Branson pickle

Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire entrepreneur, is reported to have applied for permits to introduce a colony of endangered lemurs to his British Virgin Islands (BVI), Mosquito and Necker. Having “rescued” the island of Mosquito from purchase by a hotel chain in 2007, his intention was to turn his £10 million Caribbean tax haven into an ecological showcase, a luxury hideaway for the mega rich, with plans for Balinese-style, carbon neutral villas whilst “cultivating and supporting the biodiversity, then introducing habitats (such as rainforests) for people who will live in symbiotic form”.

The fanciful whimsy of the rich and famous is nothing new, however this controversial proposal has hit the headlines in BVI because it would appear that Branson has been granted import permits by the Natural Resources and Labour Minister, Hon. Omar Hodge, against the recommendations of technical groups in the Agriculture and Conservation sectors and in contravention of Territory laws. The decision is being contested by the Ninth district elections contender, Lorie Rymer and a petition is reported to be in circulation and will later be submitted to the Governor Boyd McClearly, who is appointed by the Queen and exercises executive authority on her behalf. Meanwhile, Minister Hodge is standing firm but has apparently alienated members of the community by stating on local radio that he “doesn’t have to answer to anyone because he is the Minister”.

(Ring-tailed lemurs by Woodlouse, Flickr Creative Commons)

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Argentine Ant Invasion Meets Resistance from Natives

The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile), from humble beginnings in South America, is now invasive on every continent and has a place on the list of 100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species. Transported around the world via human activity, this omnivorous ant impacts upon native flora and fauna and has been incredibly successful in outcompeting and displacing native ants. A recent study indicates, however, that at least one species may be ready to make a stand against the onslaught of the Argentine ant.

An Argentine ant queen and worker (Source: Alex Wild)
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The invasive rinderpest virus is no more

For only the second time in history scientists have succeeded in eradicating a viral infectious disease. The first was over 30 years ago, when in 1979 scientists from the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that smallpox (Variola vera), an infectious human disease that had claimed the lives of hundreds of millions of people, was officially no longer an epidemic of human concern. Yesterday, Scientists from the UN reported rinderpest virus (RPV), an infectious virus causing cattle plague had been eradicated from the areas of the last known outbreaks.

Cow nose close-up
Picture courtesy of Publicenergy

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