Western European brown bears are threatened with extinction, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Their number has been reduced to just six small towns. "The most endangered of these brown bear populations are in France, Spain and Italy, where conservationists warn that they are likely to disappear unless they are augmented by bears elsewhere." says the London Daily Telegraph. "In Italy there are only four bears in the Southern Alps," the newspaper added. Poaching is a serious problem in Greece by farmers and beekeepers who are angry at destroyed cattle or beehives. In contrast, parts of Eastern Europe are reporting a growing bear population. Romania's stringent protection measures and restoration programs have allowed bear populations to develop and grow. And in Russia, where the bear is protected, there are around 36,000 bears. "Urgent action is essential to save the last of the bears in Western Europe," said Callum Rankine of WWF's European Carnivore Campaign. "Without quick action, these bears will go away."
Millions of people have benefited from drug donations in times of crisis. However, recent research by the World Health Organization (WHO) has shown that donated drugs are often misidentified or have a limited shelf life. Although shipped with the best of intentions, many drugs "fall short of real health needs and, once in the country, clog already congested distribution systems and are difficult to eliminate." says Dr. Jonathan Quick, WHO director. More than half of the drugs administered in Bosnia were inadequate. Special incinerators had to be sent to Armenia and Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) to remove inappropriate drugs. The estimated cost of shipping 1,000 tons of inappropriate medication from Croatia for proper disposal elsewhere is between $ 2 million and $ 4 million.
While most plants attract pollinators due to their color or smell, the tropical Mucuna holtoni achieves the same feat through sound reflection, reports the German magazine Das Tier. This climbing facility is visited by bats, which send ultrasonic signals to form an image of their surroundings. Scientists at the University of Erlangen have discovered that the plant's nectar acts like an "acoustic cat's eye" and sends ultrasound signals directly to bats. “In this way, the plant makes it easier for bats to find flowers,” explains the magazine.
"In Eastern Europe and Northern Italy, where mushroom picking is a tradition, there are significant deaths and poisonings each year," reports the London Times. As cooking with wild mushrooms has become popular, experts warn of the dangers of consuming any of the 250 poisonous strains that grow in rural Britain. The death cap and the destructive angel can be deadly if swallowed. To protect themselves, mushroom pickers are invited to join groups led by professional observers. "There are no simple rules as to whether a [fungus] is harmless or harmful. So it's crazy to harvest alone without specialists," warns a senior member of the British Mycological Society.
The economic consequences of AIDS
Not only is it a public health tragedy, AIDS is turning into an economic disaster in Africa, reports Le Monde. With around 23 million people living with HIV and 2 million dying from the virus each year, "the AIDS epidemic will soon destroy the benefits of development in Africa". African companies are faced with increased employee absenteeism or deaths due to illness. A national railway company has lost more than 10% of its employees. At another large company, 3,400 of the 11,500 employees are HIV positive. Agriculture is declining as farmers succumb to AIDS. In addition, education is declining and illiteracy is increasing, as families have no time or money to send their children to school and hundreds of teachers have died of AIDS.
Astronomers demand calm
Radio astronomers, hearing signals of the birth of the first galaxies and stars, are becoming increasingly frustrated with the "devices of modern civilization," reports the International Herald Tribune. TV stations, radio stations, communications satellites, and cell phones drown out the background noise these scientists are trying to hear. To continue their research, astronomers are looking for a quiet place "where all forms of radio transmission are prohibited". There they propose to build a series of radio antennas that stretch for hundreds of kilometers and are "100 times more powerful than the instruments used today". Scientists hope that the information gathered will help answer questions about the origins of time, space and matter.
The bird population in Mexico City is increasing
The bird population in Mexico City is growing uncontrollably. According to the Reforma newspaper, around 1,335,000 pigeons currently live in the metropolitan region. Monuments and statues are a popular resting place for birds. Bird conservation experts reported that "birds that have adapted to the capital divide their daily movements into three phases," the newspaper said. "They choose one place to stay overnight, another to eat, and another to spend their free time, but in [any place] they leave their mark with their excrement." They also cause a variety of diseases, from allergies to bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. The International Association for the Ecological Protection and the Peaceful Resettlement of City Pigeons "proposed that a law be introduced to forbid the feeding of birds in public places". However, it is also proposed to "punish those who kill birds as a control measure".
"One of the oldest and tallest trees in the world was hugged to death," reports the Australian. The Kauri tree north of Auckland, New Zealand is visited by thousands of tourists each year, rhythmically tying their arms around its enormous girth and trampling its base. "The tree is over 50 meters tall, but not one of the tallest in the world," the newspaper said. "In terms of wood volume, however, it is one of the most important." Known as "the old man in the forest", he is officially 2000 years old, but is said to be twice his age. After surviving all these years of natural disasters, epidemics, and impending cuts, he is now ready to be hugged to death. A conservation officer says, "It's likely to die, but we don't know if it's irreversible or not."
Does Breastfeeding Control Weight?
Researchers say they discovered another benefit of breastfeeding: it can help prevent babies from becoming obese in the future. As reported in the German magazine Focus, a research team from the University of Munich determined the weight of 9,357 children between the ages of five and six and examined the diet of every child as a child. The results showed that children who were breastfed for three to five months were 35 percent less likely to be overweight when they entered school than children who were never breastfed. The longer a baby is breastfed, the less likely it is to be overweight. One researcher attributes this positive effect to the ingredients in breast milk that support the metabolism.
How much water do children need?
Children between the ages of one and four drink very little. This was the result of a study by the child nutrition research institute in Dortmund, which was published in the consumer magazine Test. Children between the ages of one and four are particularly prone to dehydration and should drink about one quart of fluids per day in addition to what they eat during meals. On average, they drink a third less and not always by choice. The researchers found that in 1 out of 5 cases, parents declined a child's drink order. The best drink? Where it's safe, pure water is ideal, says Test.