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The scandal of pensioner poverty

A significant achievement of the last Labour government was a reduction in pensioner poverty.

In 1996/97, 42% of single female pensioners were in poverty while the high point for single male pensioner poverty was 34% in 1997/98.  By 2009 these had fallen to 18% and 14% respectively.

Since 2010, single pensioner poverty has seen once again a systematic rise to 24% for females and 20% for males, and the rise looks set to continue.

Along with rising child poverty, it is a scandal of a decade of austerity.




According to analysis by the Rowntree Trust, a significant cause of rising pensioner poverty is housing costs.  For those in social housing, the poverty rate peaked at 54% in 1996/97, fell to 20% in 2012/13, and has risen back to 31% in 2016/17. For those renting from private landlords, the peak was 46% in 1997/98, and the low point was 27% in 2007/08, before rising back up to 36% in 2016/17.

With so many people set to retire with inadequate pensions, we are likely to see a continuing…

Tourism adversely affects animal survival

When we consider protecting animals in the wild from humans, we tend to think of hunting or deforestation and the consequences of over-exploitation for food and housing.  Or we think of the effects of our infrastructure such as railways, roads, airports, carving great chunks out of the landscape and destroying precious habitats.  These all have devastating effects on wildlife. 
While the effects of human activity on populations of animals is well established, disturbance by tourism is also increasingly being identified as affecting the behaviour and reproductive success of animals in the wild and can have significant impacts on their survival.   
In a new study published in the journal Ethology, researchers examined the impact of human encroachment on two adjacent giraffe populations in Kenya to determine whether human activities and high predation affect their social networks.

One study site was a premier tourist destination with a high volume of human activity in the form of tourist traffic and lodges, alongside a high density of lions that preferentially prey on giraffe calves. The other was a private wildlife conservancy with minimal human activity and no lion population.
"If disturbance by humans affects the ability of animals to survive and reproduce, then this potentially puts the future survival of species at risk."

Giraffes at both sites showed preferences to associate with and avoid specific individuals, but the social bonds between individuals were stronger and more exclusive in the population exposed to high levels of human activity and lions. It was also more fragmented than the group with low disturbance.
Lead author of the study, Zoe Muller, of the University of Bristol, in the UK, says:

“Wildlife populations are increasingly becoming restricted to enclosed conservation areas, and economic activities supporting conservation—or tourism—are increasing exponentially, yet there has been little consideration for how such an increase in human-related activity might affect the populations of animals they are working to protect.”  
“If disturbance by humans affects the ability of animals to survive and reproduce, then this potentially puts the future survival of species at risk.”

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