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Wild Lives: Leading Conservationists on the Animals and the Planet They Love

Wild Lives: Leading Conservationists

Lori Robinson and Janie Chodosh’s latest book, ‘Wild Lives: Leading Conservationists on the Animals and the Planet They Love’ shares the stories of 20 conservation experts across the globe who are working tirelessly to preserve our planet for future generations.

 

‘Wild Lives: Leading Conservationists on the Animals and the Planet They Love’ 

Book Review

 

Lori Robinson’s new book, ‘Wild Lives: Leading Conservationists on the Animals and the Planet They Love,’ is a captivating and moving exploration into the lives of some of the most passionate, fearless and inspiring wildlife conservationists, scientists, and ‘superhero’ humans in the world. In the face of such devastating atrocities being committed against the natural world, Robinson, and co-author, Janie Chodosh, seamlessly weave the tales of, arguably, the world’s most extraordinary people, into an uplifting foray into the contributions of humankind; illustrating the lengths that these people will go to save wildlife and protect the natural world. These stories are a beautiful fusion of inspiration and melancholy; highlighting Planet Earth’s perilous trajectory and the remarkable people that have dedicated their lives to saving it.

Wild Lives: Leading Conservationists Robinson’s new book follows on from the success of her first book, ‘Saving Wild: Inspiration from 50 Leading Conservationists, which featured My Green World Founder, Natalie Kyriacou, as well as high-profile conservationists such as, Daphne Sheldrick, Founder of David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Ric O’ Barry, Founder of The Ric O’Barry Dolphin Project, and Paul Watson, Founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Drawing on themes from ‘Saving Wild’, Robinson’s new book delves further into the challenges facing current wildlife conservationists, offering unique perspectives and inspiring – sometimes, heart-wrenching – stories, from pioneering conservationists such as Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder of Cheetah Conservation Fund, Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, the man who coined the phrase ‘biological diversity’ and Beverly and Dereck Joubert, documentary filmmakers and National Geographic explorers and conservationists.

As Robinson notes, “Some of the people in Wild Lives have been thrown in jail and thrown out of countries, are hated by hunters and hunted by rebels. They work in some of the remotest areas in the world, in all kinds of weather. They have used sea ice for a pillow, been charged by elephants, bitten by snakes, and chased by rhino.”

 

Wild Lives: Leading Conservationists
From left to right: Conservationist Farwiza Farhan with Leonardo DiCaprio. Photo Credit: Paul Hilton Photography | Dr Steven Amstrup, Polar Bears International | Dr Megan Parker with Pepin, credit: Dave Hammam

Wild Lives is devoted to the notion that conservation can, does, and will work, and is for everybody who has a passion for saving wildlife and wild places.

As Beverly and Dereck Joubert comment, “Now isn’t the time to be complacent. We’re losing animals at an alarming rate. The facts are disturbing, yet we can’t hide from them.”

This sentiment is reinforced, though in different ways, by the 20 other conservationists profiled.

Dr Marker notes, “the most important thing we adults can teach our children is to be aware of how our actions and our choices impact the world around us. From a tiny insect or plant, to a magnificent elephant or whale, there are a myriad of living organisms that depend on one another, and ultimately, that depend on us, humans, just as we depend on them. It is our responsibility, as adults, to teach our kids the importance of healthy ecosystems, of maintaining biodiversity”.

Lori Robinson and Janie Chodosh’s ‘Wild Lives: Leading Conservationists on the Animals and the Planet They Love’ is due for release on April 18, 2017 and is available for pre-order now. You can also purchase her first book,‘Saving Wild: Inspiration from 50 Leading Conservationists’, on Amazon.

 

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Water Scarcity and its Impact on Planet Earth

Water Scarcity

According to the United Nations, over 700 million people worldwide lack access to safe and clean water. More people have a mobile phone than a toilet.  Over 300,000 children under 5 years old die every year from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. Today, humanity uses the equivalent of 1.6 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste

 

Water Scarcity and its Impact on Planet Earth

 
The world is currently running out of precious, clean drinking water. Water is vital for all known forms of life. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
 

How Much Water Do We Have?

 
Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. 96.5% of all the Earth’s water is contained within the oceans as salt water. If salt water makes up 96.5% of all the water on earth, it means there should be 3.5% which is fresh. Although it’s technically true, close to 69 percent of the freshwater is frozen in glaciers and ice caps.

Where surface water, such as lakes and rivers, are scarce or inaccessible, groundwater supplies many of the hydrologic needs of people around the world. Aquifers are underground layers of rock that are saturated with water that can be brought to the surface through natural springs or by pumping. The groundwater contained in aquifers is one of the most important sources of water on Earth. Aquifers provide us freshwater that makes up for surface water lost from drought-depleted lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.

Despite the fact that water makes up almost three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, our planet is lacking sufficient available water resources to meet the needs of all of the planet’s inhabitants.

Our dependence on underground aquifers can have significant environmental and social impacts, such as groundwater quality degradation, damages to infrastructure from land subsidence, and loss of habitat to groundwater dependent streams and wetlands. Added to this, in 2015, NASA revealed that 21 of the world’s 37 largest aquifers had passed their sustainability tipping points – meaning more water is being removed than replaced from these vital underground reservoirs. Underground aquifers supply 35 percent of the water used by humans worldwide.
 

Human Activity and Water Crisis

 
Human activity is responsible for global water scarcity, with animal agriculture being the primary source of water depletion. It is estimated that just one pound of beef requires over 1,000 gallons of water, which includes irrigation of the grains and grasses in feed, plus water for drinking and processing.
 

A Sustainable Future

 
Ancient civilisations started trying to improve the quality of their water over 4,000 years ago, and people today are sampling various techniques, such as desalination and rainwater harvesting, with the hope that they can meet the world’s demand for water.

However, in order to address global water shortages and protect planet Earth, a fundamental change will be required, particularly within the industrial and developmental sectors.

Water is essential for promoting inclusive sustainable development, supporting communities, protecting ecosystems, and ensuring economic development.

It is imperative that individuals make increasingly ethical consumer choices, while also encouraging corporations, industries and governments to establish comprehensive institutional frameworks that ensure sustainable development and water management.
 

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Palm Oil Production Is Crushing Wildlife

Palm Oil Production

As more plantations replace virgin rainforest to feed the world’s insatiable appetite for palm oil, wildlife lands are disappearing.

 

Palm Oil Production Is Crushing Wildlife, Humans & The Environment

 

Guest Post by Amber Kingsley

According to a recent edition of National Geographic, there are now fewer than 2,500 Bengal tigers left on our planet. In a previous post, it was revealed over 1,200 rhinos are being killed by poachers every year; and it’s heart wrenching to think about these majestic creatures on the verge of extinction simply because of greed.

But it’s not just trapping, hunting and poaching that’s causing wildlife numbers to greatly diminish. The clearing of rainforest for the production of palm oil, found in a multitude of different cosmetic and food products, is now threatening the population of elephants, orangutans and other animals in some parts of the world, especially around Indonesia.

As more of these plantations are popping up to feed the world’s insatiable appetite for more palm oil, wildlife lands are disappearing. It’s not just wildlife that’s suffering, humans are also getting caught in the crossfire, with fire being the operative word in what’s happening with this type of production. To clear space for palm oil plantations, the most popular method for this type of construction is the burning of forested regions of peatlands.
 

What Exactly IS Happening?

 
Palm oil plantations in Indonesia is the driving force behind the largest amount of deforestation occurring inside this region. Once they’re operational, the wastewater ponds are releasing immense amounts of methane gas into the atmosphere, which is 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The smoke from these burning peatlands contains 28 times more carbon dioxide than found in a rainforest. The resulting aftermath causes a hazardous haze that drifts and spreads to neighbouring areas like Malaysia and Singapore. In 2013, this filthy fog set all-time records for air pollution and was responsible for sending tens of thousands of people to the hospital.

Palm Oil Production
via EPA

 

Igniting Problems And Controversy

 
Although the former president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, apologised to neighbouring countries for the massive health problems it faced, it didn’t stop the spread of fires, which continues to ravage Indonesia to clear more peatlands for future palm oil plantations. Following another round of burning, these additional fires sent another 50,000 Sumatrans to seek care for lung problems, itchy, burning eyes and other health issues.

In 2010, Norway offered Indonesia $10 million dollars to keep their forests intact, however, this effort did nothing to halt plantations from continuing to scar the earth; injuring and killing countless species and driving many forms of wildlife towards the point of extinction. Singapore recently began imposing fines of up to $2 billion dollars for companies contributing to the fires, and yet they still burn.
 

Supply And Demand

 
Sadly, whether or not the health of human beings, the destruction of our planet and the obliteration of endangered species is at stake, the almighty dollar seems to win out over common sense and the preservation of our world is therefore threatened.

In 2013, the amount of palm oil consumed around the world was around 55 million metric tonnes, four times what it was twenty years previously.

Palm Oil Production
The proboscis monkey is endemic to the southeast Asian island of Borneo.

 

What’s the Alternative?

 
According to Jill Kauffman Johnson, the director of a California-based company, Solazyme that creates oils that can replace the demand for those found from palm plants, there are other solutions.

“Our goal is to try and help alleviate the pressure on the equatorial tropics,” offers Jill.

“Since Solazyme’s algae grow wherever the company places its tanks, Solazyme can site its plants where they are most convenient to customers, partners and feedstocks, thus shortening supply chains. The company just opened a 100,000-metric-ton plant in Brazil that uses sugarcane.”

“Our technology is capable of ramping up very quickly,” Kauffman Johnson says. Solutions are there, we just have to embrace them instead of continuing down harmful paths.
 

The Palm Oil Dilemma

 
Producing 35 million tonnes a year, Indonesia accounts for 45% of the world’s palm oil supply. According to Amnesty International, around three million Indonesians work in the sector, accounting for at least a third of the global palm oil workforce. Indonesia generally has strong labour laws but weak enforcement of these laws has led to companies being able to get away with systemic abuses of workers in palm oil plantations.
 

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10 Amazing Orangutan Facts.

 


Noc the Beluga whale that tried to talk to humans

noc the beluga

One of the most remarkable cases of cetacean communication is the story of Noc, the beluga whale that tried to talk to humans.

 

Noc the Beluga whale that tried to talk to humans

By Natalie Kyriacou, Founder & CEO at My Green World

 

This article is part of My Green World and Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s #WhaleWeek

 

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, whaling was, sadly, a lucrative business that saw hundreds of people board ships to hunt the mighty whale. During this time, whalers reported mysterious oceanic noises. These reports varied, as some claimed that they were listening to the souls of drowned men, while others attributed the noise to seismic shifts in the earth.

It wasn’t until much later in the 19th century that scientists discovered these mysterious sounds were actually the song of the whale. Whales, they realised, were actually extremely dependent on sound for communication, and made regular and varied sounds that led scientists to describe them as the “inveterate composers of songs that are strikingly similar to human musical traditions”.
 

Speaking to Whales

 
One of the most remarkable cases of cetacean communication is the story of Noc.

Noc was a Beluga whale captured by Inuit hunters in 1977 and taken from his family when he was just a juvenile. Relegated to a life in captivity and without his family to speak with, Noc began to mimic human speech. In 1984, researchers from the National Marine Mammal Foundation were diving in a tank that contained Noc when they heard noises that sounded remarkably similar to a conversation between two humans.

It wasn’t until one diver surfaced from the tank and asked: “Who told me to get out?” that research staff realised the garble came from Noc. Regrettably, Noc died in captivity in 1999, never reuniting with his family. However, his legacy of speech is a reminder of how social belugas whale are, and how important communication is to these intelligent whales.
 

Canaries of the Sea

 
Beluga whales have been called “canaries of the sea” due to their highly vocal nature and their capacity for mimicry.

The majority of belugas live in the Arctic Ocean and the seas and coasts around North America, Russia and Greenland, and noise communication are critical to their survival as they rely predominately on sound.

Their communication system is startlingly complex, and since the 20th century, scientists and researchers have been recording these vocalisations to better understand their complex web of songs.

Sadly, the song of the beluga is gradually disappearing as increased shipping activity, industrial activity and marine construction cause underwater noise pollution. Since whales, such as the beluga, depend on sound to communicate, any interference by noise pollution can severely affect their ability to communicate, find food, avoid predators and care for their young.
 

Protecting Belugas

 
Belugas can live up to the age of 60 in the wild, travelling large distances each day, hunting and playing – as well as ‘singing’. In captivity, they have very little space and cannot behave naturally. A concrete tank can never replace their ocean home.

You can read more about belugas, and WDC’s work to help secure a safe future for belugas living in captivity, here.

 

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Piper from Pixar Will Melt Your Heart

Piper from Pixar

Piper, the adorable Pixar short film is now available for streaming online. This computer animated film, featuring an adorable baby sandpiper, was released alongside Pixar’s Finding Dory on June 17, 2016.

Piper from Pixar Will Melt Your Heart

The short involves a hungry baby sandpiper learning to overcome her aquaphobia. Created by Alan Barillaro, Piper uses new, cutting-edge technology to showcase this beautiful story.

You can watch Piper, here:

 

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Wildlife Conservation Helped by Drones

Drones Are Helping Wildlife Conservation

Illegal poaching is fast becoming one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities. With rhino horns worth over $65,000 per kilo on the black market, you can start to see why well-organised criminal gangs are setting up international networks in order to take part in illegal poaching.

 

Wildlife Conservation Helped by Drones

 

Guest Post by Emma Mills

 
In a market that is approaching $70 Billion dollars a year with over 1,200 rhinos killed by poachers in a single year, this criminal activity is becoming a serious issue. The ruthlessness in which these criminals act has taken a great toll on the species as well as the park rangers that are being killed in the line of duty.

Poachers are not beginning to operate during the night, where previously, rangers haven’t been able to find an effective way to deal with them before it’s too late. This is where drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have stepped in to help. Drones can effectively and efficiently capture a given area of land from the air. Drones with infrared cameras and GPS can be operated that send back thermal images of rhinos and of course, poachers. They stay invisible and silent and provide a rapid feedback source of the poachers’ location before they can even begin considering killing these creatures.

The use of drones in rhino conservation can be an effective tool in protecting rhinos against poachers. While drones have been receiving increased media attention as the “silver bullet” bringing a stop to the poaching crisis, it is unclear whether or not the use of UAV’s is having a significant impact on the fight to save the rhino.

In addition to the infrared cameras, GPS and thermal imaging, UAV’s can also use military-style computer analytics that identify poaching hot spots and in turn predict where and when poaching will take place, allowing for rangers to be deployed in these areas before they are attacked.

With these seemingly fool-proof tools deployed to prevent poaching, they do, of course, have their drawbacks. There are concerns that drones can be misused resulting in bans being enforced in certain areas. In fact, Namibia has banned all use of drones in their national parks. Of course, they also come at quite a substantial cost. They require advanced equipment for them to be effective and need a skilled operator to fly them in order to utilise their full benefits, otherwise, it could lead to a very expensive crash. As they have been so effective thus far, they haven’t had any problems in gaining funding for their use. Google gave $5 million to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to purchase conservation drones to be flown over Africa and Asia in order to capture poachers.

If this funding continues and drones are operated in the correct fashion, then this new method may prove to be one of the most effective measures in stopping this criminal activity, from thousands of miles away.
 

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Wildlife Disappearing as Mass Extinction Event Looms

Wildlife Disappearing as Mass Extinction

A recent report by WWF has revealed that more than two-thirds of the world’s wildlife could be gone by 2020 if worldwide action isn’t taken soon.

 

Wildlife Disappearing as Mass Extinction Event Looms

By Natalie Kyriacou

 

The World Wide Fund for Nature said there has been a 58% overall decline in the numbers of fish, mammals, birds and reptiles worldwide since 1970. This sums up that global wildlife is vanishing at a rate of 2% annually.

This mass extinction event – labelled as the Sixth Mass Extinction – will have dire consequences for planet earth. There have been five mass extinction events in the history of planet earth, including the mass extinction that killed the dinosaurs. However, this time, humanity is responsible.

The rapidity of species extinction and the consequences of global warming are impacting the earth at an unparalleled scale and rate. The great evolutionary events and wipeouts in the earth’s historical record which have taken place over millions of years are now rivalled by the current chapter; the reign of humanity, which has succeeded in extinguishing wildlife on earth in mere centuries.

In the context of evolutionary history, humanity has produced almost instantaneous planetary-scale disruption, quite possibly leaving us in the middle of one of the greatest mass extinctions in the history of life on earth.

Having recognized that humans have become a planet-altering species with immense and increasing influence on the earth, it is now vitally important to moderate and eventually reverse the harmful trends that we have inflicted upon our planet.

The Future of Planet Earth

“For decades scientists have been warning that human actions are pushing life toward a sixth mass extinction. Evidence in this year’s Living Planet Report supports this. Wildlife populations have already shown a concerning decline, on average by 67 per cent by the end of the decade. While environmental degradation continues, there are also signs that we are beginning a transition towards an ecologically sustainable future. Despite 2016 set to be another hottest year on record, global CO 2 emissions have stabilized over the last two years, with some arguing they may even have peaked. Rampant poaching and wildlife trafficking is devastating ecosystems, but the U.S. and China have recently committed to a historic ban of domestic ivory trade. Perhaps more importantly, the interdependence between the social, economic and environmental agendas is being recognized at the highest levels through the revolutionary approach adopted in defining the new set of the world’s Sustainable Development Goals,” says WWF’s Living Planet Report. Read more here.

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The Ultimate List of Platypus Facts

Platypus Facts

The platypus is arguably one of the most remarkable species on earth. This egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal baffled European naturalists when they first encountered it, with some considering it an elaborate hoax.

 

The Ultimate List of Platypus Facts

By Sarah Carbone

1. They are one of the only mammals that lay eggs.
The name given to egg-laying mammals is a ‘monotreme’. There are only five species of monotreme in the world – all found only in Australia and New Guinea – including the platypus, and four species of Echidna. Monotremes are also characterised by a primitive skeleton, very similar to that of long-extinct mammals, which suggests that monotremes are actually very ancient creatures.

2. Their bill is used as a sensory organ to find prey underwater.
The platypus’ bill is similar to that of a duck in appearance, but for the platypus, it is used as a sensory organ. When diving, they close their eyes and block their ears and nose, using only the bill to locate prey underwater. The skin on the bill has ‘push rods’ which detect touch and water movement from 15-20 centimetres away, and is also dotted with electroreceptors which detect the small amounts of electricity produced by muscle movements of prey. As electricity moves through water rapidly, the electroreceptors will often detect prey before the push rods.

3. Males have a venomous spur on their inner-hind ankle.
Males are equipped with a keratin spur about 12-18 millimetres long, tucked away on their inner hind ankle. This spur produces a clear, sticky venom used for protection when attacked by predators and to compete with other males for mates. Their venom is strong enough to kill a dog (their main predators), and while it isn’t fatal to humans, it causes excruciating pain that lasts several weeks and is not effectively relieved by analgesics such as morphine. The venom is made up of 19 different compounds, and is thought to be entirely different in make-up from snakes’ venom.

4. Females don’t have nipples, but glands which secrete milk onto the fur.
Unlike most mammals, female platypuses do not possess nipples or teats for milk production. Instead, their mammary glands, located under the skin on their belly, secrete milk through the skin and into the fur on their underside. The babies then suck the milk from the mother’s belly fur.

5. Rather than teeth, they have plates to grind food.
Whilst the several ancestor species of the platypus possessed teeth, the single living species has evolved without teeth. Instead, they have horned pads unique to their species which they use to grind up food. Their diet consists of invertebrates, such as larvae and worms, which do not require too much chewing, due to their lack of teeth, however sometimes they still need assistance. They dive down and scoop up their prey from the bottom of the lake, creek or other waterway, and at the same time scoop up some gravel. They grind the food and gravel with their plates and the gravel helps to break up the food.

6. Some hibernate for six days at a time in winter.
Platypuses in captivity and those found in Victoria have been found to enter a state of what is called ‘torpor’ during colder months, in which they drop their body temperature and remain inactive for up to six days at a time, much like hibernation. Strangely, individuals in New South Wales and Tasmania have not been found to enter ‘torpor’ at all, even during winter. This is thought to be caused by cooler temperatures of water in these areas.

7. They can swim a metre per second but aren’t adept at walking on land.
The platypus’ body is streamlined and their fur is waterproof, allowing them to swim quite quickly in moving waters, travelling approximately a metre per second – that is double its body length. However, due to its short legs and webbed feet, it walks very awkwardly on land. The webbing on its feet retracts and there are claws on each foot used for digging burrows, which assist in walking, but they are still much slower on land than in water.

8. When they were first discovered, biologists believed they were a hoax.
In 1799, when the platypus was first discovered, British biologists were convinced that the platypus was an elaborate hoax. At the time, several people had ‘created’ animals by sewing them together and claimed that they were a new species from an exotic place, such as a ‘mermaid’ made by sewing a monkey and a fish together. Biologists were convinced that the platypus was one of these creations, and expected that the bill was sewn on.

9. They dig burrows and create plugs to fool predators
Platypuses have two types of burrows which they dig with their retractable claws high up on the steep muddy banks; ‘nesting burrows’ are where a mother and her young take shelter for several months and are about three to six metres long, while ‘camping burrows’ are where individuals sleep on any given night and are about one to four metres long. They only stay in camping burrows for a few nights and switch between several different burrows over the space of a few weeks. They are very intelligent – when a mother enters a nesting burrow she creates a ‘plug’ behind her, after the plug the burrow usually veers in another direction. It is thought that the purpose of these plugs is to fool predators into thinking they are at the end of the burrow.

10. They are thought to have evolved from one of Australia’s oldest mammals, the Steropodon Galmani.
Steropodon Galmani lived 110-million years ago and is one of Australia’s oldest mammals, and also the ancestor of the platypus. Steropodon lived during the Cretaceous period, and perhaps even earlier, alongside dinosaurs. They were about the same size as the platypus but the main difference was that they had teeth – three molar teeth on the lower jaw. A fossil was found only of its lower jaw, and nothing else, so the bottom jaw structure is the only anatomical information known about the Steropodon.

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The Biggest Threats Facing The Coral Triangle

Coral Triangle

Known as the global centre of marine biodiversity, the Coral Triangle is home to approximately 76% of the world’s coral species and over 30% of the planet’s coral reefs.

 

The Biggest Threats Facing The Coral Triangle

Guest Post by Tommy Birn

 
The Coral Triangle covers 6 million km2 across six countries in the western Pacific Ocean including Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Papa New Guinea, Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands.

The area houses the highest reef fish diversity in the world, with 37% of the planet’s reef fish species found in these waters. The astonishing marine and coastal resources in the Coral Triangle provide substantial benefits, supporting the livelihoods of over 100 million people who rely on the reef ecosystems for coastal protection, employment, food, and income from tourism.

While it’s clear that the region is of vital importance to both the local economies and marine biodiversity, it faces many threats including pollution, overfishing, coastal development and destructive fishing.
 

Serious Threats Faced by the Coral Triangle

 
In recent years, the area that the Coral Triangle is a part of has emerged as one of the world’s economic hubs. The rapid economic growth and a fast increase in population size have fuelled unsustainable development and a boost in demand, which is having devastating effects on the region.
 

Overfishing and Destructive Fishing

 
One of the more significant threats facing the coral reefs in the area is overfishing. In this case, too many fish are being caught, which means fish populations are unable to replenish themselves. Thousands of tonnes of non-target species perish every year including dolphins, whales, juvenile fish, and endangered sharks and marine turtles.

With increased demand for precious marine resources such as shark fin, tuna, live reef fish and turtle products, some species are being heavily exploited. Destructive fishing further exacerbates the problem by destroying the ecosystems and habitats on which the fish populations depend.

Destructive fishing methods include the use of explosives, bottom trawling and cyanide fishing. These practices are widespread and depleted fish stocks has placed endangered species on the brink of extinction.
 

Climate Change

 
Coastal ecosystems in the region are already facing the effects of climate change, including increasing water temperatures, acidity and raising sea levels. These changes have led to severe mass coral bleaching and reduced coral growth rates.

While reefs are resilient and can recover from coral bleaching, you see a reduction in these odds when faced with additional threats. Addressing local threats is crucial to providing reefs with an increased likelihood of surviving the adverse effects of climate change until the global community can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
 

Pollution

 
Land-based pollution caused by development, agriculture, cities, and logging bring fertilisers, chemicals, and sediments to the coastal regions. They wash down from rivers and eventually settle on coral reefs and cause a bloom of algae. Corals are smothered and outcompeted by the algae, threatening local populations.
 

How to Help

 
With over 85% of these reefs facing direct threats from local human activities, it is clear that more needs to be done to conserve the area. These threats are not just a problem for marine biodiversity; they also place human populations at risk.

In the Philippines alone, reports estimate income losses from overfishing at $1.2 billion in the past 20 years. With approximately 2.25 million fishers depending on the area to make a living, the challenge is to ensure that we can meet the growing needs of the region without causing further damage to the Coral Triangle.

Restoring damaged marine habitats, protecting coastlines from illegal fishing and establishing marine protected areas and reserves will all help to conserve the area’s biodiversity. Projects such as the recycled oil platform in Malaysia provide benefits to the local areas by bringing in tourists while causing minimum harm to local biodiversity.

More importantly, kid’s programs, such as the Rainforest to Reef program in Malaysia, help to educate communities from an early age on the significance of the conservation of coral reefs. The aim is to increase awareness, deliver continued global action, and change the local attitude toward conservation.

Looking for a way to help? There are several things individuals can do to make a difference including reducing your carbon footprint, disposing of your waste in a responsible manner, adopting a reef and getting involved in My Green World’s Kids Corner education program.
 

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The (brief) History of Man’s Relationship with Wolves and Dogs

wolves and dogs

Can you imagine a life without dogs? Probably not. Over thousands of years, dogs have carved a relationship with humans so intimate that they can read our emotions better than even non-human primates can. But this hasn’t always been the case; even the teeniest and fluffiest of Cavoodles are descendants of the wolf, a creature historically loathed by man.

 

The (brief) History of Man’s Relationship with Wolves and Dogs

Yazmine Alexandra

In the sixth century B.C., poet and lawmaker Solon of Athens offered a bounty for every wolf slain, triggering a canine killing frenzy. Henry VII successfully completed the eradication of all wolves in England in the 16th century and the Scots even burned forests to make wolves easier to hunt. By the 1930s, only a few hundred of the original population of 2-3 million wolves remained in the United States.
 
So how did dogs become man’s best friend? When did these wild, carnivorous creatures become Max the Labrador, plate-licker and fetch-player extraordinaire? The answer to this question is complex and still a work in progress. We do know, however, that man’s relationship with wolves and dogs is a special one that spans over 35,000 years.
 
Researchers are now fairly confident that wolves became domesticated around the time that humans developed agriculture but exactly how this domestication occurred remains a mystery. Let’s take a look at some of the popular theories in the dog world:
 
1. Wolves simply followed humans around for the benefits (food scraps, shelter, you name it) and basically domesticated themselves. This idea debunks Darwinism as rather than survival of the fittest, it was survival of the friendliest for the first dogs.

2. One bright spark caught a couple of cubs and kept them as pets, unknowingly providing humans for centuries to come with the joy of fur babies. There’s a problem with this theory though; humans thousands of years ago weren’t too fond of carnivores, wiping out animals like sabre-toothed cats (by either eating all the meat or hunting them intentionally), making the possibility of a love for wolves a little unlikely.

3. Humans used wolves for hunting. This theory has merit as dogs are still used in hunting practices around the world today, however, wolves eat a lot (one deer per ten wolves a day) which would mean a lot of furry mouths for our ancestors to feed and share with.
 
However it began, wolves stuck around. Through domestication, wolves gained floppy ears and wagging tails, evolving into the 340 recognised dog breeds today. Each began with humans needing a dog for a purpose, such as a loud bark to alert the family to intruders. Then humans wanted dogs for hunting, retrieving and pulling sleds giving us English Springer Spaniels, Golden Retrievers and Samoyeds. Perhaps the best example of modern day intentional breeding is the quest for cuteness: ‘designer’ crossbreeds like the hypoallergenic and shed-free Labradoodle (Labrador cross poodle) have taken the dog world by storm in recent years. Sure, it may be difficult to imagine Audrey the Yorkshire Terrier is the descendant of a wolf but the link is still pretty obvious in dogs like the Siberian Husky and Greenland sled dog. Why? Well, these four-legged friends share a large number of genes with the now extinct Taimyr wolf who were bred with more domesticated dogs.
 
So there you have it, a history of dogs from wild wolves to Shih Tzus that can respond to eye movements. Think about that next time you take Gus the Dachshund for his bi-monthly wash and blow-dry with strawberry shampoo at your local groomers!

 

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