Meanwhile... in Gabon, scientists are asking concerned citizens around the world to help save elephants

And in Sweden, some girls are saying no to traditional Santa Lucia pageants, while on St. Helena, an ancient tortoise is looking forward to a new crowd of admirers.


In Gabon, scientists are asking concerned citizens around the world to help save elephants.

Africa’s elephant populations are shrinking rapidly in the face of aggressive poaching. One effective way to protect elephants is to deploy camera traps. But an extremely large number of man-hours is required to view all the photos collected by the traps. Fortunately, citizen scientists are stepping up to fill the need

Anabelle Cardoso, a PhD candidate at Oxford University in Britain, and some of her colleagues recently launched a program called Elephant Expedition in the West African nation. There, a network of hidden cameras captures photos that volunteers can access by going to the Elephant Expedition website. Currently, about 9,000 volunteers from all parts of the globe are helping with the project, but Dr. Cardoso stresses that many more are needed. 

In Sweden, some girls are saying no to traditional Santa Lucia pageants.

For decades, Swedish towns have organized such pageants at Christmastime, choosing a blond choir girl to represent the 3rd-century saint who used a candle to light her way as she helped persecuted Christians. But now some towns have too few contestants to hold the pageants. Young women are reportedly being turned off by the focus on images of a blond beauty. 

“Girls just do not want to compete in beauty pageants,” Lena Kättström Höök, author of “Lucia in a New Light,” explained to national broadcaster SVT. 

On St. Helena, an ancient tortoise is looking forward to a new crowd of admirers

Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise, is believed, at 185 years old, to be the oldest reptile on earth. Experts estimate that he was born several decades after Napoleon died in exile on the remote South Atlantic island in 1821. But now Jonathan’s quiet life may be about to change as St. Helena opens its first airport and prepares for more tourism. 

“[Jonathan] loves company,” Lisa Phillips, governor of St. Helena, told Agence France-Presse. 

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