The world's oldest known living black rhino has died at age 57.
"Records show that Fausta lived longe[r] than any rhino in the world and survived in the Ngorongoro, free-ranging, for more than 54 years," Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority Conservation Commissioner Dr. Freddy Manongi said in a Facebook post Saturday announcing the death.
Fausta was first discovered in the crater by a scientist from the University of Dar Es Salaam in 1965 when she was between three and four years old. She wandered freely in the crater for most of her life and never had calves, something that might have contributed to her longevity, BBC News reported.
Rhinos typically only live for between 37 and 43 years in the wild, and up to 50 years in captivity. Fausta, however, survived in the wild until she was 54, when she was brought to a sanctuary because she suffered from poor eyesight and fell prey to hyenas.
"Vicious animals, especially hyenas, started attacking her and she received very serious sores," Manongi told BBC Swahili. "By 2016, we had to get her out of the wild and put her in special care."
Fausta's life has covered a tumultuous time for black rhinos. Their population plummeted by 98 percent between 1960 and 1995 to less than 2,500, mostly due to the actions of European hunters and settlers in Africa. Their numbers have since doubled to around 5,000, but they are still considered a critically endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. They are now primarily threatened by poaching and habitat loss.
Fausta's death comes the month after Sana, the oldest white rhino in captivity, died in France at age 55, CNN reported.
But this month has also brought joyful news to rhino conservationists. Manongi told BBC News that another rhino was born on the same day that Fausta died. And, a few days earlier, the Potter Park Zoo in Michigan announced the first birth of a black rhino calf in its 100-year history.
However, 2019 was a sad year for another rhino species, the Sumatran rhino. The species became extinct in Malaysia in November when Iman, the last female, died in captivity. There are now only around 80 Sumatran rhinos left in Indonesia.There are currently five species of rhino, according to Save the Rhino. Black and white rhinos are native to Africa, while Sumatran and Javan rhinos live in Indonesia and greater one-horned rhinos live in India and Nepal.
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
By Jewel Fraser
Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.