Super Typhoon Noru barrels towards Philippines

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Members of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office prepare rubber boats and life vests ahead of Super Typhoon Noru making landfall.

A super typhoon charged towards the Philippines Sunday and was on track to slam into the heavily populated main island of Luzon, forcing the evacuations of vulnerable communities on the coast and in Manila, authorities said.

Super Typhoon Noru was packing maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers (121 miles) an hour after an unprecedented “explosive intensification”, the state weather forecaster said.

The storm, the strongest to hit the Philippines this year, is expected to continue strengthening as it makes landfall around 80 kilometers northeast of the sprawling capital Manila in the afternoon or evening.

“We ask residents living in danger zones to adhere to calls for evacuation whenever necessary,” Philippine National Police chief General Rodolfo Azurin said.

The Philippines is regularly ravaged by storms, with scientists warning they are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer because of .

“The winds were fierce this morning,” said Ernesto Portillo, 30, who works as a cook in the coastal municipality of Infanta in Quezon province where the could make landfall.

“We’re a bit worried… We secured our belongings and bought a few groceries so we have food just in case.”

Weather forecaster Robb Gile said Noru’s rapid intensification as it neared land was “unprecedented”. The meteorology agency said its had increased by 90 kilometers per hour in 24 hours.

“Typhoons are like engines—you need a fuel and an exhaust to function,” said Gile.

“In the case of Karding, it has a good fuel because it has plenty of warm waters along its track and then there is a good exhaust in the upper level of the atmosphere—so it’s a good recipe for explosive intensification,” he said, using the local name for the storm.

In Manila, braced for the possibility of strong winds and heavy rain battering the city of more than 13 million people.

Forced evacuations have started in some “high risk” areas of the metropolis, officials said.

“NCR is prepared. We are just waiting and hoping it will not hit us,” said Romulo Cabantac, regional director for the civil defense office, referring to the National Capital Region.

Calm before the storm

Noru comes nine months after another devastated swathes of the country, killing more than 400 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.

Ahead of the latest storm, residents in several municipalities in Quezon province were evacuated from their homes, according to the provincial disaster office.

In the neighboring province of Aurora, residents of Dingalan municipality were forced to seek shelter.

“People living near the coast have been told to evacuate. We live away from the coast so we’re staying put so far. We’re more worried about the water from the mountains,” said Rhea Tan, 54, a restaurant manager in Dingalan.

Tan said residents were securing the roofs of their houses and boats were being taken to higher ground while the weather was still calm.

“We’re even more anxious if the weather is very calm, because that’s the usual indicator of a strong typhoon before it hits land,” Tan added.

Noru could have wind speeds of up to 205 kilometers per hour when it makes landfall, the weather bureau said.

It is expected to weaken to a typhoon as it sweeps across central Luzon, before entering the South China Sea on Monday and heading towards Vietnam.

The weather bureau has warned of dangerous storm surges more than three meters high along the coast of Aurora and Quezon, including the Polillo islands, along with and landslides as the storm dumps heavy rain.

It could topple coconut and mango trees, and cause “severe losses” to rice and corn crops in the heavily agricultural region, while inundating villages.

The coast guard reported more than 2,500 people had been left stranded by ferry cancellations as vessels took shelter ahead of the . Dozens of flights in and out of Manila were also cancelled.

School classes and non-essential government services have been suspended for Monday.

The Philippines—ranked among the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change—is hit by an average of 20 storms every year.



© 2022 AFP

Citation:
Super Typhoon Noru barrels towards Philippines (2022, September 25)
retrieved 26 September 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-super-typhoon-noru-barrels-philippines.html

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Taiwan’s pangolins suffer surge in feral dog attacks

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Pangolins, usually prized for their scales, brave a different danger in conservation-conscious Taiwan — a surging feral dog population.

In most of its habitats, the heavily trafficked pangolin’s biggest threat comes from humans. But in Taiwan, the scaly mammals brave a different danger: a surging feral dog population.

Veterinarian Tseng Shao-tung, 28, has seen firsthand what a dog can do to the gentle creatures during his shifts at a hospital in Hsinchu.

Last month he worked to save the life of a male juvenile pangolin who had been lying in the wild for days with half of its tail chewed off.

“It has a big open wound on its tail and its body tissue has decayed,” Tseng said as he carefully turned the sedated pangolin to disinfect the gaping injury.

It was the fifth pangolin Tseng and his fellow veterinarians had saved this year, all from suspected dog attacks.

Chief veterinarian Chen Yi-ru said she had noticed a steady increase of pangolins with trauma injuries in the last five years—most of them with severed tails.

Pangolins are covered in hard, overlapping body scales and curl up into a ball when attacked. The tail is the animal’s most vulnerable part.

“That’s why when attacked, the tail is usually the first to be bitten,” Chen explained.

Wildlife researchers and officials said dog attacks, which account for more than half of all injuries since 2018, have become “the main threat to pangolins in Taiwan” in a report released last year.

Most trafficked mammal

Pangolins are described by conservationists as the world’s most trafficked mammal, with traditional Chinese medicine being the main driver.

Although their scales are made of keratin—the substance that makes up our fingernails and hair—there is huge demand for them among Chinese consumers because of the unproven belief that they help lactation in breastfeeding mothers.

That demand has decimated pangolin populations across Asia and Africa despite a global ban and funded a lucrative international black market trade.

All eight species of pangolins on both continents are listed as endangered or critically endangered.

Taiwan has been a comparative conservation success story, transforming itself from a place where pangolins went from near-extinct to protected and thriving.

Chan Fang-tse, veterinarian and researcher at the official Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute, said the 1950s to 1970s saw massive hunting.

Pangolins are described by conservationists as the world’s most trafficked mammal, with traditional Chinese medicine being the main driver.

“Sixty thousand pangolins in Taiwan were killed for their scales and hides during that period,” he told AFP.

A 1989 wildlife protection law ended the industry, while rising conservation awareness led the public to start embracing their scaly neighbours as something to be cherished, rather than a commodity.

The population of the Formosan or Taiwanese pangolin, a subspecies of the Chinese pangolin, has since bounced back with researchers estimating that there are now between 10,000 to 15,000 in the wild.

But the island’s growing feral dog population—itself a consequence of a 2017 not to cull stray animals—is hitting pangolins hard, Chan warned.

“Pangolins are most affected because they have a big overlap of roaming area and pangolins don’t move as fast as other animals,” Chan said.

Picky eaters

Pangolins are also vulnerable because of how few offspring they have.

The solitary Formosan pangolins mate once a year and only produce one offspring after 150 days of pregnancy. Captivity breeding programmes have had little success.

“It may be more difficult to breed pangolins than pandas,” Chan said.

The rise in injured pangolins has created another challenge for animal doctors: finding enough ants and termites to feed the picky eaters who often reject substitute mixtures of larvae.

Piling into a truck with three other vets, Tseng headed to a tree to retrieve an ant nest he had recently spotted.

“We have to be constantly on the lookout and go search for ants nests every couple of days now because we have more pangolins to feed,” Tseng said.

A pangolin can eat an ant nest the size of a football each day.

The government has also called for residents to report nest locations to help feed the pangolins until they can be released back into the wild.

But the injured in Tseng’s care will likely have to be sent to a zoo or government facility for adoption after it recovers.

“It will have difficulty climbing up trees and won’t be able to roll itself into a ball shape,” Tseng said.

“It has lost the ability to protect itself in the wild.”



© 2022 AFP

Citation:
Taiwan’s pangolins suffer surge in feral dog attacks (2022, September 25)
retrieved 25 September 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-taiwan-pangolins-surge-feral-dog.html

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