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Some Good Environmental News: Mountain Gorilla Population Increases & Plastic Eating Mealworms

It's nice to be able to report some good environmental news.

1. Gorillas: Mountain gorillas live in high altitudes and are found in remote areas of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their numbers declined rapidly in the last 50 years because of habitat loss, poaching [caught in snares set for other animals] and the constant warfare that has plagued the region. By the end of the 20th century they were listed as "critically endangered" and many biologists feared they faced extinction.

However, Mountain Gorilla populations are now increasing and a new population survey found 1,063 gorillas, up from about 680 just 5 years ago. Mountain gorillas are still endangered, but the increase shows that conservation efforts have been effective. The effort hasn't been easy, however.

The Smithsonian: It has taken a mammoth effort on the part of conservationists and local communities to rescue mountain gorillas from the brink of extinction. As Helen Briggs of the BBC reported last year, specially-trained vets care for the animals in the wild and patrols work hard to fend off poachers; park rangers have given their lives to protect gorillas. Carefully managed eco-tourism has also bolstered local economies and encouraged communities to keep mountain gorillas safe.

2. Mealworms: Stanford researchers have discovered that mealworms can eat plastics, even toxic plastics, and still be safely used as healthy feed-stock for other animals raised for human consumption. It increases the possibility that mealworms could be used to address our plastics problem.

The study, published by the Stanford News Service, showed that "mealworms can subsist on a diet of various types of plastic," and even those that ate toxin-laced polystyrene were as healthy as those eating a normal diet. Even more exciting, researchers found that the toxins from the plastic didn't build up in the bodies of the mealworms, so they could later be fed to chicken, fish and shrimp livestock. The mealworms excrete the toxins, such as the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane, as part of their natural digestive cycle.

#news #science #research #environment

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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