News The altercation allegedly broke out during a dispute over whose turn it was to pat the park's koalas

A pleasant day out to a wildlife park reportedly turned sour when a visitor was accused of assaulting a man and threatening him with a knife – apparently because it was his turn to pat the koalas.

'It nearly took my leg off': British grandfather on holiday in Australia 'grabbed shark by tail to save bathers'

A British grandfather on holiday in Australia is being hailed as a hero after he grabbed a shark by its tail and tried to drag it away from people playing at the edge of the sea.

Rugs, trophies, skulls, teeth – more than 32,000 specimens of polar bear were traded in the last decade

Britain urged to stop supporting the trade in dead polar bears

Environmentalists including Chris Packham and Bear Grylls have urged Britain to drop its support for polar bear trading – claiming that the UK's opposition to a ban has contributed to thousands of the animals being hunted for rugs, trophies and body-parts.

Open Jaw: Where readers write back

Travel in 2013

I'm always interested in where others are going – but you've missed out the whole of Brazil here. This is the country to go to in 2013: 5,000 miles of undiscovered sandy beaches with as much or as little action as you want, plus history, culture, samba, football and beautiful hidden pousadas to stay at wherever you go.

Alison McGowan

Crew rescued from stricken tug boat

Eight people have been rescued off the coast of Devon from a tug which is carrying 200 tonnes of diesel.

The moai, giant stone statues that line the Easter Island coast

This week's big questions: Can ancient tribes teach us anything? Are we doomed, like Easter Islanders, to extinction?

This week's questions are answered by Jared Diamond, an American scientist and the author of the bestselling ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel

Cooler weather brings respite in Australia - for now

Record temperatures across southern Australia cooled today, reducing the danger from scores of raging wildfires but likely bringing only a brief reprieve from the summer's extreme heat and fire risk.

Animals at risk as wildlife crime unit faces the axe over £136,000 funding

Britain's National Wildlife Crime Unit which leads the fight against the burgeoning illegal wildlife trade may be facing the axe.

The News Matrix: Friday 4 January 2013

Millions struggling to pay the rent

Peregrine falcons can be taken from the wild and sold for enormous sums for falconry - even though it's illegal

Wildlife crime unit faces extinction over funding crisis

Concern about future of crucial work preventing smuggling and cruelty against animals

Penkridge, in Staffordshire, was hit by flooding in June this year

2012 second wettest year on record

Last year was the wettest on record in England and the second wettest ever seen in the UK, the Met Office has announced.

The drilling unit Kulluk ran aground near Alaska

Shell oil drilling platform stranded in sensitive Arctic region

The multinational oil giant Shell is facing fresh criticism of its Arctic offshore oil drilling programme, after one of its platforms was left stranded in an environmentally sensitive area of the Alaskan coast.

Video: Seal who swam 50 miles along flooded river set to draw crowds

A seal believed to have swum more than 50 miles (80km) along a flooded river to a nature reserve is expected to become a visitor attraction.

Wildlife rangers captured 314 of the estuarine crocodiles in 2012, the equivalent of more than six a week in the northernmost section of the Northern Territory

Number of crocodiles in Australian waters soars

A record haul of man-eating saltwater crocodiles was removed from waterways in the "Top End" of Australia last year, confirming that numbers of the feared reptiles are ballooning.

A female rhino, with a male companion, who survived a brutal dehorning in South Africa

Rhino poaching peaks across Africa as demand for horns soars

The world is facing a new wildlife crisis with rhino and elephant poaching in Africa now running out of control, as the illicit wildlife trade booms across the globe as never before.

Two feared dead after being 'ejected' from bachelor party boat trip in alligator-infested lake

Charlie Jackson and Jason Cobb disappeared in the 'wet and stormy' early hours of Saturday morning

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss