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Archive for November, 2011

Leona puts hope into Hopefield

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Old Macdonald popped down to Hopefield on Sunday to visit their annual Christmas open day, and found that patron of the Brentwood animal sanctuary Leona Lewis had worked very hard with the committee there to arrange a wonderful day out for everyone. The place was packed, and more than this Leona has raised tens of thousands of pounds for this important place with a sponsored walk, a Carol concert and much more.

After the sad loss of Ernie Clark, founder of Hopefield, as well as Paula who passed away two years ago, Old Mac was a bit worried as to how everyone would carry on their wonderful pioneering work, but having seen this he can rest easy. In fact Old Mac has in the past raised funds and given prizes to help them raise funds, and he is now wondering whether maybe they could give him a donation.

Well done to everyone at Hopefield and here is to a great 2012.

We just liked this Private Eye Joke

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

In 2012 a priority for Old Macdonald is to get his farm to be even better for access for all, including special training sessions for staff and a review of all our facilities to improve accessibility. We always welcome those with special needs, and in particular schools, with our price rates and staff support.

So when we came across the Private Eye cartoon featuring one of M.C. Escher’s fantastic etchings of the everlasting stairs, and if you have not seen this before do study how clever it is and look at Escher’s other work on the internet, with the addition of a local authority officer saying “Mr Escher we must talk to you about disabled access” it really tickled our fancy and thought we would share it with you.

It’s not easy to be green.

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Old Macdonald found the following article in the Guardian on 17th November and wanted to share it with you. If you have visited our Bull Frog Trio none of this will come as a surprise to you, but it is very worrying and something about which we should all think. Congratulations to Camila Ruz from the Guardian for writing this clear article.

If the current rapid extermination of animals, plants and other species really is the “sixth mass extinction”, then it is the amphibian branch of the tree of life that is undergoing the most drastic pruning.

In research described as “terrifying” by an independent expert, scientists predict the future for frogs, toads, newts and salamanders is even more bleak than conservationists had realised.

Around half of amphibian species are in decline, while a third are already threatened with extinction. But scientists now predict that areas with the highest diversity of amphibian species will be under the most intense threat in the future.

And they warn that a three-pronged threat could also cause populations to decline faster than previously thought.

Like many creatures, amphibians have been hit hard by climate change and habitat loss. But they have also been decimated by the spread of the deadly fungal disease chytridiomycosis.

One in three of the world’s amphibians are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of endangered species. These include the Malagasy rainbow frog that lives in the rocky forests of Madagascar. It has the ability to inflate itself when under attack and can climb vertical rock faces. Found in an area smaller than 100 square kilometres, it is a prime target for the pet trade.

The Chinese giant salamander is also critically endangered. The largest of all amphibian species, it can grow to more than a metre long. Overexploitation for food has led to a catastrophic decline in the last 30 years.

European species are also threatened. Scientists predict climate change, habitat destruction and disease could drive more than half of all Europe’s frogs, toads and newts to extinction within 40 years.

Now the largest study of its kind has found that it is in areas where amphibian diversity is at its highest that the greatest threat lies.

Researchers led by Dr Christian Hof, from the University of Copenhagen, used computer modelling to predict the impact of climate change, the effect of habitat loss from urbanisation and farming and, finally, the fungal disease on amphibian populations.

“What we found looking at climate change, for example, is that many tropical regions, such as northern South America, the Andes and parts of Africa, will be highly impacted,” said Hof. The team then compared this map of impact with the global distribution of more than 5,500 species of amphibians.

The results, published in the Journal Nature, show that two-thirds of the areas with the richest diversity of frog and salamander species will be affected by one or more of these threats by 2080.

Scientists also found that some of the threats overlapped.

The regions where amphibian populations are expected to suffer most from climate change tended to overlap with the areas that could suffer most from habitat destruction. The fungal disease, on the other hand, was more isolated.

“What we still have not really understood is the mechanistic interaction between them, like how does land use change or the fragmentation of habitats influence the potential responses of a species to climate change,” said Hof.

Overlapping threats could mean that estimates of the rate of amphibian decline are too optimistic and that populations could decline even faster than previously thought.

Helen Meredith, amphibian conservationist at the Zoological Society of London (fellow BIAZA members with Old Macdonald himself) said: “Looking into 2080, it seems there will be more extinctions of species of amphibians, which is terrifying as a third of all amphibian species are threatened with extinction now.

“Data is deficient for a quarter of them, which means we don’t know whether they are threatened with extinction or not and about half of all amphibian populations are in decline. And that is just what is happening at the moment.”

So Old Macdonald wants you to think about what you can do, and we can all start by changing the way we live our lives, such as being more careful with wasting the world’s resources as small changes can make a lot of difference if done by many people.

Who put the lights out?

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

As you will have noticed, being observant types who read these pages, it gets dark very early now as we switch in Britain from British Summer Time hours to G M T. That is why Old Macdonald has to close his farm at 4 pm, because he does not want you wandering around in pitch black skies.

However there is a lot of talk at the moment about changing this next year so that in October we keep to the same hours as in British Summer  Time, and that in the summer we stay light even later. There are many reasons for doing this, and Old Macdonald’s personal favourite is that he can stay open longer and you will spend even more money at his farm. That always makes him happy.

However this is probably not why the Government are considering this. They may be more interested in energy saving as if it is Lighter Later (the campaign slogan) then people use less electricity and it helps reduce the nation’s carbon footprint. Also, the wider economy would benefit too as production goes up in daylight hours, and shops too would have customers out for a longer time.

There will be an opportunity for the Scottish Parliament to keep to the current system in Scotland if they wish, as there are safety concerns about dark mornings for children going to school, but we do support this and hope you will too. So what, you may ask, can you do? Well first of all you can visit the website, learn of the many benefits and sign the petition; you can write to your MP; and you can visit our farm and give Old Macdonald a couple of quid. This final idea will not help the campaign but he insists we add it.

The Three Little Pigs

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Born on the 2nd November 2011.