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Tribes in the Amazon Excited to Protect the Rainforest With Advanced Drones

You don’t have to be a dyed-in-the-wool environmentalist to understand that illegal logging and deforestation are enormously damaging to the planet and our environment. While we see attempts at restraining deforestation and illegal logging in many countries, some places have been less-than-lucky. In fact, we can point to one of the most important natural areas on the planet for a prime example of abuses against indigenous tribes the land that they call their home.

Let’s take a trip over to the Amazon Rainforest to explore how the WWF and the Kaninde Ethno-Environmental Defense Association are working together to fundamentally change the complexion of the Amazon Rainforest, the realities of illegal logging, and how indigenous tribes are fighting for their rights the entire way.

The Amazon Rainforest had shrunk by an incredible 519 square miles in the month of July 2019 alone. Since then, analysts have estimated that more than 20k square miles of Amazonian rainforest are eradicated every year due to existential threats from climate change, deforestation, and illegal logging. This is particularly problematic in Rondonia, a state in Western Brazil that has decided to fight back against the damage being done to the environment.

In the state of Rondonia, five indigenous tribes are working together as one in alignment with anthropologists, specialists, foresters, and biologists. Their goal is to create a Defense Association for the environment that utilizes not just civil activism, but also elite new technology to track and condemn poachers and illegal loggers. Thanks to the Kaninde Ethno-Environmental Defense Association, tribes have been able to use HD drones to log the GPS coordinates of illegal sites, including nut tree stands which are particularly valuable in Brazil. The Uru Eu Wau Wau tribe has even utilized GPS technology to stop poachers from attacking and harvesting vulnerable animals such as the harpy eagle.

The harpy eagle is considered a neotropical subspecies of the eagle. Known in North America as the American Harpy Eagle, this bird is considered one of the most powerful and largest of raptors in the entirety of the rainforest. Continued poaching and deforestation have put this wondrous animal on the backburner, leading potentially to the destruction of their species. Poachers in the Amazon have used the forest to track these birds and poach them for their own purposes.

While poaching is a huge issue within the Amazon, a bigger problem has been the illegal logging and wildfires that have been so widespread over the past two years. Wildfires have turned ranches and forest to ash, leaving behind pastureland left for farmers to take advantage of while leaving the rainforest to burn.

Felipe Spina Avino is a conservation analyst for WWF-Brazil and it has been through her work that drone-training has risen in the region. Avino has helped to pioneer the drone-training program that has helped indigenous groups to track these issues while utilizing their ancestral knowledge of the region to protect it from outsiders. Avino would go on to explain that the footage captured via drone would be sent along to authorities where pressure can be brought from the top-on-down to the poachers and illegal harvesters.

The drone project that Avino has helped to cultivate costs less than $2,000 for all of the equipment and training that a group needs. Through programs like this, tripes like the Uru Eu Wau Wau are finally getting back some measure of power over their land, their history, and the future of their ancestral home. The COVID-19 pandemic has only furthered the challenge that the drone project has undertaken, but success has already been shown in areas around Brazil!

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Tony the Plant Man Grows Very Expensive Plants

Kevin Wells

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A Briton has quietly created his own Garden of Eden in his home, including one plant that is so rare, it could easily command almost $16,000 for one leaf. The botanist extraordinaire is a fellow named Tony Le-Britton.

Tony is, like many geniuses, a bit odd and extremely dedicated to his work. He’s so committed to plants and growing them, an entire room of his home is an indoor jungle, complete with a personal greenhouse and environment control to help support the kind of plants he is able to bring to full fruition. Tony’s collection, however, isn’t the typical plant collection one gets from seeds at the local hardware store or plant farm. His focus is on growing some of the world’s most uncommon and rare plants altogether. In fact, some of his flora are so rare, plant scientists and researchers around the world would love to spend a day with Tony simply examining his plants. He even has some plants that the scientific folks thought was completely gone and no longer alive, i.e. extinct.

Plant-growing, however, was not Tony’s only career. As it turns out, he’s quite adept as a photographer as well, having enjoyed a professional career producing images of hair and beauty. However, given how much his plants are in demand now, it’s pretty clear his plants will also take care of him too financially. Just the leaves alone versus the entire plant has the financial capacity to provide him a living income.  

The most valuable plant that Tony has in his greenhouse is known as a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Variegata. This particular plant is different version from a far more common plant that could be bought anywhere. Because it is a genetic mutation, an anomaly that has occurred due to a genetic change that occurred at the DNA level, it is extremely rare and practically impossible to find elsewhere. As a result, even samples of the plant are in high demand for collection or study or both. At the time of the interview, Tony had three orders on standby for just a leaf with a hefty price tag of $12,000 British Pounds. Of course, just taking leaves off the plant willy-nilly could kill it. So he has a waiting list, and the plant is literally growing money for him.

The above said, Tony has other plants in his stable as well. He is also a cultivator of an extremely rare Monastera sp Bolivia, a plant that has no complete documentation from a research or botany perspective. Tony was lucky enough to score a small stem, and he’s since been able to grow the plant to a tremendous size. The size and robust nature of the plant is so unique, Tony’s is constantly getting request for photographs of the plant for reference.

Another flora sample that was generally thought to be extinct in the wild is the Begonia Chloristica. Again, finding one with a collector in Europe, Tony was able to get another sample and grow is own version in his personal greenhouse in England.

The plant-growing interest, zeal, skill and hobby came from his grandparents, according to Tony. As a boy, they would spend a lot of time in the grandparents’ garden. When they didn’t have their hands in the soil, the boy and his grandmother would watch “Gardener’s World” on the TV.

In short, Tony is a working plant genius. He’s learned his skill and expertise in practice, trial and error, and 25 years of hands-on work. And, one notable trick is that he doesn’t over-care his plants. In fact, many times, he lets the plants take care of themselves, which in fact allows them to grow stronger and self-sufficient to an extent. After all, Tony still controls and maintains the greenhouse with temperature, humidity and the light levels.

Most importantly, however, Tony enjoys what he does, which also makes a huge difference in his success. He has created an amazing collection of flora that nobody else would otherwise know exists, and it’s his achievement.

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Key Difference Between The British Royal Family Weddings

Renee Yates

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While in the past a British royal wedding would happen once a decade, we’ve been fortunate enough to see two of them in the same decade due to the brothers, William and Harry. Interestingly, the two ceremonies and their run-up have shown some very interesting similarities and contrasts in how they were prepared, occurred and developed. These are events of national pride for the British, so all the stops come out when one occurs, which again has been generational for the most part. So having two in the same short time span has provided detail attention folks a smorgasbord of comparisons to work with, as well as what some of the thinking might have been in the preparations.

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Anchorage Provides Funds to Team of Mental Health First Responders

Renee Yates

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The Anchorage, Alaska assembly has passed the 2021 operating budget. The new budget includes funds for the city’s Mobile Crisis Team, known as the mental health first responders. 

The authorities will use the alcohol tax to provide funds to the response team. The mental health first responders will relieve the police offers from their duty and carry out their task of responding to people with different psychological conditions. 

First Responder Team Responsibilities

The first responder team has extensive knowledge of mental health. The authority will dispatch the team in situations where police officers can’t control them adequately. The Mobile Crisis is a qualified, experienced, and professional team that will provide a tailored response to each individual according to their needs. 

The team knows how to limit certain harsh situations resulting in violent interaction between the individuals and the police. According to Meg Zaletel, a member of the Anchorage Assembly said that police response to calls for individuals with mental health usually results in hospital detainment and jail incarceration. 

As a result, the situation becomes challenging for a person who is already suffering from mental conditions – said Zaletel. The increasing traumatic experience due to police interventions can worsen the symptoms.  

Besides, Zaletel said that the new program would better suit people with the mental health crisis. At the same time, it will ease the burn on the Police Department. According to Zaletel, people won’t feel fear of being mishandled by police officers. 

Instead, the situation will be handled by a team of professionals, including behavioral health clinicians and paramedics. These are trained mental health experts who know how to cope with the situation and help people calm down. 

Collaborative Work for Better Outcomes 

Zaletel is a mental health lawyer who introduced the idea of first responders. The idea was endorsed by other members of Anchorage Assembly, including Austin Quinn-Davidson, Forrest Dunbar, and Chris Constant. 

All assemblymen said that the program would produce promising results for people suffering from mental health illnesses. It is a fundamental shift to the health response system in Anchorage, said Quinn-Davidson. 

The Anchorage Fire Department will collaborate with the response team in the event of a fire or any other situation where there is a need for firefighters – said Michael Riley, a firefighter, and paramedic in Anchorage, Alaska. 

Riley said that the team could call the police if the situation gets out of control or if there is an indication of violence. A state was issued by the Anchorage Police Department that expressed support for the first responders. 

Final Words 

According to Kenneth McCoy, the Deputy Chief, the first responder program and team’s development is an important step toward a better Anchorage community. The team consists of qualified individuals who can cope better with people in crisis. 

McCoy said that the police department would provide full support to responders’ mental health crisis team to manage all kinds of situations. It is important to evaluate the effects of mental health conditions on the community. The development of such a program will reduce the rates of behavioral-related violence and suicides. 

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Smuggled Photos from North Korea

Renee Yates

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Not many people from the West can honestly say they have a firsthand knowledge of what North Korea looks like today. Most of the knowledge the West did have came from the Korean War, which is severely outdated. However, a few modern visitors have made it into the country and back out again, not only with their memories but with photographs as well. The highly insulated nation has been aggressively anti-open towards any source that shows the accurate picture of life inside North Korea, so almost all photos aside from the government itself have been smuggled out. Here is a set of images from Eric Lafforgue was able to get out because of the advance of digital storage and small memory cards versus film cannisters.

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A Couple in New Zealand Ignored Developers and Gifted 900 Hectares of Land to Nation

Renee Yates

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A couple in New Zealand provided 900 hectares of land to the nation. Dick and Jillian Jardine, a Kiwi couple, said that they had made a great decision to hand the beautiful plot to the National Trust for conservation. 

The land is located near Lake Wakatipu. It is at the foot of the Remarkables, a mountain range in New Zealand. All New Zealanders can visit the place and enjoy it with their family after the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust opens it for everyone in 2022.  

It was the Right Thing to Do – Said the Couple 

Dick and Jillian Jardine are owners of Remarkables station. Their family has owned the land for almost a century. The couple wants to see the land protected, conserved and relished for another century. 

According to Jillian Jardine, it is crucial to preserve and protect the land’s biodiversity and pristine nature. She said the family took four years to make this important decision, and they think they have made the right one. 

The couple came up with the idea a few years ago. However, they were indecisive about it because they did not want authorities to construct large buildings and develop housing societies on the land. 

Many overseas developers sent the couple good offers, but they declined all of them – said, Dick and Jillian Jardine. The trust issued a statement expressing that land preservation will play a key role in wildlife conservation. 

According to Bruce Will, the trust’s chairperson, open landscapes in the Wakatipu area had recently become important for commercial companies. These companies wanted to construct buildings and develop housing societies. The primary purpose was to promote tourism. However, the gift land is a freehold property and leased as a working farm currently. 

The Significance of Pristine Land 

South Island is one of the expensive enclaves in New Zealand. Its central lake region is home to wealthy individuals like Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal, Sam Morgan, the founder of “Trade Me,” and Michael Hill, the Jewelry Magnate. 

The 2013 census data shows that over 50% of the region’s homes are vacant. According to Jim Boult, the mayor of Queenstown Lakes, many billionaires are residing in the district. The district has drawn the attention and admiration of the world’s wealthiest people. 

The authorities are planning to build a world-class hospital, which will cost NZ$30 million. The international airport and other significant luxury places, including dozens of vineyards and 40 hair and beauty salons, are drawing the world’s privileged attention. However, the 900 hectares of land will remain in the hands of New Zealanders. 

Final Words 

According to Dick Jardine, one-half of the couple, the land has been in the family for nearly a hundred years. Their family has made substantial efforts to improve the land for a century. The couple hopes that the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust will take care of the land and use it to benefit people. The land is for every New Zealander who wants to enjoy the central lake region’s luxury and pristine views. 

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