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Nepal Watches as Rhino Numbers Rise, Thrilling Activists

Amanda J

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The Indian Rhinoceros, also known as the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros, is a species native to the subcontinent of India. A vulnerable species as classified by the IUCN Red List, rhinos have been experiencing plummeting population numbers in large part due to human encroachment, livestock encroachment, and poaching. At the time of this writing, more than 70% of the world’s remaining Indian rhinoceros population is concentrated in the Kaziranga National Park.

Already one of the few countries on earth where rhinos can be found, Nepal has reported some modestly good news for the species in recent weeks. According to reports, the Nepal rhino population has risen from 645 in 2015 to 752 in 2021. Close to extinction not even a decade ago, the work being done in India and Nepal has been considered among the most successful conservation efforts in Asia’s entire history.

Haribhadra Acharya is a senior official with the Department of National parks and Wildlife Conservation. Acharya spoke with the BBC in an interview to explore the recent developments surrounding the Indian Rhino. Acharya said of the recent report, “We are very excited by the rhino survey’s findings.” During her interview, Acharya went on to discuss how tigers have also experienced a rise in the native population.

According to officials in Nepal, a reason for the surge in population could be traced back to the coronavirus pandemic, oddly enough. The coronavirus pandemic and its corresponding lockdowns would allow for rhinos to roam more freely throughout their habitats, largely without tourists bothering them.

Dangers of Completing a Rhino Census

Every five years, a rhino census is performed, but the 2020 operation was postponed due to COVID-19. Taking up their efforts in 2021, more than 350 experts and officials from the forest department would embark deep into the forests surrounding Chitwan National Park, an area that covers over 367 square miles. With limited roads, it can be difficult in the best of times to track rhinos. In fact, one team of scientists and researchers was forced back when a wild elephant injured an animal while attacking them. Nearby in the Bardiya sanctuary, some 250 miles west, a tiger would kill an elephant trainer who had been working on a survey, highlighting the real danger of this type of work.

As we watch the rhinoceros population continue to grow and thrive under these new conservation efforts, experts are still more than happy to hold off celebrating. According to experts in the region, “The percentage of growth of rhinos has decreased in the last six years if compared to the previous period.” From 2011 to 2015, the growth rate for the annual rhino population hovered around 5%. The most recent survey findings revealed a growth rate of just 3%, positive to be sure, but limited.

Looking to the Future

One of the major concerning forces with regard to conservatism in Nepal has to do with nationwide civil war and military intervention. The recent decade-long civil war between Maoist rebels and local Nepalis security would end in 2006 but effects are still being felt more than 15 years later. Poachers continued to exploit the chaos caused by war to kill countless animals for their horns.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), rhinos are a common target of poachers due to their horn, a prized item in Eastern Asian medicine despite a lack of science-backed medicinal value. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this war against poaching is going to end any time soon. While conceiting that they failed to protect animals during the Civil War, Chitwan Park officials like Ananath Baral have optimism still. Baral said, “We’ve adopted a multi-pronged strategy to curb poaching.”

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Former Homeless Individuals Create Novels To Raise Funds For Other Homeless People

Liz L

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The homelessness situation continues to be a crisis across the globe. Some States are worse off than others but many people, including some previously homeless folks, are working hard to curb this chronic situation.

A recent venture which sees former homeless people working together to help current homeless individuals has shown that homelessness is a phase and does not define the people affected by it. The project has already taken off to the extent that it has sent the organizers scrambling to increase production.

Marice Cumber founded the Accumulate Art School, which is designed to assist the homeless in London. It was established five years ago with the aim of assisting young homeless people in moving forward with their lives through artistic projects.

The school offers programs in graphic design, drawing, fashion, photography, sculpture, and other topics, with the aim of assisting students in developing their skills and obtaining jobs, education, or training.

Accumulate released the world’s first graphic novel generated by individuals experiencing homelessness in November 2020, according to the team.

The Book of Homelessness is a collection of drawings and writings that offers its authors a voice to share their personal stories about homelessness.

“The book contains intimate, emotional, raw, and truthful stories. “They are stories of suffering, trauma, dysfunction, families, war, rejection, misplaced affection, overcoming adversity and battling, and succeeding,” Cumber said.

Sales have since earned sufficient money to finance a scholarship for an Accumulate candidate. Individuals will enroll in Ravensbourne University London’s Access to HE class in design and digital media.

Cumber told reporters that “It is a really unique event.” “It ensures that the imagination of a team of individuals who have survived homelessness can help another homeless person improve their life via artistic academic achievement.”

Revenues have surpassed expectations, necessitating a reprint to meet demand. People all over the world, as well as libraries in colleges and municipalities, have purchased The Book of Homelessness.

People from hostels, shelters, and transitional housing were welcomed to Accumulate’s sequence of artistic workshops. An exhibition in Shoreditch, east London, hosted writing, painting, and illustration courses.

“The workshops helped me develop and change and recover from domestic violence, from just being homeless and unbalanced,” said Amalia, who participated.

All proceeds from the book’s sales are split between the writers and Accumulate, allowing the entity to continue to provide artistic workshops. Books are available for £25 and can be ordered online.

In the meantime, the homelessness situation is being tackled in England and the United States, two first world countries that seem to struggle with coming up with the ideal way to keep people off the streets.

However, many non-profit organizations in both countries have been working hard to build facilities, provide food and create programs to help people avoid or be rehabilitated from homelessness.

Many undergo programs to inspire them and train them to tackle obstacles in order to not end up back on the streets.

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Majestic California Condors Return For Rare Flight Throughout Northwest

Amanda J

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One look to the sky and the sight of a California Condor can change your perspective on the natural world around us. California Condors are known as New World Vultures, and they are the largest land-based bird in all of North America. Becoming extinct in the wild back in 1987, the sighting of a California Condor would grow increasingly rare, declining in large part due to lead poisoning and habitat destruction. These giant black-plumed birds have a wingspan measuring 9.8 ft and a weight of nearly 27lbs on average. A scavenger as well as one of the longest living birds in the world (60 years!), California Condors might just be on their way toward a dramatic return to the United States Northwest region.

Returning to America: The California Condor Takes Flight

An endangered bird around the world, the California Condor was recently spotted gliding throughout the Northwest in the United States. This comes on the heels of nearly 20 years worth of effort by the Yurok Tribe as they put forth massive efforts to reintroduce the California Condor to the Pacific Northwest. This has meant extensive work dealing with environmental assessments, community outreach, and analysis of contaminants in the wild. These efforts were not only launched due to the endangered nature of the bird but also the rich history they have within the Yurok Ancestral Territory as well as the neighboring Redwood National Park.

Traditionally, California Condors are known to range all the way from California to Florida with stops in Western Canada as well as the Northernmost regions of Mexico. Continued population rates decreasing would make the bird increasingly endangered until its certification as ‘extinct in the wild’ in 1987. At this point in time, all condors were in a captive breeding program for the beginning of the recovery efforts we’ve been discussing.

Now with recovery efforts starting to make a notable difference, the goal is to bring California Condors back to their ancestral territory and the neighboring redwoods for the first time in over 100 years. A new facility was erected in the Yurok Ancestral Territory by the National Park Service to help empower this project while fueling conservation efforts.

Steve Mietz is a superintendent at the Redwood National and State Parks and he has gone on record extensively to support the conservation efforts that have been underway. Pointing to recent California Condor sightings in the Northwest Mietz would say, “The return of Condors to the skies above Redwood National and State Parks is a critical step” in what he considered an “intensive recovery program” focused on saving the animal from extinction.

Paul Souza is the regional director at the U.S Fish and Wildlife Services in California’s Great Basin Region. Paul added his own voice to the words offered by Mietz saying, “The California condor is a shining example of how a species can be brought back from the brink of extinction.”

The rejuvenation of the California Condor and its place in society was not solely done on the basis of protecting another of mother nature’s creatures. In addition to its endangered status, researchers understand that these massive birds are vital members of the local ecosystem, and they have played a significant cultural role to the Yurok Tribe. Protecting and empowering their rejuvenation is not just good for Mother Nature, but for society in general.

With continued partnership efforts by leading researchers and government facilities, the hope is to have California Condors brought back completely from the edge of extinction so that these massive soaring birds can thrive in the wild for generations and generations to come.

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UPS Drivers Celebrate Co-Worker’s Recovery From COVID-19 With Touching Parade

Sarrah M

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At the time of this writing, there are more than 134 million globally confirmed cases of COVID-19. The global pandemic that shut much of the world down a year ago continues to wreak havoc, though new vaccines and declining mortality rates provide renewed hope. Among the many stories to come out of the COVID-19 crisis has been the way that humans have banded together to show support for one another in trying times. For a team of UPS drivers in Midland, TX, this meant taking to the road to show love and appreciation for a co-worker who survived a long battle with COVID-19 at Midland Memorial Hospital.

From COVID to Celebration Parade

As one of the most integral public services in the United States, having deliverable mail throughout the pandemic has turned into a luxury. The systems in place have struggled under the burden that COVID-19 has brought and it has taken hard-working people like the drivers at UPS to make it happen.So when one of their own ended up hospitalized with COVID-19, the rest of his colleagues knew that they had to step up for their co-worker, one William Torres.

Torres had been hospitalized after early symptoms of COVID-19 began to heighten. Eventually, Torres would be sent to the ICU where he would spend a full 64 days under care and guidance. Throughout this time period, Torres was forced onto a ventilator to help his lungs operate, as breathing had become a moment-by-moment struggle. Torres said of his breathing issues, “Like let me cover your mouth with my hand and leave you just a little opening…”

While Torres was ecstatic to find a parade of UPS trucks, motorcycles, and cars waiting for him upon his release, things weren’t always looking so bright. For one, Torres was convinced that the virus might have killed him. The breathing issues were a major symptom but only one of many including fatigue, pain, headaches, loss of smell, and so on.

Road to Recovery

For Torres and his colleagues at UPS, the parade that welcomed him home was the first time that the two parties had interacted since his diagnosis. Extreme quarantine conditions kept visitors away, remaining largely remote throughout the duration of his stay. Even though the two parties had been separated, Torres and his UPS friends were delighted to meet up once again. A colleague named Lori Ripplinger said of Torres, “He’s one that will light up a room!”

Now well on the road to recovery in a post-hospitalization life, Torres hopes that others will listen to his story and take the virus more seriously as a result. Torres pointed out that many folks are lucky that they get a ‘mild version’ of it, though the severe version can kill you. Torres said, “I say wear your mask — it’s worth dying for, y’know?”

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Joining A Facebook Group In Another Country Accidentally Leads To Impactful Connections

Jolie

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Oftentimes people aim for one place and end up in another, whether on the bus, train, personal car or even online. For Sue Perry, of Crocton in the West Yorkshire county area of England, the online version occurred recently but turned out to be a blessing.

Sue Perry, whose community is near Wakefield, was on Facebook searching for a place to donate some books, DVDs, and an office chair, but she wound up making real connections from all over the world.

She entered a Facebook group for Wakefield, Que., a rural community just north of Gatineau, by chance.

She said it was the unfamiliar community names, types of clothing and shoes as well as skis that gave it away. One of them, she believes, was Edelweiss, Perry said.

Sommet Edelweiss Ski Resort is a ski resort in Wakefield’s other side, the one with all the snow.

She created a post declaring openly, ‘Whoops, I’m sorry I joined the wrong Wakefield party, I’m in the U.K. and hope you all stay safe across the pond,'” she explained.

Perry believed that was the extent of it, but the Canadians replied with multiple messages enquiring about her wellbeing.

COVID-19 had infected her daughter and son-in-law, both nurses, and her son, an outreach worker, at the same time.

She said Everything was a little low for her family at the time, and it was an incredible and delightful diversion.

I compared it to a snowflake that turned into an avalanche, she said.

When one of the members of the party, Scott-Milton Grace, posted on Facebook that he thought they should give Perry a care package, she thought it was a joke — before people started offering maple syrup, honey, and other goodies.

Perry claims she was in a poor mood when the mix-up occurred, and the outpouring of goodwill that followed was a welcome distraction.

Grace said she found a box and placed it in his office, and she invited others to drop off items for the care package.

Perry says that once the box was completed, folks provided money to cover the postage cost, which she found quite humbling.

“Actually, I cried a few tears,” Perry said.

Then, according to Perry, Scott texted her to say that his mayor wanted to send something as well.

“So he sent this little package from the mayor of Quebec to our mayor in Wakefield,” she explained, adding that there was also a package for the Wakefield Express, her local newspaper.

When the box was finished, people donated money to pay for the postage, which is simply incredible. It’s extremely humbling…. Really, I cried a couple of times.

A plethora of goodies arrived from across the Atlantic Ocean.

“I thought it was a joke when someone said, ‘We should submit the nude calendar,'” she said, but the package proved otherwise.

The Wakefield Express published an article about her mix-up and new friends.

“Since that was posted online, there have been a slew of responses. Everyone thinks it’s fantastic. Exceptionally nice, “she said

A thoughtful yet enigmatic letter on the exterior of a care package sent from Wakefield, Que., to Sue Perry in the United Kingdom.

Perry said she’d heard that the mayor of Wakefield, England, needs to send a return box and that she’d like to help.

She claims that her case has struck a chord because everyone is in the same boat and searching for a way to pass the time.

“When the package arrived, there was a small note written on the side that Scott hadn’t written on when he sent it, so it was done at the post office or in transit,” she explained.

“The spirit of love and compassion is alive and well in the heart of humanity,” the message reads.

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Emerging Science Suggests That Birds Enhance Human Happiness

Sarrah M

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Listening to birds tweeting early in the morning, watching them feed in the middle of a city, or even eating crumbs off a patio has always been a fun pastime for thousands, if not millions of people.

We see them almost anywhere we go, hear them every day, and live in every climate, and two recent studies have found that just being around them makes us happier.

Now we’re hearing from scientists that this activity, done on a recurrent basis, is beneficial to our wellbeing.

According to a German study, being greeted by a diverse range of birds will increase satisfaction with life by the comparable amount of 150 dollars per week in additional income.

The German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research used data from the European Quality of Life Survey in 2012 to assess how species diversity in birds impacted 26 thousand people in twenty six European countries.

A Lecturer at Goethe University, based in Frankfurt, Germany is the main author of the study and he states that, “the happiest Europeans are those who can encounter a variety of bird species in their everyday lives, or who live in near-natural environments that are home to a variety of wildlife.”

Another Professor, Dr. Katrin Böhning-Gaese, who also works at Goethe University, claims that “They also analyzed the socio-economic information of the people who were evaluated, and, much to their amazement, experts discovered that avian variety is as essential for their overall happiness as their earnings.”

California Polytechnic University conducted a clandestine study in which it subjected Colorado climbers to an experiment that assessed their sense of well-being by positioning speakers that played a variation of bird song along certain parts of a common hiking trail network and then questioning the hikers about their encounter.

Although the larger picture of nature’s restorative properties is likely to include multiple senses, Danielle Ferraro told the university press that “our research is the first one to experimentally exploit a mere one (sound) in the industry and illustrate its relevance to human experiences in nature.”

Indeed, hikers on the trials who heard much more and more diverse sounds reported feeling better about life and their hiking experience than those who heard just less and less sound overall.

The advantages of birding—hearing their song, seeing the species around us—are also beneficial. Sales of bird feeders, bird food, and birding apps all escalated throughout the pandemic, according to a new study from the Audubon Society, while involvement in the yearly worldwide event known as Big Day, and staged by the Ornithology laboratory at Cornell, shattered all previous records.

Participants reported 2.1 million observations of 6,500 species during much of the Big Day. More than 120,000 checklists were submitted by an all-time high of 50,000 people, smashing the previous single-day checklist record by 30%.

Nesting season is approaching fast, and with lockdowns still in place in many states and nations, there hasn’t been a better way to start birdwatching—and, if possible, to render your land a good habitat for birds.

There are many ways to make your property bird-friendly. Here are a few:

  • Know what is on the ground in your yard
  • Explore what types of plants are ideal for your yard and are attractive to birds.
  • Don’t forget that native species are always the best plants to attract local birds.
  • Target plants that bloom with flowers have berries or even seeds.
  • Don’t make your lawn too vast.

Last but not least, unless they pose a threat to your home and family, save as many of your trees as possible as you prepare for a whole new world of happiness.

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