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

Pangolin, pictured above, in Cambodia. (© Peter Yuen/Animals in Photos)

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. How simple forensic fingerprinting could help the world’s most trafficked mammal

The story: British researchers recently discovered a way to lift fingerprints from pangolins to identify illegal poachers and traffickers, Rachael Bale reported for National Geographic on July 6. Approximately one million pangolins were poached and trafficked in the past decade, largely for use in Asian medicines, leading the species classification as endangered.

The big picture: Pangolins are one of the most trafficked mammals in the world, but far from the only species targeted by illegal poaching. The relatively low-tech fingerprinting technique can be used on multiple species. In addition to pangolin scales, it’s also been tested on bird feathers and ivory. Former Scotland Yard detective and law enforcement officer at the Zoological Society of London Christian Plowman described the technique’s wide appeal: “We were discussing a simple, easy-to-use method, suitable for a wide range of geographical environments, and with as little complication as possible.”

Read more here.


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  1. US withdrawal from Paris agreement may set back financing climate change: Former UN chief Ban Ki-Moon

The story: Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon warned it will be difficult to gather the funds needed for climate change solutions because of the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Harini V reported for CNBC on July 10. According to the Secretary-General, US$ 4 trillion is necessary to reach all 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The big picture: Through its 17 broad goals, the SDGs call for countries to “end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.” Goal 13 is aimed at taking “urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.” To help achieve this, developed countries have committed to collecting US$ 100 billion annually by 2020, with the funds slated to help address the needs of developing countries already suffering from the impacts of climate change. Without the U.S. contributing, meeting this goal could become even more challenging. “I sincerely hope that the U.S. will come back as it realizes it has a global moral political responsibility … [the] U.S. is the only country now who is stepping back from this global agreement,” said Ki-Moon.

Read more here.

  1. Conservation International virtual reality project “My Africa” shortlisted for VR film of the year

The story: A recent virtual reality project from Conservation International, “My Africa,” has been nominated for VR Film of the Year at the VR Awards 2018, slated for this October in London. “My Africa” visually transports viewers to an elephant sanctuary in Kenya, where a community is working to rescue and rehabilitate endangered elephants.

The big picture: “My Africa” represents how conservation efforts can be presented as a story that  inspires and educates in a visually enticing way. Describing the film when it launched in April, Conservation International CEO Dr. M. Sanjayan said, “’My Africa’ is about a path forward for saving the miracle that is Africa — the last place on Earth where significant numbers of the world’s largest land animals still roam … This film shows a new way, one that unites, rather than divides, people from wildlife.”

Read more here.

Jessica Pink is an editorial intern for Conservation International.

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