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Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

Amazon forest destruction accelerates

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 04 Aug 2011

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon accelerated in June, with more than 300 square kilometers destroyed, a 17 percent increase over the previous month, government researchers said Tuesday.

Massive deforestation has made Brazil one of […]

Unknown creatures need extra protection

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 18 May 2011

One in three of all types of amphibians may yet to be found by scientists and remote tropical forests should get extra protection as the likely homes of such “unknown” creatures, a study says.

Colombian toad with vibrant red eyes - 1 of 3 recent discoveries of amphibian

Despite centuries of research by biologists, the report estimated that 3050 types of amphibians — a group that includes frogs, toads, salamanders and newts — were still to be described, compared to 6296 species known to science.

Likewise, it estimated that at least 160 types of land mammals were yet to be found, about 3% of a known total of 5398 ranging from elephants to tiny shrews.

“Most of these species are likely to be found in tropical forests,” Xingli Giam, of Princeton University in the United States and lead author of the report, told Reuters. The Amazon, the Congo basin and Papua island were among likely sites.

The study estimated the number of unknown species from factors including past rates of discovery of new animals and the extent of unexplored habitats. As a rule, creatures found in recent years tended to be ever rarer, limited to small ranges.

“Many of the undescribed species…are probably in danger of extinction and could well disappear before they are discovered,” according to the study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B by experts in the United States, Mexico and Singapore.

They urged conservation policies to target the least-disturbed tropical forests — few of which were now set aside as formal protected areas. Continue reading Unknown creatures need extra protection

Third drought hits Amazon

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 24 November 2010

What could be the worst drought on record has hit the Amazon region, and is the third extreme drought in the last 12 years.

The Rio Negro reached an all time low in […]

Severe drought on Amazon tributary

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 26 October 2010

A severe drought has dropped water levels on a major Amazon tributary to their lowest point since officials began keeping records more than a century ago, the government reported on Monday, cutting off dozens of communities who depend on the river for work and transportation.

A municipal worker cleans up garbage left behind by the receding Rio Negro river

Floating homes along the Rio Negro now rest on muddy flats, and locals have had to modify boats to run in shallower waters in a region without roads. Some riverbanks have caved in, although no injuries have been reported. Enormous fields of trash and other debris have been revealed by the disappearing waters.

The drought is hurting fishing, cattle, agriculture and other businesses, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency in nearly 40 municipalities. Amazonas state officials said more than 60 000 families have been affected by the drought.

The government has distributed about 600 tons of food, water and medicine, much of it by helicopter to isolated villages.

“It is a difficult situation for the community,” resident Josimar Peixoto told Globo TV. “The families are struggling here.”

The government’s geological service said on Monday that the Rio Negro was measured at a depth of 13.63m the previous day near the jungle city of Manaus, the lowest since a measuring system was implemented in 1902.

Manaus, in northern Brazil, is where the Rio Negro is at its deepest and where it merges with the Amazon River – meaning some places upstream are nearly completely dry.

The previous low was 13.64m, recorded in 1963. Continue reading Severe drought on Amazon tributary

Deforestation can trigger malaria epidemic

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 17 June 2010

Logging of tropical forests can boost the incidence of malaria in the surrounding area by nearly 50 percent, according to new research tracking deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon.

Anopheles darlingi mosquito

The study examined 2006 data tracking malaria rates in 54 Brazilian health districts and high-definition satellite imagery showing the extent of logging of nearby forests.

“It appears that deforestation is one of the initial ecological factors that can trigger a malaria epidemic,” said Sarah Olson, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the Nelson Institute, Centre for Sustainability and the Global Environment.

The clearing of tropical forests can increase malaria rates because it creates conditions that are favourable for the Anopheles darlingi mosquito, the primary malaria carrier in the Amazon, according to Olson.

“The deforested landscape, with more open spaces and partially sunlit pools of water, appears to provide ideal habitat for this mosquito,” she said, noting that the Anopheles darlingi mosquito is even known to displace other mosquitoes that are less likely to transmit malaria.

The research, published Wednesday in the online issue of the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, shows that relatively small changes to the forest can have major effects on the health of the local population. Continue reading Deforestation can trigger malaria epidemic