Thursday, 23 September 2010
If you’ve missed the BBC 1 series ‘The Lost Land of the Tiger’ this week, make sure you catch up on BBC iplayer…
In the mountains of Bhutan, battling dense tropical jungle, crippling altitude sickness, rotting food supplies and hailstones the size of golf balls, the BBC's team of explorers, scientists and camera-men, filmed tigers in the mighty Himalayas at 4,000m above sea level - an elevation previously thought to inhospitable for tigers to inhabit.
With the BBC claiming its film was the first evidence that the animals could live and breed in the highest mountain range on earth, hopes have been raised for a high-altitude sanctuary that could provide a refuge for the endangered animal. The discovery has initiated ambitious plans to study and conserve Bhutan’s wildlife by creating a series of ecological corridors.
"This is such a significant discovery for tiger survival," said wildlife cameraman, Gordon Buchanan. "The tigers' behaviour suggests they are breeding and I am convinced that there must now be cubs somewhere on this mountain."
Conservationists believe that Bhutan’s sparsely populated, extreme-altitude habitat is relatively unthreatened by human development and could provide a ‘tiger corridor’ that could link animals in other parts of Asia. With over 70% of the country covered in forest, strong Buddhist beliefs, limited tourism and very little exploitation , Bhutan is potentially one of the safest habitats on earth for one of world’s most threatened species. Knowing that the world’s largest cat can live and breed at such an altitude gives massive hope to tiger populations worldwide.
This breaking research has been key in filling in knowledge gaps about Bhutan;s tigers, but there is still much work to be done. Over the past century, species of tiger have vanished from Bali, Java and the Middle-East, with populations of the Sumatran and South China tigers now at critical levels. In neighbouring India, China and Nepal, habitat loss and hunting have dangerously depleted the tiger populations, and globally, there are thought to be just over 3,000 tigers left in the wild - a 5% drop from the start of the last century.
Image taken from guardian.co.uk
If you missed the series, watch on BBC iplayer
Related links:Read Justin Francis' blog 'India bans Tiger Tourism' at Responsible Travel's blog
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
The new Nissan ‘Leaf’ car is now in production and is due to arrive with its first British customers by March next year. The world’s first publically available zero-emission car produces absolutely no carbon, running entirely on battery power. To ensure drivers don’t get caught out, the in-car computer screen warns when battery power is getting low and directs drivers to the nearest charging station. There’s also huge savings to be made, in terms of running costs; maintenance costs are expected to be 15% lower than conventional cars, parking’s free in certain areas, drivers are exempt from congestion charges and travel costs should work out at around £1.70 per 60 miles.
‘Sounds fantastic! What’s the snag?’ That would be the massive price tag…
At £28,990, the Leaf will retail at a similar price to the new, super slick (and super -fast) BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics – a tough decision for some. Another drawback is that the Leaf will have a maximum range of around 100 miles before battery power runs out. This parameter was set following research showing that the majority of UK drivers travel less than 60 miles per day. Yes, the range could be extended, but with the lithium-ion battery already one of the most expensive elements of the car, a further price hike would be tough to swallow.
A UK government scheme currently offers assistance for the first 8,600 petrol-free cars sold – a massive reduction on the initial projections that the grant would be available for 43,000 vehicles. This means that buyers of the first Leafs, will pay £23,900 – a saving of £5000. There are concerns that, once this funding has run out, consumers will be put off by the hefty price. Watch this space…