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Hope for the Monarch Butterfly
November 24, 2014 03:59 PM - Imogen Mathers, SciDevNet
When millions of monarch butterflies take to the sky and fly thousands of kilometres from the United States and southern Canada to Mexico, the view is breathtaking. But over the last few decades, their numbers have plummeted, and last year hit an all-time low. Illegal logging in Mexican forests, where the monarchs hibernate during winter, has traditionally been to blame. But large-scale logging by companies appears to have been halted. And now small-scale logging by local people for firewood and timber — a “growing concern in 2013” — has also stopped, according to a study published last month (27 October) in Biological Conservation.
Water-saving Technology for Rice Farms Introduced
November 10, 2014 10:07 AM - Fatima Arkin, SciDevNet
Agriculture experts say application of alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology in Vietnam’s rice farms, one of South-East Asia’s largest rice-producing countries, holds great promise in cutting water use and greenhouse gas emissions from rice cultivation without sacrificing yield output. Vietnam along with Bangladesh and Colombia recently partnered with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to introduce the large-scale application of AWD, also known as controlled irrigation in which farmers periodically drain rice paddies rather than keeping them perpetually flooded.
First Hookworm Vaccine Passes Brazilian Safety Trial
October 8, 2014 09:33 AM - SciDevNet, SciDevNet
A vaccine for parasitic intestinal worms has been shown to be safe in Brazilian clinical trials, according to its US developer. Hookworm parasites infect more than 600 million people worldwide, attaching themselves to the intestines to feed on blood. Infection can lead to iron deficiency and capillary damage, and may retard children’s growth and mental development.
US Pledges climate change planning assistance to developing countries
October 3, 2014 04:29 PM - Editor, SciDevNet
The United States will commit to significantly improving developing countries' access to data, tools and training to help them adapt to climate change, the US president told the Climate Summit in New York last week (23 September). Barack Obama pledged to immediately release higher resolution topographical data for Africa, to scale up a training programme to boost meteorologists’ ability to monitor and predict climate change, and to create a public-private partnership to put climate-relevant information and tools in the hands of developing world policymakers.
UN licenses kick off search for underwater minerals
September 5, 2014 08:07 AM - Rodrigo de Oliveira Andrade, SciDevNet
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) has begun issuing exploration licenses for mining the yet untouched floor of international waters raising concerns about potential environmental impacts. The licenses, issued on 21 July, grant prospecting rights for underwater minerals to private and state-owned companies from Brazil, Cook Islands, Germany, India, Russia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
August 26, 2014 12:32 PM - Eliette Angel, SciDevNet
"This is one of the best beers that I have ever tried," says Andrés Barrera. My friend is enjoying a craft beer called Atrapaniebla — Spanish for fog catcher — an ale made with water condensed from mountain fog on two fog catchers. The microbrewery that produces it, located in Peña Blanca (some 360 kilometres north of Santiago, the Chilean capital), is one of the first Chilean enterprises to make use of fog-catching technology; others use it to water tomato and aloe vera crops. "Water from fog catchers has less nitrite and nitrate than the drinking water in the north of Chile, which is good for beer," says Miguel Ángel Carcuro, 29-year-old co-owner of the microbrewery that makes Atrapaniebla. Of course, while beer is nice, water is essential and fog catchers can be a great way to provide this sometimes scarce commodity. Carcuro's interest in this technology stems from teenage travels with his father, who showed him a hill above the bay of Chungungo, where there were the remains of fog catchers that had until recently provided water for 100 families.
Electricity from silk cocoons?
August 25, 2014 08:59 AM - Richa Malhotra, SciDevNet
Researchers in India say they have developed a prototype of an energy-harvesting device from the cocoons of a domesticated species of silk moth. They hope to put the technology to practical use while also tackling waste materials from the silk processing industry.
World Cup mascot helps score for Brazilian three-banded armadillos
June 6, 2014 09:01 AM - Fred Furtado, SciDevNet
A call by Brazilian scientists to protect the endangered mascot of the 2014 World Cup, the Brazilian three-banded armadillo, seems to have been heeded by the Brazilian government. On 22 May, the Brazilian government published an action plan to conserve this armadillo, which is unique to Brazil. The document proposes increasing the protected areas where the armadillo lives, enhancing financial incentives to prevent three-banded armadillo hunting and increasing education about the importance of protecting this species.
Trampas de abejas defienden granjas africanas de los elefantes
May 19, 2014 10:49 AM - Georgia Achia, SciDevNet, SciDevNet
Alambrados con trampas de colmenas de abejas se están construyendo en cinco países de África para prevenir que los elefantes asalten las granjas, al mismo tiempo que proveen la población local con miel.
Bee booby-traps defend African farms from elephants
May 14, 2014 08:02 AM - Georgia Achia, SciDevNet
Wire fences booby-trapped with beehives are being built in five African countries to prevent elephants from raiding farms, while also providing local people with honey. 'Beehive fences' are now being put up in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda by UK charity Save the Elephant, says Lucy King, leader of the Elephants and Bees Project in Kenya — and they are already in use at three communities in Kenya.