Felled trees call for help

I was interested to read this story that trees in the Amazon rainforest were being fitted with mobile phones .  If the tree is illegally felled, and reaches somewhere with mobile phone reception it starts making calls to the authorities; ‘Come and get me! I’m on the truck of an illegal logger!’.

A  panda in the snow?
A panda in the snow?

It’s an interesting use of technology.  I hope the phones being used might be signed up to the WWF network which produces money for ‘the pandas’ – 10% of net revenues go to the conservation of threatened species.

“Most people use a mobile phone, so this is an innovative and easy way for people to do their bit for conservation,” said the WWF’s communications and fundraising director Tobin Aldrich.

Maybe every hen harrier should have a mobile phone.  But who would they call? Richard Benyon? Natural England? The Moorland Association? Probably not?  Maybe the National Wildlife Crime Unit – now their number remains live?

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13 Replies to “Felled trees call for help”

  1. Well Hen Harriers may not have mobile phones but they have of course been fitted with their own means of transmitting where they are but mysteriously they just seem to vanish. Did the NWCU receive coordinates for the last known transmission location for radio tagged HHs I wonder?

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  2. I think they might as well call 'Ghostbusters' for what good it will do!!!

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  3. "Maybe every hen harrier should have a mobile phone."

    They would just fly into things while texting

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  4. What every English Hen Harrier needs probably isn't yet available with today's technology. It's a lightweight strap-on sensor package with GPS and a burst transmitter. It would need to provide bio-telemetry, contain a accelerometer capable of detecting projectile impact or the snap of a spring trap, and a "sniffer" tuned to sense carburofan and the other preferred chemicals used by criminals to dispense with inconvenient wildlife. The device would electronically scream blue murder and broadcast an exact GPS location under certain "suspect" conditions.

    I'd like a cheaper version without the impact sensor too and I'd fit them to corvids, foxes, and other carrion eaters. Then we could start finding out where all the illegal poisons are coming from.

    The icing on the cake would be to make the devices so that they sprayed a traceable and indelible chemical on anyone handling the deceased "carrier".

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  5. "Maybe every Hen Harrier should have a mobile phone" - not as crazy as it sounds... you can already get tracking devices for birds that use GSM (the global system for mobile communication) to transmit data regarding the bird's location via the mobile phone network. This is the same system that the police use to find people carrying a mobile phone. Of course it's not beyond the realms of possibility to fit these devices to Hen Harriers and develop a system to connect in real time to the NWCU. The question is, who is going to fund the work? The devices themselves aren't cheap but more important is the cost of staff time to set it up and to monitor and interpret the outputs. And as we have seen, funding for this sort of thing is pretty hard won!

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  6. Ref H H,I am of the old school no one will convince me that if the penalty is big enough only a few idiots will commit the crime.
    Confiscate those estates committing the crimes,then H H would prosper,of course no one strong enough to implement anything that will help H Hs.

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  7. Mark.
    Talking of hen harriers...
    In case anyone reading your blog post is interested in the etymology of their scientific name:
    http://zoonames.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/hen-harrier.html

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  8. I think it is a nice idea but and it is a big but there is a flaw in the plan, Wildlife policeman or other law enforcement arrives at location of signal and all you find is............ nothing the keeper who shot the bird ( because that is apparently how most persecuted harriers die) has removed dead bird and destroyed the device and you are left with no evidence. It is all well and good knowing what happens but proving it in law is somewhat different and much much harder. However a device that somehow covered the hands of the keeper retrieving said bird with something like smart water then we might be talking. Sadly we have nearly no harriers in England or the grouse moor areas of Scotland to fit them too!

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    1. I think I would rather see a device developed that covers the filthy criminal with anthrax or strychnine then at least the harrier can be recovered at the same time as his body. I’m sure we would see a miraculous recovery in breeding numbers if this technology were deployed.

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  9. I think anthrax is a step too far, even a 'friendly slap' is to jump onto a slippery slope but a techie approach could win out. What about micro- chipping? It works for owners of cats and dogs? I like the idea of chipping trees too but the major problems remain - accountability and funding. On the latter, if people will pay to 'protect an acre' of rainforest surely they can be persuaded to protect trees from illegal logging?

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  10. Any tool to help track illegal timber is welcome and there has been much progress in this regard recently - from the excellent work by google earth in tracking the illegal felling, through to the very radical decision by the Belize government to burn impounded illegal timber - it all helps. And next month we see the EU Timber Regulations come into force, which whilst belated are still very progressive and welcomed by the forestry industry who can start to re establish themselves as separate to those who commit deforestation. Although incidences such as Ikea felling ancient pine forest in Karelia will still be seen due to flaws in the certification process.
    We have been sitting around too long in the hope that consumers will force change - but walk into any garden centre and you will see that this is impossible; with teak tree roots sold as tables, using rainforest back noise and slug pellets sold next to a display of RSPB approved bird feeders. Legislation is the only way forward and we should all be proud in Europe of the EUTR and industry support for it.

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