Notes from a rare planet: Death of coral reefs could devastate nations

Coral Reef

This photo of coral reef comes courtesy of Flickr user Sam and Ian.

Death of coral reefs could devastate nations

  • “Coral reefs are part of the foundation of the ocean food chain. Nearly half the fish the world eats make their homes around them. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide — by some estimates, 1 billion across Asia alone — depend on them for their food and their livelihoods. If the reefs vanished, experts say, hunger, poverty and political instability could ensue.”
  • “Numerous studies predict coral reefs are headed for extinction worldwide, largely because of global warming, pollution and coastal development, but also because of damage from bottom-dragging fishing boats and the international trade in jewelry and souvenirs made of coral.”
  • “At least 19 percent of the world’s coral reefs are already gone, including some 50 percent of those in the Caribbean. An additional 15 percent could be dead within 20 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Old Dominion University professor Kent Carpenter, director of a worldwide census of marine species, warned that if global warming continues unchecked, all corals could be extinct within 100 years.”

Photo essay of the making of a gazelle mascot

Ethiopia is the King of Reforestation

  • “The Billion Tree Campaign has passed the four billion mark, in a crucial step towards its target of seven billion trees planted by the end of 2009. The milestone was reached following confirmation from the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture that an additional 687 million trees were planted in 2008 under the country’s nationwide tree planting campaign – part of the one billion trees that were planted over the last 52 days.”
  • “Other recent tree registrations to the Billion Tree Campaign include the China Green Foundation, which has confirmed that it has planted 181 million trees; Peru, with over 41 million trees planted through its National Tree Campaign of Afforestation and Reforestation; Romania with over 38 million trees planted through its “Millions of Trees Millions of People” national movement; the Armenia Tree Project, which has registered close to one million trees; and the Kenya Commercial Bank, which planted 200,000 trees in Kenya during its 2009 Community Day.”
  • Tree plantings have taken place in 166 countries.

Finding forest for the endangered golden-headed lion tamarin

  • “Brazil’s golden-headed lion tamarin is a small primate with a black body and a bright mane of gold and orange. Listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, the golden-headed lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas) survives in only a single protected reserve in the largely degraded Atlantic Forest in Brazil. Otherwise its habitat lies in unprotected patches and fragments threatened by urbanization and agricultural expansion.”
  • “Since the Atlantic Forest is largely gone—less than 7 percent of the original forest remains—researchers were only able to locate four forest patches large enough to sustain golden-headed lion tamarins under the most rigorous threats, including disease and fire. But only one patch was large enough to retain genetic diversity after a hundred years, if threats were moderate instead of severe two forest patches remain.”

Poached attacked by hippos, devoured by lions

  • “All that remains of one man, who entered Kruger National Park with the intent of illegally hunting animals, is his skull and a few scraps of clothing. After he and two companions snuck into the nature reserve under cover of night to check some illegal traps they had assembled, they were apparently ambushed by a group of angry hippos. The three men all ran in different directions, but only two made it out of the park with their lives. The third, park officials say, was devoured by lions.”
  • “Poaching in Kruger National Park, and throughout South Africa, is not so uncommon–with rhinos being the primary victims, long hunted for their coveted horns. Recently, however, officials have stepped-up surveillance hoping to nab poachers crossing into the park.
  • Officials say the deceased man’s two accomplices remain in custody, likely thankful to be alive. The group involved in the incident are suspected to have been poaching in the park before, setting up traps to ensnare animals.”