Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.
The story: Marine biologist Josh Stewart found a nursery ground for giant manta rays off the coast of Texas, Alejandra Borunda reported for National Geographic on June 18. Because mantas are currently listed as “threatened” on the U.S. Endangered Species List, the discovery of a previously unknown habitat — with a healthy population of juvenile rays — could signal hope for their survival.
The big picture: The biggest threat to mantas: Fishing. Mantas are vulnerable to bycatch and are sought after for medicinal uses in China. By studying this healthy manta nursery and understanding what makes it attractive to juvenile mantas, scientists hope they will be able to find similar nurseries around the world — and to tailor their conservation efforts for maximum impact. “It’s really important for us to know where these nursery sites are,” said Andrea Marshall, a National Geographic explorer. “Anywhere that has tiny mantas is really important for us to learn about, so we can target our protection strategies.”
Read more here.
The story: Vietnamese tea growers are using sustainable farming techniques to improve crop quality, UN Environment reported June 20. The project aims to restore soil fertility, enhance carbon sequestration and improve the livelihoods of farmers.
The big picture: Increased heavy rainfall and flooding caused by climate change have damaged tea crops in recent years. Research shows that certain tea-growing regions in the world could see declines of up to 55 percent, which could force farmers to relocate to more suitable growing areas. Switching from traditional to more sustainable growing methods can help farmers of tea and other crops navigate climate change-induced issues, such as a rise in plant pests and disease. For the tea growers in Vietnam, simple switches to their methods also means they don’t have to migrate. “We’ve stopped using herbicides completely,” says Thanh, a Vietnamese tea farmer. “I’ve learnt to apply mulch and grow hedges, so that natural ecosystems can work against pests. ”
Read more here.
The story: A rhino calf was released back into the wild Thursday after spending the past year and a half at Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, the Northern Rangelands Trust announced on June 21. This rescued calf, “Loijipu,” was abandoned by his mother after being born in a community-run conservancy in Kenya. According to a Kenya Wildlife Service vet, Loijipu had begun to develop the instincts necessary to survive in the wild, so he was released into a large rangeland mass where he was welcomed by Sera Community Conservancy rangers.
The big picture: Hunted for their horns, rhino numbers are at an all-time low — making conservation efforts critical to their survival. In 2014, nearly 1,020 rhinos were poached and killed. Conservation International has joined with six conservation organizations to form the United for Wildlife campaign, which is committed to ending the entire illegal wildlife trade chain. Loijipu’s rescue and release is just one example of the campaign’s conservation efforts. “The return of Loijupu is an increase in wildlife numbers and it is not only highly beneficial to the biodiversity of the ecosystem but also a boost to community conservation efforts,” said Reuben Lendira, the Sera Community Conservancy Manager.
Read more here.
Jessica Pink is an editorial intern for Conservation International.
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