PICK OF THE GERMAN WEEK 2000
The Red Kite Milvus milvus
German Bird of the Year 2000
The Red Kite Milvus milvus
News from the
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NEWS OF THE WEEK - CONTENTS SUMMARY
BIRDS OF THE WEEK
1. SETBACK FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS
2. EGYPTIAN GOOSE EVICTS BUZZARD
4. BEST OF EUROPE
5. NEXT ISSUE OF POTGW
BIRD(S) OF THE WEEK
Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer) still on the Ammersee - Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina), back in its breeding territory in the northeast, and seen in the south - Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus) and Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus) in Bavaria - Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) singing - the Swift (Apus apus) has arrived in north and south - Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans), Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa islandica), Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) and Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca carolinensis) in East Friesland - Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) on the west coast - Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia) in the northeast - Richard's Pipit (Anthus richardi) in Upper Hesse? Hoopoe and Wryneck in Saxony. The Spoonbills are coming......still a lot of northern geese in Lower Saxony, White-fronts (Anser albifrons), Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis) and 2 Pink-footed Geese (Anser brachyrhynchus). And 2 Greylag (Anser anser) families escorting a total of 31 chicks.
In Switzerland, the Alpine Swift (Apus melba) colony has returned to the city centre of Basel. (For insiders/visitors - the eaves of the 'Berufs- und Frauenfachschule' on the Kohlenberg). Also, Bonelli's Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli) back west of Geneva and the Ring Ouzels (Turdus torquatus) queuing up at 1,500 m waiting for the snow to melt.
NO ANIMAL RIGHTS IN THE CONSTITUTION
A cross-bench initiative in the German parliament, to give animals basic protection under the constitution; failed to achieve the necessary 2/3 majority yesterday. The conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), and their Bavarian sister party CSU, issued a three line whip to their parliamentarians to block the move by all other parties to add 3 words to the relevant article.
"In the interest of coming generations, the state pledges to protect the basic natural fundamentals of life" - "and the animals."
Although the number of animal experiments has sunk by over a million in the last decade (from 2.6 to 1.5 million - see table below), the conservatives have thrown their weight behind the research scientists who have been increasingly in the firing line of late. But, even with a constitutional amendment, the strong farmers lobby and the chemical and pharmaceutical industries do not perceive a real threat to their treatment of animals. Even if some scientists have moral scruples over infecting chimpanzees with the AIDS virus, the necessary ground swell of sympathy for animal suffering and abhorrence of moral double-standards is no far not overtly evident among the general population.
The research scientists in institutes and universities are however concerned about their future freedom to experiment. If animals were to achieve 'real' constitutional protection the scientists' work would, in their own words "be affected to an unacceptable extent." A flood of legal processes and injunctions could bring their studies to a standstill. As a result, according to the scientists, important research into disease and illness and development of suitable therapies would have to be broken off or conducted abroad.
The main target of the proponents of animal rights is the subsidising of animal experiments out of public funds. A demonstration in Berlin earlier this week sought to make the point by focusing on experiments on primates. If they are unable to dent the cool rationality of the scientist, it must be possible to influence politicians and other sectors of society to develop some compassion for the pain and suffering of our nearest relations in the living world. The existing Animal Protection Act, an executive instrument, takes second place to rights anchored in the constitution. Appeals against the infliction of unnecessary suffering on animals have failed against the constitutionally anchored rights guaranteed to religion, the arts and research. (I will spare you the worst details of the case of the scientist who appealed to the constitutional court against an injunction to stop him sewing the eyelids of a baby monkey together to find out how it would react - and won.)
Not all research scientists live in ivory towers and divorce themselves from the necessity to consider alternatives to experiments on live animals. Some see a constitutional amendment as inevitable and acceptable. When the emotional conflict between the scientists and animal rights supporters can be transferred into the political arena in Germany, the public and politicians will have to come clean on their positions on animal rights. When this happens, and if the animals get the constitutional protection they have long been denied, it will not only be the scientists who will have to think again. Perhaps a positive move towards more humane forms of animal husbandry, and the renunciation of non-critical research in its present form, will play a small part in re-establishing the basic regard for human life and a sustainable and clean environment which is so often pushed to the back of the list of priorities in today's progressive world.
Animal Experiments in Germany in 1998
Numbers of animals involved:
Birds & Fowl 75,463
other rodents 18,994
Sheep & Goats 1,910
Horses & Donkeys 463
Areas of Research:
Medicinal Development & Testing - 45%
Basic Research - 26%
Medical Operating Research - 18%
Environmental Early Warning - 5%
Testing of Pesticides - 3%
Other Testing - 3%
EGYPTIANGOOSE EVICTS BUZZARD
This week questions were asked after reports of a Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), sitting on its nest in a height from 15-20m, being evicted twice by a pair of Egyptian Geese (Alopochen aegyptiacus); and of freshly hatched chicks of the latter in April but also earlier in February - is the latter a record?
A commentary by Wulf Roehnert:
The Egyptian Goose does not appear to have a set breeding period so records cannot be claimed! During the winter waterfowl census on the River Main near Frankfurt a pair were observed with 10 chicks, all no more than a week old. These all survived the winter thanks to regular feeding by passers-by. In 'Birds of Southern Africa', Roberts, 6th Edition 1993, p. 84 "Season: all months throughout the year...." and adds that the main breeding period varies according to region. On nest-building and raptor attacks Roberts writes" ..on ground in dense vegetation; also holes cliffs, caves, trees, buildings, up to 60m above ground; often uses old nests of crows, raptors and Hamerkops in tree or on cliff....".. So the Buzzard is not the only one to suffer from the attention of the Egyptian Goose.
Wulf also personally experienced aggressive Egyptian Geese at the Goas Waterhole in the Etoscha Park in Namibia in January 1994. A pair took off from the water and furiously attacked a RAUBADLER Eagle which had taken a passing interest in their chicks. The eagle managed to avoid a direct confrontation and, after three attacks, the by no means SMALL raptor took to the hills. No matter what one thinks about the expansion of introduced species they can still be interesting for the birder, and one can always learnsomething new.
· A GermanBirdNet mystery bird prize competition for beginners · · and for the more advanced
* For holidays or visits to East Friesland (in German - Lots of organised tours on foot or by boat during the season).
BEST OF EUROPE
New rarity sighting lists this week from Norway and Switzerland in 'Best of Europe/Das Beste'
NEXT NEXT ISSUE
Due to *LBB*, POTGW will be back the weekend after Easter.
The contents of POTGW are © David Conlin 2000 unless otherwise stated and should not be copied in whole or in part, or otherwise publicly reproduced, without his consent.
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