Voices elephants in rain

Protecting habitat and engaging the local community are crucial for both rhinos and elephants, says Christian Lambrechts, the managing director of Rhino Ark

Weather: Predictions of doom and disaster

A new report paints a grim picture of the potential consequences of global warming. Islands will be submerged, Europe could suffer water shortages, urban air quality could deteriorate in North America, Africa could starve ... if current computer models are correct.

LAST NIGHT: Review of The Grafters

Iwatched The Grafters (BBC2) with a certain impurity of motive. It was not, you understand, because it included an attractive Oxford undergraduate turned Soho pole dancer. I just wanted to see whether the BBC had over- reacted in pulling the film from schedules last week because it also featured a young East End funeral director. I expressed some scepticism about this decision last week, but having seen the programme it's only fair to concede that they had a point - it simply wasn't the moment to watch two undertakers stapling a plastic lining into a coffin because, as one of them put it, "Not everybody's clean and neat and tidy, are they?"

What price nature? At pounds 20 trillion a year it is truly our most precious asset

What price a wild flower, or lark song, or a view of wooded hills and meadows? Poets might ask the question but biologists and economists have now conspired to come up with an answer.

Supping on life soup

THE ANATOMY OF DISGUST by William Ian Miller, Harvard pounds 16.50

Protein - the missing link?

Protein molecules can be made to display life-like properties and could be the link between inanimate matter and living things, scientists said yesterday. A team of chemists has succeeded in building protein "ecosystems" that can replicate and form complex interactions that are signatures of living systems.

Letter: Way forward for bridleways

Sir: I sympathise with Stan Haynes (letter, 27 March) over what government and EU agricultural policies have done to the landscape. If the bridleway he mentions being ploughed out is a public bridleway he should be aware of the laws that should be obeyed by the farmer. It is an offence to plough a bridleway at all, unless it is a cross-field and the field cannot conveniently be ploughed without ploughing across the path. Even then, it must be restored within 14 days.

Food: Blunders increase Chernobyl danger

Britons face an increased risk of cancer by eating foods, such as milk, contaminated by the Chernobyl accident, according to research published today. John Jeffers, a former government scientist who was director of the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, told New Scientist magazine that monitoring of radiation levels in food following the accident was "half- hearted and fairly ridiculous".

'I feel passionate about our continuing onslaught on the natural world, and the reckless extermination of ever-growing numbers of life forms. And the reason I feel passionate about other creatures is because I feel passionate about humankind.' Jonathon Porritt introduces this special report

The way we relate to other creatures is a very personal thing. Some people couldn't care less, and some seem to care more about animals than they do about human beings, which makes the job of generalising about endangered species a very tricky business I start from an odd position. Just as I don't much like pets (never having recovered from living near Hampstead Heath, with its army of dementedly defecating doggies), nor am I much turned on by the "big brown eye brigade" - the so-called charismatic mega fauna such as tigers, elephants, rhinos. pandas, birds of prey and so on. Give me the humble slime-mould on the forest floor any day! But I still feel passionate about our continuing onslaught on the natural world, and the reckless extermination of ever-growing numbers of life forms. And the reason I feel passionate about other creatures is precisely because I feel passionate about humankind - about our future, our quality of life, our moral and spiritual integrity. When asked the commonplace question, "Why bother about endangered species?", there are a host of possible answers: because other creatures have a basic right in themselves to be treated as equally valuable expressions of evolution as we humans; because our own self-interest may depend on some future use we come to make of these species or the habitats on which they depend; because we have no right to deprive future generations of their enjoyment or use of these creatures. But more important than all of these is the fact that we owe it to ourselves, right here and now, to fulfil our obligation to act as stewards of this heaving and mysterious multitude of life.

Science: Save the Earth - eat a turtle

Edward O Wilson is not your usual scientist. On the question of biodiversity, he's more pragmatist than preacher. Hugh Aldersley-Williams explains

Letter: McOutrage

Sir: Might I suggest that any of your readers who bear the name McDonald join forces and instigate proceedings against a certain fast food chain for using their name? ("Big Mac chews out little Mrs McMunchie", 24 September)

Letter: Time to protect the tsetse fly

Sir: Nicholas Schoon says man has the right to eradicate what he calls "natural enemies" like the tsetse fly. There are thousands of animals and insects which have the capacity to harm or kill humans. Spiders, scorpions, sharks, crocodiles, lions, tigers, piranhas. They all have, and still do, kill humans. They can all be placed in Mr Schoon's classification "natural enemies". Should we destroy them too?

Letter: Naturalists do care about small snails

Sir: I take issue with Nicholas Schoon's suggestion (15 May) that none beyond a few dozen specialists in museums and university biology departments really cares about the hundreds of small utterly obscure plant and animal species in Britain that are declining or endangered.

When it is right to destroy nature

Nicholas Schoon argues that we should not try to conserve every plant and animal species

Five million years on...31 new species are found


LETTER : Justice is a right, not a commodity

From Mr Dave Morris
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Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

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