(Photo above of caged hens in a chicken farm from campaign group Equalia)
A round-up of environmental news that’s been overlooked recently.
By Colin Serjent
Animal rights group uncovers chicken horror
Horrifying images obtained by an animal rights group show hens cooped up in cramped rat-infested cages beside chicken carcasses, with insects crawling over eggs.
The graphic photos from a Spanish farm that sells eggs domestically were published after an undercover investigation by Equalia, while a campaign is gathering pace in Britain to ban chickens kept in cages.
The European Commission plans to introduce legislation by 2023 to phase out and ban the use of cages for laying hens, sows and calves, but this will not cover the UK.
Lesser spotted insect
Butterfly and moth numbers have crashed to their lowest levels since records began, according to the Big Butterfly Count. Climate change and habitat loss have made familiar species more scarce, despite a record 150,000 registered counts.
Snakes shaped by dinosaur extinction
All living snakes evolved from a handful of species which survived the giant asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Snakes today, including almost 4000 living species, started to diversify around the time that an extraterrestrial impact wiped out the dinosaurs and most other species on the planet.
The results suggest that all living snakes can be traced back to a handful of species that survived the asteroid impact 66 million years ago.
23 more species to be declared extinct
The ivory-billed woodpecker and 22 more birds, fish and other species are to be declared extinct by the USA Fish and Wildlife Service.
Scientists have exhausted efforts to find the species and warned that climate change, on top of other pressures, could make such disappearances more common.
Northern Forest plan gets £15m boost
More than a million trees are to be planted after a project to create a “Northern Forest” across England was given £15m in funding.
The money will help create at least 670 hectares of woodland across the M62 corridor from Liverpool to Hull, the Woodland Trust said.
Three million trees have already been planted in the area.
Highland rewilding project
Conservationists have announced an ambitious 30-year plan to rewild 500,000 acres of the Scottish Highlands, with the aim of improving habitats for wildlife.
Rewilding allows natural processes to repair damaged ecosystems and restore landscapes degraded by human activity.
African elephants (endangered)
Poaching for ivory has been a major cause of the elephant’s decline but another key threat comes from the loss of suitable habitat caused by the rapid growth of the human population and land conversion that, in turn, increases the conflict people and animals.
Conservation funding to help deal with all of these threats has largely evaporated with the loss of tourism.