Sometimes friendships take root in the last place you’d expect. To celebrate the U.N.’s International Day of Friendship, here’s a list of “friendships” in nature that help species survive — and keep ecosystems running smoothly.
Editor’s note: China contains one-fifth of the world’s people — and just 8% of its arable land. Much of this land is already degraded, leading the country to look to farming in places like Southeast Asia and Africa — places with food scarcities of their own.
Bolstering crop yields by improving the health of ecosystems in the Chinese countryside could reduce the need to import food from other countries — while improving livelihoods for many of China’s rural citizens. CI China Program Assistant Wansu Xu explains. Continue reading
Wildlife trafficking ruins lives and threatens security and economies around the world.
The illicit trade in wildlife products is predicated on the deaths of defenseless iconic animal species, many of which face extinction as a result of this rapidly growing enterprise — and its effects are felt far and wide.
The scale of the problem has exploded in recent years, and policymakers are working to turn the tide before it’s too late. A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would help clamp down on this illegal trade — and protect U.S. security in the process.
Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about wildlife trafficking. Continue reading
Wildlife trafficking is a US$ 8–10 billion illegal enterprise that threatens iconic species, including elephants and rhinos, as well as U.S. and global security. Wildlife trafficking is directly connected to criminal networks, and many experts have found a connection with terrorist organizations.
The crisis has now reached a crescendo. One recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimated that 100,000 African elephants were killed for ivory between 2010 and 2012. Continue reading
But wild animals don’t have these amenities (minus the occasional lost bear cub or overheated moose). Instead, nature has given them some extraordinary adaptations that enable them to beat the heat — adaptations that could teach humans a thing or two about creating more environmentally friendly ways to stay cool.
Here are five examples.
Editor’s Note: New life — and a way of life — emerged from a World War II shipwreck. But the wreck itself is now in danger of crumbling, taking a community’s livelihood along with it. Can this wreck — and a village’s future — be salvaged? CI’s Kelsey Rosenbaum explains.
In 1942, a Japanese submarine torpedoed an American transport ship in Indonesian waters. In hopes of salvaging its cargo, the damaged ship was towed — and eventually beached — on the northeastern coast of Bali; the eruption of Bali’s Mount Agung in 1963 caused the ship to slide into the ocean.
In the decades since, the submerged wreck of the USAT (United States Army Transport) Liberty has played a surprising role in the lives of people nearby — spurring efforts, including a recent meeting between CI staff and community members, to protect the site where it now rests. Continue reading
This is the second blog in Human Nature’s series on environmental peacebuilding, which chronicles CI’s growing role in this emerging field of research. Today’s post focuses on our case study in Timor-Leste.
In my tiny, half-an-island country of Timor-Leste, cemeteries smell of jasmine and come to life on All Saints’ Day. Families have picnics and kids roam wild over the tombstones. Here, stepping on somebody else’s family tombstones is not seen as an offense but as the norm; after all, since there isn’t enough land to hold so many graves, not stepping on one is impossible unless you have mastered levitation.
We eat, drink and pray for our long-gone relatives. We spend small fortunes rebuilding and redecorating our cemetery plots. In my 13 years working and living in Timor-Leste, I’ve found that my compatriots smile and try to use humor to make the best of any situation — a seeming lightheartedness that masks the atrocities endured by so many of them, which have filled so many mass graves.
Over several centuries, the people of Timor-Leste have experienced prolonged periods of war and armed conflict. This history consciously or unconsciously shapes the way in which we Timorese relate to one another and to the natural resources upon which we depend for food and livelihoods. Continue reading
Editor’s note: The search for new sources of metals and minerals for the world’s growing consumer class is heading underwater. The potential for mining the seabed has companies excited — but could pose environmental threats if not done carefully.
A paper published today in the journal Science presents recommendations for how the International Seabed Authority can work to ensure that the world’s seabeds are managed sustainably for the benefit of all people. Jack Kittinger, director of Conservation International Hawai‘i and coauthor of the paper, explains.
The whale shark is a heavyweight in more ways than one.
Rhincodon typus is the world’s largest fish, reaching a whopping 18 meters (59 feet) in length and weighing up to 21 tons.
Its economic impact is just as massive. A recent study on whale shark tourism in a single atoll in the Maldives showed that tourists there spend nearly US$ 10 million annually for the privilege of swimming with whale sharks. Countries as diverse as Belize, the Seychelles and Australia similarly nurture multimillion-dollar whale-shark tourism industries — often based on only short 6- to 12-week seasons when the whale sharks are present.
Tonight the Discovery Channel will air its third installment of the show “Alien Sharks” as part of Shark Week. As in its previous two installments, this show will explore the amazing diversity of deep-sea sharks that, because of their natural habitat, are rarely seen by human eyes.
The deep sea is a place of great mystery and intrigue. Ancient mariners thought it was home to sea serpents and kraken, which emerged to drag ships to their doom. While we now know that some of these “monsters” suffered from mistaken identity — sea serpents were likely oarfish or eels, and the kraken was probably giant squid — we still know almost nothing about the deep sea.
Years ago, I had a rare glance into this realm — and an up-close look at an “alien” of the deep.