Spray-painted polar bear sparks alarm in Russia

A polar bear daubed with the painted slogan T-34, the name of a Soviet era tank. (Social Media)
Updated 04 December 2019

Spray-painted polar bear sparks alarm in Russia

  • Local media reported that scientists had marked the bear because it was scavenging for food near a human-inhabited area in the Arctic region
  • Polar bears regularly visit areas inhabited by humans in Arctic Russia to search for food, often in rubbish tips

MOSCOW: A video showing a polar bear daubed with painted slogan T-34, the name of a Soviet era tank, has caused alarm in Russia with experts saying it could prevent the bear hunting.
Local media reported Tuesday that scientists had marked the bear because it was scavenging for food near a human-inhabited area in the Arctic region.
The video was posted on Facebook on Monday by Sergei Kavry, who works for the World Wildlife Fund in the Chukotka region.
He said he was concerned at the large letters daubed on the side of the bear, seen plodding through snow.
“Why? Why? He won’t be able to hunt inconspicuously,” Kavry wrote. Kavry said he found the video on a WhatsApp social media group and did not know where it was shot.
A senior researcher at the Institute of Biological Problems of the North in far eastern Russia, Anatoly Kochnev, told RIA Novosti news agency he did not know where the video was shot, but the letters could have been painted on by “jokers.”
“At first, until he cleans himself off, it will be hard for him to hunt,” the scientist said.


Severpress news agency, based in the Yamalo-Nenetsky region, some 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) northeast of Moscow, reported that the marks were put on by an expedition of scientists on Novaya Zemlya, a remote and sparsely populated Arctic archipelago.
It cited experts as saying a team of scientists from Moscow went to investigate a polar bear that was raiding a settlement’s rubbish tip and they marked the bear to see if it returned.
The agency quoted Ilya Mordvintsev, a senior researcher from Moscow’s Institute of Problems of Ecology and Evolution, as saying the expedition members caught the bear and sedated it.
Finding the animal was well-fed and therefore would not attack humans, they took it to a safe distance from the settlement and marked it with paint that would wash off in two weeks, to see if it returned to scavenge, he said.
The video was apparently shot last week, the agency reported.
Polar bears regularly visit areas inhabited by humans in Arctic Russia to search for food, often in rubbish tips.
In February in Novaya Zemlya, officials sounded the alarm over an “invasion” of 52 bears in the main settlement there.
The bears are affected by global warming with melting Arctic ice forcing them to spend more time on land where they compete for food.

 


German foreign ministry backtracks after sense of humor failure in trending tweet gaffe

Updated 17 January 2020

German foreign ministry backtracks after sense of humor failure in trending tweet gaffe

  • The meme was the hashtag #SeduceSomeonein4Words
  • Twitter reaction was mixed

BERLIN: Social media can be a minefield for the strait-laced world of diplomacy, as the German Foreign Office just found out, when it was forced to delete a tweet and apologize for its contribution to a mildly off-color Twitter meme.
The meme was the hashtag #SeduceSomeonein4Words.
Submissions on Thursday ranged from “You hungry? I’m cooking” to “Donald Trump Is Impeached”. Then @GermanyDiplo, the foreign ministry’s English-language channel, came up with “Your visa got approved”.
That got hundreds of retweets and thousands of likes. But it also got a fair amount of criticism, much of it from people suffering through the process of acquiring a German visa.

Germany attracts migrants from the world over, with its free universities, strong economy, high wages and almost full employment. In 2015’s migrant crisis, hundreds of thousands from the Middle East and Africa overwhelmed Europe’s border controls and flooded into Germany.
But eye-catching influxes like that mask the thousands of daily frustrations and family tragedies that take place at the consulates of rich countries. Would-be immigrants spend fortunes and wait weeks and months applying for visas that would let them work, study, or be reunited with loved ones far away.
That gives the consular officials who award the coveted stamp immense power. British and US officials have been investigated for abusing that power, allegedly requiring sex in exchange for visas.
So Twitter reaction was mixed.
“Even though it’s terribly hard and sometimes humiliating to try to get visa from German Consulate, the joke is still very funny!” wrote Turkish journalist Rahsan Gulsan.
GermanyDiplo rapidly backtracked, deleting the tweet and four hours later issuing a rueful apology.
“Being funny is apparently not always our strong suit,” the ministry wrote. “We know the visa process is complex, and visa decisions can deeply affect peoples’ lives. Our colleagues take these decisions very seriously.”