Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.1 earthquake hits Java, Indonesia.

5.1 earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits Tonga.

5.0 earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

South Africa – Heavy rains and driving winds forced the evacuation of a Cape Town building which sustained structural damage and left several suburbs without power. Numerous trees were also uprooted, some falling onto parked cars. City council disaster officials and firefighters evacuated as many as 1,000 people from the building in Kruskal Avenue in Bellville after it was damaged by the storm.

USA – Potent thunderstorms have been blamed for one death and left hundreds of thousands of people without power across the southern United States — and fierce winds walloped parts of several states as new storms formed Thursday. Fallen trees ripped down power lines and crashed into buildings along a line from Texas to Alabama overnight and into Thursday morning. Similar damage continued later in the day in parts of Georgia, the Carolinas and southeast Virginia. In Ohio, heavy rains led to landslides and flooded highways.

Wildlife

Poachers poison hundreds of Botswana vultures

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Poachers have poisoned hundreds of raptors in northern Botswana using three elephant carcasses as bait. The information has just been released by the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

The incident took place just south of world famous Chobe National Park. Two tawny eagles and 537 vultures were found dead near the carcasses, which had their tusks chopped out. The poisoning killed 10 Cape, 4 lappet-faced, 17 white-hooded, 28 hooded and 468 white-backed vultures.

This might be the largest mass poisoning of vultures in Southern Africa. In 2013, 500 were poisoned in Zambezi (formerly Caprivi Strip) under similar circumstances, which was then deemed the highest such killing.

“This is one of the biggest knocks to vultures in our history,” writes the vulture programme VulPro. “It is breeding season, so many are adults which means not only are they directly affected but their eggs/chicks have died too.”

Vultures are very good at finding carrion and will soon circle and land. This is a giveaway for poachers wishing to remain in the area, so the birds have become a secondary casualty of rising poaching numbers in Botswana, a country that just lifted the ban on hunting.

The poisoning of carcasses shows a high level of sophistication in the activities of the poaching syndicates and would massively multiply the damage wrought on Botswana’s famous wildlife. While raptors are the first responders, other predators soon follow.

A poisoned carcass is likely to kill lions, hyenas, jackals and other smaller vertebrates as well as a range of smaller birds. The National Parks dispatched a team to decontaminate the area and the poison was being analysed.

Vultures provide essential ecosystem services and are vital for the healthy functioning of ecosystems, in many cases keeping them free of contagious diseases. They have extremely corrosive stomach acid that allows them to consume rotting animal corpses. These scavenged leftovers are often infected with anthrax, botulinum toxins and rabies, which would otherwise kill other animals.

The recent rapid increase in elephant and rhino poaching throughout Africa has led to a substantial increase in vulture mortality, as poachers have turned to poisoning carcasses specifically to eliminate vultures, whose overhead circling might otherwise reveal the poachers’ illicit activities.

The illegal trade in vulture body parts for use in traditional medicine is also a significant threat that is increasing in intensity.

Flushed Goldfish

A monstrously huge goldfish was recently captured in the Niagara River in New York. The goldfish was presumably a discarded house pet that may have been illegally released or survived a traumatic flush down a toilet. An even more supersized goldfish was nabbed in California’s Lake Tahoe in 2013; it weighed in at just over 4 lbs. (2 kilograms) and measured nearly 2 feet (61 cm) long.

Goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus) are native to eastern Asia and belong to the carp family. They usually reach about 1 to 2 inches (3 to 5 cm) in length when they live in aquariums or small fish tanks; at most, they grow to about 6 inches (15 cm) in captivity.

But when goldfish are released into streams and rivers, they often grow to be 12 to 14 inches (31 to 36 cm) long. The first sightings of goldfish in New York waterways date to 1842; more than a dozen other states also noted the appearance of goldfish in rivers and streams by the end of the 19th century, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The fish can survive year-round in the Lake Erie watershed, and goldfish reproduce very quickly; a handful of goldfish released into a Colorado lake in 2012 multiplied to number in the thousands just three years later. Invasive goldfish directly compete with native fish, and in large numbers, they upset the natural biodiversity of vulnerable freshwater environments.

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Disease

Dengue Fever – Cambodia

Hundreds of children have been hospitalised with dengue fever in Phnom Penh and thousands of cases reported across Cambodia amid a major outbreak of the deadly disease. Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng said on Thursday that 12,000 cases of the mosquito-borne disease had been reported nationwide and that 21 people had already died

Several other south-east Asian nations are also battling a sharp spike in the number of dengue cases, according to the World Health Organisation, including Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.