Conservation News

Overlooked and unloved: how a global project could unlock the world of parasites

The tiny freeloaders may be considered disgusting by many but new research shows they are crucial in shaping ecosystems

The leech craze of the 1800s put parasites on the map. Collectors (usually women and sometimes old horses) would stand in ponds waiting for medicinal leeches to come and suck their blood. They were then picked off and sold for bloodletting.

The parasites were so popular that by the early 1900s they were nearly extinct, and there was a coordinated effort to save them. Even so, the European medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis, has been labelled as near threatened on the IUCN red list since 1996, and remains one of the few parasites with formal protections.

People assume because parasites are gross, there is no interest. Actually, it's quite the opposite

Related: Counting the species: how DNA barcoding is rewriting the book of life

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Exit through the gift shop as Highgate cemetery woos death tourists

What would Marx say? Visitor centre and cafe planned for historic London burial ground to capitalise on growing public appetite for genealogy while raising vital funds for upkeep

It’s a development that its most famous occupant might have predicted, even if it would have him spinning in his well-visited grave.

North London’s Highgate cemetery, final resting place of Karl Marx, is to undergo a makeover to enhance its visitor experience. In addition to a spot of landscaping, it will have an exhibition space, a separate gift shop and possibly a cafe.

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Bristol zoo to leave its city site after 185 years amid Covid crisis

Clifton plot to be sold off and zoo will relocate to its Wild Place Project in South Gloucestershire

The world’s oldest surviving provincial zoo is being relocated from the prime location in Bristol that has been its home for almost two centuries as a result of the financial shock of the coronavirus crisis.

Bristol Zoo Gardens, a 12-acre plot in the Clifton area of the city, is to be sold off and animals and staff moved to its satellite Wild Place Project site across the border in South Gloucestershire.

Related: The mystery of Bristol's soaring Covid-19 infection rate

Related: Bristol zoo warns it may never recover from coronavirus impact

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Key crossbench senators say they won't support bid to change Australia's environment laws

The Coalition plan to hand development approval powers to the states hits a further roadblock after Senate inquiry

A Morrison government plan to change Australia’s environment laws to allow development approval powers to be handed to the states has hit a further roadblock, with three key crossbench senators saying in a report they will not support them.

The crossbenchers’ opposition means that, together with Labor and the Greens, the Morrison government’s laws would be voted down in the Senate. But one crossbench senator told Guardian Australia he could change his mind once he had seen details in documents that the government has so far withheld.

Related: 'Recipe for extinction': why Australia's rush to change environment laws is sparking widespread concern

Related: Coalition prepared transfer of environmental powers to states months before EPBC review reported

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Lost species day: celebrities to champion threatened wildlife

Amitav Ghosh, Margaret Atwood and Emma Thompson are among 20 activists and cultural figures to speak at Writers Rebel event

Writers and activists including Emma Thompson, Margaret Atwood and Amitav Ghosh are to speak about their favourite endangered animals as part of a remembrance day for lost species.

The snow leopard, pangolin and vaquita porpoise are among the endangered animals that will be championed by participants at the free online event, On the Brink, organised by Writers Rebel, which is part of Extinction Rebellion.

The sixth mass extinction in geological history has not only begun but is accelerating, according to some scientists, who warn that it may be a tipping point for the collapse of civilisation.

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