Fears for world’s rarest penguin as population plummets

A yellow-Eyed penguin marches along a beach near Dunedin, New Zealand.

Almost half the breeding population of the world’s most endangered penguin species, the yellow-eyed penguin, has disappeared in one part of New Zealandand conservation groups believe commercial fishing is to blame.

The yellow-eyed penguin is endemic to New Zealand’s South Island and sub-Antarctic islands, where there are just 1,600 to 1,800 left in the wild, down from nearly 7,000 in 2000.

During a recent survey of the island sanctuary of Whenua Hou (Codfish Island), department of conservation staff made the alarming discovery that close to half the island’s breeding population of penguins had vanished. Elsewhere in New Zealand the bird’s population is at its lowest level in 27 years.

Forest & Bird’s chief executive Kevin Hague said because the island was predator-free the evidence pointed to the animals being caught and drowned in the nets of commercial fishing trawlers. Only 3% of commercial trawlers have independent observers on them to report bycatch deaths.

“Unlike previous years where disease and high temperatures caused deaths on land, this year birds have disappeared at sea,” said Hague.

“There is an active set net fishery within the penguins’ Whenua Hou foraging ground, and the indications are that nearly half the Whenua Hou hoiho population has been drowned in one or more of these nets.”

Last year 24 nests were recorded on Whenua Hou, but this year rangers only found 14. Penguin numbers are declining in other parts of the South Island as well, and researchers fear the beloved bird, which appears on the New Zealand $5 note, is heading ever closer to extinction.

Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust general manager Sue Murray said every effort was being made to save the birds by conservation groups, but the birds faced multi-pronged threats from disease to dogs and climate change.

A rare yellow-eyed penguin found dead in the net of a fishing trawler.
 A rare yellow-eyed penguin found dead in the net of a fishing trawler. Photograph: Ministry of Primary Industries, New Zealand

“The trust has huge concerns for the future of hoiho [yellow-eyed penguins] on Whenua Hou given their rapid decline. Our focus must be the marine environment where hoiho spend at least half of their life as it is unlikely that terrestrial impacts are a major factor in the decline here.”

The penguins – which are small and have yellow eyes – can be found from Banks Peninsula near Christchurch to as far south as the sub-Antarctic islands.

University of Otago’s Thomas Mattern, a penguin expert, told the Otago Daily Times he believed time was running out for the birds.

“Quite frankly, the yellow-eyed penguins, in my professional opinion, are on their way out,” Mattern said.


In China, Fears That Pokemon Go May Aid Locating Military Bases

In China, Fears That Pokemon Go May Aid Locating Military Bases

Not everyone loves Pokemon Go, the mobile game that has become an instant hit around the world since a limited release just a week ago.

The augmented reality game, in which players walk around real-life neighbourhoods to hunt and catch virtual cartoon characters on their smartphone screens, has been blamed in the United States for several robberies of distracted mobile phone users and car crashes.

A US senator has asked the developers of the game to clarify its data privacy protections.

And although the game is not available in China, the world’s biggest smartphone and online gaming market, some people there fear it could become a Trojan horse for offensive action by the United States and Japan.

“Don’t play Pokemon GO!!!” said user Pitaorenzhe on Chinese microblogging site Weibo. “It’s so the US and Japan can explore China’s secret bases!”

The conspiracy theory is that Japan’s Nintendo Co Ltd, which part owns the Pokemon franchise, and America’s Google can work out where Chinese military bases are by seeing where users can’t go to capture Pokemon characters.

The game relies on Google services such as Maps.

The theory is that if Nintendo places rare Pokemon in areas where they see players aren’t going, and nobody attempts to capture the creature, it can be deduced that the location has restricted access and could be a military zone.

“Then, when war breaks out, Japan and the US can easily target their guided missiles, and China will have been destroyed by the invasion of a Japanese-American game,” said a social media post circulated on Weibo.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he was unaware of reports that the game could be a security risk and that he didn’t have time to play with such things. He gave no further details.

Other government ministries did not respond to faxed questions about the game.

Undeterred fans
But the calls for a boycott, and the fact that Pokemon Go hasn’t even been released in China, have not deterred fans.

“I really looked forward to playing the Pokemon artificial reality game since they first announced it. I really liked Pokemon as a kid,” said Gan Tian, a 22-year-old student at Tsinghua University. She plays an unofficial version with an artificial map based on countries where the game is available.

But for many others in the country, playing is proving a challenge. Not only is the game not on Chinese app stores, but Google services are blocked in China.

Nintendo has given no indication as to when or whether Pokemon Go will be released in China.

Niantic, the lab that developed the game, declined to comment on Friday on an eventual launch. Chief executive John Hanke said in an interview that it would be technically possible to launch in China, but noted a host of complex rules and restrictions.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Tags: Android, Apps, China, Gaming, Google, Niantic, Pokemon, Pokemon Go

US house Blocks Google-Hosted Apps, Yahoo Mail Over security Fears

US House Blocks Google-Hosted Apps, Yahoo Mail Over Security Fears

devices the usage of house‘s internet were barred from getting access to appspot.
appspot.com became doubtlessly hosting a far flung access trojan named BLT.
The circulate came after Yahoo Mail turned into also blacklisted by way of residence government.
the usa residence of Representatives’ facts era team has blocked lawmakers from gaining access tosoftware program applications hosted on a Google cloud carrier to save you viable hacking campaigns,congressional resources said on Wednesday.

The circulate came after Yahoo Mail became also blacklisted by way of residence government due tofears of ransomware inwi-filtration.

the two regulations, which have hampered a few internal communications in the lower chamber, haveboth been applied within the beyond two weeks and are nonetheless in vicinity. The episodes aren’tbelieved to be associated, the resources stated.

gadgets related to the residence‘s net via c084d04ddacadd4b971ae3d98fecfb2a or ethernet cables werebarred from having access to appspot.com, the domain in which Google hosts customconstructed apps, after the FBI notiwirelessed Congress of a potential security vulnerability, the resources said.

“We started out blocking off appspot.com on may additionally 3 in response to signs that appspot.comchanged into doubtlessly nevertheless hosting a faraway get admission to trojan named BLT that has been there given that June 2015,” one of the sources, a house staffer with direct information of thesituation, instructed Reuters.

A Google spokesman said the corporation become investigating reports of the restrict and wouldpaintings with the house to solve any troubles. The FBI has to date now not replied to a request for acomment.

The FBI sent an advisory to non-public industry in June 2015 approximately some of far off get right of entry to gear capable of stealing individually identiwi-fiable records, along with a trojan wi-filewirelessnamed BLT observed on the Google appspot.com domain.

Ted Henderson, a former house employee, stated two Google-hosted apps he created speciwiwireless for use with the aid of congressional staffers to discuss politics and percentage indicators on votes are nowefwiwireless banned on their work network.

The disabling of appspot.com took place after the residence information safety wi-fiofwiwirelessdespatched an advisory electronic mail to lawmakers and staffers on April 30 caution of acceleratedphishing attacks at the residence community from third celebration, webbased totally mail packagesalong with Yahoo Mail and Gmail.

“The attacks are targeted on setting ‘ransomware’ on customerscomputer systems,” the e-mail, seenby way of Reuters, states. It delivered that the number one recognition of the attackers appeared to be Yahoo Mail, which become being blocked at the communityuntil in addition notice.”

two people fell victim to ransomware through clicking on infected word wi-fi electronic mail attachments,sources familiar with the hacking stated. The infected wireless were able to be recovered without paying any ransom, the resources said.

Ransomware assaults, which contain accessing a laptop or network‘s wireless and encrypting them till a ransom is paid by way of the sufferer, have grown greater extreme and common in recent years.

Yahoo is running closely with the house to clear up the matter, a enterprise spokesperson stated.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: Apps, Google, net, Ransomware, Yahoo Mail