Scientists puzzled over a hundred dead seals wash up on Baikal shore

admin   •   November 6, 2017   •   4114

Local environment officials reported that over 140 carcasses of Baikal seals have washed up on the shores of the world’s deepest lake in Russia’s Siberia over the last week.

According to the scientists, the seals had died in water and their carcasses did not have any injuries or signs of disease or starvation.

Russian media reported that according to the country’s veterinary watchdog, the seals have had died of heart attack, the cause of which remains unclear to the experts.

Dozens of dead seals were found ashore at the end of last month and more carcasses were found later by local residents and rangers. Many of the dead seals were pregnant females.

Irkutsk Regional Environmental Prosecutor’s Office is investigating several possible causes of seals’ mass death, but according to the scientists, it can be natural selection.

“At the moment the prosecutor’s office is looking into various versions [of what happened to the seals] including disease of Baikal seals, an attempt of illegal hunting on seals as well as human-caused disturbance. But taking into consideration earlier incidents of seal mass death, the main version is naturally occurring wildlife cycles,” said West Baikal District Asst. Environment Prosecutor Ivan Zolotukhin.

Baikal seals as species are not currently considered under threat, according to biologists. Despite hunting and pollution of Lake Baikal, the seal population is believed to be equalling the carrying capacity of the lake.— Reuters


Philippines eyes deal with Russia on tax data capture

Robie de Guzman   •   February 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Russia are exploring possible cooperation that could further improve the country’s tax administration and compliance, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the DOF said officials from the country’s Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Russia’s Federal Tax Service (FTS) met to discuss the latter’s best practices that could be applied in the Philippines’ revenue agencies.

During an online meeting with FTS deputy commissioner Dmitry Volvach last January 13, both countries explored a possible bilateral agreement between the revenue agencies of the two nations.

In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez during a recent executive committee (Execom) meeting, BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa commended Russia’s tax administration system, which, he said, uses artificial intelligence and data analytics to capture taxpayers’ information.

“We had an initial meeting with the Federal Tax Service of Russia, represented by their Deputy Commissioner Dmitry Volvach. They have good tax administration. They started their digitalization in 2016 and, after 5 years, they are now into capturing almost all the data of taxpayers,” said Guballa in his report.

Guballa said they learned from the FTS that it now audits only 1 out of 7,000 taxpayers as a result of Russia’s well-placed and efficient system that encourages people to comply with tax laws.

Last January 15, the BIR launched its Internal Revenue Integrated System (IRIS), which will serve as the agency’s central tool and repository to process taxpayers’ information.

It is expected to be rolled out nationwide in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to Guballa.

The IRIS launching forms part of the deliverables this year under the BIR’s long-term Digital Transformation Program, he added.

Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine yields 92% efficacy in clinical trial

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 3, 2021

Phase 3 clinical trials of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine has yielded 92% efficacy rate.

Based on experts’ data published in the Lancet International Medical Journal, Sputnik V of Russian Gamaleya Institute is 92% effective against COVID-19.

Ian Jones of the University of Reading Professor and Polly Roy of London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Professor said Sputnik V received criticisms for its lack of transparency and so-called premature rollout of vaccines. However, both professors agreed on Russsia’s previous decision to rollout the vaccine despite its lack of final data.

“The development of the Sputnik V vaccine has been criticized for unseemly haste, corner cutting, and an absence of transparency, but the outcome reported here is clear and the scientific principle of vaccination is demonstrated. Another vaccine can now join the fight to reduce the incidence of COVID-19,” their statement reads. AAC

Wildlife conservation must continue amid pandemic —DENR

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has reiterated the need to continue wildlife conservation even amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

This was after a nesting sea turtle was sighted in Zambales province. DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu also reported several sightings of nesting sea turtles were in other areas.

“Even if we are faced with a difficult situation brought about by the threats of the disease, we must continue to strive to protect and preserve our endangered pawikan,” he said.

He added that the sightings prove that the efforts of conserving wildlife was not in vain.

The DENR’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Olongapo City also received a report that sea turtles laying eggs were spotted at a beach resort in San Antonio town.

The DENR said they will monitor the situation of these nests to protect them from poachers and illegal wildlife traders.  AAC


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