Archive for June, 2010

Californian snakes threaten Canarian biodiversity

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

California kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getulus) released or escaped on Gran Canary are threatening the island’s biodiversity including the rare giant lizard of Gran Canary. Although 334 have been captured in the last two years, there are thought to be a population of some 1,000 still slithering around the island. It is now considered virtually impossible to extinguish them and efforts are limited to controlling their expansion. They are harmless to humans. More here

No snakes are native to the Canary Islands.

The bear Hvala with cubs

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Latest news on the bear Hvala, the bear which kicked up such a fuss last year in the Vall d’Arán. Glad to see she’s alive and with cubs.

Voila! Hvala!” exclaims Pierre-Yves Quenette, standing in a snowy clearing in the forests outside of Pyrénées National Park. He’s reading a message on his cell phone. Hvala, a 200-pound brown bear with two cubs, has been found. National Geographic

Bisons back in Spain

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Seven wild European bison (bisonte in Spanish) have been released into a 20 hectare enclosure in Palencia as part of a long-term plan to possibly reintroduce the animal to the Iberian Peninsula after an absence of 900 years. Bisons were once common in the deciduous and pine forests of northern Spain as is shown by the wonderful cave paintings of Altamira, and they probably survived in Navarra until the 12th century when they were hunted to extinction. It is also speculated that bison undertook winter migrations from the north to the south of Spain, and that the ancient transhumance sheep paths followed these routes, though other studies suggest the bison was only ever present in the north (here).

The five females and two males brought from Poland do not yet form part of a real reintroduction project, but rather a captive breeding programme under the auspices of the World Conservation Union partly with the idea of stimulating the local economy through tourism in a depressed region. Bison watching, hunting, meat and their role in reducing the risk of forest fires by eating undergrowth have all been cited as possible beniefts. According to Fernando Morán, the vet in charge of the project, the WCU  has chosen Spain because of the large areas of uninhabited land in comparison with other European countries. Some 3,000 European bison survive in semi-wild conditions in Poland and other Eastern European countries, where they are discouraged from migrating by artificial feeding. Numbers are kept down by selective culling. Wolves, which are present in Palencia, seem only occasionally take them.

As head of the Spanish state, King Juan Carlos did his bit for European bison conservation when he legally shot a bison in Poland in 2004.

Hot summer predicted for Spain

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Temperatures this summer in Spain are tentatively predicted to be well above average this year (2010). Rainfall, such as it is in the summer, is set to be normal. More here from Spanish weatherman Maldonado