Environment Japanese fishermen transporting slaughtered dolphins in Taiji harbour; the water of the cove is red with the blood of dead animals. Locals brand criticism of the cull 'cultural imperialism'

Hundreds of dolphins are killed in a remote Japanese bay during hunting season. The town argues it is an important tradition, but conservationists maintain the bloody practice is inhumane

Drought places wildlife, from trees to tadpoles, under serious threat

Much of Britain's wildlife, from dragonflies to water voles, face a difficult summer because of the drought, the Environment Agency has warned.

Drought will cause a 'wildlife tragedy', says Environment Agency

Exceptional dry spell threatens species from trees to tadpoles

When the Killing's Done, By TC Boyle

Conservation thriller with no end of rats

Animal rights activists halt transportation of laboratory animals

Vital medical research is being "choked off" because airlines and ferry companies are refusing to bring animals into the country for testing in the face of pressure from animals' rights activists, a former science minister has warned.

'Sabotage' forces whaling fleet to end season early

Conservationists claimed victory yesterday after Japan announced it had ended its whaling season early, having hauled less than a third of the annual target.

The beasts of the field must be puzzled by humans

A N Wilson: If Raisa could only talk, imagine what she'd neigh

Our writer finds in the story of the police horse lent to Rebekah Brooks a Swiftian satire that highlights animal nobility and human awfulness

Our now misplaced 'Victory' front page

No ban on circus animals as Cameron acts as chief whip

David Cameron was last night accused of deploying "smoke and mirrors" to avoid imposing an immediate ban on wild animals in travelling circuses.

Wild animals to be banned from circus

Ministers will today dash hopes of an immediate ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.

Bite of T.Rex 'stronger than all'

When it comes to biting power, Tyrannosaurus rex was the undisputed king, a study has shown.

The main food sponsors, Cadbury, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s may, respectively, be using only fair-trade cocoa, reducing their packaging waste, locally sourcing beef and sustainable fish but some question their presence at a festival of athletic excellence altogether

Winners' dinners: how we will feed the Olympic crowds

The past may very well be a foreign country, but when Britain last held the Olympic Games in 1948 it might as well have been on another planet. Back then we spent a mere £700,000 on the games and every British male competitor got a free pair of Y-fronts and a cup of Horlicks. Today the games costs closer to £9bn, Horlicks is off the menu and the only pants given to athletes are from sponsors, and some even get a hefty cheque for donning them.

The main food sponsors, Cadbury, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s may, respectively, be using only fair-trade cocoa, reducing their packaging waste, locally sourcing beef and sustainable fish but some question their presence at a festival of athletic excellence altogether

Winners' dinners: How will hordes of hungry Olympic athletes – and crowds of spectators – be fed?

The past may very well be a foreign country, but when Britain last held the Olympic Games in 1948 it might as well have been on another planet. Back then we spent a mere £700,000 on the games. Scouts carried messages between officials, and brought cups of tea for the runners. Everyone still had a ration book, and every British male competitor got a free pair of Y-fronts and a cup of Horlicks. Today the games costs closer to £9bn, Horlicks is off the menu and the only pants given to athletes are from sponsors, and some even get a hefty cheque for donning them.

Bottlenose dolphins off Brazil drive fish towards fishermen and then swim away, nabbing lunch as they go

Nature: All things bright and beautiful

Scientists are arguing that dolphins are so clever they should be treated like humans. But why stop there? Simon Usborne salutes the smartest species

Marine intelligence: Whales and dolphins are the brains of the oceans

Proposed bill of rights for whales and dolphins

Marine biologists and philosophers have joined forces to support a controversial declaration of rights for whales and dolphins because their astonishing intelligence and emotional empathy makes them equal to humans.

Whales and dolphins are so intelligent they deserve same rights as humans, say experts

Marine biologists and philosophers have joined forces to support a controversial declaration of rights for whales and dolphins on the grounds that their astonishing intelligence and emotional empathy puts them on a par with humans.

Lonely at the top: llamas graze at the Inca site of Machu Picchu in Peru

The Great Divide: History and Human Nature in the Old World and the New, By Peter Watson

The Great Divide is one of several recent books on the deep ecological roots of human history, a trend begun by Jared Diamond with Guns, Germs and Steel (1997). Peter Watson takes some leads from Diamond but goes much further in his attempt to rescue the pre-Columbian world of the Americas from the contempt and even hatred expressed by many at the time of the 2009 Aztec exhibition at the British Museum. One article called the artefacts on display "As evil as Nazi lampshades made from human skin".

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there