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HUNTING + POACHING: Does the government have a right to slaughter these buffalo?

HUNTING + POACHING: Does the government have a right to slaughter these buffalo? | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
Conservationists argue that the killing of a fifth of Yellowstone's bison to stop the spread of a disease to cattle is unnecessary and brutal.
PeerSpring's insight:

According to federal officials, 40-60% of Yellowstone bison have been exposed to the Brucellosis abortis bacteria, which could be spread to cattle if the herd is not culled. Activists, skeptical of the need to slaughter these bison, have filed a lawsuit in federal court. According to the lawsuit, this is a matter of public interest, and as such, there should be reasonable public access to ensure that the bison are properly and ethically handled throughout the cull.  One over-arching question remains: does the government have the right to slaughter 1/5th of Yellowstone's bison versus finding alternative spaces for them to thrive?

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FACTORY FARMING: 99% of farm animals nationwide are raised in factory farms

FACTORY FARMING: 99% of farm animals nationwide are raised in factory farms | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it

Daily life in a factory farm is one of pain, frustration and misery—and animals are not the only ones suffering. Human health and our environment are being hurt by factory farming, too.

PeerSpring's insight:

Factory farms are large, industrial operations that raise large numbers of animals for food. These farms focus on profit and efficiency, rather than animal welfare. Do you think "products" of factory farms should also be allowed to be called "organic?" Why / Why not?

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HUNTING & POACHING: Wildlife Poaching and Insecurity in Africa

HUNTING & POACHING: Wildlife Poaching and Insecurity in Africa | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
PeerSpring's insight:

The current poaching crisis is massive and yet impossible to quantify with precision.  A 2014 study suggested that 100,000 elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012, a number far in excess of the species’ ability to reproduce. If local law enforcement agencies in Africa lack the capacity to confront the multinational criminal syndicates that feed this massive illicit market, how to we ensure elephant and rhinoceros populations aren't decimated?

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HUNTING & POACHING: can the practice of hunting actually save rhinos?

HUNTING & POACHING: can the practice of hunting actually save rhinos? | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
Corey Knowlton is moving forward with plans to hunt an endangered black rhinoceros in Namibia, rekindling a debate over animal conservation methods.
PeerSpring's insight:

A famed hunter, Corey Knowlton, believes there is a viable conservation model when large sums of money are paid to governments in Africa (or other parts of the world with endangered species) for allowing the hunt of an endangered animal that is near the end of his life and no longer beneficial to the gene pool. In fact, Corey paid a $350,000 hunting permit to kill a black rhino.  What do you think of his logic? Can conservation and hunting work together? Why / Why not?

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BIODIVERSITY: Imperiled Monarch Butterflies Get $3.2 Million From U.S. Government

BIODIVERSITY: Imperiled Monarch Butterflies Get $3.2 Million From U.S. Government | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
The U.S. government will commit millions of dollars to the fight to save monarch butterflies. 
 
PeerSpring's insight:

The monarch butterfly is an icon of America --  but their numbers have declined steeply in the past 20 years, down from 1 billion in 1996 to just 30-million today.  Now 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens are being planted to restore more than 200,000 acres of habitat, and the federal government has pledged $3.2 million to help save this precious pollinator. Though many environmental groups see this measure as a positive step-forward, critics fear that some well-intending citizens will plant the wrong kind of milkweed, which actually harms monarchs, according to various studies. Meanwhile, the root threat to the monarchs is under some debate. Some criticize corporations like Monsanto for using deadly pesticides, others believe they are threatened by climate change. How is the fate of pollinators like monarchs intertwined with federal policy?

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HUNTING & POACHING : Why wild giraffes are suffering a 'silent extinction'

HUNTING & POACHING : Why wild giraffes are suffering a 'silent extinction' | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
The iconic animals have declined 40 percent in just 15 years, a plight that has gone largely unnoticed until recently.
PeerSpring's insight:

Humans have a long history of hunting giraffes, seeking food as well as thick, durable skin to make clothing and other items. But a belief that giraffe brains and bone marrow can cure HIV has recently gained traction in Tanzania, reportedly pushing prices for a head or bones as high as $140 per piece. And since giraffes are relatively easy for humans to kill, often with a single gunshot, they've also become a popular source of food and extra income among Africa's growing hordes of elephant poachers. Being that giraffe populations have declined more than 40 percent in just 15 years, explain why it is that these iconic creatures have not been listed is not listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)?

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BIODIVERSITY: The Living Planet Report 2014

BIODIVERSITY: The Living Planet Report 2014 | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it

The Living Planet Report is the world's leading, science-based analysis on the health of our planet and the impact of human activity. Knowing we only have one planet, WWF believes that humanity can make better choices that translate into clear benefits for ecology, society and the economy today and in the long term.

PeerSpring's insight:

In less than two human generations, population sizes of vertebrate species have dropped by half. These are the living forms that constitute the fabric of the ecosystems which sustain life on Earth – and the barometer of what we are doing to our own planet, our only home. In addition, the report's data point to other warning signs about the overall health of the planet. The amount of carbon in our atmosphere has risen to levels not seen in more than a million years, triggering climate change that is already destabilizing ecosystems. High concentrations of reactive nitrogen are degrading lands, rivers and oceans. Stress on already scarce water supplies is increasing. And more than 60 percent of the essential "services" provided by nature, from our forests to our seas, are in decline. What should humankind's role be in designing a sustainable future?

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BIODIVERSITY: Scary Black Seadevil Fish Caught on Video at Depth of 1,900 Feet

BIODIVERSITY: Scary Black Seadevil Fish Caught on Video at Depth of 1,900 Feet | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
Scary Black Seadevil fish caught on video at 1,900 deep
PeerSpring's insight:

The aptly named seadevil — more precisely, a female deep-sea anglerfish from the genus Melanocetus — looks like something you wouldn't want to encounter in the water, but at 9cm (3.5 inches) in length, it's hardly a human-devouring monster. Angler fish live deep in the ocean and reproduce by "sexual parasitism" — meaning males latch onto their larger female counterparts and take nutrients from her blood in return for supplying her with sperm. According to Live Science, there are 60,000 vertebrate species living on Earth today. Of these, why do you think both the fish and land-dwelling vertebrates have  have scaled on the small edge of the size spectrum? 

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BIODIVERSITY: Dinosaurs lost the ability to taste sugar; hummingbirds re-evolved it

BIODIVERSITY: Dinosaurs lost the ability to taste sugar; hummingbirds re-evolved it | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it

Every day hummingbirds consume more than their own body weight in nectar. They can taste the difference between water and a sugar solution within a quarter of a second. And they also like the flavor of non-sugary artificial sweeteners like erythritol and sorbitol. How is this possible if they have no gene for sweet taste?

PeerSpring's insight:

Maude Baldwin, a postgraduate student at Harvard University, searched the genomes of ten species of insectivorous and grain-eating birds to see which of them had a "sweet tooth." Most vertebrates experience sweet taste because they possess a family of genes called T1Rs. The pairing of T1R1 and T1R3 detects amino acids and gives rise to the savory “umami” taste, while the T1R2-T1R3 pair detects sugars, giving us our sweet tooth. Being that these birds evolved from carnivorous theropod dinosaurs she expected them to lack the T1R2 gene normally used for sensing sweet tastes -- but in the hummingbirds, these same receptors fire in response to sweet-tasting sugars, sugar alcohols, and the artificial sweetener sucralose—but they do not respond to amino acids. Do you think it's possible that ancestral hummingbirds accidentally consumed some nectar when they frequented flowers to catch insects? Was it small mutations in T1R1 and T1R3 that allowed them to taste this sugary liquid, giving them access to a vital source of energy? Explain why or why not nectar-sipping animals might have an evolutionary upper hand compared to insect-eaters?



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TRAFFICKING & BREEDING: These adorable giant African rats detect land mines and TB for a living

TRAFFICKING & BREEDING: These adorable giant African rats detect land mines and TB for a living | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it

APOPO is an organisation that trains and deploys rats, named HeroRATS, for the detection of abandoned land mines and tuberculosis. 

PeerSpring's insight:

Since 2000, APOPO has bred hundreds of trained and accredited rats that have so far found 1,500 buried land mines across an area of 240,000 meters squared in Tanzania, and 6,693 land mines, 26,934 small arms and ammunitions, and 1,087 bombs across 9,898,690 meters squared in Mozambique. They’re also operating in Thailand, Angola, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. And don’t panic – they’re too light to be setting off any buried explosivesA spin-off project that trains tuberculosis-detecting rats has so far produced 54 accredited rats for use in 19 TB clinics in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam. Since 2002, they’ve screened 226,931 samples and identified 5,594 TB patients. The TB-detecting rats can evaluate in 10 minutes more samples than a lab technician can do in an entire day. Anyone interested in supporting this work can "adopt" one of these rats for $7 USD per monthRats are easily and quickly trained, with less handler dependency than dogs, and certainly far easier to transport. With these successes in mind, do you have a personal issue with these giant rats being bred and used to save lives? Why / Why not?

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BIODIVERSITY: Meteorite that killed off dinosaurs shaped modern-day plants

BIODIVERSITY: Meteorite that killed off dinosaurs shaped modern-day plants | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
The life strategy of plants that dominate our forests today may be linked to a massive meteorite that slammed into Earth 66 million years ago, according to a new study.
PeerSpring's insight:

Slow-growing evergreen plants such as holly and ivy appear to have been more prominent before the meteorite hit, while fast-growing flowering plants that lose their leaves during their lifetimes were more prevalent afterward. The researchers hypothesize that in the chaotic aftermath of the Chicxulub impact, as the meteorite strike is known, the plants with the flimsy leaves were more adept at surviving changing climate conditions than those that had invested a lot of energy into each leaf.  Does evolution move us towards the "ideal" or is it just about adapting to the environment? 

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FACTORY FARMING: Farmaceuticals: the drugs fed to farm animals

FACTORY FARMING: Farmaceuticals: the drugs fed to farm animals | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
A Reuters investigation finds that antibiotics are fed far more pervasively to farm animals than regulators realize, posing significant risk to human health.
PeerSpring's insight:

Veterinary use of antibiotics is legal and has been rising for decades. But U.S. regulators don’t monitor how the drugs are administered on the farm – in what doses, for what purposes, or for how long. According to Reuters, certain poultry producers have administered drugs belonging to the same classes of antibiotics used to treat infections in humans. The practice is legal. The widespread use of antibiotics worries public health authorities. In a report this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) called antibiotic resistance “a problem so serious it threatens the achievements of modern medicine.” The annual cost to battle antibiotic-resistant infections is estimated at $21 billion to $34 billion in the United States alone. Many medical scientists deem it particularly dangerous, because it runs the risk of promoting superbugs that can defeat the life-saving human antibiotics. The poultry industry's lobby takes issues with the concerns of government and academic scientists, saying there is little evidence that bacteria which do become resistant also affect people. Do you think the use of antibiotics are responsible for creating "superbugs?" Should poultry farms stop applying the antibiotic gentamicin to eggs in chicken hatcheries?

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ANIMAL TESTING: Scientists Experiment With Reworking Memory in Mice

ANIMAL TESTING: Scientists Experiment With Reworking Memory in Mice | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it

In experiments on mice, scientists rewired the circuits of the brain and changed the animals' bad memories into good ones.

PeerSpring's insight:

A memory is created when a past experience becomes encoded in a network of neurons in the brain. The memory is recalled when the neurons fire in a particular sequence.

Some aspects of the memory can endure a long time, while others are more fickle. In this experiment, researchers gave one set of male mice fearful memories (via a small electric shock to the foot) and pleasurable memories (by allowing them to interact with female mice). By firing the laser into the mouse brain, the scientists could identify the specific cells that were activated when each of the two memories were formed. They were able to rewire the circuits of the brain and change the animals' bad memories into good ones, and vice versa.  Do you think experiment provides clues as to how we go about tackling things like anxiety disorder?


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PeerSpring's comment, August 31, 2014 1:53 PM
Also compare the findings of this research against one published in 2013 by Nature Neuroscience which suggested Targeted brain training during sleep can lessen the effects of fearful memories: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sleep-therapy-can-change-bad-memories/
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FACTORY FARMING: Can A Playset Encourage Kids to Be Anti Factory Famers?

FACTORY FARMING: Can A Playset Encourage Kids to Be Anti Factory Famers? | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
Lots of kids play with barnyard toys, but the reality of factory farms isn't as rosy. A new anti-factory-farming campaign takes that probably obvious truth to the extreme, with a series of online mini-games, and an actual block set, featured in a biting—if also smug—product demo parody.
PeerSpring's insight:

How effective do you think a campaign like this might be to raise awareness for the harmful affects of factory farming? Are they really targeting young people? Discuss.

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BIODIVERSITY: How can we save the Saiga?

BIODIVERSITY: How can we save the Saiga? | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
PeerSpring's insight:

In May 2015 -- in the span of just two weeks --134,000 Saiga antelope died in Kazakhstan -- a region where 80% of the world’s Saiga population live. While scientists are actively looking to identify the cause, environmentalists need a biodiversity protection plan to ensure the survival of this species.  According to this article, the Kazakhstan Government's method of investing big amounts of money from international donors and stock-taking to protect the Saiga is not working. Do you agree? Why / Why not?

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TRAFFICKING & BREEDING: cockatoos crammed into plastic bottles to get them through customs

TRAFFICKING & BREEDING: cockatoos crammed into plastic bottles to get them through customs | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it

More than 24 endangered yellow-crested cockatoos were crammed into plastic bottles by smugglers to be sold as pets.

PeerSpring's insight:

The yellow-crusted cockatoos are listed as a critically endangered species. In fact, recent studies suggest there may be less than 7,000 individuals remaining. Further, these birds are very slow to breed, only laying two eggs once yearly. Although most parrots are prohibited from international commercial trade unless they're captive-bred or permitted by the exporting country, illegal trappings across Indonesia continue, with as many as 10,000 parrots smuggled each year to supply the domestic and international illegal wildlife trade. At least 40% of these birds will die during transport due to cruel handling. What do you think it's going to take to thwart these illegal practices? How is this issue related to poverty? What role does large-scale logging and conservation of forest play in this issue?

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ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT: Should Greyhound Racing Be Outlawed?

ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT: Should Greyhound Racing Be Outlawed? | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
In an opening-day victory for animal-rights activists, the Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday requiring dog tracks to report all injuries of racing greyhounds.
PeerSpring's insight:

The greyhound racing industry is plagued with issues from drug, doping to live baiting. According to the nonprofit advocacy group, GREY2K USA, racing greyhounds can also lead to horrible pain and premature death for the animals. In fact, 909 greyhound deaths have been documented since 2008 from live racing. Meanwhile, massive animal burials and euthanasia also plague the industry, as trainers rid themselves of an animal no longer capable of winning. While there are only 7 states with live racing, Florida has some of the least restrictive rules for "drug doping" (giving medications and drugs to racing animals) to tip a win. Some people argue that the corruption and animal cruelty  is happening only because there is money at stake. Which begs the question: Would a bill requiring greater transparency be enough to improve this practice? 

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PET HOMELESSNESS: Is Owning A Pet Still Part Of The American Dream?

PET HOMELESSNESS: Is Owning A Pet Still Part Of The American Dream? | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
In the driveway of the Baltimore Humane Society in Reisterstown, a new shed is filled with bags of dog food, canned cat food, doggy treats and more.
PeerSpring's insight:

The number of pet-owning house-holds is significantly higher than it was 20 years ago, according to the National Pet Owners Survey. However due to our economic downturn, the ability to afford a pet is also harder than it was, so nonprofit organizations, such as Thankful Paws are popping up pet-food banks to help pet-owners with their cost of care, and others, like P.L.E.A.S.E. are shuttling people and their animals to veterinary appointments. Knowing that animals are a huge part of a community and society, would you say the growing trend towards shelter intervention is a byproduct of the American Dream? Why / Why not?

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BIODIVERSITY: What If We Geoengineered With Whales?

As the great whales declined, so did the numbers of fish and krill. It seems counter-intuitive: surely their numbers would rise as their major predators disappeared? But it now turns out that whales not only eat these animals; they also keep them alive.

PeerSpring's insight:

The decline in great whales numbers is estimated to be at least 66% and perhaps as high as 90%, and the need for recovery of this species is great, according to scientists. In the Southern Ocean alone, it is estimated that more than 2 million whales were slaughtered in the 20th century. Now with modern technology, scientists have began to observe the functional role of whales and have decreed the species potent ecosystem geoenginners. The term "geoengineering" defines the scientific selection of harnessing one of mother nature's natural systems in order to undo some damage created by mankind. Describe how the return of the great whales could have a positive effect to the living systems of the sea and design a campaign that could convince nations that still continue the practice of whaling.

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BIODIVERSITY: Extinction Countdown For The Palila Birds

BIODIVERSITY: Extinction Countdown For The Palila Birds | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it

These beautiful yellow-headed birds live in just one place on Earth: the upper slopes of the dormant Mauna Kea volcano on the island of Hawaii.

PeerSpring's insight:

Since 1800, more than 90% of bird extinctions have occurred on islands. In the Hawaiian Islands 14 of 44 species of historically known forest passerines (songbirds) are extinct or have disappeared while 20 are listed as endangered. How does the possible extinction of the Palila bird contribute to the overall loss of global biodiversity? 

 


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BIODIVERSITY: This Crazy-Looking Sea Slug Has an Ingenious Secret Weapon

BIODIVERSITY: This Crazy-Looking Sea Slug Has an Ingenious Secret Weapon | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
All over our world’s oceans, the many astoundingly colored species of nudibranch are eating things like the vicious Portuguese man o' war, incorporating their stingers or toxins into their own skin, and using them to fend off predators.
PeerSpring's insight:

There are over 3,000 species of nudibranchs. How are these creatures capable of sequestering the various defenses of both stinging and toxin-coated critters?  They nibble on sponges, anemones and graze on corals, moving their prey's defensive stingers or chemicals through their own digestive system.  But nudibranchs aren't just pretty faces -- they may lead us to some serious medical advances, because at times they will chemically modify the ends of the chemical structures and essentially create brand new chemical compounds that are not found anywhere else in the world. The unique properties of organisms found in coral reefs was recognized by Eastern cultures as early as the 14th century. But "bioprospecting" - the act of searching for new pharmaceuticals in coral ecosystems may have unintended consequences. Coral reefs have long been considered the rainforests of the ocean. Should harvesting methods be regulated? If so, which entities should be responsible for that kind of regulation? 

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FACTORY FARMING: What if a deadly new virus jumped from animals to humans?

FACTORY FARMING: What if a deadly new virus jumped from animals to humans? | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it

Image: A chicken is about to be slaughtered in a market after it was declared an infected area in Hong Kong REUTERS/Bobby Yip

PeerSpring's insight:

All the greatest hits of modern infectious diseases emerged from wild animals: HIV, SARS, the pandemic influenza outbreaks, Ebola. Viruses cross to humans in a variety of ways; through people breathing in the exhaled breath of sick animals, through skin-to-skin contact, or from blood contact to which hunters are vulnerable. The most worrying thing is when viruses then mutate so that they can be transmitted directly from human to human. Although in western countries, most people buy their meat pre-butchered and shrink-wrapped, there are still plenty of areas where humans have a very high level of contact with animals. We have industrial-sized farms and slaughterhouses, and there are still hunters going after game all over the world, whether for vital protein in central Africa or for sport in the United States. What is different now from any other point in human history is that we live in a profoundly interconnected world. We can get anywhere in 24 or 48 hours. The pot keeps getting stirred: any virus that crosses over into humans has the potential to get to any other place amazingly quickly. How well do you think we are prepared for the next pandemic? In your answer, draw a comparison between the speed of a virus  and the speed of a viral story on social media.

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HUNTING & POACHING: New fishing nets reduce bycatch, sparing sea life

HUNTING & POACHING: New fishing nets reduce bycatch, sparing sea life | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
Fishermen and innovators work together to make nets that leave certain kinds of fish — and birds, dolphins, turtles and whales — where they belong.
PeerSpring's insight:

Globally, the amount of marine life that is wasted or unmanaged — which makes it potentially unsustainable — forms about 40 percent of the catch. Many experts believe that the way we catch now results in overfishing, reduces the population of species that already might be endangered and, on the largest scale, interrupts food chains and damages whole ecosystems. It also amounts to an enormous waste of valuable fish protein. Thus a young designer came up with a way to free both young and endangered fish by using fitted LED rings, which flash like exit signs to alert smaller fish. The fish can then escape by squeezing through the rings. There's also a panel in the net that separates tighter mesh at the top from larger mesh below, allowing nontarget, bottom-dwelling species such as cod to escape through the bigger holes. With lights and panel working in tandem, "You can start almost herding the fish under the water," inventor Dan Watson said. For those fighting bycatch, there's a long road ahead — much of it determined by funding and policy. How is fishing tied to politics? Do you agree that there is a need to innovate in this industry? Which entity do you think should be responsible for funding innovation in this field?

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BIODIVERSITY: Do Plants Feel Pain?

BIODIVERSITY: Do Plants Feel Pain? | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it
Do you talk to your plants? Think of the stories they could tell if only they could talk back. The seemingly peaceful world of plants is actually a battlefield and a constant struggle for survival. See how some predatory plants use trapdoors and enticing, beautiful flowers to trap their prey, while others shrivel up or emit odors to fend off their enemy. Experts uncover the most fascinating secrets of the world of plants-roots and all.
PeerSpring's insight:

New research from the field of plant neurobiology has some scientists insisting that  plants have all the same senses as humans, and then some. Michael Pollan, author of such books as "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "The Botany of Desire," wrote the New Yorker piece about the developments in plant science. Researchers say they have played a recording of a caterpillar munching on a leaf to plants — and the plants react. They begin to secrete defensive chemicals — even though the plant isn't really threatened.  In watching the video, how fine of a line do you think exists between plants and animals? Is intelligence a property of life? Why / Why not?

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HUNTING & POACHING: Can This Athlete Convince Chinese People To Give Up Ivory?

HUNTING & POACHING: Can This Athlete Convince Chinese People To Give Up Ivory? | > Animal Welfare | Scoop.it

Former NBA center, Yao Ming, aims to persuade China to ban ivory sales to curb mass slaughter of elephants in Africa.

PeerSpring's insight:

In the past three years alone, about 100,000 elephants have been poached for their tusks, according to a new study: a mass slaughter propelled by an ever-rising Chinese demand for ivory from an ever-richer nation. Now a former NBA player once nicknamed the “Great Wall of China” aims to stop that flood, through the power of persuasion. Yao’s transformation from basketball center to wildlife activist began in 2006, when he first met with staff members from WildAid, a San Francisco-based charity, during another injury-plagued season in the NBA. The activists soon persuaded the man who began his career with the Shanghai Sharks to join their campaign to save the world’s actual sharks, by pressing the Chinese people to give up shark fin soup. In part as a result of an anti-corruption campaign in which the costly delicacy was banned at government banquets, shark fin soup is falling out of fashion here. A WildAid study released in August showed prices and sales of shark fins in China down by 50 to 70 percent. But the carving of ivory is perhaps an even more deeply rooted tradition in China, and as wealth has grown, so has the fashion for giving lavishly carved pieces to business associates and friends as gifts. Although China allows a small, legal trade in ivory from old stockpiles, this provides the cover for a vast, illegal trade that has fueled a new wave of poaching in Africa, experts say. Being that Yao is Chinese, how much do you think his heritage and celebrity will help an American charity that otherwise might be perceived as "lecturing" the Chinese people on how to behave?

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