Points of Progress: Refugees are getting a chance to shine, and more

Michael D. Kock/AP
The elephant Niassa game reserve in Mozambique, photographed on June 15, contains more land than all of Switzerland. The elephant population is growing thanks to conservation efforts.

Mozambique

An elephant wildlife reserve in Mozambique celebrated a year of zero poaching. Elephant poaching has remained a persistent problem across Africa, with one-fifth of the elephant population slaughtered for their ivory tusks over the past 10 years. The reserve in Mozambique was struggling against poachers when the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society started providing helicopters that work with ground forces to help with monitoring. Elephant numbers have increased by 250 since collaboration with WCS began two years ago. Meanwhile in Botswana, trophy hunting has resumed this year after a controversial decision by the new president to lift the ban. (Fox)

Italy

Why We Wrote This

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

“Refugees Got Talent” is shining a spotlight on refugees in a different way. This international talent show is the first of its kind. It was developed by the United Nations and other aid groups to offer viewers an alternative to the nameless faces of refugees seen in the media. Dance, poetry, and singing are some of the ways refugees display the skills they have to offer. Although the series was filmed in Italy, the country has closed its ports to rescue vessels run by aid groups. (The Guardian)

Mexico

A program in Mexico is encouraging children to pursue scientific solutions to social issues. A study found that almost half of Mexican students do not have a basic understanding of science. Programa Adopte un Talento engages children with science recreationally through a series of workshops and mentorship with scientists. Among the outcomes: One 12-year-old in the program invented an anti-graffiti coating for walls derived from a cactus plant. (El Universal)

United States

Rescue operations are getting a boost from GPS innovations. A software engineer developed a program eight years ago that helps search and rescue teams, which rely heavily on large numbers of volunteers, to track areas that have already been checked, greatly improving efficiency. The program has gained traction in recent months among search teams. The high-profile rescue of a hiker lost in the Hawaiian wilderness for 17 days was aided by this software. (The Associated Press)

Bryan Berkowitz/Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Rescue leaders use mapping technology to locate Amanda Eller in Maui on May 25. Tech innovations have improved accuracy in search and rescue operations.

Sri Lanka

Mangrove trees are being saved by the country’s war widows. Sri Lanka’s 25-year civil war left many widows with the task of generating income to care for their families. Women have turned to prawn fishing. But rapid loss of mangrove forests – the submerged tree roots provide prawn habitat – is now threatening their livelihood. To reverse this destruction, the Sudeesa initiative employs 15,000 women to replant and restore mangrove forests while providing microloans that enable them to set up their own business ventures. Women also receive leadership training and visit communities to educate others about the importance of mangrove restoration. (Deutsche Welle)

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