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Chimpanzees May Self-Medicate With Plants, Using the Forest as a Pharmacy

Chimpanzees may be using the forest like their own personal pharmacy. When they’re sick, the primates appear to seek out and eat plants with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, according to new research.

Observers have long suspected that chimpanzees use plants to self-medicate. Now, a new paper published last week in the journal PLOS ONE offers more evidence in support of this idea.

Researchers followed two groups of wild chimpanzees through Uganda’s Budongo Forest for eight months. They recorded what the animals ate, as well as whether they were sick—which they determined by checking their feces for parasites, testing their urine for elevated levels of immune cells and looking for wounds.

Shrinking Forests, Emerging Diseases

Dona Dora’s man is away from home a lot more these days. It didn’t used to be like that.

He leaves early, sometimes on foot, but increasingly on his bicycle, and heads into the forests surrounding Belém, the capital of Brazil’s Para province. He keeps his eyes open especially for five medicinal plants that are always in demand — sucuúba (Himatanthus sucuuba), copaíba (Copaifera spp.), andiroba (Carapa guianensis), barbatimão (Stryphnodendron spp.) and pãu d’arco (Tabebuia avellanedae).

Fifteen years earlier, he would have found all five within hours and been back for lunch, but times have changed. These days, medicinal forest plants in high demand are becoming harder to find as forests that have stood strong for millennia are cleared to make way for grazing pastures for millions of cattle owned by meat companies, or to grow soybeans to feed cattle and poultry.

Now, Dona Dora’s man can spend a whole day and not find more than a few plants. It might be late at night before he gets back home.

What is a Healthy Forest?

Healthy forests are beneficial for people and wildlife.

When forests are healthy, they produce enough food, water and shelter to support local wildlife, clean the air, reduce erosion into nearby streams and lakes, and are less susceptible to large-scale high-severity wildfires.

But what does a healthy forest look like?

Japanese “Forest Medicine” – Using Nature to Heal Yourself

The fountain of youth is a forest. Trees cast off years and grant health and cheer, or so transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson claimed in his 1836 essay “Nature.” ”In the woods,” he wrote, “I feel that nothing can befall me [. . .] which nature cannot repair.”

Indeed, research shows that trees really do have healing powers. For one thing, they release antimicrobial essential oils, called phytoncides, that protect trees from germs and have a host of health benefits for people.

Untold Secrets of Healing Forests

Tens of thousands of unexplored forest plants may hold the key to new therapeutic drugs for curing a planet rocked by pandemics and new diseases.

They called it Project 523 after its start date, 23 May, 1967. Back then, it was classified as a top-secret state mission, blessed by Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party. The Vietnam War was in full swing, and China’s ally Ho Chi Minh, the Prime Minister of North Vietnam, was losing large numbers of soldiers to malaria. He petitioned China to help find a cure for it.

About 600 scientists, including military personnel, scientists and practitioners of Western and traditional Chinese medicine, were convened and divided into three teams: one for conducting clinical studies, one for looking into traditional Chinese medicine and the third for developing synthetic compounds. Among their goals was a cure for chloroquine-resistant malaria.

Deforestation 101

Forests cover about 30% of the planet, but deforestation is clearing these essential habitats on a massive scale. What is deforestation? Find out the causes, effects, and solutions to deforestation.

Deforestation’s Hidden Toll: Amplifying Disease Risk Worldwide

In the last couple of decades, the lush rainforest around the remote village of Meliandou in the heart of Guinea has become patchier. Animals, like bats, saw their habitats dwindle and in a quest for survival, they sought refuge in closer proximity to human environments, making the boundaries between species thinner. A hollowed-out tree in the middle of the village became home to a colony of bats.

About 50 meters from the same tree, in the heart of Meliandou, a two-year-old boy named Emile lived with his family. In a matter of days, Emile fell ill with an unknown virus, developed a high fever, and died. Soon the same virus, that scientists now believe Emile got from the bats, took the lives of his sister, mother, and grandmother. The village, surrounded by a ring of forest, unexpectedly became the epicenter of a devastating outbreak that would leave an indelible mark.

Sebastião Salgado’s Monochromatic Odyssey

Sebastião Salgado, known for his astonishing monochrome images that capture the raw core of human existence and the marvels of nature, has made an enduring impact on the realm of photography.

Born on February 8, 1944, in Aimorés, Brazil, Salgado’s journey towards becoming a renowned photographer was not a straightforward one. Initially, he pursued a career in economics and obtained a master’s degree in the field. However, his wife Lélia Wanick Salgado bought a Pentax Spotmatic II camera and once Sebastião picked it up – his life was never the same.

Trillion Trees: Communities Working to Restore Forests

In 2019, Trillion Trees partner The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) received support from Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees, to restore tree cover to Tanzania’s Southern Highlands.  Working in collaboration with district council and community-based organizations, the project aims to restore degraded areas, protect water catchments and create community woodlots, with the ambition of planting 900,000 new trees over two years, making a lasting difference for people, nature and the climate.

Guardians of the Forest

In September 2018, indigenous and local community leaders from Latin America and Indonesia, the Guardians of the Forest, travelled to California with a mission to …