Connect with us


Bushmeat trade pattern changes hint at erosion of cultural taboos in West Africa



Sept. 18 (UPI) — Researchers have identified a shift in the bushmeat trade in and around Niger National Park in Guinea, West Africa.

New survey data, published Friday in the journal Oryx, revealed in an uptick in the trade of several species that forage on local crops, including the green monkey, Chlorocebus sabaeus, and warthog, Phacochoerus africanus.

The discovery suggests economic realities have eroded cultural taboos against the killing and consumption of monkeys and wild pigs in West Africa, a predominantly Muslim region.

Researchers were able to identify fluctuations in the bushmeat, or wildmeat, trade by comparing more recent market survey data, collected between 2011 and 2017, with data collected during the 1990s and between 2001 and 2011.

“No other study to our knowledge has really explored temporal changes when it comes to the wild meat trade, and our study clearly highlights key shifts in this regard,” lead study author Tatyana Humle, professor of ecology and conservation at the University of Kent in Britain, told UPI.

To collect accurate data, Humle said it’s important for researchers to build trusting relationships with wildmeat vendors and help them understand the purpose of the study. It’s also important for researchers not to interfere in market activities.

During regular visits to local markets, Humle’s research team recorded where wildmeat was being sold, as well as what types of wildmeat — at the species level, whenever possible — was available for sale.

The market data comparison showed that fluctuations in Guinea’s wildmeat trade are being largely driven by increases in rural demand. Bushmeat trade patterns have remained fairly stable in the city of Faranah over the last few decades.

“In Guinea, like many other countries in the region, rural people in particular depend heavily on wildmeat for protein consumption and income,” Humle said. “It is hence critical to understand what is going on in order to more effectively align conservation actions with the livelihoods challenges faced by people in these localities.”

Researchers found small mammals dominate the bushmeat trade in Guinea, especially species that feed on local crops. With a single kill, farmers can both protect their crops and make some extra money.

“Increased trade in crop-foraging wildlife species is potentially a trend that we expect to see elsewhere as both subsistence and commercial agricultural activities and other land use conversion practices are spreading across landscapes, encroaching into habitats utilized by wildlife,” Humle said.

The wildmeat trade presents a variety of risks, including an increased risk of zoonoses, diseases that jump between wildlife and both people and livestock.

“The international trade in wildlife is one of the major threats to biodiversity,” Humle said.

The wildmeat trade can also lead to local extinctions and significant biodiversity losses, resulting in lost ecological services, such as pollination and seed-dispersal of critical fruit trees.

Researchers hope their market surveys can help conservationists develop more effective strategies to curb the growth of the wildmeat trade.

“Research is key to combat the growth of the wildmeat trade, as without understanding the patterns and drivers we cannot identify in concert with the people involved in this activity effective solutions to tackle the trade,” Humle said.

“It is also vital that research findings inform policy and community development and conservation actions,” she said. “Law enforcement is futile on its own, unless drivers are understood and addressed adequately.”

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


NASA’s OSIRIS-REx touches down on asteroid Bennu to nab sample



Oct. 20 (UPI) — NASA’s OSIRIS-REx touched down on asteroid Bennu on Tuesday evening in a mission to scoop a sample of rocks and dirt.

The spacecraft — the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer — made soft contact with the asteroid at 6:12 p.m. EDT.

The historic “touch and go” event featured animation displaying OSIRIS-REx’s sample collection activities in real time. It takes time for real images of the touchdown to travel back to the Earth, so they won’t be released to the public until Wednesday.

The craft executed a series of maneuvers over the course of several hours before making soft contact with the surface of the asteroid to collect regolith, or rocks and dirt.

“It will be four and a half hours of anxiousness,” Beth Buck, OSIRIS-REx mission operations manager at Lockheed Martin Space, said in a news conference ahead of the event.

Buck made a comparison to the descent of a spacecraft on Mars, when there is typically “seven minutes of terror.”

The goal is to learn more about the solar system’s history and help “planetary defense” engineers with missions to protect earth from rogue asteroids. Bennu is believed to be a window into the solar system’s past since it’s a pristine, carbon-rich body carrying building blocks of both planets and life.

At around 1:50 p.m. EDT, the spacecraft left orbit around the asteroid before executing a series of burns to position itself over a sampling area nicknamed Nightingale.

Once in position, the craft began its approach to the asteroid at 5:50 p.m. EDT. It then spent about 15 seconds attempting to collect the regolith sample before backing away again.

The area, which is 52 feet in diameter, will make for a more demanding landing than expected, Kenneth Getzandanner, OSIRIS-REx flight dynamics manager at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in the news conference.

The original mission called for a landing “zone” about 150% larger than Nightingale, at 82 feet, but that changed because Bennu was more rocky than expected.

The goal was to collect at least 1.7 ounces of fine-grained material, but the spacecraft can carry up to 4.4 pounds, Heather Enos, OSIRIS-REx deputy principal investigator at the University of Arizona said.

“I would love for that capsule to be completely full,” Enos said.

Though early images from the asteroid should hint at whether the mission succeeded, it will take engineers roughly 10 days to compare and analyze the mass before and after the maneuver to actually know how much dirt is inside the OSIRIS-REx.

If it failed, the spacecraft has enough fuel to attempt two more touch downs to collect material.

The spacecraft is expected to return to Earth, with the regolith sample from Bennu, in 2023.

Source link

Continue Reading


SpaceX scrubs Starlink launch until Thursday, if weather cooperates



Oct. 21 (UPI) — Just three days after sending 60 more Starlink satellites into orbit, SpaceX is aiming to launch another batch of broadband satellites into space from Florida.

If the weather cooperates, Thursday’s launch will be SpaceX’s 15th Starlink mission.

Liftoff had been scheduled for 12:29 p.m. EDT Wednesday aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, but controllers scrubbed the launch due to weather and rescheduled for 12:14 p.m. on Thursday.

With a launch Sunday, SpaceX increased the size of their Starlink constellation to nearly 800 satellites. The 15th mission will see another 60-odd satellites join the network.

“The goal of Starlink is to create a network that will help provide Internet services to those who are not yet connected, and to provide reliable and affordable Internet across the globe,” according to the Kennedy Space Center.

Weather for Wednesday’s planned launch had looked so-so and the Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron predicted a 60 percent chance of favorable conditions.

“A mid-level inverted trough and associated easterly wave currently across the Bahamas will meander into the state over the next few days, bringing enhanced moisture, cloud cover, and instability with a higher coverage of showers and storms,” Space Force forecasters wrote.

They said Thursday’s forecast looks quite similar to Wednesday’s.

Earlier this month, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted that Starlink’s constellation was big enough to begin beta-testing the Internet service system in both the United States and southern Canada.

SpaceX has already offered Starlink Internet services to emergency responders in wildfire-stricken areas of Washington State.

Washington’s Hoh tribe is also using the Internet service to provide their members online education and telehealth services.

Source link

Continue Reading


Chernobyl-level radiation harms bumblebee reproduction



Oct. 21 (UPI) — Bees are more sensitive to radiation than scientists thought. Scientists found the reproduction rates of bumblebees declined significantly when exposed to Chernobyl-level radiation.

The research, published Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, suggests radiation in Ukraine’s Chernobyl Exclusion Zone could impair pollination services, triggering wider ecological consequences than previously estimated.

Humans are not allowed to live in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the disaster area more directly impacted by the 1986 nuclear accident, the worst in history. However, the destroyed nuclear reactors are surrounded by forests that are populated by robust populations of birds, bears, bison, lynx, moose, wolves and more.

Efforts to gauge the effects of radiation contamination on insects have yielded mixed results in the past. While some studies have suggested insects are relatively radiation-resistant, others have demonstrated significant impairment.

When researchers exposed bumblebees in the lab to radiation dose of 100 µGyh-1, an amount approximating exposure inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, reproduction rates among the bees dropped between 30 and 45 percent.

Researchers found a direct correlation between the size of the radiation dose and reproduction rate declines. Lower levels of radiation had a smaller effect, while larger doses yielded greater declines.

Scientists were surprised to find they were able to detect reproductive rate declines at very small levels of radiation exposure.

“Our research provides much needed understanding as to the effects of radiation in highly contaminated areas and this is the first research to underpin the international recommendation for the effects of radiation on bees,” lead study author Katherine Raines, environmental scientist at the University of Stirling in Scotland, said in a news release.

Source link

Continue Reading