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It’s Time To Save Endangered Gorillas

Endangered gorillas can be saved with a lot of human help

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Humans need to save Gorillas. Pixabay

Deep in the rainforest of Volcanoes National Park, a 23-year-old female gorilla named Kurudi feeds on a stand of wild celery. She bends the green stalks and, with long careful fingers, peels off the exterior skin to expose the succulent inside.

Biologist Jean Paul Hirwa notes her meal on his tablet computer as he peers out from behind a nearby stand of stinging nettles.

The large adult male sitting next to her, known as a silverback, looks at him quizzically. Hirwa makes a low hum — “ahh-mmm” — imitating the gorillas’ usual sound of reassurance.

“I’m here,” Hirwa is trying to say. “It’s OK. No reason to worry.”

Hirwa and the two great apes are all part of the world’s longest-running gorilla study — a project begun in 1967 by famed American primatologist Dian Fossey.

Yet Fossey herself, who died in 1985, would likely be surprised any mountain gorillas are still left to study. Alarmed by rising rates of poaching and deforestation in central Africa, she predicted the species could go extinct by 2000.

Instead, a concerted and sustained conservation campaign has averted the worst and given a second chance to these great apes, which share about 98% of human DNA. Last fall, the Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature changed the status of mountain gorillas from “critically endangered” to “endangered,” an improved if still-fragile designation.

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The population of mountain gorillas is vulnerable. Pixabay

It wouldn’t have happened without an intervention some biologists call “extreme conservation,” which has entailed monitoring every single gorilla in the rainforest, periodically giving them veterinary care and funding forest protection by sending money into communities that might otherwise resent not being able to convert the woods into cropland.

Instead of disappearing, the number of mountain gorillas — a subspecies of eastern gorillas — has risen from 680 a decade ago to just over 1,000 today. Their population is split between two regions, including mist-covered defunct volcanoes within Congo, Uganda and Rwanda — one of Africa’s smallest and most densely populated countries.

“The population of mountain gorillas is still vulnerable,” says George Schaller, a renowned biologist and gorilla expert. “But their numbers are now growing, and that’s remarkable.”

Once depicted in legends and films like “King Kong” as fearsome beasts, gorillas are actually languid primates that eat only plants and insects, and live in fairly stable, extended family groups. Their strength and chest-thumping displays are generally reserved for contests between male rivals.

Every week, scientists like Hirwa, who works for the nonprofit conservation group the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, gather data as part of long-term behavioral research.

If they see any health problems in the gorillas, they inform the staff at Gorillas Doctors, a nongovernmental group whose veterinarians work in the forest. The vets monitor wounds and signs of respiratory infections, but intervene only sparingly.

When they do, they almost never remove the animals from the mountain.

“Our hospital is the forest,” says Jean Bosco Noheli, a veterinarian at Gorilla Doctors. When his team goes into the field to address a gorilla emergency, they must carry everything they might need in equipment bags weighing up to 100 pounds — including portable X-ray machines.

Schaller conducted the first detailed studies of mountain gorillas in the 1950s and early ’60s. He also was the first to discover that wild gorillas could, over time, become comfortable with periodic human presence, a boon to researchers and, later, tourists.

Today, highly regulated tour groups hike in the Rwandan rainforest to watch gorillas.

Ticket revenue pays for operating costs and outstrips what might have been made from converting the rainforest to potato farms and cattle pastures. About 40% of the forest already was cleared for agriculture in the early 1970s.

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Gorillas share about 98% of human DNA. Pixabay

“With tourism, the tension is always not to overexploit,” says Dirck Byler, great ape conservation director at the nonprofit Global Wildlife Conservation, which is not involved in the Rwanda gorilla project. “But in Rwanda, so far they’re careful, and it’s working.”

The idea of using tourism to help fund conservation was contentious when conservationists Bill Weber and Amy Vedder first proposed it while living in Rwanda during the 1970s and ’80s. Fossey herself was skeptical, but the pair persisted.

“The wonder of the gorillas’ lives, their curiosity, their social interactions — we felt that’s something that could be accessible to others, through careful tourism,” Vedder says.

Figuring out the balance of how many people could visit the forest, and for how long, was a delicate process of trial and error, Weber says.

In 2005, the Rwandan government adopted a model to steer 5% of tourism revenue from Volcanoes National Park to build infrastructure in surrounding villages, including schools and health clinics. Two years ago, the share was raised to 10%.

To date, about $2 million has gone into funding village projects, chief park warden Prosper Uwingeli says.

“We don’t want to protect the park with guns. We want to protect and conserve this park with people who understand why, and who take responsibility,” he says.

The money from tourism helps, but the region is still poor.

Jean Claude Masengesho lives with his parents and helps them farm potatoes. About once a week, the 21-year-old earns a little extra money helping tourists carry their bags up the mountain, totaling about $45 a month. He would someday like to become a tour guide, which could earn him about $320 monthly.

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The obstacle is that most tour guides have attended college, and Masengesho isn’t sure how his family can afford tuition.

“It’s my dream, but it’s very hard,” he says. “In this village, every young person’s dream is to work in the park.” (VOA)

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Coronavirus Pandemic: A Punishment for Humans?

Humans have caused irreparable damage to earth over the span of millions of year

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The world has seen many pandemics in the past before Coronavirus pandemic. Pixabay

By Muskan Bhatnagar

It’s been over 6 months since the Coronavirus outbreak and the world is still fighting against it. Coronavirus Worldometer suggests a total of 4,907,135 cases so far, including cases that resulted in deaths and the ones recovered. This is not the first time that the world is going through a pandemic and crisis. Humans saw the Spanish Flu back in 1918, the spread of HIV in 1981, and the most recent one in 2009, H1N1 Swine flu. These pandemics killed millions of people across the globe, just like COVID-19

Since the onset of the year 2020, the world has faced terrible situations. The year began with Australia still on wildfires, a US drone strike on Iran which could’ve escalated to another World War in January, February saw a global stock market crash, in March COVID-19 had spread globally forcing nations to shut down, the global death toll from COVID-19 exceeds 200,000 in April and the world economy is expected to shrink  3%, which is the worst contraction since the 1930s Great Depression. With the onset of May, the global death toll exceeds 300,000 and the world faces a global mental health crisis because of isolation, fear, and economic crisis.

It’s not even been 6 months into this year and the world has already the worst of times. But the question is- who is responsible for all this? The answer is crystal clear. It is us, the human race.

The modern form of humans has existed on earth from 200,000 years. With time, humans have conquered the planet, excelled in the fields of science and technology, made impossible things possible, and developed a world with possibly the most luxurious facilities.

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Humans have caused a lot of damage to the planet with activities like deforestation. Pixabay

In the process of development, humans have caused irreparable damage to Earth and the environment which includes ecosystems, biodiversity, natural resources, etc.

Overconsumption and over-exploitation of resources, overpopulation of humans, global warming, pollution, deforestation, etc have caused damages that are irreversible now. We have exploited the planet to an extent where it’s impossible to rectify the damage we have caused.

Speaking about my personal opinion, this year seems to be a punishment to the human species for all the harm we have caused to nature and the environment since the day of our existence. We have hurt the nature, animals, birds, plants, and even our fellow human beings, and this devastating situation right now, feels like we’re repaying for it.

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People have been hunting animals and destroying ecosystems since a long time. Pixabay

We have killed a countless number of animals and birds just to satisfy our hunger even when we can live without eating them, we have killed animals for the sake of wearing good clothes, we have killed animals just to pursue our hobby of hunting, we have cut down trees so that we can make paper and write ‘save trees’ on them, we have caused air pollution so that we don’t sweat, we have exploited natural resources like petroleum just for the sake of our laziness, we have destroyed forests for the purpose of making luxurious cities, we have damaged the water bodies because we can’t even throw garbage in a bin.

And we happen to be the ‘best creation of God’ and also the smartest species to ever exist on this planet.

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The earth seems to be healing itself while we are confined to our homes. Pixabay

Read More: How Resolution 20-172 by St. Paul City Council Incites Hindu Phobia

Is the development and smartness of any use if the planet is no more able to sustain us? It feels like nature took everything in its hands and decided to punish us from all possible aspects and started to heal itself by confining us to our houses.

Nature has bounced back as we are locked inside our homes. The world has seen a significant positive change in the environment with many countries experiencing a fall in carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide of as much as 40%. With the minimum use of cars on the road, it seems to be a piece of potential good news for the climate as oil happens to be the biggest source of carbon emissions. Not just this, but the flora and fauna have also received a big positive change.

The World and its people are suffering and facing the worst of times, but the planet earth seems to be relieved.

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“The Zoo: COVID-19 and Animals”: A Documentary

The documentary shows the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on animals

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Bronx Zoo announced that their four-year-old Malayan tiger Nadia had tested positive for coronavirus. Pixabay

A new documentary, “The Zoo: COVID-19 and Animals”, shows the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on animals.

When the Bronx Zoo announced their four-year-old Malayan tiger Nadia had tested positive for the dreaded virus, the world was shocked to learn that animals can be victims of this pandemic too. Many questions were raised.

Dave Salmoni, a big cat expert, has dived deep to answer these questions in the special documentary.

Salmoni spoke with a wide spectrum of experts, from the World Health Organization to wildlife biologists to veterinarians, to uncover how the virus affects animals and how pet owners can keep their pets and family safe.

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“The Zoo: COVID-19 And Animals” will premiere on May 17 on Animal Planet, Animal Planet HD and Discovery Plus app. Wikimedia Commons

“When news about Nadia the tiger came out, the questions immediately began: What about my pets? How do I keep my animals and family safe? We’re going to answer these questions and more through this documentary. We’re speaking to a wide range of experts from the World Health Organization, to wildlife biologists, to veterinarians,” said Salmoni.

Read More: 2020 Sees a Steep Drop Of 8% in Global IT Spending Due to COVID-19: Gartner

“We are at war with this disease and so we get down to the nitty gritty, and discuss practical questions about daily lives with our pets. We know animals do play a role in this pandemic, and when it comes to our pets, we have to take care of them like any other member of our family,” he added.

“The Zoo: COVID-19 And Animals” will premiere on May 17 on Animal Planet, Animal Planet HD and Discovery Plus app.

“We have been the forefront of busting myths around novel coronavirus with international documentaries. With this latest film, we take a hard look at how animals are being treated during such a crisis and the safety measures that can be taken to keep both, the people and their pets healthy,” said Sai Abishek, Director–Content, Factual & Lifestyle Entertainment – South Asia, Discovery. (IANS)

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While the Humans Are Caged Amid the Lockdown, Wildlife and Nature Enjoys

The coronavirus pandemic has surely resulted in a huge loss of lives and economy, but on the other hand the animals and the nature are enjoying their days while the humans are locked in their homes

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A photo of two peacocks approaching to eat the grains placed by villagers in a village in Noida amid the lockdown. [Photo by: Kanan Parmar]

By Kanan Parmar

How many of you remember that before the COVID-19 pandemic, the earth was facing another crisis- the environmental crisis?

Amid the lockdown, social distancing and quarantine, people across the globe have noticed drastic changes in the environment. People have reported that they can now see the sky clearer and can breathe better due to decreasing pollution levels.

According to a CNBC report, Clear water is seen in Venice’s canals due to less tourists, motorboats and pollution, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Venice, Italy. People have also noticed fishes and dolphins in the venice’s canals after many years. 

Recent satellite images from NASA of China also showed less air pollution amid the country’s economic shutdown, due to less transportation and manufacturing, says a CNBC report.

The coronavirus pandemic has surely resulted in a huge loss of lives and economy, but on the other hand the animals and the nature are enjoying their days while the humans are locked in their homes. 

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A dolphin swims in the Bosphorus by Galata tower, where sea traffic has nearly come to a halt on April 26, 2020, as the city of 16 million has been under lockdown since April 23rd as part of government measures to stem the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. VOA

In the waters of the Bosphorus, dolphins are these days swimming near the shoreline in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul with lower local maritime traffic and a ban on fishing.

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A Red Panda is pictured in cherry blossom at Manor Wildlife Park in St Florence. VOA

Humans getting a photoshoot was too mainstream before the lockdown and that is why have a look at this happy Red Panda posing.

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Sheep graze as security guards patrol the prehistoric monument at Stonehenge in southern England. VOA

This picture clearly depicts how the sheeps are enjoying grazing while no human is around to litter the land.

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This handout photo provided by Ocean Park Hong Kong on April 7, 2020 shows giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le before mating at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. VOA

With the lockdown in force, most zoos and parks are now closed and that is why animals are now getting the privacy they wanted. You can see how happy the two pandas are while there is no disturbance.

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Sea lions are seen on a street of Mar del Plata harbour during the lockdown imposed due to the new COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in Mar del Plata, some 400 km south of Buenos Aires, Argentina. VOA

Well, this is a rare happening, to find sea lions on a street. The only unchanged thing about the sea lions in this photo is their laziness.

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This aerial view handout from Thailand’s National Marine Park Operation Center in Trang taken and released on April 22, 2020 shows dugongs swimming in Joohoy cape at Libong island in Trang province in southern Thailand. VOA

When was the last time an aerial photo of a sea or water body looked so clean and greenish? Well, let the water bodies breathe until the humans are adhering to the quarantine rules.

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Flamingos are seen in a pond during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Navi Mumbai on April 20, 2020. VOA

Before the lockdown, there was a time when these flamingos couldn’t enjoy in the pond because of the noise and environmental pollution by people visiting the pond in Navi Mumbai

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People take pictures of Pelicans at St James’s park, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain. VOA

Why should only humans go out for a walk to refresh themselves amid the pandemic? Pretty sure the pelicans must be thinking the same while posing for the pictures in the park.

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Deserted banks of the Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges and Yamuna are seen during lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus in Prayagraj, India. VOA

Well before the lockdown and the pandemic, the Ganga and Yamuna river were mostly known for the pollution. But now, as people haven’t been moving out of their houses, the rivers are now cleaner and even more pure.

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Wild bluebells, which bloom around mid-April turning the forest blue as they form a carpet, are pictured in the Hallerbos, also known as the “Blue Forest”, that had to be closed to groups of tourists this year due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, near Halle, Belgium. VOA

With lesser pollution, flowers and plants are now blooming even more.

Also Read- Researchers Develop New Framework To Select Best Trees For Fighting Air Pollution

The question now being raised in the minds of environmental experts is that how long will this positive effect of Coronavirus pandemic last on the environment? Is it all temporary?
Most experts believe that once the lockdown is lifted across all countries, humans may resume their normal lives and hence we will again face the environmental crisis.

It’s now “our” decision to preserve the environment and the wildlife!