Points of Progress: Hawaii’s state bird makes a comeback, and more

Staff
Places where the world saw progress, for the April 27 & May 4, 2020 Monitor Weekly.

1. United States

Hawaii’s state bird, the nene (pronounced nay-nay), once on the brink of extinction, has made a comeback. The state’s only native goose numbered just 30 in the 1960s. With protection under the Endangered Species Act, along with captive breeding and rigorous habitat restoration, the number of nene rose to more than 3,000 in 2019. The official announcement downlisting the nene from endangered to threatened in December 2019 marks a tremendous achievement of Hawaii’s conservation community. It took 60 years of collaborative work and recovery efforts to bring back the endangered species. State officials and conservationists continue to work to keep the species protected in “the endangered species capital of the world.” (The Los Angeles Times, Hawaii Magazine)

NHPA/Photoshot/Newscom
A captive breeding program that lasted 60 years has brought Hawaii’s state bird, the nene, back from the brink of extinction.

2. Senegal

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.

The African manatee, classified as a vulnerable species, is receiving unprecedented support. From creating an aquatic reserve in 2014 – where 100 manatees live now – to extending the conservation work into other parts of Africa, researchers and experts are making headway in their manatee conservation efforts. African manatees, estimated to be around 10,000 in number spread across 21 African countries, face many threats, including poaching and entrapment in dams. The first African manatee symposium, scheduled for April but postponed due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, would have drawn 50 manatee conservationists from nine African countries and from Florida, Brazil, and Malaysia. (The Guardian, Forbes)

3. Pakistan

Pakistan has passed the country’s first law against child abuse, called the Zainab Alert Law. It comes into effect two years after Zainab Ansari, variously reported as 6 or 7 years old, was kidnapped, raped, and murdered, which sparked a nationwide outcry. The law includes measures such as the establishment of a designated helpline and an agency dedicated to issuing missing child alerts. More significantly, it requires police to register cases within two hours of parents reporting their child missing. Nearly 10 cases of abused children are reported daily, with girls being disproportionately represented. President Arif Alvi signed the bill into law on March 19, calling it an excellent initiative to fast-track missing child cases by using technology. (The Guardian, GeoTV)

B.K. Bangash/AP/File
Mohammed Amin holds a picture of his daughter, whose abduction spurred a law against child abuse.

4. Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan has adopted the country’s first gender equality law. The law, which received support from the USAID Judicial Reform in Uzbekistan program, covers all areas of life – political, economic, educational, familial – where gender discrimination is likely to occur. In accordance with the law, any person has the right to take a gender discrimination case to court. Although the nation’s constitution guarantees equal rights, gender-based discrimination is still firmly entrenched. But there is political will to change the status quo. Since 2016, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has been ushering in fundamental policy changes, including changes related to women’s rights. (USAID, UZDaily)

5. Tanzania

The government of Tanzania issued a public statement on April 6 in favor of ensuring access to education for pregnant girls. Pregnant girls and teenage mothers have been banned from state schools since 1961. The announcement is tied to approval of a $500 million World Bank education loan to Tanzania, which had been delayed amid concerns over the country’s treatment of pregnant teens. Tanzania, the largest country in East Africa, has one of the world’s highest teen pregnancy rates, partly due to sexual violence and poverty; about 5,500 pregnant girls drop out of school each year. The World Bank-funded project will allow pregnant students to attend alternative education centers for their exams and later return to state schools. Evidence suggests that increasing access to secondary education for girls is likely to lead to stronger economic growth and lower fertility rates. (Thomson Reuters Foundation, The World Bank)

Worldwide

Marine life could be restored by 2050, says a new scientific review published in the journal Nature. From oyster bed restoration projects to the increase in marine protected areas, conservation efforts are growing worldwide. Numbers of previously endangered populations are also rebounding, such as humpback whales, Canadian sea otters, elephant seals in the United States, and green turtles in Japan. Global fishing is becoming more sustainable. The destruction of seagrass meadows and mangroves, natural barriers against rising seas, is almost at a halt. Still, scientists emphasize the need for tough regulations to counter effects of climate change as ocean pollution and overfishing remain challenges in many parts of the world. (The Guardian, Nature)

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