26 de noviembre del 2000
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Protected Birds

HAVANA - The Cuban habitat of the black-capped petrel, or witch's bird, with its stealthy behavior, is included in a project to preserve 61 rare or endangered species.

The only capture of the black-capped petrel in Cuba occurred Jan 28, 1977, and is recorded as one of the most important ornithological discoveries of the twentieth century, said Nicasio Viña, a researcher at the Eastern Center for Ecosystems and Biodiversity.

The population of this bird is concentrated along the coast of North Carolina, in the United States, and migrates in October. Cuba becomes the winter home to a large colony of black-capped petrels, but the number is difficult to determine with accuracy because they keep themselves hidden, thanks to their brown plumage and their custom of landing at sunset and leaving before sunrise.

This ''invisibility,'' and the bird's song - which local residents say is a bad omen -, gave rise to the legend of the witch's bird.


Saving the 'Wolfman'

BUENOS AIRES - The zoo in the Argentine capital this month debuted four 'aguará-guazú.' Their birth in captivity has fed hopes of preserving a species that has been persecuted by those who believe they are a sort of ''wolfman.''

The aguará-guazú, ''big fox'' in the indigenous Guaraní language, is a shy nocturnal animal that has its origins in broad region extending from Argentina to Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay.

A 1995 census found fewer than 1,000 aguará-guazú. Its population was decimated by animal trafficking and by the legend of the wolfman, spread throughout South America by immigrants arriving from Europe.


No to Privatization

QUITO - Environmental groups are demanding that Ecuador's government make a clear declaration against privatizing nature areas, a transaction made possible by a law that went into effect in August.

Activists marched Nov 20 to Congress, calling for the exclusion of mangrove areas from the scope of the privatization law.

The protest was part of a series of actions to prevent the sale to private companies of publicly-owned natural areas, initiated shortly beforehand with the eight-hour occupation of the Environment Ministry's offices. The environmentalists demand that minister Rodolfo Rendón speak out against selling off the government-held territories.


UNESCO Declares New Nature Reserves

BOGOTA - The Caribbean archipelago of San Andrés and the northern Marsh of Santa Marta, two Colombian ecosystems, have been declared biosphere reserves by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

San Andrés is home to one of the largest barrier reefs in the western hemisphere, and Santa Marta holds extensive biological wealth, but also mangroves that are suffering the effects of human activity.

The UNESCO decision was made Nov 9 during the 16th session of the international council of its Man and the Biosphere Program.

The biosphere reserves serve as laboratories to promote sustainable development and biodiversity conservation.

* Source: Inter Press Service

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