The Daily Dose: After decades of decline, wild tigers are making a comeback

As little as a decade ago, the future of the tiger looked bleak. Countries where the animal occurred naturally reported the complete decimation of local populations. Cambodia. Laos. Vietnam. All reported near total losses. Meanwhile, countries with the largest populations of tigers — India, China, and Indonesia— experienced major declines. The tide appears to be in nascent stages of turning. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, “In pockets across tiger range, we are starting to see populations head in the opposite direction. Last month’s extraordinary images from Thailand’s Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary offer a compelling glimpse into this trend… Where poachers once operated with relative impunity, the DNP has rolled out a massive intensification of high-quality patrolling across the protected area…” Promising news. However, there’s still lots of work to be done. The improvements in Thailand and other regions experiencing increasing numbers occurred only after decades of dedicated efforts to protect the tigers.

As a smattering of schools around the world are struggling to reopen, there seem to be more questions than adequate answers. Nowhere is that more evident than in the COVID-19 ravaged United States. Local education departments are basically sending students and teachers into classrooms blind. The country’s struggle to provide timely COVID-19 testing is making matters worse, as can be seen in the opening of a Mid-Western school. “In Indiana, where schools reopened last week for the first time since a pandemic-driven nationwide shutdown in March, a student at Greenfield-Central Junior High School tested positive for the coronavirus on the first day back to class. School Superintendent Harold Olin told The Associated Press that the student was tested for the virus days earlier and attended school before receiving the results. The student was isolated in the school clinic, while school nurses worked to identify other students or staff who may have had close contact with the student.” Six months into the American outbreak and the government still hasn’t figured out how to provide testing. Blame the system.

The social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are just beginning to be realized. One area experiencing significant damage is in the science community. Specifically, diversity in laboratories is suffering negative effects. Per Nature, “Years of slow improvement in diversity and inclusion in science could come undone because of the COVID-19 crisis. In a June letter to Nature Ecology and Evolution1, 19 researchers from around the world warned that job losses during the pandemic might pose “disproportionate existential threats” to researchers from under-represented groups, including women, people from minority ethnic backgrounds and those who are financially disadvantaged.” Significant and deliberate efforts to stem the tide need to be implemented before it’s too late.

A coalition of British research institutions and diagnostic device developers are moving forward with a quick and simple COVID-19 antibody test. According to Fierce Biotech, “Together, they plan to jointly manufacture and ship millions of the finger-prick blood testers over the coming months, as part of a government campaign to provide free, widespread antibody screening for the novel coronavirus. Tens of thousands of the devices have already been produced in anticipation of the European green light, with a full rollout slated for the end of August.” AbC-19 test is made to be administered by healthcare professionals. It detects IgG antibodies for the virus’s spike protein used to enter human cells.

Scientists have considered how to make roundtrip voyages to Mars for decades. Consensus agreed on a handful of questions, all of which have been resolved except one. How can a large enough tank of oxygen needed to provide fuel for a mission’s return trip be transported from Earth to the red planet. NASA believes it is one step closer to solving that problem. Per Smithsonian Magazine, “The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or MOXIE, is small, about the size of a car battery. It’s designed to demonstrate a technology that converts carbon dioxide into oxygen with a process called electrolysis. Mars’ thin atmosphere is 95 percent carbon dioxide, but sending anything back into space requires fuel, and burning that fuel requires oxygen. NASA could ship liquid oxygen to the planet, but the volume needed takes up a good deal of space.” The sooner the better, in our book. We play Terragenesis so we know what it takes to bring that dusty red ball back to life.

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

Sign up for Scientific Inquirer’s Steady State Newsletter for the week’s top stories, exclusive interviews, and weekly giveaways. Plenty of value added but without the tax.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: