Meanwhile... in Bhutan, the government is opening the door wider to foreign tourism

And in the Congo, Belgian biologist Koen Hufkens is 'already a long way toward predicting the Congo forest’s future' thanks to a treasure trove of notebooks, while a fairy-tale rescue story could raise awareness of the plight of abandoned dogs on Mauritius.

Adrees Latif/Reuters/File
Thimphu,Bhutan

In Bhutan, the government is opening the door wider to foreign tourism. For the first time the country will allow visitors access to one of its lush heritage forests.

Until 1974, the reclusive mountain kingdom did not allow tourists at all. Today, a few thousand visit every year. They must pay a fee (about $250) for each day they stay and are allowed only in designated areas.

But now Bhutan’s Pemacholing Heritage Forest – near the town of Damphu – will permit tourists. 

What’s there to see in the forest? Lonely Planet describes the area as “rich with wildlife, including royal Bengal tigers.” It further notes that “within the reserve are ancient goembas (monasteries) and the ruins of a medieval dzong (royal fortress).”

In Yangambi, Congo, Belgian biologist Koen Hufkens was struggling to find a cost-effective way to study the effects of climate change. He dreamed of installing a high-tech monitoring station in the Congo Basin. 

But as Mr. Hufkens wrestled with the costs and logistics of such a project he stumbled upon an unexpected treasure-trove – a cache of notebooks dating back to the 1930s, abandoned long ago in a derelict herbarium in Yangambi. The notebooks – stained by rain and gnawed by rodents but still legible – contain meticulous weekly observations of 2,000 trees between 1937 and 1958. 

Eight thousand volunteers helped Hufkens decode and digitize the information, which he was then able to correlate with weather records. Today, according to The Guardian, Hufkens is “already a long way toward predicting the Congo forest’s future,” thanks to the massive database contained in the notebooks.

In Belle Mare, Mauritius, British tourist Tabitha Nash was sunning herself poolside at one of the island nation’s resorts when a skinny white puppy with big floppy ears rushed toward her, eagerly wagging its tail.

Ms. Nash was immediately smitten and took in the stray pup. When it came time to go home, Nash knew that she couldn’t leave the dog, now named Bella. But neither could she afford the $1,300 required for vaccines, quarantine, and transportation to get Bella home to Britain. 

So Nash launched a GoFundMe campaign. Within three days she had raised more than $3,000, reported the Daily Mail, allowing her to meet the legal requirements and book a flight home for both of them. Animal advocates are hoping that Bella’s fairy-tale rescue story will raise awareness of the plight of abandoned dogs on Mauritius, where the government has been accused of periodically rounding up and slaughtering strays. 

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