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Stories by John R. Platt

Sustainability

Toxicomania: Poisonous Invasive Plant Protects Australian Lizards from Poisonous Invasive Cane Toads

Australia has a long history of invasive species that have damaged the island nation's ecology and driven several species into extinction. The most famous example, of course, is the cane toad ( Rhinella marina ), which was introduced by Australia in 1935 in an attempt to control sugar cane pests, but which instead proved devastating to many species of frogs, turtles, and even salt-water crocodiles.Another invasive species plaguing Australia is a beautiful flowering plant known as mother-of-millions ( Bryophyllum spp .)...

February 28, 2012 — John R. Platt
Sustainability

Meet the Pangolin, Another Animal Threatened by Traditional Asian Medicine

In May 2011 Indonesian customs officials inspecting a shipment of fish and turtle meat bound for Vietnam came across a gruesome discovery: 5.9 metric tons of pangolin meat and another 790 kilograms of pangolin scales hidden within the cargo.It was just one of the nearly four dozen illegal pangolin shipments seized in Indonesia, Vietnam, India, China and other countries in 2011...

February 16, 2012 — John R. Platt
Sustainability

Manta Rays Endangered by Sudden Demand from Chinese Medicine

Demand for the gills of manta and mobula rays has risen dramatically in the past 10 years for use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), even though they were not historically used for this purpose, a team of researchers from the conservation organizations Shark Savers and WildAid has discovered."We first came across manta and mobula ray gills in Asian markets several years ago, and followed the trail to the dried seafood markets of southern China," Manta Ray of Hope Project lead investigator Paul Hilton said in a prepared statement (pdf) released on January 14...

January 17, 2012 — John R. Platt
Sustainability

Caught on Video: Endangered Pygmy Hippo Seen Slipping through Nighttime Liberia

Scientists have captured video images of a wild pygmy hippopotamus ( Choeropsis liberiensis ), a rare and elusive nocturnal species that has rarely been observed in its natural habitat in Liberia.Western scientists and zookeepers have been aware of the pygmy hippopotamus for more than a century, and the species breeds well in captivity, but very little is known about its behavior in its native forest habitats.The brief video, which you can see below, shows just a few fleeting seconds of a pygmy hippo as it slips between the underbrush in Liberia's Sapo National Park...

December 20, 2011 — John R. Platt
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