaiian Islands (USA) : During 8-14 November HVO reported that the lava lake continued to rise, fall, and spatter in Kilauea’s Overlook crater. Webcams recorded incandescence from long-active sources within Pu’u ‘O’o Crater and from a small lava pond in a pit on the W side of the crater. The 61G lava flow, originating from a vent on Pu’u ‘O’o Crater’s E flank, ceased entering the ocean at Kamokuna on 8 November but then began reentering the ocean during 12-13 November. Surface lava flows were active above and on the pali, and on the coastal plain, and new breakouts were observed.

Sabancaya | Peru : Observatorio Vulcanológico del Sur del IGP (OVS-IGP) and Observatorio Vulcanológico del INGEMMET (OVI) reported that explosive activity at Sabancaya increased compared to the previous week; there was an average of 66 explosions recorded per day during 6-12 November. Seismicity was dominated by long-period events, with signals indicating emissions. Gas-and-ash plumes rose 4 km above the crater rim and drifted 50 km NE, E, and SE. The MIROVA system detected six thermal anomalies. The sulfur dioxide flux was high, at 2,763 tons per day on 8 November. The report noted that the public should not to approach the crater within a 12-km radius.

San Cristobal | Nicaragua : INETER reported that a series of 14 explosions at San Cristóbal began at 2134 on 7 November. The first explosion was the strongest, causing an increase in RSAM to 150 units; RSAM dropped to 50 after the last explosion. Ash fell in areas to the W and NE, including in the communities of Los Farallones, San Agustín, La Mora, El Naranjo, and Chinandega.

Sheveluch | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch was identified in satellite images on 3, 6, and 8 November; weather clouds prevented observations on the other days during 4-10 November. Explosions on 8 November generated ash plumes that rose 8 km (26,200 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 990 km NE. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange.

Sinabung | Indonesia : Based on observations by PVMBG, satellite and webcam images, and model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 9 and 11-12 November ash plumes from Sinabung rose 4.6-4.9 km (15,000-16,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E and ESE. The Alert Level remained at 4 (on a scale of 1-4).

Suwanosejima | Ryukyu Islands (Japan) : Based on JMA notices and satellite data, the Tokyo VAAC reported that on 10 November an event at Suwanosejima produced a plume that rose 1.8 km (6,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NW.

Turrialba | Costa Rica : OVSICORI-UNA reported that an ash emission at Turrialba began before 0730 on 13 November and intensified around 0830. An ash plume rose 500 m above the crater rim and drifted SW.


Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.9 Earthquake hits the Loyalty Islands.

5,6 Earthquake hits the Loyalty Islands.

5.5 Earthquake hits the Loyalty Islands.

5.3 Earthquake hits the Loyalty Islands.

Two 5.2 Earthquakes hit the Loyalty Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits Azerbaijan.

5.1 Earthquake hits off the coast of Costa Rica.

5.1 Earthquake hits southeast of the Loyalty Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits Kyrgyzstan.

5.0 Earthquake hits Palau.

Four 5.0 Earthquakes hit the Loyalty Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current Tropical Storms.


Greece – Flash floods killed at least 15 people, made scores homeless and destroyed infrastructure in Greece on Wednesday after a raging torrent inundated two coastal towns west of Athens following a night of heavy rain. In devastation locals said was unprecedented in scale, an overnight deluge triggered flash floods in the industrial towns of Nea Peramos and Mandra in the foothills of a mountain just west of Athens.


Diphtheria returns to war-torn Yemen

Besides the starvation and destruction brought on by years of war and a current blockade, cholera has become nearly synonymous with Yemen with well over 900,000 cases reported since April.

Now returning to Yemen for the first time since 2012 is the deadly vaccine preventable disease, diphtheria. By November 8 in Yemen were recorded 118 cases in which diphtheria was suspected and 11 deaths from that disease in ten provinces


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the week of 8 November – 14 November 2017

Aoba | Vanuatu : Based on analyses of satellite images and model data, the Wellington VAAC reported that during the morning of 8 November low-level ash plumes from Aoba rose 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W.

Dempo | Indonesia : According to PVMBG a three-minute-long phreatic eruption at Dempo began at 1651 on 9 November, and generated a dense ash plume that rose 4.2 km (13,800 ft) a.s.l., about 1 km above the crater rim, and drifted S. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4).

Sarychev Peak | Matua Island (Russia) : SVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sarychev Peak was identified in satellite images during 6-7 November. Weak steam-and-gas emissions were observed on 8 November. Weather clouds prevented observations during 9-13 November. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Green.


Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.8 Earthquake hits Guam.

5.6 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.5 Earthquake hits South Korea.

5.3 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.3 Earthquake hits east of the South Sandwich Islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Bougainville region, Papua New Guinea.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Volcano Islands off Japan.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Loyalty Islands.

Two 5.0 Earthquakes hit the Kermedec islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Indian Ocean Triple Junction.

Global Warming

Warning to Humanity

In late 1992, 1,700 scientists from around the world issued a dire “warning to humanity.” They said humans had pushed Earth’s ecosystems to their breaking point and were well on the way to ruining the planet. The letter listed environmental impacts like they were biblical plagues — stratospheric ozone depletion, air and water pollution, the collapse of fisheries and loss of soil productivity, deforestation, species loss and catastrophic global climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

To mark the letter’s 25th anniversary, researchers have issued a bracing follow-up. In a communique published Monday in the journal BioScience, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries assess the world’s latest responses to various environmental threats. Once again, they find us sorely wanting.

“Humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse,” they write.

This letter, spearheaded by Oregon State University ecologist William Ripple, serves as a “second notice,” the authors say: “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory.”

Global climate change sits atop the new letter’s list of planetary threats. Global average temperatures have risen by more than half a degree Celsius since 1992, and annual carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 62 percent.

But it’s far from the only problem people face. Access to fresh water has declined, as has the amount of forestland and the number of wild-caught fish (a marker of the health of global fisheries). The number of ocean dead zones has increased. The human population grew by a whopping 2 billion, while the populations of all other mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by nearly 30 percent.

The lone bright spot exists way up in the stratosphere, where the hole in the planet’s protective ozone layer has shrunk to its smallest size since 1988. Scientists credit that progress to the phasing out of chlorofluorocarbons — chemicals once used in refrigerators, air conditioners and aerosol cans that trigger reactions in the atmosphere to break down ozone.

The authors offer 13 suggestions for reining in our impact on the planet, including establishing nature reserves, reducing food waste, developing green technologies and establishing economic incentives to shift patterns of consumption.


Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.1 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Loyalty Islands.

Iran – Update

The powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake near the Iraq-Iran border has authorities now saying the quake killed 407 people in the country and injured 6,700.