Pot Pourri

Cyprus activists: Hunters’ lead pellets threaten flamingos
Larnaca (Cyprus), Feb 21: Conservationists in Cyprus are urging authorities to expand a hunting ban throughout a coastal salt lake network amid concerns that migrating flamingos could potentially swallow lethal quantities of lead shotgun pellets.
Martin Hellicar, director of Birdlife Cyprus, said flamingos are at risk of ingesting the tiny pellets lying on the lakebed as they feed. Like other birds, flamingos swallow small pebbles to aid digestion but can’t distinguish between pebbles and the lead pellets. “Last year, we had tens of losses of flamingos,” Hellicar said. Cyprus is a key stop on the migration path for many types of birds flying from Africa to Europe. The Larnaca Salt Lake, a wetlands network of four lakes, typically welcomes as many as 15,000 flamingos from colder climates to the southern coast of the island nation in the eastern Mediterranean. They stay through the winter and leave in March. Other water fowl frequenting the lake include ducks, waders and seagulls. Hunting is banned around most of the salt lake, but hunters are still allowed to shoot ducks in the network’s southern tip. The government’s Game and Fauna Service says in the first two months of last year, 96 flamingos were found dead in the Larnaca Salt Lake wetlands as a result of lead poisoning.
Cyprus Veterinary Services official Panayiotis Constantinou, who has conducted autopsies on flamingos, said lead from the pellets poisoned the birds. The high number of deaths is mainly attributed to heavy winter rain two years ago that stirred up the lake sediment and dislodged embedded lead shot. A sport shooting range near the lake’s northern tip closed nearly 18 years ago and authorities organised a clean-up of lead pellets in the lakebed there. But Hellicar says the clean-up was apparently incomplete.
A European Union-funded study is underway to identify where significant amounts of lead pellets remain so they can be removed. Preliminary results of the study showed “very high” lead levels in the wetland’s southern tip and continued duck hunting there could compound the problem, Hellicar said. (AP)

WhatsApp users who fail to accept new terms will not be able to send messages
Moscow, Feb 21: WhatsApp users who fail to accept the app’s new terms and conditions before the May 15 deadline will not be able to read or send messages, TechCrunch reported on Saturday, citing the Facebook-owned messenger’s email to one of its merchant partners.
Earlier this week, WhatsApp said that it would allow users to carefully review its privacy update and “slow ask” them to comply with the new terms. “[If users don’t accept the terms] for a short time, these users will be able to receive calls and notifications, but will not be able to read or send messages from the app,” WhatsApp said in an email to one of its partners, reviewed by TechCrunch.
WhatsApp also said that its policy on inactive users, which envisions removal of their accounts after 120 days of inactivity, will be applied after May 15. WhatsApp has recently announced a new policy that would mandate sharing data with parent company Facebook. After a chorus of concerns raised by users following the announcement, and because of Facebook’s tarnished track record on privacy, WhatsApp announced it would delay adopting the new policy from February till May. (Agencies)


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