Eating bugs could save the planet

by | 1st August 2013

A new study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found that eating insects could help save the planet.

Caterpillars are the second most commonly eaten insects, accounting for 18 percent of consumption. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

•The report released by the FAO argues that there is a need for humans to reevaluate “what we eat and how we produce it” if the human population is, in fact, going to reach 9 billion by 2050.
•Many of the current forms of agriculture are unsustainable and may not suffice to feed the human population in the future.
•2 billion people across the world include insects in their diets and eat 1,900 different species of insects.
•The practice of eating insects is called “entomophagy.”
•The possibility of mass-producing insects as a food source has not yet been explored. Most people that eat insects either forage for them in the wild or keep a small supply in their home.
•Insects have many of the same nutritional benefits as meat. Although some might consider eating insects unusual, the environmental cost of raising insects would be much lower than the environmental cost of farming cows and pigs.
•Although issues like climate change and overfishing are endangering the future of food, the FAO report predicts that it will be difficult to convince most Westerners to eat caterpillars and beetles.

Want to learn more? Read the full story here: Eat insects to mitigate deforestation and climate change.

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The fierce fight for the wolverine

by | 1st August 2013

One of the fiercest animals in the world, the wolverine, may soon be protected in the United States. Environmentalists have been trying to convince U.S. lawmakers to list the wolverine as Endangered in the U.S. as its frozen habitat is slowly disappearing due to climate change.

Wolverine in the snow. Photo by: Bigstock.

•The wolverine is a part of the weasel family and lives in cold climates, such as those of Russia and Canada.
•Less than 300 wolverines are thought to live in the United States, a number that could decrease if temperatures in the northern U.S. continue to rise.
•Wolverines are exceptionally fierce fighters and hunters.  Although they often scavenge for their food, they can hunt animals as big as caribou and can even defend their kill from a bear.
•Female wolverines depend on snowy dens at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep to nest and raise kits in the early spring.
•Humans are considered to be the wolverine’s top predator.  If lawmakers decide to list the wolverine as endangered, people will no longer be able to trap or hunt the animals.
•Building ski resorts, logging, and developing in wolverine territory will not be prohibited by this change, however.

Want to learn more? Read the full story here: US proposes to list wolverine under the Endangered Species Act

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Tibetan monks take on the role of protecting the snow leopard

by | 19th June 2013

The snow leopard is a rare, elusive feline that lives in the mountains of central Asia. The snow leopard is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and conservationists are enlisting local Tibetan monks to help safeguard the future of this species.

Snow leopard in the Toronto Zoo. Photo by: John Vetterli.

  • The snow leopard is endangered because its beautiful fur makes it a target for poachers and the leopard’s natural prey is in decline.
  • According to Panthera researcher Tom McCarthy another threat to the snow leopard is something called “retribution killing.”
  • Because snow leopards can hunt livestock, poor herders that live in the snow leopards’ range sometimes try to kill the cats for eating their sheep and yaks.
  • A big cat conservation organization named Panthera has teamed up with Tibetan monks who, they believe, can help discourage locals from killing snow leopards.
  • Along with educating people about the importance of snow leopards and other wildlife, the monks also monitor snow leopard habitat and work as field assistants to the Panthera scientists.
  • The program is proving itself to be successful in keeping snow leopards out of harm’s way.

Want to learn more?  Read the full story here: An avalanche of decline: snow leopard populations are plummeting

Other snow leopard stories: First snow leopards collared in Afghanistan as species faces rising threat from climate change
First video footage of wild snow leopard cubs in their den in Mongolia

previous post: Bringing the scarlet macaw back to the skies of Mexico
next post: The fierce fight for the wolverine

Bringing the scarlet macaw back to the skies of Mexico

by | 19th June 2013

The scarlet macaw is a beautiful bird that roams the skies of Central America. The scarlet macaw is indigenous to the forests of Mexico, but hasn’t been seen in Mexico for more than 70 years.

A released-bird with transmitter. Photo by Elise Voltura.

  • Researchers, conservation organizations, and the Mexican government are working together to reintroduce the scarlet macaw to the skies of Mexico.
  • The birds are trained by researchers to avoid poachers, forage for food, recognize predators, and form flocks. It is important that the macaws learn these behaviors, as they are crucial to their survival in the wild.
  • Hopefully, with this effort, sixty scarlet macaws will be successfully released into the wild this year. The first seventeen macaws were released in the Palenque National Park in April and seem to be thriving in their new habitat.
  • The macaws are monitored with different technologies, including conservation drones and collars, that track how they are faring in the wild.
  • Each year the Mexican government holds a Scarlet Macaw Festival for the locals so that they can learn about the bird and celebrate its return to Mexico.

Scarlet macaw in flight. Photo by Juan Antonio Lopez.

Want to learn more?  Read the full story here: Flying rainbows: the scarlet macaw returns to Mexico

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