Positive Conservation News - August 2019

August 31, 2019

August was a difficult month dominated by news of the Amazon's forest fires. Times like these can make it challenging to remain optimistic, but hopefully this post will help you to remember that there is still progress being made by hardworking people across the world!

A successful month for birds!

The White Stork project aims to establish a population of 50 breeding pairs of white storks by 2030. Adult storks were released earlier this year, and a group of 24 juveniles were released this month. The birds hatched in Costwold Wildlife Park and were temporarily kept in captivity until they were ready for release on August 12th. White storks are migratory birds and the project team hope that these juveniles will join up with other migrating storks and eventually reach West Africa. The birds have coloured leg rings to help to identify individuals, if you see one you can report it on their website.

A bearded vulture captive breeding and reintroduction programme was launched in the 1980's after the birds were hunted to extinction. The project has been extremely successful and there are now 250 wild individuals! This month was a record breaking breeding season and it is expected that 35 chicks will leave their nests

The RSPB reported that 22 hen harrier chicks fledged nests in United Utilities Estate in Bowland, an increase from the 13 chicks that fledged from the site last year. This population increase is much needed for the species who are at risk from illegal persecution. 

This month saw the return of white tailed eagles in England! The birds haven't been since here for around 240 years after they were hunted to extinction in the early 20th century. Six eaglets were released on the Isle of Wight this month with the hope they will breed in the wild. 

Puffins are extremely vulnerable to rising sea temperatures and fluctuating food availability, but this month saw some positive news for the charismatic sea birds. Researchers in Maine are confident that they will witness a record breaking number of nesting pairs this year. Although this is a success, the conservationists working in the area aren't planning on becoming complacent, as it's been known for a bad season to follow a good one. Fingers crossed that their success will continue!

Some tree-rific forestry news

Water companies in the UK have announced they will plant 11 million trees by 2030 in an effort to work towards making the industry carbon neutral. The trees will be planted on around 15,000 acres of land, including areas within towns and cities. The industry will also support work to restore woodland and habitats that store carbon. 

50 million trees will be planted in the Kilimanjaro region in Tanzania as part of the 'Trees 4 Kili' project in an effort to reduce desertification and drought. The director of the project is eager to restore the iconic forest scenery that surrounds Mount Kilimanjaro. 

Saving species

It's good news for Britain's beloved spiky mammal! Hedgehog populations have been on the decline, partly due to garden walls and fences disrupting their movement. Development planning laws now state that small holes must be present in fences to allow them to move freely.

Chester Zoo and The Wildlife Trust have collaborated on a project to reintroduce large heath butterflies in Manchester and Cheshire. More than 150 caterpillars hatched in the zoo in August, will hibernate and finally pupate during early summer before being released into the wild. The team hope to then expand the project to other sites. 

Pangolin scales are used in more than 60 pharmaceutical products in China, but this month the government announced that these will no longer be available under state health insurance. All eight species of pangolin are currently threatened with extinction, partly due to the demand for their scales to use in medicines. Although this is not the complete ban that is necessary to protect pangolins, it is a positive sign that the government are rethinking their approach. 

The Thames river was considered biologically dead just 50 years ago, but news this month described it as a 'thriving ecosystem' with healthy populations of seahorse, harbour porpoises, European eels, and grey and harbour seal populations - whose populations have doubled in the past 5 years to around 3,000 individuals! 

Did you enjoy any other positive conservation stories this month - let me know! Or read more positive conservation news here.

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