underthebanyan.wordpress.com

Will the bird that dodged a bullet pay the price of peace?

"Armed conflict is good for preventing deforestation."


The Blue-billed Curassow is a secretive bird that skulks in dark corners of moist forests, foraging for insects and fallen fruit, Mike Shanahan writes.

English zoologist Louis Fraser, encountering this turkey-sized bird in 1850, named it Crax alberti, after Queen Victoria's "illustrious consort, His Royal Highness Prince Albert." It lives only in Colombia's mountainous rain forests.

Less than 200 years later, between 150 and 700 Curassows remain. And this, Shanahan tells us, is where things get crazy.

Because while Colombia's 52-year civil war with the guerrilla movement FARC killed some 270,000 and displaced 7 million more, that violence "also protected large portions of the natural wealth that will be key to Colombia's future."

Shanahan is a ecologist by training (with a doctorate from the University of Leeds) who has spent years working in environmental justice and science. In 2016 he published "Gods, Wasps and Stranglers," a fascinating read about how figs have shaped our world, influence cultures and can help restore our forests.

His story of the Curassow is another good, but bitter, tale.

Print Friendly and PDF
SUBSCRIBE TO EHN'S MUST-READ DAILY NEWSLETTER: ABOVE THE FOLD
Credit: Bhopal Medical Appeal/flickr
Originals

Bhopal nocturne

Last week, the 35th anniversary of the chemical industry's worst accident passed with little notice – and little opportunity for lessons learned.

Keep reading... Show less
(Credit: Petras Gagilas/flickr)
Originals

Federal tests 'dramatically' undercount BPA and other chemical exposures

Tests used by the federal government to determine how much of the chemical bisphenol A is in people's bodies have "dramatically underestimated" our exposure, according to an analysis published today.

Keep reading... Show less
State test results show that Coraopolis has some of the highest levels of PFAS contamination in its drinking water, though it doesn't exceed the federal advisory level. (Photo via Unsplash)
Originals

Coraopolis drinking water shows PFAS contamination among highest in Pennsylvania, but below federal advisory

Editor's note: This story is part of an ongoing collaboration between Environmental Health News and PublicSource on PFAS contamination in Pennsylvania.

Keep reading... Show less
Originals

Fighting pollution and apathy on the Lower Ohio

NEW ALBANY, Ind. — When Jason Flickner was a kid, he built a dam on the creek behind his grandparents' house causing it to flood a neighbor's basement.

Keep reading... Show less
Illustration of the R.E. Burger power plant by David Wilson/Belt Magazine.
Originals

What the petrochemical buildout along the Ohio River means for regional communities and beyond

The R.E. Burger coal-fired power plant's final day ended, appropriately enough, in a cloud of black smoke and dust.

Keep reading... Show less
From our Newsroom

Hidden gotcha in artificial turf installations

With heightened awareness around the country about the health effects of PFAS, calculations for what artificial turf installations actually cost over their full life-time may send a shock through the artificial turf industry

Above The Fold

Daily & Weekly newsletters all free.