In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

An elephant, pictured above, in the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Kenya. (© Georgina Goodwin for Conservation International)

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

  1.  When elephants fall into human-dug wells, this African group rescues them

The story: The Samburu community in Kenya dig deep holes to find water for both themselves and their livestock, Mark Kaufman reported for Mashable on May 1. At night, thirsty elephants seek out these wells and sometimes accidently fall in. Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, the first elephant orphanage in Africa owned and operated by the local community, focuses on rescuing these elephants and returning them to the wild when possible. Conservation International explores the relationship between the community and wildlife in the new virtual reality film “My Africa.”

The big picture: This community didn’t always coexist in harmony with elephants. “A typical Samburu has never been close to the elephants,” said Sammy Lemoonga, head of the sanctuary. “My Africa,” which is narrated by Academy Award-winning (and Kenyan-raised) actress Lupita Nyong’o, tells the story of a young Samburu woman in Kenya whose community is working to save elephants. The film is now available in 360 degrees on conservation.org/myafrica and the full virtual reality experience is available on the WITHIN app.

Read more here.

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  1. Icebergs could float to the rescue of Cape Town water crisis

The story: Marine scientists are considering pulling icebergs from Antarctica to Cape Town to provide a solution to the city’s water shortage, Tanisha Heiberg reported for Reuters on April 30. The scientists would wrap the icebergs in fabric to prevent evaporation, then large tankers would guide the blocks into the Benguela Current that flows along the west coast of southern Africa. A single iceberg could produce about 150 million liters of water per day for about a year, or around 30 percent of the city’s needs, according to Nick Sloane, director at the U.S. marine salvage firm Resolve Marine.

The big picture: Cape Town has imposed water restrictions to avoid “day zero,” but authorities have warned that taps could dry up as soon as next year if winter rains do not come to the rescue of the city’s 4 million residents. The proposed iceberg relocation is a last resort compared with other “We want to show that if there is no other source to solve the water crisis, we have another idea no one else has thought of yet,” said Sloane.

Read more here.

3. Hong Kong phases out local ivory trade and increases penalties for endangered species trade

The story: Hong Kong increased the maximum penalty for smuggling and trading endangered species yesterday from two years’ imprisonment to 10 years, the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) announced in a press release on April 23. This is another step by the government to fight against elephant poaching and illegal ivory trafficking.

The big picture: In January, Hong Kong voted to ban the sale of ivory by 2021, following China’s complete ban on ivory sales that went into effect at the end of last year. “The government is committed to the protection of all endangered species including elephants,” a spokesperson for Hong Kong said. “As the first step of the plan, we will ban the import and re-export of all elephant hunting trophies.”

Read more here.

Morgan Lynch is a staff writer for Conservation International.

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