Mexico captures rare vaquita porpoise in bid to save species

A six-month old calf — the first vaquita ever captured — was caught last month but had to be released as it was too young to be separated from its mother. (AFP)
Updated 05 November 2017
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Mexico captures rare vaquita porpoise in bid to save species

MEXICO CITY: Mexico said Saturday it had captured a rare vaquita marina porpoise — a female of reproductive age — as part of a last-ditch bid to save the critically endangered species.
The vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise, has been pushed to the brink of extinction by illegal gillnet fishing and there are just 30 left in the wild.
The Mexican government and conservation groups have launched an unprecedented plan to save the species by transporting as many as possible to a protected marine reserve.
“The @VaquitaCPR team has managed to capture another vaquita marina,” Mexican Environment Minister Rafael Pacchiano tweeted, adding that the animal is in the care of veterinarians.
A six-month old calf — the first vaquita ever captured — was caught last month but had to be released as it was too young to be separated from its mother.
However the second porpoise “is an adult female and of reproductive age,” Pacchiano said on Twitter. “It’s a great achievement that fills us with hope.”
The initiative, which began field operations in October, is attempting to locate the remaining vaquitas using acoustic monitoring, visual searches and dolphins trained by the US navy.
Captured vaquitas will be transported to a marine sanctuary, where it is hoped they will breed before being released back into the wild.
The vaquita has been nearly wiped out by gillnets used to fish for another species, the also endangered totoaba fish, whose swim bladder is considered a delicacy in China and can fetch $20,000 per kilogram.
In June, Mexico announced a series of measures to protect the vaquita, including a permanent ban on gillnets in its habitat.
In all, the government has committed more than $100 million to protecting the vaquita while supporting the local fishing community.


Android software puts Google at heart of mobile life

Updated 18 July 2018
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Android software puts Google at heart of mobile life

  • Google, the revenue-pumping heart of corporate parent Alphabet, makes Android available free to device makers
  • Android is ‘open source,’ meaning that device makers can use it free of charge and customize it as they wish

SAN FRANCISCO: The Google Android operating system, the target of a long-running EU antitrust investigation, powers the vast majority of the world’s smartphones and firmly rules the mobile world.
Android software acts as the brains for mobile devices, coordinating tasks from phone calls and map directions to games, Twitter posts, or online searches.
Google, the revenue-pumping heart of corporate parent Alphabet, makes Android available free to device makers, earning money from ads, content or subscriptions at online services crafted to work smoothly with the operating system.
According to industry-tracker Gartner, Android dominated the smartphone market with a share of 85.9 percent last year, to around 14 percent for Apple’s iOS.
Some 1.3 billion Android smartphones were sold last year, compared with approximately 215 million running on iOS and 1.5 million with other operating systems, according to the research firm.
The first version of Android was released a decade ago.
In a playful way, Google has named Android iterations after tasty treats including Kit Kat, Marshmallow and Nougat. A fresh version, Android P, is in beta testing mode and is expected to be given a yummier moniker before it is officially released.
Android is “open source,” meaning that device makers can use it free of charge and customize it as they wish.
This led to complaints that the world of Android was “forked,” with compatibility of applications inconsistent and device makers slow or reluctant to push updated versions or security patches to users.
Apple, in contrast, tightly controls its software and hardware, so an application that works on one device works on all. Apple also prides itself on pushing the most up-to-date version of iOS out to mobile devices.
While Android operating system software is free, EU authorities claim Google uses its leverage to get mobile device makers to install its other mobile apps like YouTube, Chrome, Gmail, Maps and Translate to cement its dominant position.
Android is used by a host of mobile device makers, including South Korea-based Samsung, which is the world’s top smartphone maker in terms of volume.
Before Google shook up the market with Android, gadget makers paid to license operating systems or relied on their own.
Microsoft took that approach with the operating system for Windows Phone, before surrendering the market in the face of runaway success by Android and Apple.
Google makes its own premium Pixel smartphones, which showcase the capabilities of Android and are kept up to date with software improvements. Pixel smartphones account for only a small sliver of the market.
According to EU investigators, Google has required device makers to install its search engine and the Google Chrome browser on phones, and to set Google Search as the default, as a condition for licensing some Google apps.
The California tech giant disputes this, saying mobile device manufacturers, if they wish, can install applications that compete with those offered by Google.
For example, Samsung smartphones can come new with Chrome and another web browsing program built-in, or offer both Google Pay and Samsung Pay digital wallets for use.
Android users are free to patronize online venues other than the Google Play Store for apps, games, music or other digital content.
Google does promote its own services as being optimized for Android, and backed by “cloud” computing capabilities for backing up data and being able to shift seamlessly between devices such as smartphones and laptop computers.
Daniel Castro of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington think tank, said Google’s strategy tries to “limit fragmentation across Android devices” so as to attract application makers and protect the reputation of the brand.