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15,000 Crocodiles Escape From Farm in South Africa During Flood

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Thousands of Crocodiles Escape

Going to the Zoo can be an entertaining and fun place to visit with friends, love ones, or just having some you time. I personally like looking at the sea lions, and the shows zoo employees put on with the amazingly smart creatures. It may sound weird, but I also really like the crocodiles, alligators exhibit, just do not want to see them up close and personal.  People in South Africa may feel the exact same way now.

A farm in South Africa called Rakwena Crocodile Farm may be in a little bit of hot water as 15,000 Crocodiles have been reported to escape since earlier this week; putting thousands of residents in danger and striking fear in nearby communities. The farm which just surpassed 15,000 crocodiles this year, basically had their entire farm populations washed away and missing due to the actions of the farm’s owner.

It was reported in a local South African newspaper that heavy rainfall over consistent days lead to the flooding of the Limpopo River which is right near the Rakwena Crocodile farm. The farm’s owners,  the Boshoff’s feared that the raging high waters would crush the walls of their house, so John Boshoff opened the gates. Which unfortunately, released all of the crocodiles into the waters and into the Limpop River according to NY Times.

The Limpop River, which normally has a very low amount of crocodiles in its water, had thousands of them in it earlier this week and the river runs through highly populated communities in the northern part of South Africa.

“You want to get them (Crocodiles), but you wonder the whole time if you’ll make it there, when we reached them, the crocodiles were swimming around dozens of residents, I Praise the Lord, they were all alive,” Rakwena employee Zane Langman said in a statement. One of the crocodiles was even found on a school’s rugby field in Musina, nearly 75 miles from the farm.

Since the escape, employees and government officials have reportedly captured about 7,500 crocodiles, but they are still very concerned the thousands of other crocodiles roaming around, and fear for the safety of their citizens. The recovery efforts are still taking place, but mostly at night time because the crocodile eyes reportedly glow red in the dark according to IB Times.

Both the South African and Zimbabwean air forces have had to rescue villagers in areas isolated by the flood waters, the authorities in neighboring Mozambique have evacuated tens of thousands of people. Hopefully South African residents will remain safe and not become gator bait.

15,000 crocodiles escape from South African Farm

Thousands of crocodiles have escaped from a South African reptile farm after severe flooding.

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Environment

England Moves To Ban Plastic By April 2020

England is enforcing a ban on plastic straws, cotton buds, and stirrers in April 2020 to mitigate problems relating to plastic pollution in the ocean. Click To Tweet

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Turning the tide on plastic pollution | Photo From: Cardiff University

England Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, confirmed in a statement that the UK would be making its fair share in environmental protection by banning plastic in the country by April 2020. The UK government will ban plastic straws, cue tips with plastics handles, and stirrers all over the country, however, with some exceptions.

Plastic straws will remain available for individuals with disabilities and medical purposes. Therefore, plastic straws will be made available through registered pharmacies who can sell them over the counter or through online.

Moreover, restaurants, pubs, and bars are also allowed to keep a stock that will be readily available to customers upon request. Notably, establishments cannot publicly display plastic straws and will now serve coffee without stirrers.

Annually, England uses an approximate of 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million stirrers, an 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cue tips, the statement said. About 10% of cue tips used ends up getting flushed down the toilet and into the oceans.

In contrast, a public consultation held by the government showed that over 80% of respondents back a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, 90% a ban on drinks stirrers, and 89% a ban on cotton buds, which led to the ban on plastic.

Companies choose to work with plastic since it is a cheap and versatile material to use. As a society, we have grown dependent on plastic as a universal tool that functions as a disposable form of general materials. We can see this through plastic bags for our groceries or the plastic spoon and fork you use when you’re on a camping trip. It’s also present in a lot of practical uses such as in household appliances, in your car, and basically, everywhere you go.

But the kind of plastic that the UK government is eyeing to ban is specific to the environmental impact these objects create, which are the senseless single-use plastics that continues to pump itself endlessly in the market.

Moreover, the idea of plastic being ‘disposable’ is a double-edged sword: people can use them without having to worry about its worth, while the other end of the spectrum acknowledges that because it’s known to be disposable and cheap, we can buy, use, throw, and repeat without consideration.

We have been desensitized of the impacts of our small actions to the rest of the world. We tend to think that a single piece of plastic can’t hurt but don’t seem to consider that if all of the 7 billion people believe the same way, that would also result to 7 billion pieces of plastic out in the streets or into the ocean.

In the case of plastics, they don’t decompose quickly like materials made from natural resources such as paper and wood-based materials. They often take decades to disappear naturally but only needs seconds to pollute, harm, and possibly kill the entire ecosystem.

It is estimated that there are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans, and every year, one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste. A recent report estimates that plastics in the sea is set to triple by 2025 – unless human societies make actions to prevent it from happening.

“Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment. These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life. So today I am taking action to turn the tide on plastic pollution and ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations,” Secretary Gove said in a statement.

Although plastic straws, cue tips, and stirrers hardly make a portion that’s polluting the ocean, it’s still a significant step into the fight against single-use plastic. With the growing movement in support of being more responsible with our footprint in the environment, the England government’s latest announcement solidifies and strengthens the cause.

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Health

Recent Study Discovered CBD Helps Fight Against Heroin Addiction

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CBD Oil. | Photo From: Medical News Today

The legalization of cannabis across some states promises to bring medicinal properties that can help alleviate ailments such as anxiety, depression, and popularly, some cases of Parkinson’s disease.

However, a part of making it legal also enable people to make subjective ailments such as depression and anxiety a reason to purchase the drug and get ‘high.’

Popularly, cannabis has been told to be a gateway drug that allows a person to test the waters before proceeding to something stronger. Ironically, a new study shows that cannabis has the possibility of reversing the effects of addiction.

Researchers from the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York announced that CBD oil helps limit particular cravings and help reduce anxiety for heroin users.

The cannabidiol or CBD is a compound extracted from Cannabis plant that has shown significant potential as a form of medication. Moreover, CBD does not interact with any receptors that causes a person to get high.

“To address the critical need for new treatment options for the millions of people and families who are being devastated by this epidemic, we initiated a study to assess the potential of a nonintoxicating cannabinoid on craving and anxiety in heroin-addicted individuals,” said lead study author Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai in a statement.

Particularly, Hurd indicates the American opioid epidemic that took the lives of 300,00 people and will continue to do so unless people find ways to address the problem. Hurd tells NBC, “We’re too slow to address addiction in our society. When the flu comes up and the measles comes up, we have so many people trying to help. But we don’t have the same kind of urgency with addiction.”

Primarily, drug addiction is a very tricky and challenging area to study due to every individual’s varying attitudes and behaviors towards drug use. It’s even harder when they’re trying to perform the study on a hundred people through the course of a number of weeks.

Moreover, there is the risk of exposing the participants in a possible case of a relapse. It is known that the hardest part of getting off heroin addiction isn’t the physical longing for the drug. Particularly, medications like methadone and buprenorphine are available to help target the same pathways opioids take to relieve the physical longing.

Sometimes the most challenging part with addiction is avoiding the risk of a relapse. Working around relapse-tense situations is like walking on thin ice. They can be triggered by emotions, sounds, and anything that addicts could associate with their drug use and cause them to suddenly and instinctively crave the drug to alleviate the anxiety. This is where the study shows to have great promise.

Researchers found out that participants who received CBD administration significantly showed reductions in drug cravings. Further, the same participants showed lesser symptoms of anxiety when images of people taking drugs were shown. Moreover, they’ve discovered that CBD had a lasting effect on reducing drug cravings and anxiety, and extending well over when the CBD was supposedly flushed out of the system.

The study could potentially aim at addressing the anxiety factor in drug addiction therapy, which is currently lacking in the industry.

The research consisted of a small group of 42 drug-abstinent men and women aged from 21 to 65 years old who had a history with heroin disorder. They gave half of the participants 400mg or 800mg of CBD oil once daily and the other half with a placebo. The study then experimented on three separate occasions: immediately following administration, 24 hours after CBD or placebo administration, and seven days after the third and final daily CBD or placebo administration.

However, the study is still at its early stages of development, and further investigation is required to fully claim that CBD has anything to do with the results shown. It still is a possibility that other factors may have contributed to the positive findings of the study or, even an entirely different set of external factors.

On the positive side, this is a great breakthrough study that could potentially open the door for more research on alleviating anxiety related to drug abuse, and potentially close the doors on risks of future relapse scenarios.

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Animals

Facial Recognition To Be Used In Panda Conservation

A group of researchers in China have develop an app to track pandas using facial recognition technology. Click To Tweet

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A group of researchers in China have develop an app to track pandas using facial recognition technology.
There are currently 67 panda nature reserves in China, an increase of 27 since the last report. Photo: WWF Website

While facial recognition technology is widely frowned upon when used against humans, it could be an ally for conservators of giant pandas in China.

A group of researchers from the China Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Pandas have developed an app that could recognize individual pandas using facial recognition technology. The app will draw from more than 120,000 images and video clips of giant pandas to identify the animals that are living in the wild.

According to a census conducted last 2004 by the Chinese government, there are approximately 1,864 pandas live in the wild. That’s a 16.8% increase since the last survey released in 2003. The country has taken a proactive role in conservation efforts, announcing last year that it would build a 10,476-square-mile panda reserve called the Giant Panda National Park at the cost of at least 10 billion yuan ($1.45 billion).

“The latest rise in the estimate is particularly encouraging, as the 2004 increase was in large part down to researchers using better techniques and surveying a wider area. The new figures show that the hard work of the Chinese government, local communities, nature reserve staff, and WWF is paying off,” wrote WWF.

Camera traps in China have captured images and video footage of giant pandas that are often difficult to see in the wild. The photographs and video are some of the most amazing photos ever of pandas and other species in their remote habitat, which were caught on film as part of long-term wildlife monitoring projects set up in panda nature reserves by the Chinese government and WWF.

Camera trap footage of a Giant Panda scenting a tree is marking his territory to attract female pandas. © Anzihe Nature Reserve

“These photos offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives of giant pandas, as well as other animals, which are difficult to see in the wild,” says Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf, managing director of WWF’s species program. “They demonstrate that by saving the iconic giant panda, we secure a vibrant future for other incredible wildlife, wild places, and people – it’s the best kind of win-win proposition.”

The development of the new facial recognition app will presumably help conservationist monitor their programs by keeping track of how many pandas are left. It will also provide significant insight regarding the breeding program that conservationist has been implementing to encourage an increase in the panda population.

“he app and database will help us gather more precise and well-rounded data on the population, distribution, ages, gender ratio, birth and deaths of wild pandas, who live in deep mountains and are hard to track,” Chen Peng, a researcher at the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas, said.

This is not the first time that facial recognition technology has been used against animals. According to several reports, facial technology has been used in Italy as part of an app that can match photos of lost pets from those that are in shelters and to determine a cat apart from other feline species.

Nonetheless, the use of facial technology in China is a complicated issue. Many nations have been vocal in their accusations that the Chinese government and Xi Jinping is using the technology against people’s consent for the government to spy on its citizens.

Meanwhile, facial recognition technology is also something frowned upon in Western governments. Last week, San Francisco, one of the technology capitals of the world, has voted to ban the police and city agencies from using facial recognition technologies against their people. The groundbreaking vote aims to become a model in other city and states as San Francisco recognizes the harms that an unregulated technology can have over people’s privacy.

The science and tech community has not failed to become wary over facial recognition technology and has urged companies to stop selling their versions of the technology to law enforcement agencies. Recently, a study from the Georgetown Law School has revealed that police have been feeding images of celebrities and composite and computer-generated suspect sketches to the facial recognition system to generate possible matches.

While using the technology on animals does not necessarily have direct harms, many experts have argued that governments can use the camera set up for animal facial recognition systems against humans and could be exploited. Nevertheless, the possible use of facial recognition by conservators might be the hope of the giant panda population.

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