People like Lt. Col Faye Cuevas, a war-veteran-turned-conservationist, are exactly what wildlife warriors need. Africa, teeming with poachers and bearing the brunt of climate change, was especially up for change. To make up for Africa’s lack of resources, a Canadian team put up a brigade in Mali to protect its dwindling elephant population.
The brigade combines rangers and army forces, a necessary pairing for protecting wildlife in this hostile territory, regularly crisscrossed by offshoots of Al Qaeda and bandits.
Since launching the brigade in February, there have been no run-ins with poachers. Mali, normally plagued by other traffickers and petty bandits, has come a long way.
“The work,” Sergeant Sangare [of the brigade] said, “it is love.”
The brigade, led by the Wild Foundation and International Conservation Fund of Canada, is the first foreign helping hand Mali has received in some time. With locals expressing their dire need for basic necessities, the groups have also stepped in as community lifelines. It seems to me this act of selflessness is rarer than any ivory on the market.
While Hollywood VIP Leonardo DiCaprio is looking out for lions, Armenian firefighters have other plans. After years of playing cat-and-mouse, the International Animal Rescue freed two captive bears used for entertainment at a Yerevan restaurant.
“Now the plight of these poor bears has come to light, I know IAR won’t turn its back on them. After years of misery and neglect, an end to the suffering can’t come soon enough.” [said patron Neil Morrissey.]
Bear buddies Dasha and Misha now reside in a mountain sanctuary (hopefully miles from their captors). According to the IAR, there are still some 80 captive and abused bears unaccounted for.
“Some have been living for years in small, barren cages, surviving only on scraps and filthy, stagnant water. Many bang their heads to relieve the boredom. It is heartbreaking. We are determined to bring it to an end.” [said IAR chief Alan Knight.]
While The Jungle Book may have us thinking bears are as friendly as the affectionate Baloo, they aren’t. Entertaining or not, these fascinating beasts belong only to one place — the wild.
Without a doubt, dogs are resilient animals. Whether they have been lost for 9 months or trapped in a drain for 3 years, they will often persist. Now, dogs Zeus and Valentine may have set the record for surviving out at sea. Along with their humans Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, the team remained on their damaged sailboat for nearly five months.
“When I saw the gray boat on the edge of the horizon, my heart leapt because I knew we were about to be saved,” [said Appel.] “Because I honestly believed we were going to die within the next 24 hours.”
On a trip from Hawaii to Tahiti, the pair encountered a storm, which flooded their engine and destroyed their mast. Communication lines also took a hit, and distress signals went unnoticed. Moreover, the four sustained two shark attacks. After 98 days, the US Navy came to their rescue.
“I’m grateful for their service to our country,” Appel said in a Navy statement. “They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [the US Navy] on the horizon was pure relief.”
Who says only cats have nine lives?
The latter half of 2017 has been all about milestones for our Jurassic ancestors. Casual hikers discovered a Stegomastodon fossil, while the world’s largest dinosaur finally earned its nickname. If you thought things couldn’t get more exciting, you might want to take a trip down to southern Africa. Scientists have just unearthed evidence of an enormous meat-eating dinosaur — and it’s almost the size of T-Rex.
Several three-toed footprints left by the two-legged “megatheropod”… were found near the site of a prehistoric watering hole or river bank in the kingdom of Lesotho.
Experts calculated that the creature would have been around nine metres (30ft) long and stood almost three metres (9.8ft) tall at the hip.
Theropods from the Jurassic period were relatively small — roughly the length of a crocodile — making Kayentapus ambrokholohali quite the celebrity. Thrilled paleontologists also located other footprints, making this discovery one of the greatest of the century.
“This makes it a significant find. Globally, these large tracks are very rare. There is only one other known site similar in age and sized tracks, which is in Poland.”
While it’s good to know such fascinating animals existed, I’m not too upset they’re extinct.
Without words to express themselves, dogs rely on actions to demonstrate loyalty to their humans. A London dog rescued his entire family from a house fire and was awarded a PSDA Gold Medal. While there are no official honors for Nala the Boxer, she is still a hero to her family, whom she protected from a rattlesnake.
“She waited until we were safe. She stood her ground. She didn’t like whimper or anything when she got bit,” [said 10-year-old owner] Cole [Lewis.]
The perpetrating snake was a Mojave green, a highly poisonous reptile. Thanks to Lewis’ stepdad, the Boxer made it to the nearest veterinary clinic in time to fully recover. Nala’s skyrocketing medical bill did little to faze the family, who are eternally grateful for her sacrifice.
“She saved my life, and I just want to hang out with her now because she’s my hero,” Cole said.
Dogs and snakebites are nothing new, but it’s Fido’s continued heroism that never fails to warm my heart.
“Trashion”, or trash fashion, is taking over as one of the biggest trends of the year. It isn’t only unique — it’s inspiring many to build sustainable closets. Taking the lead from smaller brands, fashion giants are beginning to shrink their carbon footprints. Italian fashion house Gucci promises to go fur-free by 2018.
[Marco] Bizzarri said: “Being socially responsible is one of Gucci’s core values, and we will continue to strive to do better for the environment and animals.”
The ban will eliminate the use of mink, coyote, raccoon, fox, and rabbit fur. The brand’s remaining fur items will be auctioned off. Proceeds will be donated to animal rights groups.
Gucci will become part of the Fur Free Alliance – an international group of organizations which campaigns on animal welfare and promotes alternatives to fur in the fashion industry.
Imaginably, leaders of the global fur trade are appalled by the decision, claiming that “fur is the most natural fashion item.” Unfortunately for them, Gucci is realizing that being sustainable is a tad more vogue.
Over the past few years, therapy dogs have improved the lives of the handicapped. They’ve eased the pain of those suffering from PTSD and even helped baby cheetahs improve their social skills. In another attempt to aid those in need, dogs from Tail Waggin’ Tutors are helping children with anxiety learn to read.
The new “dog-friendly” atmosphere makes use of the same principles used with therapy dogs… It relaxes the child and allows them to focus on reading instead of waiting for… feedback. Patting or petting the attentive dog also helps put the child at ease.
If cute puppy videos are helping the entire population of Facebook get over Monday blues, these dogs must be doing wonders. Fortunately, the dogs cater to children anywhere in the world, as the program is international. And for the most part, it seems to be working.
“When [people] ask why the kids read to a dog, I say, because a dog is not going to correct them,” said Shilo Perlman, a library assistant in youth services. “We’ve heard from many parents who will say, ‘You know, my child will not read at home, won’t pick up a book. She’s afraid she’s going to make mistakes. But she will read to the dog.’”
Looks like man’s best friend may also be man’s top educator!
It’s more than likely that we call groups of ravens an unkindness due to their unforgiving intelligence. A Swedish experiment training birds to earn food rewards had one raven hacking the project entirely. The thoughtful budgie even took the time to teach other birds the secret. Now, startup Crowded Cities is testing the brainpower of crows, using them to pick up litter.
The idea is to train the crows to drop cigarette butts in a ‘Crowbar,’ which scans the item to confirm it’s a cigarette butt, and then gives the crow a food reward to reinforce the behavior.
Considering the amount of cigarette butts that end up on sidewalks annually (about 4.5 trillion), these crows could make a difference. The butts are not only non-biodegradable, but toxic to marine life. For ultimate efficiency, the Crowbar uses a simple give-and-take mechanism.
[Everything] is done with the intention that the crow will fly away and inform others of this system, so that more crows participate in cigarette butt collecting.
Research has found that crows are as cognitive as apes, so the success of the Crowbar should be anticipated.
With alternative treatments for cancer on the rise, we’re also seeing an increase in unusual remedies. If anything from avocado husks to flexible batteries are on the market, using livestock should be no surprise. At least not to engineers in Japan. Researchers are genetically modifying chickens to lay eggs filled with cancer-preventing drugs.
The eggs were developed using genome-editing technology to produce a protein called interferon, which is used to treat hepatitis, multiple sclerosis and malignant skin cancer.
Injecting it into cancer patients three times per week can prevent cancer cells from multiplying, while also boosting T cells to fight tumors.
Conventionally, interferon costs anywhere between $250 to $900. Interferon from chicken eggs, on the other hand, won’t have patients clucking up more than half the price. What remains to be more dangerous than cancer itself is the price tag that comes with therapy.
“Cancer drugs are not a luxury item, like an expensive car, that people can choose to buy or not to buy…. When prices come down, mortality rates will surely follow.” [said Brian Bolwell of the Cleveland Clinic.]
Perhaps, one day we’ll all agree that curing cancer isn’t about the money. Kudos, Mr. Bolwell. Kudos.
Though places like Vancouver are encouraging shelter rescues by banning the sale of puppy mill animals, many others have a long way to go. If an animal isn’t cute, chances are it’s not leaving its cage. Because of this, cat trainer Samantha Martin and her acrobatic felines are giving strays a second chance at life.
The Amazing Acro-Cats [are] a traveling troupe of house cats that ride skateboards, play musical instruments and sometimes get bored and wander off into the audience.
“The team [of cats] themselves are all former rescues and strays,”
Martin, who is an experienced feline foster mom, has no problem draining shelters of its resident kittens. Since starting the group, Martin has been savior to over 200 cats.
“We try to partner with a local rescue and donate a portion of the [show’s] proceeds,” she said. “Sometimes people just contact us. It can be very random.”
Martin often takes in kittens with behavioral problems, proving that aggression can, in fact, be trained away. However, she focuses only on positive reinforcement. If you’re lucky enough to see the Acro-Cats in action, perhaps consider taking a non-permanent purr-former home.