The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our entire world upside down.
Our day-to-day lives are no longer the same. Going out means being extra careful around others and even meeting up with friends and/or family members has become a more complicated undertaking.
Any plans you had for 2020 that involved traveling or gathering plenty of people have likely been canceled too.
Unfortunately, even momentous events on the calendar could not be saved from cancellation and that includes graduation. Graduating high school and college seniors this year were not able to have the same final experiences on campus that their predecessors had.
It’s difficult to capture the feeling of being a graduating student in the age of the coronavirus, but that’s precisely what several students set out to do in their virtual commencement speeches.
Earlier this year, GreaterGood.org held the Girls’ Voices “Class of 2020” Challenge. The challenge called on young girls from all over the world to talk about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their senior year.
A total of 379 entries spanning 49 countries were sent in for the challenge and one video stood out from the rest.
The Winning Video
The winning entry came from none other than April Judd of Shawville, Quebec, Canada. April studied at John Abbott College and she took up an arts program with a concentration on theater. Her intuition for art and her terrific sense of humor both shine through clearly in her video submission.
April fills the video with hilarious splices of how she has been spending time during this age of the pandemic. Evidently, her pet dog has been witness to her attempts at learning the violin. Whether her pet has enjoyed the musical sessions is a question that cannot be answered at this time.
While it’s pretty clear that April has been able to take the changes brought about by the pandemic in stride, she does admit that she laments the abrupt and unexpected end to her senior year.
She talks about missing out on the chance to put on one final show together with her fellow theater lovers – a reality she describes as “devastating.” April also regrets not having the chance to say goodbye to her roommates and friends, especially knowing that she may not see some of them ever again.
Moving back home is also something that April is still getting used to. She describes it as an “adjustment and a half.” Still, the love she has for her family can be easily seen.
April goes on to talk about how the pandemic has helped changed her mindset regarding life. She says that the current state of the world has shown her that life can be unpredictable, but that in itself is not a bad thing.
Speaking as a true lover of theater, April says that life is more like an impromptu performance as opposed to a scripted movie. She wants others to view life as this entity that is always subject to change and it is on us to adapt to those changes as they happen.
The recent graduate also wants to take something valuable away from this time. She doesn’t want to revert back to her old ways once the pandemic is over. Instead, she wants to appreciate the things around her more and inspire others along the way.
April leaves her fellow graduates with a cheerful reminder that they have things under control and that despite everything going on, their future is still very much in their hands.
Given the current state of the world, it’s easy to feel down and hopeless. However, young people like April remind us that there is still a bright future ahead. Things may be difficult right now, but we will make it through with a smile if we follow April’s lead.
Camera Footage Reveals Wildlife using Utah’s I-80 Overpass
Cameras showed several wildlife animals, including bears, bobcats, cougars, and moose using a new $5 million I-80 overpass. I-80 highway is notorious for roadkill, and the new animal crossing that cost $5 million has been considered a success after the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources posted a video on Facebook.
The second year of this 5$ million overpass has been successful. It allows the wildlife species to migrate over busy I-80 highway. At the same time, the overpass is also useful for motorists to drive safely without having accidents with animals. The overpass is known as the “Parleys Canyon Wildlife Overpass.” It extends over the Interstate-80 highway in Summit County.
The Importance of Utah’s Interstate-80 Overpass
Utah’s I-80 overpass is 350 feet long and 50 feet wide. The authorities decided to build the overpass after 14 moose, 46 deer, and four elk were killed on the highway stretch between 2016 and 2017.
Besides causing direct mortality, highways and roads can have many indirect impacts, including habitat fragmentation. Road creating barriers to animal movement can impact wildlife populations in many ways.
For instance, one of these is the prohibition of gene flow. Wildlife deaths are expensive for motorists, especially elk accidents, which cost them an average of $25,319. Likewise, moose accidents cost drivers as much as $44,546 – a recent report published by the Western Transport Institute.
The Parleys Canyon Summit overpass is the largest structure in Utah. However, it is not the only overpass in the state. There is another overpass in the state built near Beaver, Southern Utah. According to the Atlas Obscura, it was built in the 1970s over the interstate-15 highway.
The world largest wildlife overpass is under construction. It will stretch across 10 highway lanes of 101 Freeway in California. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the overpass will be ready and opened in 2023.
Research shows that the I-80 overpass will protect wildlife populations, reduce property damage to cars and other vehicles, and saves the lives of motorists and passengers. The reduction of wildlife-vehicle collision is beneficial for both human and animals.
There is no other solution than wildlife overpasses. Because animals are using the I-80 overpass, it is important to build more like it in the state of Utah. Studies show that overpasses can reduce wildlife-vehicle collision by 95% – the crossing and fencing guide wildlife species over highways.
Large animals, including elk, moose, bear, and deer are frequently struck in Utah and other regions of the country. Most often, motorists also hit smaller animals like opossum, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and armadillos. Not only does the accident leads to loss of wildlife animals, but it also cost a lot of money to motorists.
According to the National Park Service, almost all species will benefit from the I-80 overpass for years. The mountain lion is facing the threat of extinction in the near future, and that’s why they need more overpasses like I-80. The overpass helps reconnect the entire ecosystem, allow animals to live in a landscape with native vegetation.
British Woman Goes From Teen Volunteer to Adult Head of Charity for Tanzanian Youths
A British woman who went to Tanzania when she was in her late teens today is “foster mother” to 14 Tanzanian youths. When Letty McMaster left Tunbridge Wells (located about 30 miles southeast of London) in 2013, her purpose was to be a volunteer at a Tanzanian orphanage for one month.
She ended up spending three years helping youth at the orphanage and raising money for their medical and educational needs. After the facility was shut down by local officials in 2016, she was determined to make a home for nine of the former residents who had no place to go.
The Truth About Some Orphanages
During her years as a volunteer in and near Iringa, Tanzania, McMaster learned some unpleasant facts about how orphaned and homeless youth were treated at many orphanages. She explained that too often the people who ran orphanages exploited or abused the residents. And Western tourists unwittingly donated money in the belief that it they were helping the children and youths.
But the donations that some administrators received usually didn’t help needy people because most funds were diverted to their pockets. Too many of the residents of orphanages are physically and emotionally abused, McMasters said. Some youths told her that they got only one meal a day.
McMasters reported that even the residents of the orphanage where she volunteered didn’t go to school. They often hung out in the streets. She was determined to give the young people who had no place to go after the orphanage closed what she calls “a family home.”
McMasters Takes Charge
In addition to the first nine youths she gave housing and guidance to, McMasters welcomed five more. She is now the legal guardian of 14 young people. Street Children Iringa is the UK-registered charity that she founded to pay for the food, housing, medical and educational needs of the young people under her care.
McMasters is proud of what her charity has done. She stated that all who are under her care do well academically. Most of the residents are boys. One was 11 years old when she saw him malnourished at a dump site. Since then, he’s been accepted at a well-known soccer academy.
She brought another male to the home after seeing him on the streets wearing just a T-shirt. His mother had just died. He became a top-20 student at his school. Another youth that McMasters guided for seven years went on to study at one of the country’s most prestigious private schools. A teenage girl is doing well at the university she attends. McMasters, who speaks fluent Swahili, described herself as being like a mother to the younger residents and like a sister to the older ones. What she describes as the “drive, determination and success” of the children and youth she has come to know motivates her.
The safe house she runs is open three days a week to meet the food, shelter and other needs of young people who live on the street. Despite what she has done so far, McMasters cited fundraising as her most difficult job. Two women assist her in her work and their help allows her to return to England occasionally to raise funds. In between all this work, McMasters was able to earn a degree in Development Studies from the SOAS University of London, which specializes in the studies of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East. She is intent on keeping her social service work in Tanzania going.
Good News! The Iberian Lynx Population Is Increasing In Number
The Iberian Peninsula currently has 894 specimens of Iberian wild lynx, and this breed are on the brink of extinction.
The Iberian lynx was on the brink of extinction in 2002 when a disappearance of some kind was noticed. Thus, a program began to rescue them from extinction. Success was recorded as number of animals grew by 23% in 2019.
The last census revealed this. It was discovered that 583 specimens lived free and from this number, 476 creatures existed in Spanish land (81.6%) and 107 lived on Portuguese regions.
This number is boosted by the quantity of young ones birthed. 311 puppies were delivered in 2019. Altogether, there are 894 lynx species.
A major percentage (57%) of the lynxes counted in the Iberian Peninsula in 2019 stay in one of the four secured population centers in Andalusia: Andújar-Cardeña (145), Guarrizas in Granada (71), Doñana-Aljarafe (69) and Guadalmellato in Córdoba (46).
In total, there are 331 lynxes. This data was put together by the Ministry for Ecological Transition.
80% of the total of the Peninsula lives in Andalusia, where 70% of those who live in Spain are found
Spain alone is where most of the lynxes stay. 70% of the lynx live in Andalusia.
Castilla-La Mancha has 84 lynxes (17.7%) and Extremadura, 58 (12.2%).
In addition, the Andalusian zone contain the largest quantity of potent females, possessing 120 (63.85%) of the 188 animals in the Spanish-Portuguese region.
The Andújar-Cardeña nucleus has 53 females and 54 births of offspring have been recorded.
In Donana, it’s estimated that there are 25 females (with 28 births in 2019), 24 in Guarrizas (26 births) and 15 in Guadalmellato (14 births)
The Andalusian community welcomes 120 breeding females
Data collated is extremely vital to enable the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reclassify lynx species from being named as “endangered species” to “vulnerable species”
There’s however a standard to be maintained: 125 breeding females for at least 5 consecutive years.
Expand the biological connection
If the lynx species can be consolidated in Andalusia, there are bigger challenges to be achieved. One of them is amplifying their connection with other living lynx species.
This is urgently needed for areas like the Donana-Aljarafe region which is dwindling in numbers. In recent times, there’s been a dispatch of some species to boost the population at other places most importantly the Vale do Guardiana (Portugal).
Unfortunately this hasn’t been done for the Donana-Aljarafe region. This is critical to progress with the genetic reinforcement actions.
The new Life project
The Ministry of Agriculture recently set up a program called The new Life Lynxconnect Project “Creating a genetically and demographically functional Iberian lynx metapopulation”. This was established in September.
The project is expected to last five years and already has a budget of 18,754,029 euros with the European Union settling 60.67% of the total eligible expenses.
“The main challenge is to achieve a genetically viable self-sustaining population of Iberian lynx, consolidate the populations of Andalusia, Castilla La Mancha, Extremadura and Portugal, and create two more: one in Murcia and the other in Sierra Harana, in Granada”, indicates an informative note from the Junta de Andalucia.
Some of the aims created by Lynxconnect is the achievement of actions to enhance the genetic diversity of wild populations of the Iberian Lynx and execute the conservation and habitat improvement measures through tools for the stewardship of the territory and social participation. It also include limiting the risk of extinction, boost their population status and confront other menaces affecting their existence.
WWF-Russia Seeks to Reintroduce Wondrous Persian Leopards to Wild
If you have never set sights on a pair of Persian leopards in person, you are doing yourself a great disservice. Person leopards are also known by the term Caucasian Leopard and they are most closely tied with Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Caucasus. According to a report compiled by the WWF in collaboration with the Russian Federation, there are fewer than 50 individual Persian Leopards within the entirety of the Caucusus. Now, a pair of leopards named Kodor (M) and Laba (F) is looking to change the situation.
Kodor and Laba were both born and raised within the Sochi National Park. The two big cats were brought up in the special training and breeding center located in the Caucasus Mountains since 2009. Having reached maturity and adulthood, the two leopards were to be released into the wild.
According to two of their trainers at the Caucasus Reserve, “Koda and Laba successfully passed all exams.” What does this mean in a more practical sense? Well, it appears that Kodor and Laba had accomplished all of the necessary tests, tasks, and trials to prove that they were ready to be released in the wild. According to Dmitriy Gorshkov, Director at WWF-Russia, the hope is that Kodor and Laba can bring about the first kittens born in the wild for that neck of the woods.
This isn’t the first time that WWF-Russia has attempted to re-introduce leopards to the Caucasus. In fact, this would mark the third successful attempt at reintroducing leopards to the area. The record would only hold for about a week when WWF-Russia would release another pair of big cats, this time in the form of Baksan (M) and Agura (F). According to Gorshkov, leopards are representative of a uniting symbol for the people of the Caucasus. Gorshkov would go on to say that the release of the four cats would show the world a new ‘humanity’ to help ‘realize mistakes’ that they could move toward addressing.
At this point in time, you might be wondering why there is such a focus on releasing leopards in the Caucusus. That is an understandable question and one that is imperative to understand. Ecologists have widely understood that the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve is pretty near to ideal when it comes to the traditional leopard habitat. Far-reaching stretches of the unbroken forest create the perfect environment for these big climbing cats to thrive. Reintroducing these cats to the Caucusus is part of an effort to rejuvenate their entire population.
Persian Leopards once roamed across Asia, Africa, and Eurasia and now their numbers are dwindling in horrific ways. Changes due to global warming as well as human expansion and habitat destruction have made it impossible for these cats to return to the original roots. Leopards are incredibly secretive and wide-ranging, so they are particularly beholden to the devastating impacts of climate change and habitat destruction.
One of the leading reasons that Russia is working so hard to reintroduce leopards to the Caucusus is due to their own damage to the species. Poaching within Russia has been atrocious for leopards, leading in part to their endangered status on the Red List at the IUCN. Leopards continue to vanish due to poaching, habitat deforestation, and hunting.
Persian Leopards can grow in size up to 102 inches in length with a weight of more than 140 lbs. Persian Leopards are distinguishable for their pale and dark color variations as well as their slim body types and climbing capabilities. At the time of this writing, there are an estimated 1,290 mature Persian Leopards left on the face of the planet.
Baby Born Mid-Air Becomes India’s First Ever Baby To Be Born On A Domestic Flight
Sanjay Misura, a pilot will forever remember this day as one experience never to forget. Being in command of Flight 6E 122, one of the travelers gave birth aboard.
Good news, but what made it spectacular was that it was the first time a baby was ever born on a domestic flight in India.
“The youngster was born on Cloud Nine with the help of a doctor from Cloud Nine,” the pilot wrote after landing.
The flight had commenced at 5:13 p.m taking off from Delhi and made its landing on Bangalore some minutes after 7:30 p.m. In the space of these hours, a lot had happened.
The airline, Indigo had broken the news with its press release but it didn’t suffice with more details. A statement by the airline read, “We confirm that a baby boy was delivered prematurely on flight 6E 122 from Delhi to Bangalore. There are no further details available.”
First account of the pilot revealed two doctors was aboard the flight, a gynecologist included. But there were also rumored Indigo crew members assisted as they had been trained on how to safely deliver a baby. “All crew members who fly have been trained to handle deliveries of babies in case of emergencies,” a top executive of the airline said.
The pilot was originally confused on what decision to take in those two hours. “As he decided not to land mid-way in these Covid times and especially as the mother was travelling alone, it was not easy, but the Captain along with his team held fort and maintained calm. It is heartening to see how everybody collectively made this miracle happen,” said an civil aviation industry insider.
Unconfirmed reports claim the baby was a premature delivery.
“The baby is premature but both mother and the baby are doing fine. We are hoping that both the baby and the mother get back to their normal routine,” the Indigo executive added.
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