23 JUL 2020 @12:15 PM EDT: Generally hail that falls in PA is mostly dime to quarter size – and rarely larger than a tennis ball. However, today is the 10th anniversary of the largest hailstone recorded in the USA. A 1.94 lb., 7.9 inch monster that fell in Vivian, South Dakota. pic.twitter.com/nIF0UrgQNR
There is yet another new threat to an important right that Americans and all freedom loving peoples hold dear ? the right to express one?s opinions on important societal issues in open public forums. In the 1960s, I, and many others, fought this fight on university campuses all across America. This fight was called the Free Speech Movement.
Today, university campuses are the locus of a new, and sadly misguided movement, the Anti-Free Speech Movement. Some refer to it as ?Cancel Culture?, which is ill-defined, but in essence, by whatever name, it is a movement spurred by the pernicious idea that one group of people should be able to dictate what other people are allowed to say, what opinions they are allowed to express, what they can write and the very words they are allowed to speak. Writers and speakers…
Long the face of the conservation movement, giant pandas were upgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species In September 2016. The listing change followed a 17% increase in the population in China from 2004 to 2014. There are an estimated 1,800 pandas left in the wild with the numbers increasing.
The improved status shows that the government’s efforts to help conserve the panda have been somewhat effective. But there are still obstacles to overcome, including habitat loss and the impact of the climate crisis on bamboo, the panda’s main food source.
Although the giant panda has experienced a recent increase in some habitat in China, habitat loss continues to be the primary threat facing the species, according to the IUCN. Giant pandas lived in China’s bamboo forests for several million years, but their numbers were decimated as humans cleared acres of habitat for homes and agriculture, roads and mining.
In 1988, the Chinese government banned logging in the panda’s habitat. But new roads and railways are still being built in the area. That not only clears trees, but also fragments the forests, isolating small groups of panda populations.
The panda population has as many as 33 subpopulations, and more than half of those contain fewer than 10 individuals, reports the IUNC. These small groups are often cut off from habitat, food sources, and from other pandas.
Because some of these subpopulations are so small, conservation geneticists are concerned about inbreeding in these groups. It’s often linked with decreased fertility and can impact survival rates.
But bamboo may be quite vulnerable to the climate crisis. Depending on the species, some bamboo only reproduces every 15 to 100 years. Others only thrive at certain temperatures or elevations. Bamboo makes up about 90% of a panda’s diet.
The IUCN says the climate crisis is predicted to eliminate more than one-third of the panda’s bamboo habitat in the next 80 years. As a result, they expect the panda population to decline, “reversing the gains made during the last two decades.”
Poaching was a problem in the past, as the animals were hunted for their fur. But China passed the Wildlife Protection Law, enacted in 1988 and revised in 2016, which banned the breeding, hunting, and selling of hundreds of animals including the giant panda. However, the IUCN points out that pandas are sometimes still accidentally caught in traps set out for other animals.
What We Can Do
A census in the mid-1970s found only 2,459 pandas in China, according to the WWF, which alerted the government to the species’ precarious position. Since then, the panda has been the focus of a high-profile campaign to save the species.
Since that eye-opening report, poaching has been banned, panda nature reserves have been created, and partnerships between the Chinese government and zoos around the world have assisted with breeding and research efforts.
China now has a network of 67 panda reserves, which protect more than 66% of the giant pandas in the wild and nearly 54% of their existing habitat. In partnership with the WWF, the Chinese government has developed bamboo corridors to allow pandas to more easily move to new areas, find more food, and meet more potential mates, which will also help improve genetic diversity.
Although recent population increases show that some success has been achieved, the panda still needs help. The IUCN notes that the Chinese government plans to continue to protect panda habitat and monitor population. “They recognize the challenges the future holds, and in particular will seek to address problems of habitat connectivity and population fragmentation.”
To help giant pandas, you can donate to the WWF to conserve the species and their habitats.
Following in the spirit of Britain's Queen Boudica, Queen of the Iceni. A boudica.us site. I am an opinionator, do your own research, verification. Reposts, reblogs do not neccessarily reflect our views.