DAILY DOSE: Giant stingray discovered in river; Tourism can help save endangered gorillas.


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No sooner does the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, aka DPRK aka North Korea, finally admit that Covid-19 has infiltrated their borders then Pyongyang declares the outbreak defeated. Per the Associated Press, “It’s only been a month since North Korea acknowledged having a COVID-19 outbreak, after steadfastly denying any cases for more than two years. But already it may be preparing to declare victory. According to state media, North Korea has avoided the mass deaths many expected in a nation with one of the world’s worst health care systems, little or no access to vaccines, and what outsiders see as a long record of ignoring the suffering of its people. North Korea’s official virus numbers, experts believe, have as much to do with propaganda to boost leader Kim Jong Un as with a true picture of what’s happening in the country, and there’s widespread doubt about their accuracy.” If this surprises anyone, I’ve got a few bridges around the world I can sell you. https://bit.ly/3tRkhMT


There’s a very striking parallel between the current monkeypox outbreak and the emergence of HIV/AIDS during the early to mid-1980s. Specifically, it has to do with the initial appearance of the disease among the MSM community. Public health officials are loath to repeat the mistakes they made with HIV/AIDS when they stigmatized entire populations as proxies of the disease. Yet, until more information is discovered, it would be irresponsible to completely ignore the available data. For example, in the UK a survey was done among monkeypox patients. Out of 152 subjects, 151 identified as being gay. According to Science, “An epidemiological modeling study published as a preprint last week by researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) supports that idea. It suggests the outbreak will keep growing rapidly if the spread isn’t curtailed. It also h­as implications for how to protect those most at risk and limit spread, while suggesting the risk for the wider population remains low.” Unfortunately, there are a number of confounding facts, including the fact that MSM often have better relationships with their doctors than their heterosexual counterparts. https://bit.ly/3nnYjOd


Tourism is often blamed for the destruction of historic or protected sites around the world. Venice and parts of Yellowstone park come to mind. Yet there’s no denying that those hordes of destructive footsteps are the source of significant revenue for local and federal governments. An article in the BBC takes a look at how tourism done the right way can, in fact, aid in animal conservation. Per the BBC, “Dr Gladys Kalema Zikusoka was the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s first vet in 1995, then she set up the charity Conservation Through Public Health. Perhaps surprisingly, she says, carefully managed tourism has been crucial. ‘Tourism really does help wild animals if it is done right.’ But only, she clarifies, if the income from tourism really does flow into the local community. A gorilla encounter figures high on many bucket lists, and tourist lodges and rest houses, craft stalls and trekking centres, now encircle the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park.” Question is: can the masses be compelled to engage in tourism “done the right way”? Humans being humans, we’re pretty pessimistic about the idea. https://bbc.in/3y8SXfL


And finally, the largest freshwater fish has been captured by fishermen in Cambodia. According to the Associated Press, “The world’s largest recorded freshwater fish, a giant stingray, has been caught in the Mekong River in Cambodia, according to scientists from the Southeast Asian nation and the United States. The stingray, captured on June 13, measured almost 4 meters (13 feet) from snout to tail and weighed slightly under 300 kilograms (660 pounds), according to a statement Monday by Wonders of the Mekong, a joint Cambodian-U.S. research project. The previous record for a freshwater fish was a 293-kilogram (646-pound) Mekong giant catfish, discovered in Thailand in 2005, the group said.” Wouldn’t want to run into one of those beasts during a leisurely dip in the water. https://bit.ly/3QE8JGM

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

IMAGE CREDIT: Wonders of the Mekong.

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