(TMU) — The United States of America is usually filled with gorgeous places to visit for domestic sightseers and international tourists alike, with the country’s glorious national parks topping the list for most travelers’ destinations.
Ranking at the top is Yosemite National Park. With its dazzling 1,189 sq. mile (3,080 sq. km.) park teeming with massive waterfalls, unique ecological zones, and over 800 miles of trails nestled in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, the park is one of the most unique and beautiful places in the Western hemisphere.
However, during the spring and summer, Yosemite can often resemble any other tourist trap. With parking lots crammed with buses and cars, trails spilling over with swarms of hikers, and the park’s scenic majesty cluttered with snap-happy selfie-takers, it’s often anything but the idyllic escape from society that you would expect.
But with the coronavirus shutting down most national parks, some of the most amazing displays of Mother Nature have become off-limits to us, including Yosemite—that is, unless we’re willing to settle for the webcams scattered across the enormous park.
However, the closure has also resulted in much of the park’s landscape reverting back to its natural state.
In a video recently shared by Yosemite National Park, the park can be seen entirely free of tourists. The iconic park is instead teeming with native residents living their lives as if they never encountered us pesky humans.
Young deer can be seen strolling along normally car-choked roads in a carefree manner, coyotes peacefully hang out, and bobcats slink about in the underbrush while the sound of cascading waterfalls and babbling brooks can be heard in the background.
While so much has changed for humans in recent weeks, it's reassuring to see that nature carries on as it always has. Spring seems to be slowly creeping into the valley, the sun finally emerging after a week or two of rain and snow. Waterfalls are gradually picking up momentum, and wildlife is becoming more active, perhaps enjoying having the park mostly to themselves. Relax with us for a moment as we share a peek into Yosemite Valley during the current park closure.
Posted by Yosemite National Park on Wednesday, April 1, 2020
The video’s post reads:
“While so much has changed for humans in recent weeks, it’s reassuring to see that nature carries on as it always has.
Spring seems to be slowly creeping into the valley, the sun finally emerging after a week or two of rain and snow. Waterfalls are gradually picking up momentum, and wildlife is becoming more active, perhaps enjoying having the park mostly to themselves. Relax with us for a moment as we share a peek into Yosemite Valley during the current park closure.”
Yosemite was one of the first parks to be shut down as local health authorities urgently advised the measure to be taken to slow the CoViD-19 pandemic. From March 20 onwards, the few humans residing on the park have been its essential rangers and staffers.
Before parks were subject to lockdown, many of them offered discounted entry fees so that people could exercise and enjoy the park while maintaining their safe social distance from one another. Health officials soon realized that with most other recreational spaces being closed, the crowds who flocked to the park would be a massive public health liability resulting in the park’s indefinite closure.
Of course, the park won’t always remain closed—nor would anyone want that to be the case. The foundations for the National Park system were laid in the early 20th century by President Theodore Roosevelt, who was concerned about the creeping over-exploitation of the natural resources of North America, eradication of its wildlife, and disappearance of its natural beauty. During his presidency, Roosevelt established 230 million acres of public land that was meant to be conserved for public use and enjoyment.
Minks Infected With Mutated Covid “Rise From Their Graves” After Being Killed in Mass Culling
If you thought that this year couldn’t get any weirder, now we can add covid infected minks rising from their graves to the list of strange 2020 happenings. The minks that appeared to rise from the dead had been infected with a mutated strain of COVID-19 in Denmark.
A Danish police spokesman, Thomas Kristensen, urged local residents to stay calm, and explained that these minks are not actually zombies. Kristensen said that gasses in the decay process sometimes cause the bodies to move.
“As the bodies decay, gases can be formed. This causes the whole thing to expand a little. In this way, in the worst cases, the mink get pushed out of the ground,” Kristensen said, according to the Guardian.
Another issue is the fact that the animals were placed in shallow graves because the process was rushed. The graves were just over three feet deep, which allowed some witnesses to see the movement. Now officials are planning to order the graves to be dug twice as deep.
“This is a natural process. Unfortunately, one metre of soil is not just one metre of soil –it depends on what type of soil it is. The problem is that the sandy soil in West Jutland is too light. So we have had to lay more soil on top,” Kristensen said.
Regardless of the scientific explanation, the incident has sparked plenty of conversation on social media.
Local residents shared photos and videos of the bodies coming out of the ground to social media with captions like “the year of the zombie mutant killer mink” and “run … The mink are coming for you.”
Kristensen warned that anyone who might see a shallow mink grave should stay away because there is still a small risk of infection. Even though the minks had been disinfected before being buried, there is still a chance that the virus can be passed on to a person.
He said that it could be possible that “small quantities of bacteria may still be trapped in their fur” adding that it is “never healthy to get close to dead animals, so therefore this is of course something to stay away from.”
Sadly, the country plans to kill all 15 million minks that live in the country. The country is reportedly responsible for producing 40% of the world’s mink fur. The country’s mink farmers have culled more than 10 million mink so far, according to the latest numbers.
The mink burial grounds will also be monitored around the clock, and they are working to put a fence up around the area. Still, despite these security measures, some officials are concerned that the burial grounds are too close to local water sources, which could potentially put the water supply at risk. Some officials, such as two mayors in the region, are suggesting that the corpses of the minks be burned.
As of Wednesday, Denmark has reported more than 74,000 COVID-19 cases and 800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
World’s Only White Giraffe Gets GPS Tracker After Poachers Killed His Family
The only known white giraffe in the world has been fitted with a tracking device to keep poachers away after its entire family was killed.
The unique creature has an extremely rare genetic trait known as leucism, which results in its white color. Unlike albinism, the loss of pigmentation is partial. However, the unusual coloration makes the animal desirable to unscrupulous poachers seeking a rare find in the wilderness.
The giraffe is currently staying at the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy in southeast Kenya. Earlier this month, conservationists fitted one of his horns with a GPS tracking device to ensure its survival, reports the BBC.
Conservationists say that the giraffe is the last of its kind that exists in the world, and have expressed concern that poachers could come to kill him after his two family members were killed in March.
The two relatives, a female and a seven-month-old calf with similar white skin, were found dead in a conservation zone in Garissa County in northeast Kenya, a large unfenced area where the male giraffe resides.
The three white giraffes had been “an immense source of pride in the Ishaqbini community” and garnered international attention over the years, the trust said in a Tuesday statement.
“The giraffe’s grazing range has been blessed with good rains in the recent past and the abundant vegetation bodes well for the future of the white male,” said Mohammed Ahmednoor, the manager of the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy.
The nonprofit group added that the tracking device would allow conservationists to see hourly updates on the whereabouts of the giraffe, granting rangers the ability to “keep the unique animal safe from poachers.”
The Kenya Wildlife Society, the main conservationist group overseeing the plight of wild animals in the eastern African nation, said that it was happy to assist any efforts on the ground to safeguard “unique wildlife like the only known white giraffe.”
The extremely rare creature was first spotted in March 2016, roughly two months after a reported sighting in neighboring Tanzania.
White giraffes appeared in world headlines one year later after the mother and her calf were caught on camera at the Garissa County conservancy.
Giraffes are native to over 15 African countries and are the world’s tallest mammals, reaching heights exceeding 18 feet. They primarily reside in savanna and woodland habitats, and subsist on a diet that includes flowers, fruits, leaves, and stems.
However, giraffes are coveted by poachers for their meat, skin, and body parts.
Around 40 percent of the giraffe population has been lost in the last 30 years, with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) blaming poaching and wildlife tracking for the precipitous decline. Fortunately, many giraffe populations enjoy various degrees of legal protection and are the focus of conservation efforts in their range states.
There are over 68,000 giraffes across the world, according to the foundation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List classifies the species as vulnerable, with one of the main threats to the animal coming from poaching as well as habitat loss due to uncontrolled mining and land conversion.
Playful Baby Elephant Caught Eating Sugarcane, Innocently Tries Hiding Behind Narrow Pole
An adorable baby elephant has been captured in photos while trying its best to hide behind a narrow light pole after being caught red-handed feasting upon sugar cane in a farm in Thailand.
The super-cute calf was caught on camera in Chiang Mai, large city in the mountainous north of the country where sugar cane is widely cultivated.
The playful baby elephant apparently believed that it could hide behind the slender light pole after humans approached it, in spite of its body being significantly wider and obviously noticeable.
When locals entered the farmer’s field with flashlights and approached the elephant, the innocent calf apparently attempted to stand perfectly still in the vain hope that it wouldn’t be detected.
The baby elephant’s hijinks, captured perfectly in photos, soon became the source of uproarious laughter for locals, Thai citizens, and countless people online as it made its rounds through social networks.
Some 7,000 elephants live in Thailand, with about half of the creatures living in captivity. The wild mammals live in the deep jungle and legal protections in national parks, but there is also significant friction with humans who gather and cultivate food in rural zones.
As a result, poor people including older rural folk and agricultural workers tend to have a negative outlook about the large mammals and see them as pests, according to a study by Thai foundation Bring the Elephant Home (BTEH). About 70 percent of the plantation owners working for sugar industry giants even wish that elephants would be totally eradicated, compared to 34 percent of households.
Elephants are a protected species in Thailand, and the killing of elephants carries a maximum prison term of up to three years and a 1,000 baht (USD $33) fine.
The elephant is a national animal of the country, and is seen as representing strength, resilience, and loyalty. The creature has held an important place in Thai and Buddhist culture and has been the basis of folklore in the Southeast Asian nation throughout its modern history. Elephants can be found in the clothing, popular culture, and even beer bottles of the country, and were even featured on the national flag until 1917.
Until 1989, elephants played a crucial role as laborers in the country’s commercial logging industries. When the country suspended logging, unemployed elephants could be found meandering across farmland or seeking shelter in highway underpasses.
Modern urban Thai architecture also features the huge mammal, with one example being the iconic Elephant Building, a high-rise that was built in 1997 in Bangkok and is shaped like an elephant.
Elephants in Thailand belong to the Indian elephant subspecies and the family of Asian elephants, which can be distinguished from their African counterparts by their noticeably smaller ears.
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