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Innovative Overpass To Reduce Wildlife Deaths and Injuries

Sweden’s declaration that it will build a network of animal crossings has been the latest example of international attempts to assist animals navigating busy roads.

Sweden’s key highway draws to a complete halt each April. Dozens of reindeer led by indigenous Sami shepherds scramble all across E4 when they make their way west to the hills after a winter spent munching on lichen near Ume.

The crossings are becoming increasingly fractious as Sweden’s city’s main highway has become extremely busy, particularly if officials do not reach in time to close the route.

When drivers attempt to pass the reindeer as they cross the road, they spook the animals, causing lengthy gridlock as their Sami caregivers struggle to regain control.

According to Per Sandström, a land ecologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences who acts as a mediator between the Sami and municipalities to develop the crossings, these lichen lands can be precious for the reindeer during difficult climate conditions.

Swedish authorities announced this week that they would construct up to twelve viaducts for the reindeers, also known as “renoducts,” to help with the crossings and make it easier for reindeer herds to access grazing.

The climate crisis has hit the country’s 4,500 Sami herders and 250,000 reindeer hard, with forest fires in the summer and freezing rain in the winter hiding lichen under impenetrable sheets of ice.

Long-range mammals that aren’t meant to live in these tiny, isolated pockets would profit most from this scheme, according to Sandström, who began his career in the United States, helping to establish grizzly bear ecological pathways in Montana.

The renoducts form part of a broader network of ecological bridges and crosswalks that seek to link fragmented ecosystems across the world.

Underpasses were also used to protect jaguars against traffic on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula.

Porcupines, apes, and kinkajous have used organic foliage crossings in the Peruvian Amazon to cross natural gas pipelines.

Bridges have been constructed over streets on Christmas Island to allow hundreds of thousands of red crabs to migrate from the jungle to the coasts on their annual cycle.

The wildlife bridges prevent several of the millions of wildlife fatalities each year on the world’s roads and mitigate human infrastructure’s unintended effects.

Since the bustling motorways around Los Angeles have fragmented habitats with low genetic variation, there are already indications of inbreeding amongst lions in the Santa Monica Mountains in southern California. An $87 million (£63 million) wild animals bridge is being built north of Los Angeles to help save the local mountain lion community from destruction. It will be the world’s largest.

Animals may be harmed if their ecosystem is separated, as they may be unable to obtain food and water.

According to Mark Benson, a representative of Parks Canada’s human-wildlife convergence group for Lake Louise, Yoho, and Kootenay, they might also have an effect on population genetic diversity.

In the United Kingdom, wildlife bridges are projected to be included in the government’s wildlife recovery network, which seeks to link biodiverse areas as part of a 25-year environmental plan.

Natural England noted the environmental benefits in a 2015 study, citing the Netherlands as an example, and is creating a network of “ecoducts” to help animals travel across the world.

Highways England is progressively constructing wildlife bridges as a component of infrastructure projects around the region, with more expected for the future. However, some conservationists believe that not enough is being achieved in the United Kingdom.

Although significant demonstrations against the project failed to halt construction, De Retuerto believes they signaled a change of attitude toward environmental concerns in the UK.

He claims that a sustainable walkway at Twyford Down will be built solely for this purpose to invigorate the wildlife recovery network.

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Allyson Felix Creates Nursery for Athlete Moms at Paris 2024 Olympics

Jess

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Allyson Felix, the most decorated track and field athlete in history, knows firsthand the challenges faced by athlete moms. Now retired and a mother of two, Felix is working to support Olympic moms at the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics. Drawing from her own experiences, she has teamed up with Pampers to establish the first-ever Pampers Nursery in the Athletes Village.

This nursery will provide a space where Olympic moms can bond with, nurse, and play with their babies, helping to ease some of the pressures they face during the competition. “I just knew how difficult it was to compete at the top level after I had my daughter, and some practical things were really hard,” Felix said. “So when I joined the Athletes Commission of the IOC, I really wanted to be that voice for athlete moms, and just take away one less thing for them to worry about in the pressure of competition.”

The Pampers Nursery will be located in the Athlete Village Plaza, the living area for athletes during the games. It will offer a private retreat for moms to spend time with their children. Felix believes this initiative sends a powerful message: “I think it really tells women that you can choose motherhood and also be at the top of your game and not have to miss a beat.”

Felix also expressed her excitement about a $20 million grant from the Melinda French Gates Foundation aimed at supporting Black maternal health. She felt both shocked and humbled upon learning about the grant, especially knowing that French Gates had been following her advocacy efforts. “I’m so humbled to receive it, and I’m excited to put the money to good work,” Felix said.

Although Felix will attend the Paris Olympics in a different role, she looks forward to this new chapter with mixed emotions. While there is a sense of loss from not competing, she is excited about attending the games with her family and experiencing them with less pressure. “I’m bringing my whole family, and we will be able to take in the games and watch them with a lot less nerves. So I’m looking forward to that as well,” she shared.

For first-time Olympians, Felix offered simple but heartfelt advice: “Embrace it. This is a moment that does not come around, it’s not guaranteed. You have so much pride to represent your country and just really to take it all in and give it your absolute best.”

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Young Cree Artist’s Starry Night Mural Wows at Graduation

Kelly Taylor

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A young artist from the Star Blanket Cree Nation in Saskatchewan is thinking about a career in art after his graduation mural received high praise.

Students at Bert Fox Community High School in Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask., northeast of Regina, chose Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night as the theme for their graduation. Sekota McArthur, a talented student, painted a mural with a local twist on the famous painting.

McArthur initially didn’t plan to join the project but changed his mind when he saw no one else was stepping up.

“I heard no one else was taking it up; I might as well take the offer,” McArthur said.

He was hesitant at first due to a three-week deadline and his schoolwork, but he managed to complete it in time.

“It was a major relief that I was able to get it done in time,” he said.

McArthur has always been interested in art, inspired by his grandfather Floyd Kinequon. He enjoys doing small paintings, sketches, skull dipping, and costume design.

Bailey Antonishyn, head of the art department at the school, explained that the grads chose Starry Night for its color scheme and its connection to the land and the Qu’Appelle Valley.

“We wanted it to be relatable for our students and where they’re from. It’s really important that it reflects them and where they’ve grown up,” Antonishyn said.

While Antonishyn was preparing the 1.4 meter high by 3.7 meter long canvas, McArthur took over and freehanded the entire design with the help of a few classmates.

“We know he’s a talented artist,” Antonishyn said. “He took the brushes from my hand and said, ‘It’s OK, miss.'”

This project was McArthur’s first large-scale work, and he usually works on a smaller scale.

Antonishyn noted that the mural was one of the first things people saw when entering the school.

“A lot of people stopped to take photos and were really impressed by it,” she said. “He did a really good job on that project.”

Positive Feedback

McArthur’s sister, Sasha Keewatin, attended his graduation and was surprised to learn he painted the mural.

“We noticed it from the artwork he would bring home from school,” she said. Keewatin posted a picture of the mural on social media, and soon people were reaching out with positive comments.

“His artwork has touched all across Turtle Island, even in New Mexico. I haven’t even been to New Mexico,” she said. “So for it to go that far is really, really outstanding. I’m so proud of him, and his work truly deserves it.”

McArthur said the experience has motivated him to pursue a Fine Arts degree, and he is considering applying to the First Nations University of Canada in Regina.

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Baby Wildcats Born in Scottish Park: A Big Step for Saving the Species

Kelly Taylor

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Some exciting news has come from the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. Baby wildcats have been born there, and it’s a really big deal!

Last summer, 19 wildcats were released into the park. These cats had been raised in a wildlife park. Now, for the first time in over five years, wildcat kittens have been born in the wild.

Wildcats in Scotland were almost gone forever. People had cut down their forest homes and hunted them. Also, wildcats were having babies with house cats, which was changing their wildcat genes.

A team of scientists has been watching the wildcats. They use special cameras and GPS collars to keep track of them. Recently, they saw two kittens playing with their mom on video.

Dr. Keri Langridge, who works with the wildcats, was very happy. She said, “We didn’t dare to dream that we would have wildcat kittens in the first year of releases.”

The scientists are learning a lot about how wildcats live. They’ve found out what the cats like to eat and where they make their homes.

One challenge is keeping wildcats away from house cats. The scientists want to make sure the wildcats stay wild and don’t mix with other cats.

The team hopes to have at least 40 wildcats living in the park by 2026. Their big dream is to have wildcats all over Scotland again, like there used to be long ago.

This is just the beginning, but these new kittens are a really good sign. It shows that wildcats can live and have babies in the wild again.

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Ice Cream Hero Saves the Day on Jammed Highway

Kevin Wells

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Imagine being stuck in a huge traffic jam on a hot day. Now imagine an ice cream truck showing up to serve cool treats! That’s exactly what happened on a busy road in England.

On Saturday, June 22, cars were backed up for seven miles on the M62 highway. An ice cream truck driver saw an opportunity to help and started selling ice cream to the stranded drivers and passengers.

Someone took a picture of people lining up at the ice cream truck and shared it online. The post said: “What a legend this man is. Seven mile tailback on the M62 yesterday, so this ice cream van starts selling ice creams to all them trapped in the traffic.”

In the photo, you can see cars bumper-to-bumper for miles. About 12 people are waiting in line for ice cream. More people are walking along the side of the road to get to the truck.

Many people online thought the ice cream seller was awesome. They called him “brilliant” and a “genius.” One person wrote, “Good for him! Keeping folks cool, hydrated and amused.” Another said, “That’s how you make money in an unexpected situation.”

Some people weren’t happy about it, though. They thought the ice cream seller was trying to make money from other people’s bad luck.

But most agreed that on a hot day in a traffic jam, ice cream is a pretty sweet surprise!

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Beating the Odds: Father of Six Walks Again After Complex Surgery

Shannon Jackson

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Richard Monti, a 64-year-old father of six from Long Island, is celebrating a Father’s Day unlike any other. This year, he’s not just celebrating fatherhood, but also the gift of mobility – a gift he almost lost.

Monti’s journey began with a diagnosis of metastatic kidney cancer in 2018. While challenging, he faced it head-on. However, a seemingly routine surgery to repair a fractured shin bone, weakened by years of cancer treatment, took an unexpected turn. Sepsis set in, threatening both his life and his leg.

“Cancer patients are more susceptible to fractures,” explained Dr. Nicola Fabbri, Chief of Orthopedic Oncology at NYU Langone Orthopedics, who treated Monti. “These fractures can be major complications.”

Monti’s condition worsened. He spent weeks in a coma, undergoing multiple surgeries to fight the infection and restore his bones. Doctors prepared his wife for the worst. “They basically told her to prepare for amputation,” Monti shared.

Devastated, facing the prospect of losing his leg, Monti felt his spirit plummet. “That was my lowest point. I couldn’t imagine not being able to be active,” he said.

Determined to fight for his mobility, Monti sought a second opinion from Dr. Fabbri, known for his expertise in limb salvage. “When I met him, his words were like music to my ears: ‘We don’t just cut legs off,'” Monti recalled.

Hope rekindled, Monti underwent extensive evaluation. Dr. Fabbri, impressed by Monti’s resilience, told him, “We’re going back to the drawing board,” a nod to Monti’s background in real estate development.

Monti’s case was complex – a combination of a lingering fracture, tissue damage from sepsis, and bone weakness caused by radiation. Dr. Fabbri suspected the sepsis stemmed from a weakened immune system due to cancer treatment.

After a period of healing, Monti was deemed strong enough for a grueling 11-hour surgery in October 2023. Dr. Fabbri performed a limb-preserving surgery, reconstructing both Monti’s knee and tibia. During the procedure, he corrected the fracture deformity and replaced damaged bone with metal implants.

The surgery was a success. Today, Monti is not only pain-free but also back to work and walking without assistance. “That doctor and his team are miracle workers,” Monti expressed with gratitude.

Monti’s remarkable recovery is a testament to both Dr. Fabbri’s skill and Monti’s unwavering spirit. While he continues to manage his cancer with medication, his tumors are shrinking. Though he can’t run, Dr. Fabbri assures him he has “no substantial limitations” in his daily life.

Monti’s journey has not only been about physical recovery but also about rediscovering the simple joys of life. “Every step used to be a reminder of the cancer,” he shared. “Now, I don’t even think about it. I’m living a normal life again.”

This experience has also had a profound impact on his family. Inspired by her father’s strength, one of Monti’s daughters has decided to pursue a career in nursing. “She wants to help others the way they helped Dad,” Monti said, filled with pride.

Monti’s story is an inspiring reminder of the power of perseverance and the remarkable advancements in medical care. It’s a testament to the human spirit’s ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.sharemore_vert

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