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01 / 05
Peregrine Falcon Populations Restored throughout the Midwest

The Gazette | Conservation & Biodiversity

Peregrine Falcon Populations Restored throughout the Midwest

“Falconers train birds of prey to hunt wild animals. But years ago, they were not allowed to own peregrine falcons in the U.S. The once widespread species was nearly eradicated from North America in the 20th century, reduced to just 39 pairs in the lower 48 states by 1979. Two subspecies were listed as federally endangered in 1970 before today’s Endangered Species Act even existed.”Falconers train birds of prey to hunt wild animals. But years ago, they were not allowed to own peregrine falcons in the U.S. The once widespread species was nearly eradicated from North America in the 20th century, reduced to just 39 pairs in the lower 48 states by 1979. Two subspecies were listed as federally endangered in 1970 before today’s Endangered Species Act even existed.

More than 50 years later, peregrine falcon populations are flourishing across the U.S. Even though they’re still listed as a species of special concern in Iowa, their local populations are stable. Their profound resurgence arose from decades of collaboration between falconers and researchers, two groups working toward the same goal: to save the species.”

From The Gazette.

New Scientist | Energy Production

Chinese Nuclear Reactor Is Completely Meltdown-Proof

“A relatively new kind of reactor design, called a pebble-bed reactor (PBR), has the advantage of being passively safe, which means that if power for cooling systems is lost, then the reactor can safely shut down by itself. Rather than use highly energy-dense fuel rods like many other reactor designs, PBRs use a large number of low-energy-density ‘pebbles’ as fuel, which contain a small amount of uranium surrounded by graphite. This can help slow the nuclear reaction and withstand high temperatures.

This lower energy density means any excess heat will be spread out over all of the pebbles, and so will be easier to transport away using natural cooling processes like conduction and convection, says Zhe Dong at Tsinghua University in China.

While small working prototype reactors have been built in Germany and China, no full-scale PBRs have been shown to work and be passively safe—until now. Dong and his colleagues have demonstrated that the system works with a full-scale nuclear plant, the High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor Pebble-Bed Module (HTR-PM) in Shandong.”

From New Scientist.

BBC | Conservation & Biodiversity

Near-Extinct Crocodiles Make Comeback in Cambodia

“Cambodia has welcomed 60 baby Siamese crocodiles – a hatching record for the endangered species in this century, conservationists say…

Siamese crocodiles were once widespread throughout much of South East Asia.

But decades of hunting and habitat loss have tuned them into what conservations classify as ‘critically endangered’ species. There are just 400 of them left in the world – and most of those are in Cambodia.”

From BBC.

Canary Media | Energy Production

A Solar Microgrid Will Directly Power an Industrial Plant

“Titanium Metals Corporation, or Timet, recently began construction on a facility that will melt titanium to be shaped into parts for airplanes and other uses. Just next door, BHE Renewables is preparing to install arrays of solar panels and large battery systems, which will form a solar microgrid that connects to the titanium facility. Both companies are part of Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate run by Warren Buffett.

The project is perhaps the first to directly power a large industrial facility using solar-plus-storage technology. Developers say they hope the setup can serve as a model for future manufacturing plants — especially as the United States ramps up domestic production of electric cars, solar panels, batteries, and the steel, aluminum, and other essential materials used to make them.”

From Canary Media.

The Guardian | Conservation & Biodiversity

Wildcats Born outside Captivity in Cairngorms a “Major Milestone”

“The birth of wildcat kittens in the Cairngorms national park has been hailed as a ‘major milestone’ in efforts to rescue the secretive mammals from extinction in the UK.

In footage exclusively shared with the Guardian by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), two of the kittens can be seen playing in grassland with their mother and leaping on to a fallen tree branch.

These are potentially the first wildcats to be born outside captivity in Scotland for more than five years after 19 wildcats, which had been bred at the Highland wildlife park, near Kingussie, were released last summer in sites across the Cairngorms in a pilot project by the Saving Wildcats partnership, led by RZSS.

It was the first time a predatory mammal had been deliberately reintroduced in the UK after a landmark report in 2019 concluded the Scottish wildcat population was close to being functionally extinct. This was because of population decline caused by loss of native woodland and human persecution, and interbreeding with feral and domestic cats.”

From The Guardian.