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New Baby Sumatran Rhino Gives Hope to All Endangered Rhinos

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Baby Sumatran Rhino Gives Hope to Entire Species

The one thing that can bring hope to a struggling species is a breath of new life.

That’s exactly what the rhino populations of the world got on November 18, 2023. That’s the day a new baby Sumatran rhino was born in Way Kambas National Park, a Sumatran rhino sanctuary in Indonesia.

There are less than 50 Sumatran rhino’s left in the wild today, but this little guy is the embodiment of hope.

Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary

The baby’s parents are already pioneers in rhino protection efforts.

Harapan, the father was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2006. He’s the last Sumatran rhino to be sent back to Indonesia. Since his return, no Sumatrans have lived in any other country in the world. The mom, Delilah, was born in an Indonesian Sumatran Rhino sanctuary in 2016. She is the younger sister to Andatu, the first rhino born in captivity in 124 years.

This new male calf is only the second Sumatran rhino to be born in 2023. The Indonesian Government has been known to put in great conservation efforts to protect the rhinos.

Sumatran Rhino Population 2024

The Sumatran rhino is one of the most endangered species of rhinos on Earth. There are only an estimated 34 to 47 individuals left in the wild. The remaining population of Sumatrans live in Sumatra or Borneo, both Islands in Indonesia. They have disappeared entirely from their other historical ranges. This includes China, India, Cambodia, and Thailand.

The population decline has not only been severe but it’s also been fast. Only 35 years ago, the wild population of the Sumatran Rhino was estimated to be over 600.

What Will Happen if Rhinos Go Extinct?

Rhinos are a keystone species. They play a major role in keeping their environment together. If they go extinct, plants and other forms of life will likely disappear. Rhinos spread seeds around their environment in a process called rewilding. Rhinos eat fruits that contain seeds and drop these seeds off in different locations through their dung. The nutrients in the dung allow the seeds to grow into new plants.

New baby Sumatran Rhino born in Sumatran rhino sanctuary. Giving hope to species.

Why is the Sumatran Rhino Endangered?

Poaching, habitat loss, and climate change are the main reasons why the Sumatran rhino is endangered.

Poaching

All the Gold on Earth is the result of neutron stars colliding. But as scarce as gold is, it cannot disappear like a species can. A rhinoceros horn is worth more on the black market than gold or diamonds. This puts a huge target right on the nearly vanished Sumatran Rhino.

There is also a belief that Rhino horn contains medicinal properties. This idea may also create a demand for them. However, Science has found no evidence of medical value in the horns. In fact, they’re made of the same protein as our own hair and nails.

There are laws against hunting rhinoceros or trading their horns, of course. But that doesn’t stop the poachers. Over the last fifteen years, poachers have killed thousands of Rhinoceros. This activity is having a devastating impact on the Rhino population.

Habitat Loss

Another stressor faced by the rhinoceroses is the loss of their traditional lands. Sumatran rhinos prefer swamps and lush forests. However, these wild areas are being lost to agricultural and urban development. Things like invasive species and the development of more highways are also taking more of the rhino’s land.

Climate Change

‘Climate change’ is a word we hear on an alarmingly regular basis these days. However, it’s not only humans who are being affected.

Areas of Asia are experiencing weather changes to the extreme. Prolonged and fierce monsoon seasons and flooding can lead to increased numbers of rhino drownings, habitat destruction, and injury. 

Yet increasing global temperatures are also causing droughts. Water becomes rare and animals must compete with each other or humans for what little is left.

A change in water levels can also change the range of plant species. The plants the rhinos depend upon can be drowned and destroyed. Moreover, plants that carry disease or damaging invasive species can increase as a result.

How Can the Sumatran Rhino be Saved?

There are plenty of things that are being done to save the Sumatran Rhinoceros. The key is to approach the problem from as many angles as possible.

Monitoring Sumatran Rhino Habitat

Tracking and monitoring rhino distribution and population size in the wild is a complicated job. There is a constant quest to find the best and most scientific methods to do this. By Using evolving techniques and equipment, entire teams can be trained to monitor the Sumatran rhino habitat.

Managing Populations

Taking immediate action to provide protection when rhinos are in danger is important. This is done by creating Protection Zones. These are zones where law enforcement is close to the Sumatran rhino habitat. This can allow them to take action quickly.

Rescuing Sumatran Rhinos

Sumatran rhino conservationists often work together to rescue at-risk rhinos. They put the rescued individuals in facilities that are designed to protect the rhino. One of the most advanced facilities is the sanctuary where the newest baby Sumatran rhino was born.

Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary

All around the world, sanctuaries are being created to try and rescue endangered animals of all species. Indonesia has played a strong role in this.

The Sumatran rhino sanctuary in Indonesia has produced five captive births so far. The Way Kambas National Park currently has a population of ten Sumatran rhinos. The animals live in broad, wild rainforests just like their natural habitat in the wild. The park is not open to the public.

It offers the best veterinary services and also serves as a research facility. Scientists there are trying to learn as much as possible about rhinoceroses. This will allow them to protect both the wild and the captive populations.

Nothing is more vital than this sanctuary to ensuring a future for the Sumatran rhinos.

What is the Future of the Sumatran Rhinoceros?

There is hope for the Sumatran Rhinoceros in the coming years and decades.

The sheer number of people and organizations who are working on the issue inspires this hope.

For now, the sanctuary will keep the animals alive. It will also ensure the rhinos have a safe place to raise their young.

In the future, the rhinos will return to the wild. However, they’ll do this in much safer conditions, according to Rudi Putra.

Rudi is a member of the National Geographic Society and a conservation expert. He’s hard at work trying to restore the Rhino populations in the Leuser Ecosystem. This is one of only two Indonesian habitats where the Sumatran Rhino is still active.

He has great hope that the Sumatran Rhinos can still be saved.

He says “I feel that this hope is not just a fantasy—in 50 years when this question [of the status of the rhino] is asked again I believe it is possible that the Sumatran rhino is no longer critically endangered.”

Now that sounds like good news!

West Sumatra, Indonesia

IC INSPIRATION

The Sumatran Rhinoceros has a long way to go. However, its African cousin, the White Rhino, provides a ray of hope.

At the beginning of the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of rhinos walked the plains of Africa. By 2022, there were only about 23,000 left.

It’s a bitter irony that the White Rhino’s high population is the biggest cause of its declining population. Poachers see the bigger population as an open invitation. Between 2012 and 2021, poaching increased by 93%. During this period, the White Rhino population decreased by 24%.

The U.S. and South Africa jumped into action, forming a joint alliance to stop poaching.

The World Wildlife Federation is also protecting the White Rhino. They have a few big goals.

  • Expansion and improved management of protected areas.
  • Creation of new protected areas.
  • Improvement of existing monitoring and law enforcement.
  • Cooperation with properly managed tourism experiences to raise funds for conservation efforts.

Most importantly, they’re proving it can be done. A species pushed to the brink of oblivion can make a return. At the end of 2022, the White Rhino had seen an increase of 5.6%, bringing their total number to 16,803. This is the first increase the White Rhino has seen in over a decade.

So, if we can save the White Rhino, it’s only a matter of time before the other four species join the trend.

Joy L. Magnusson is an experienced freelance writer with a special passion for nature and the environment—topics she writes about widely in publications. Her work has been featured on Our Canada Magazine, Zooanthology, Written Tales Chapbook and more.

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Seaweed Plastic: An Emerging Solution to Plastic Pollution

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Seaweed plastic in the vast ocean.

Seaweed Plastic

Every minute, two garbage truck’s worth of plastic enters our oceans.

And every other minute, thousands of people across the world dedicate themselves to creating low-cost, biodegradable plastic alternatives that dissolve as soon as it enters the ocean.

This spells good news for the future of our human underwater habitats.

What is Seaweed Plastic?

Seaweed plastic are plastic alternatives that are made from seaweed, and that are bio-degradable. This means that when any of these “plastics” reach the ocean, it will dissolve as soon it touches the water. Moreover, seaweed is also edible, making seaweed plastics less likely to end up in oceans because there is an option that it might end up in the stomach of users.

Who Invented Seaweed Plastic?

The Idea of a seaweed plastic alternative was developed by engineering college students Rodrigo García González, Pierre-Yves Paslier and Guillaume Couche. They were the first to invent the “edible water bottle”, a sachet made from seaweed which contains water, and which was sold by the startup Ooho. in 2019, Ooho rebranded to the name Notpa, and has since included food packaging, rigid cutlery and containers among their bioplastic products.

What are the Disadvantages of Seaweed Plastic?

  • High Cost: Production costs are high for seaweed plastics, making their demand low and their production limited.
  • Less durable: Seaweed plastic alternatives are biodegradable, but they have weak mechanical properties compared to traditional plastics. This makes them less durable, and more prone to tearing.
  • Limited Applications: Seaweed plastics currently have a very limited use and are often restricted to gift and food wraps, tea bags, and sachets; whereas, conventional plastics can be used for almost everything.

What are the Advantages of Seaweed Plastic?

Less than 10% of plastics actually end up being recycled. This makes seaweed plastic alternatives much more practical as a solution to plastic pollution than recycling. The advantages of seaweed plastic alternatives include the following:

  • Biodegradable: Traditional plastics can take centuries to decompose; however, plastics made from seaweed dissolve as soon as it reaches the ocean.
  • Edible: Bioplastics made from seaweed don’t need to reach the ocean in the first place because they can be eaten. Imagine receiving a gift-wrapped present in the near future and knowing that if you wanted to, you can have your gift and eat it too.
  • Carbon Capture: Seaweed cultivation absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping mitigate the affects of climate change and create a clean energy future.
  • Healthier Oceans: It is estimated that algae produce up to 70% of Earth’s oxygen. If seaweed plastics end up reaching the ocean, it will contribute to a healthy environment for both terrestrial and marine life—assuming nobody eats their grocery bag first.

Can Seaweed Replace Plastic?

Seaweed is indeed replacing plastic, but not to the extent where it is currently making a large difference in reducing plastic pollution. Startups like Mumbai-based Zerocircle are creating tea bags, burger wrappers, gift wraps, and grocery store bags from seaweed plastic; however, while seaweed plastics are good for some applications, they are not likely to completely replace plastic.

Zerocircle received $200,000 from the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize for bringing to life a bio-degradable alternatives to plastic films. Lonely Whale in association with TOM FORD BEAUTY and The Estée Lauder Companies have also helped the startup receive widespread market adoption.

While still in its early stages, production methods for seaweed-based bioplastics are evolving. We will see more of these plastic alternatives being used in the future as its uses become more versatile.

A tropical ocean filled with seaweed that can be used to make plastic seaweed.

IC INSPIRATION

India has the biggest plastic pollution problem in the world.

In many parts of the world, plastic pollution is so bad, that creating bio-degradable alternatives is the only solution to the problem. For these places, it is more effective to create plastic alternatives that biodegrade than it is to recycle.

Some impoverished areas are not easily accessible to garbage trucks, so the garbage that doesn’t accumulate in these neighborhoods ends up polluting the ocean, and much of this garbage consists of plastics.

Companies like Zerocircle is so ingenious because it seeks to solve a problem by targeting the source.

Efforts to replace traditional plastic with materials like seaweed bioplastics contribute to protecting the ecosystems that support species like long-lived tortoises—which can live up to more than 150 years and have the power to create, change, protect, and even destroy an entire habitat. 

If that’s not worthy of an inspiring click, then I don’t know what is!

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Archangel Ancient Tree Archive: Cloning Ancient Trees to Build Strong Forests

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archangel ancient tree archive (AATA). cloning ancient trees

Archangel Ancient Tree Archive

Archangel Ancient Tree Archive (AATA) is a non-profit organization that locates and then clones the world’s most ancient trees. They do this to propagate the powerful DNA of these ancient trees—which they say can cool down the earth 10 times faster than ordinary trees can.

Where is the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive?

Volunteers at Archangel have successfully cloned over 150 ancient trees and then planted tens of thousands of these trees in over 7 countries including France, the US, and New Zealand. Trees act as powerful carbon stores, and that is part of the reason why such great emphasis is put on regrowing forests to stop the climate crisis.

History of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive

In 2008, co-founder David Milarch embarked on a journey to save the last remaining population of old-growth trees after a life-long battle with alcoholism led him to a near-death experience.

A day came when he was so fed up with the life he was living that he left his bottles of alcohol outside his room door and locked himself in. He made a strong promise to himself that he would not come out until the alcohol was completely out of his system…

3 days later his kidneys began to fail, and he ended up in the emergency room.

When he woke up, he said he was revealed a mission: clone ancient trees and then plant them. Ever since, the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive has located the remaining 2% of the largest and oldest living trees on the planet and began cloning them, then preserving their genetics in a “Living Library”.

This living library preserves the genetics of these trees by species, safeguarding the DNA and genetic heritage of the sort of trees that grow 10 times faster than current generations. Trees that grow 10 times faster will help in recovering forests lost to deforestation and forest fires 10 times quicker, creating lusher forests, and contributing to the planet’s health at a rate that is faster than the descendants of these trees.

Champion Trees of the AATA

David Milarch’s family and numerous volunteers of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive have called these trees “Champion Trees”. The idea is that by planting them, these Champion Trees go on to share their genetics with existing trees, which strengthens the forests’ ability to store carbon and preserve habitats.

In their YouTube video “About Archangel Ancient Tree Hive”, Dr. William J. Libby, science advisor at Archangel expresses: “What we are doing is, we are not changing the genetic constitution of any trees. In fact, we are trying to capture that so it can be studied in the future without being changed.”

How do you Clone Ancient Trees?

Volunteers climb to the top of these trees, trim the ends of the branches from a height not yet touched by any chemicals or new hormones, and send the cuttings to their Michigan facility so that cloning can begin.

This entire process of cloning, archiving, and then reforestation, has become a healing system for the entire planet, thanks to the efforts of David Milarch and this motivational organization.

How Does the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive Help Forests?

In 2020 the devastating Castle Fire took away half of the ancient trees in Sequoia Crest in California, which is home to the oldest living trees on the planet. These trees were presumed to be immune to fires. 

However, AATA foresaw the possibility of such an event happening due to rising temperatures and had been working for a decade before the event to collect material and clone these ancient trees from American forests. Ultimately, these seedlings helped the team to quickly rebuild the burnt area of the forest and provide new life to these giant Champion Trees, and the habitats that come with them.

Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, AATA

IC Inspiration

The wisdom embedded in trees preserved by The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive goes beyond our full understanding, but from what we do understand, trees are fascinating beyond what we could have imagined.

In Peter Wohlleben’s book “The Hidden Life of Trees”, he familiarizes us with the ability of trees to feel and communicate with life around them. They share signals, nutrients, and information with one another through their intricate system of roots. They have even shown that they know, in their own way, that they have families. They can feel pain and even protect one another from harm.

For example, in South Africa, acacia trees employ a fascinating communication method by releasing a “warning gas” called ethylene to alert neighboring trees of the looming threat of giraffes who are waiting to feast on their leaves. The trees that receive this warning gas through the air on time, quickly respond by releasing toxins into their leaves, making them bitter for giraffes to consume them.

The giraffe stops eating them, and those trees stay protected.

This is what allows the ancient trees to strengthen the newer species around them; they carry the resilience and wisdom required to survive for thousands of years against all odds.

Archangel has also started a Tree School which is meant to be an inspiration to the younger generation, encouraging them to reforest the planet and save it from the dangers of climate change.

Forest schools descended from Europe and can now be found in places all around the world. These schools provide education in outdoor environments like forests. The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive notes that schools like this will play a very important role in the future.

“My vision for Tree School is to have something so simple, so compelling, a major solution to reversing climate change so that all the world’s grandchildren and the ones to come, have a fair shot at being able to survive on this planet.” Notes David Milarch on the official website.

With more people coming together to preserve the natural ecosystem of this world, such as The Singhs, who restored a significant part of the Ranthambore Forest to provide a home for endangered tigers, the future of our planet Earth looks brighter than ever before!

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Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School: Empowering Girls and Building Futures

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rajkumari ratnavati girls school

Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School

Nestled within the heart of Rajasthan, India, the Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School was created in the middle of the desert to give girls the gift of education in a place where the literacy rate of women is only 52%. The school has even employed many of the parents of these girls, not only offering young women a feminine sanctuary to relax and heal in the desert but also helping one of the most economically challenged parts of India.

Who Created the Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School?

The Rajkumari Ratnavati school was envisioned by CITTA, a nonprofit whose visionary efforts involve healing and educating communities in some of the most economically distressed places around the world. CITTA then brought in Diana Kellogg, founder of Diana Kellogg Architects for the design— a firm that traditionally specializes in the creation of high-end, sophisticated projects in New York.

How Was Rajkumari Ratnavati Designed?

Aside from being known for its incredible terrain and historical palaces, Rajasthan is predominantly desert. The elliptical structure of the school makes it so that there is no need for AC, or electricity for that matter. The structure of the school channels high-pressure winds and transforms them into cool breezes, giving the school the ability to keep the girls cool even in temperatures that surpass a searing 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Not only is the school a remarkable example of sustainable architecture, but it also highlights the massive impact architecture can have on people and society.

A portion of the school includes the Gyaan Center, an enclave inspired by the CITTA as part of the effort to educate these girls. The Gyaan Center imparts traditional and economically friendly embroidery and weaving skills to the girls, taught by local artisans.

The School Reflects Culture, Community, and Empowerment

The school does so much more than educate girls; it preserves and continues the rich legacy of their Rajasthani culture. The designer Dianna Kellogg used this as the inspirational drive that went on to make the school as incredible as it is.

“I wanted to make a building about space and light and community and not about design — a structure that resonated with the soul and femininity and enforced the natural energies to nurture and heal the women and girls”, said Diana Kellogg in an interview with Hannah Feniak. “As a woman myself, it was imperative in my design process to honor women to the best of my ability, especially from the cultural context in India.”

Diana Kellogg’s remarkable mindfulness stands as an extraordinary source of inspiration. Expressing healing energies and a hopeful outlook for these young girls not only forges a path toward a brighter tomorrow for these students but also resonates as a motivational march toward a more empowered global sisterhood.

rajkumari ratnavati girls school

IC INSPIRATION

Understanding one another in our interconnected global village doesn’t have to be complex.

We all have diverse cultures, traditions, languages, and ideas, but if we can express those things in a positive light, then inspiration becomes creation, and creation goes on to inspire.

After all, Diana Kellogg successfully weaved local customs of Rajasthan and Jaisalmer into the design of this magnificent school without even being from there; but by understanding and then expressing that culture in the light of education and healing.

Her inspiration created the school, and now the school inspires the girls. Who knows the incredible impact that these girls may have in the future to come.

Differences don’t need to be barriers as long as we have people with the willingness to express their creativity in the hope that they will be able to spread good in the world.

There seems to be no limit to human creativity. One women—like Kiki Grammatopoulos—invents rewilding shoes, which helps grow forests while you run. And another—like Mira Kulkarni— creates a successful business that imparts ayurvedic wisdom.

It’s an amazing thought that when you break barriers, you get creative; and when you get creative, you break barriers.

It’s as if differences exist to spark the inspiration needed for us to create things that don’t exist yet.

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