Points of Progress: Carnivores are bouncing back, and more

This is more than feel-good news – it's where the world is making concrete progress. A roundup of positive stories to end your week.

Reuters/File
In northern England, a badger walks on the forest floor in July 2011.

Britain

British wildlife populations have seen a resurgence. Extinction seemed inevitable for some of Britain’s carnivorous species in the 1970s because of factors including pollution, habitat destruction, and hunting. Since then, conservation efforts have contributed to population growth among carnivores, but each species’ story has been different. Banning pesticides and outlawing hunting led to the resurgence of otter populations, whereas warmer winters have helped badgers survive and raise more cubs. Researchers say the stability of carnivore populations depends on gamekeepers’ willingness to coexist with them. (The Guardian)

Afghanistan

A wrestling club that was bombed by the Islamic State is back and stronger than ever. The Maiwand Wrestling Club in Kabul was known as an institution responsible for producing champions. But last September, dozens of club members were killed in a bombing that also left the building in ruins. After the global wrestling community heard reports of the bombing, enough money was raised to rebuild the Maiwand club, with some to spare to support other Afghan wrestling clubs. Now the Maiwand club hosts up to 400 wrestlers a day and has become a place for survivors to come together. (The New York Times)

United States

Binge drinking for teenagers is at a record low. Underage drinking in the U.S. has been on the decline for the past three decades, thanks to educational initiatives. Survey data from 2018 show binge drinking is at its lowest rate since the survey began 27 years ago. And while vaping among teens has recently spiked, alcohol consumption began declining before vaping among young people became popular. That means it’s unlikely that vaping has been taken up as a substitute for alcohol consumption. (Quartz)

Kenya

Farmers are prospering by growing a native “money tree.” Prolonged drought in Kenya has sent many farmers into poverty. Soil quality has also worsened over time from deforestation and erosion. To improve the soil and help crops grow, farmers are planting the Melia volkensii tree in their fields. M. volkensii is drought-resistant, its fallen leaves replenish the ground’s nutrients, and shade from the tree allows other crops to thrive. Farmers can also sell the tree’s timber for quick cash. (Reuters)

Ben Curtis/AP/File
A worker pats the soil after planting and watering a seedling of the melia volkensii tree in November 2012.

India

A new bridge in India will benefit millions. The government has finalized plans to build the Dhubri-Phulbari bridge, which will be the country’s longest. It will cross the Brahmaputra River, substantially cutting travel time for commuters and improving accessibility. Until now, the fastest way to cross the river was by motorboat, requiring three hours of travel time. The journey was sometimes impossible during the rainy season. The Dhubri-Phulbari bridge will connect communities, increase trade opportunities, and foster economic development. However, the building site is also home to an endangered species of river dolphins. Plans have been made to monitor the dolphins’ whereabouts throughout construction to ensure the population’s safety. (The Print)

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