The Ebola epidemic in West Africa may have surprised most of the medical establishment – this is the first such outbreak in the region – but the risk had been steadily rising for at least a decade. The risk had grown so high, in fact, that this outbreak was almost inevitable and very possibly predictable.All that was needed was to see the danger was a bat’s eye view of the region. Once blanketed with forests, West Africa has been skinned alive over the last decade. Guinea’s rainforests have been reduced by 80%, while Liberia has sold logging rights to over half its forests. Within the next few years Sierra Leone is on track to be completely deforested.This matters because those forests were habitat for fruit bats, Ebola’s reservoir host. With their homes cut down around them, the bats are concentrating into the remnants of their once-abundant habitat. At the same time, mining has become big business in the region, employing thousands of workers who regularly travel into bat territory to get to the mines.
The awful news that all but two penguin chicks have starved to death out of a colony of almost 40,000 birds is a grim illustration of the enormous pressure Antarctic wildlife is under. The causes of this devastating event are complex, from a changing climate to local sea-ice factors, but one thing penguins, whales and other marine life don’t need is additional strain on food supplies.
The Guggenheim’s alarming action continues a growing worldwide trend in which threats of violent protest are silencing artistic expression and posing a danger to free speech in general. Whether or not the provocations of artists are defensible or morally unacceptable, we need to take an uncompromising position against threats of violence. When cultural institutions cave in to such threats, others who are convinced of the moral rectitude of their cause are encouraged to embrace similar tactics. This time it is animal rights activists. Next time it could be religious or political extremists.
I was already midway through my 13 years of working to improve fishery sustainability in the Galápagos and throughout Latin America when I had my “aha!” moment. What I came to realize is that fishers are not the enemies of sustainability or ocean health, but rather the best allies that humankind can have to ensure the conservation of marine ecosystems, food security and poverty eradication around the world. We just need to understand their motivations, needs and concerns in order to help them create the conditions to move fisheries toward sustainability, while not forgetting that crises represent the best opportunities for change.
After years of campaigning to protect grizzly bears from being senselessly killed by trophy hunters in British Columbia, conservationists are finally
Classic anthrax is caused by Bacillus anthracis, which tends to strike ungulates (hoofed mammals) in seasonal outbreaks in arid locales, such as the African savannahs. The bacteria can cause infection in skin, lungs, or intestines. In humans, B. anthracis causes ghastly skin lesions and severe respiratory and intestinal infections—which have mortality rates as high as 85 to 60 percent, respectively.The alternative anthrax bacteria appear to cause an identical anthrax disease in animal models. But, those bacteria aren’t B. anthracis; they’re cousins, B. cereus, commonly found in soil and food. Usually, these are relatively harmless, with some strains known to cause a minor fraction of food poisoning cases. But the ones causing alternative anthrax are different. They just so happen to have gotten their grips on B. anthracis’ virulence plasmids—circular, shareable bits of DNA that contain the genetic code for their disease-causing gene products.
This year’s “dead zone,” where oxygen levels are so low they threaten fish and other small aquatic life, is about 50 percent larger than normal. The average size of the dead zone over the last 31 years has been 14,037 square kilometers, according to Nancy Rabalais, a researcher at Louisiana State University who has long studied the issue. The dead zone was likely even larger than what the scientists found, but there was insufficient time on board the ship to measure its entire extent.
A House panel has voted to lift a ban on slaughtering horses at meat processing plants.The move by the House Appropriations Committee would reverse a horse slaughter ban that was contained in a huge catchall spending bill signed into law by President Trump in early May.A move to renew the slaughter ban, pushed by California Democrat Lucille Roybal-Allard, was defeated by a 27-25 vote.The Horse slaughter ban has mostly been in force for more than a decade. The ban is enforced by blocking the Agriculture Department from providing inspectors at meat plants that slaughter horses and is in place through Sept. 30.
“Bats get out of control and produce more viruses when humans create more fruit plantations – there has been a huge increase in date fruit production in Saudia Arabia – home of the MERS outbreak.”
The study shows that bats carry a significantly higher proportion of viruses able to infect people than any other group of mammals; and it identifies the species and geographic regions on the planet with the highest number of yet-to-be discovered, or ‘missing’, viruses likely to infect people. This work provides a new way to predict where and how we should work to identify and pre-empt the next potential viral pandemic before it emerges.
“They were just standing around, chitchatting, making jokes,” said 27-year-old neighbor Aaron Dunn, referring to the police. “They were just letting it bleed out. It had two gunshots in it. The owner was patting it with Kleenex.”Stephen said that a bystander lent her a cellphone, and that she called her teenage son, Aidan, who rushed to the park from Williamsburg. He arrived with friend, and quickly rushed home to get his mother’s wallet and cellphone. On his way back, he cut across the crime scene area. Multiple witnesses said they observed several police officers approach Aidan, push him against a tree, and arrest him. “The son is running through the park eastward, is obviously distraught, and the cops just grab him and throw him against a tree,” Dunn said. “They put him in handcuffs.””He was frantically saying he had to deliver the wallet to his mom, the cops would not let him pass and restrained him,” said neighbor Michelle Bilella.