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DolphinsSocial Behavior

Dolphins are often regarded as one of Earth’s most intelligent animals. They are social creatures, living in pods of up to a dozen individuals. In places with a high abundance of food, pods can merge temporarily, forming a superpod; such groupings may exceed 1,000 dolphins. They communicate using a variety of clicks, whistle-like sounds and other vocalizations.

Membership in pods is not rigid; interchange is common. Dolphins can, however, establish strong social bonds; they will stay with injured or ill individuals, even helping them to breathe by bringing them to the surface if needed. This altruism does not appear to be limited to their own species. The dolphin Moko in New Zealand has been observed guiding a female Pygmy Sperm Whale together with her calf out of shallow water where they had stranded several times. They have also been seen protecting swimmers from sharks by swimming circles around the swimmers or charging the sharks to make them go away.

Dolphins also display culture, something long believed to be unique to humans. In May 2005, a discovery in Australia found Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins teaching their young to use tools. They cover their snouts with sponges to protect them while foraging (looking or searching for food or provisions.) Using sponges as mouth protection as well as other transmitted behavior proves dolphins’ intelligence. This knowledge is mostly transferred by mothers to daughters.

Ivory Trade

Ivory trade poses a threat to the very existence of elephants. Ivory hunters were responsible for wiping out elephants in North Africa perhaps about 1,000 years ago, in much of South Africa in the 19th century and most of West Africa by the end of the 20th century. At the peak of the ivory trade, pre 20th century, during the colonization of Africa, around 800 to 1,000 tons of ivory was sent to Europe alone.

Elephant ivory has been exported from Africa and Asia for centuries with records going back to the 14th century BC. Throughout the colonization of Africa ivory was removed, often using slaves to carry the tusks, to be used for piano keys, billiard balls and other expressions of exotic wealth.

Although many ivory traders repeatedly claimed that the problem was habitat loss, it became glaringly clear that the threat was primarily the international ivory trade.

Should there be a legal trade in elephant ivory? This debate has been going on since at least 1989, when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted to “ban” the international trade in ivory after a ferocious wave of poaching in Africa that left hundreds of thousands of elephants butchered.

While some conservationists say that a limited legal ivory trade is needed to satiate demand, especially in China, in a controlled manner, environmental activists ask whether elephants can survive a legal ivory trade. They argue that the 1989 ban must be kept in place to protect elephants, especially now that poaching has once again risen to catastrophic levels.

Ivory Trade

Ivory trade poses a threat to the very existence of elephants. Ivory hunters were responsible for wiping out elephants in North Africa perhaps about 1,000 years ago, in much of South Africa in the 19th century and most of West Africa by the end of the 20th century. At the peak of the ivory trade, pre 20th century, during the colonization of Africa, around 800 to 1,000 tons of ivory was sent to Europe alone.

Elephant ivory has been exported from Africa and Asia for centuries with records going back to the 14th century BC. Throughout the colonization of Africa ivory was removed, often using slaves to carry the tusks, to be used for piano keys, billiard balls and other expressions of exotic wealth.

Although many ivory traders repeatedly claimed that the problem was habitat loss, it became glaringly clear that the threat was primarily the international ivory trade.

Should there be a legal trade in elephant ivory? This debate has been going on since at least 1989, when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted to “ban” the international trade in ivory after a ferocious wave of poaching in Africa that left hundreds of thousands of elephants butchered.

While some conservationists say that a limited legal ivory trade is needed to satiate demand, especially in China, in a controlled manner, environmental activists ask whether elephants can survive a legal ivory trade. They argue that the 1989 ban must be kept in place to protect elephants, especially now that poaching has once again risen to catastrophic levels.

World Water Day

World Water Day is observed on March 22 since 1993. It was declared as such by the United Nations General Assembly. This day was first formally proposed in Agenda of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Observance began in 1993 and has grown significantly ever since.

The UN and its member nations devote this day to implementing UN recommendations and promoting concrete activities within their countries regarding the world’s water resources. Each year, one of various UN agencies involved in water issues takes the lead in promoting and coordinating international activities for World Water Day.

In addition to the UN member states, a number of NGOs promoting clean water and sustainable aquatic habitats have used World Day for Water as a time to focus public attention on the critical water issues of our era. Every three years since 1997, the World Water Council has drawn thousands to participate in its World Water Forum during the week of World Day for Water. Participating agencies and NGOs have highlighted issues such as a billion people being without access to safe water for drinking and the role of gender in family access to safe water.