The Friday Five: Conservation and nature stories from around the world that caught our eye this week
Each week, countless inspiring and informative stories are published about conservation successes or new discoveries in nature and wildlife around the world. The Friday Five is a weekly roundup of some of the conservation and nature stories from around the globe that caught our attention the week of September 5, 2016:
“Lake Balls” - the canary of the coal mine to Lake Mývatn
The beloved fluffy globes of freshwater alga, an Icelandic national treasure and once numerous in Lake Mývatn, are disappearing and scientists fear their outlook is bleak. Starved of sunlight from a blanket of cyanobacterial or blue-green algal slime fueled by pollution over the lake, healthy lake balls have not been seen since 2013. Furthermore, the algae blooms responsible for their plight are affecting the health surround habitat. Populations of flies which are important food source for fishes, which in turn support breeding duck populations, are thrown off balance.
A win for the giant panda and a step back from extinction
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has bumped the giant panda’s status on the organization’s Red List from endangered to vulnerable. The species was first classified in 1965 with its status unchanged until the recent upgrade, meaning conservation efforts in China over the decades have been effective. While this update is promising, scientists celebrate this victory with caution, as the species is still at risk.
Ecological bridge is open for business, and it is a hit with wildlife
Build it and they’ll come. A new bridge was constructed to help animals safely cross a busy highway in Kibbutz Amiad in the Upper Galilee. Authorities say they are already seeing some foot traffic by wildlife patrons, including jackals, wild boars, foxes and porcupines. A project of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA), the earth-covered bridge measures 50 metres long, 45 metres wide and hangs 6.6 metres over the busy highway. The INPA says more of these wildlife-friendly green infrastructures are planned, with at least one under construction currently.
The well-kept secret of African giraffes
Until recently, African giraffes were thought to be a single species with several subspecies. But genetic research shows there are actually four distinct species: southern giraffe, Masai giraffe, reticulated giraffe and northern giraffe. The finding prompts species focussed conservation efforts in the wild, including separate listings under IUCN, and further research about the differences in behaviour, diet and habitat.
Saving Bullwinkle: Experts, hunters and First Nations meet to talk moose conservation
In some areas of Manitoba moose populations are stable and increasing, but in other areas they’re not doing so well. Disease, including those transmitted by ticks and a form of brain worm, and unregulated hunting are taking a toll on moose populations in game hunting areas. Participants hope that by bringing different interest groups together to strengthen collaboration and relationships, they can find a solution and act fast.