CARACAS, (Tierramérica).- Sasha and King, two African lions that the Venezuelan Environment Ministry rescued from a circus, will have a new home in the Caricuao Zoo, southwest of the nation's capital.
''Sasha was neutered and King only has claws in his forepaws. They were being mistreated and were kept in cages just two by three meters big, when they need a minimum space of 50 square meters,'' zoo director Salvador Boher told Tierramérica.
Both cats are three years old and, after being quarantined in the veterinary hospital, they weigh more than 100 kilos. But ''when we brought them here they were practically cadavers. They saw meat but didn't know what it was. In the circus they were fed only chicken feet,'' Boher said.
When lions reach adulthood, at age five, they can weigh as much as 180 kilos. The environmental authorities have not determined where the big cats came from, and are studying how much to fine the circus executives for allowing the mistreatment to occur.
Scientists and Artists Against Dragnet Fishing
SANTIAGO, (Tierramérica).- Scientists, artists and writers in Chile joined a campaign Aug. 3 to effectively limit dragnet fishing, a technique they say devastates marine resources.
Biologist Humberto Maturana and actress Gloria Laso took part in launching the Oceana Foundation campaign, also supported by poet Gonzalo Rojas, actor Héctor Noguera and painters Gracia Barros and José Balmes.
Oceana hopes to gather thousands of signatures to petition President Ricardo Lagos and the Chilean Congress to demand stricter regulation of dragnet fishing as part of the national fishing law, which lawmakers have been debating since 2000 and are to vote on next month.
Large, heavy nets for catching a broad array of fish species dig up the ocean floor and destroy the marine habitat's flora and fauna, say the activists.
Amazon's Secrets Revealed
RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- Fires used to clear forest for farmland -- a practice known in Portuguese as 'quemadas' -- in the Amazon are responsible for three-quarters of Brazil's carbon dioxide emissions. But each hectare of forest absorbs, on average, a half-ton of carbon each year.
Meanwhile, the region's rivers emit one to two tons of carbon dioxide per hectare of surface area per year.
These are some of the conclusions reported last week in Brasilia by the Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere (LBA) experiment, a series of studies begun in 1996 and which are revealing the dynamics of the Amazon ecosystems and their climatic effects.
Continued deforestation could lead to desertification of central-south Brazil and the neighboring countries, where rains depend on the humidity coming from the Amazon forests, said LBA expert Antonio Donato Nobre.
Heritage Status Sought for Wetland
HAVANA, (Tierramérica).- Cuba's Ciénaga de Zapata, one of the largest wetlands in the Caribbean islands, could have access to more environmental and social projects if it is declared a Heritage of Humanity nature site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
Cuban officials have been seeking that designation since 2003, and the required documentation is being considered by UNESCO, says León Felipe Pérez, director of the Science and Environment Ministry in that municipality of Matanzas province.
''Nature belongs to all of humanity, that is why it is so important to achieve Heritage of Humanity status,'' he told Tierramérica.
The area was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, and is included in the list of important wetlands under an international treaty known as RAMSAR.
The Ciénaga de Zapata is home to 9,000 people, living in 19 isolated settlements. Its rich biodiversity includes more than 30 species of reptiles, 200 types of birds and around 900 varieties of plants.
Heavy Fines for Those Who Burn Tires
GUATEMALA CITY, (Tierramérica).- The Guatemalan Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has banned the burning of tires, and has established that violators of the ban -- which took effect on July 30 -- will face fines of 128 to 640 dollars.
''It is expressly prohibited to indiscriminately burn tires in any location, public or private,'' states the measure.
''The aim,'' a ministry official told Tierramérica, ''is to prevent pollution from the toxic black smoke created from burning tires outdoors.''
''Protests have increased in Guatemala in recent years, and every time demonstrators block streets, they do so by burning tires, which produces plumes of black smoke,'' said the source, who requested anonymity.
Furthermore, on the traditional 'quema del diablo' (devil's burning), every Dec. 7, fires are lit in front of homes to scare off evil spirits. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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