Saturday, March 29, 2008

Snake bursts after gobbling gator

The predators died in the clash

An unusual clash between a 6-foot (1.8m) alligator and a 13-foot (3.9m) python has left two of the deadliest predators dead in Florida's swamps.

The Burmese python tried to swallow its fearsome rival whole but then exploded.

The remains of the two giant reptiles were found by astonished rangers in the Everglades National Park.

The rangers say the find suggests that non-native Burmese pythons might even challenge alligators' leading position in the food chain in the swamps.

Clearly, if they can kill an alligator they can kill other species
Prof Frank Mazzotti

The python's remains were found with the victim's tail protruding from its burst midsection. The head of the python was missing.

"Encounters like that are almost never seen in the wild... And here we are," Frank Mazzotti, a University of Florida wildlife professor, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

"They were probably evenly matched in size. If the python got a good grip on the alligator before the alligator got a good grip on him, he could win," Professor Mazzotti said.

He said the alligator may have clawed at the python's stomach, leading it to burst.

"Clearly, if they can kill an alligator they can kill other species," Prof Mazzotti said.

He said that there had been four known encounters between the two species in the past. In the other cases, the alligator won or the battle was an apparent draw.

Burmese pythons - many of whom have been dumped by their owners - have thrived in the wet and hot climate of Florida's swamps over the past 20 years.

India rice export prices up again

By Ethirajan Anbarasan
BBC News

Harvesting rice
Traders say rice prices rose by 10% last year

India has raised the minimum price at which it exports non-basmati rice in a renewed effort to discourage exports and control domestic food costs.

This is the second time in a month that India has raised its minimum price for exporting rice.

The price has gone up from $650 to $1,000 per tonne for non-basmati rice.

India is the second-largest rice producer in the world. It usually exports more than four million tonnes of rice a year.

The government imposed a total ban on non-basmati rice exports last October but lifted it following protests from exporters.

Sales affected

Traders were hoping to increase their exports by more than 30% this year - mainly to meet increased demands from east Asia and the Middle East.

Rice being loaded onto a Bangladeshi boat
Bangladesh is having to import rice (Photo: Daily Star)

But the latest government measures mean they may not achieve their targets.

"The price hike by the Indian government will affect our sales in the Middle East," Sheikh Dawood, a rice trader in Dubai, told the BBC Tamil service.

"We can't afford that price in the long run. If this trend continues, many South Asian immigrants in the region will be affected."

The government announcement coincides with reports that India's inflation is rising to a 13-month high.

Indian traders say rice prices went up by about 10% last year because of shortages in the domestic market.

In an attempt to bolster its stocks, India last week abolished import duties on rice as well.

International problem

India ended its reliance on food imports in the 1970s, largely to the government's so-called Green Revolution.

But two years ago, it imported wheat for the first time in six years following a significant drop in its stockpiles.

The government wants to avoid a similar situation for its rice stocks.

The problem is an international one, as global rice stocks have reached a 25-year low.

India's neighbour Bangladesh desperately needs rice imports after last year's cyclone wiped out nearly all of its rice harvest.

The head of the International Rice Research Institute, Robert Zeigler, recently warned that countries like Bangladesh face a real threat of social unrest because of shortages of rice.

India wants to avoid a similar situation and is taking precautionary measures to bolster its domestic stocks in the coming months.

But experts warn that these measures are temporary and that fast growing economies like India need to look beyond the current crisis.

They say the government should first stop converting farm land for industrial and housing purposes and invest more in irrigation and agricultural research.

The experts say growth in the farm sector is vital as more than 60% of the people in the region are still dependent on agriculture.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Greetings All,
I am really still active. I have been(and still) on the Longest Walk 2 there has not been much internet on the various Native Lands that we have been traveling,through, but we are in Flagstaff. AZ now for a few days so I will be able to up date my blogs.
Will type at you in the morning, peace gregor