Giraffes Might Be Declared an Endangered Species

iStock.com/ZU_09
iStock.com/ZU_09

It’s been a rough few decades for giraffes. Native to Africa, these long-necked animals are the tallest to dwell on land, stretching up to 18 feet in height. But such a spectacular sight has become less and less common, as their populations have dwindled by nearly 40 percent since 1985. Roughly 97,000 giraffes remain in the wild—a number that might soon prompt the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to officially declare them an endangered species.

According to Smithsonian.com, the giraffe population has been under duress for some time. Encroachment from developed areas has reduced their habitable environment, and poachers have also contributed to their shrinking numbers. Some hunters kill the animal for meat, while others take the tail, which is perceived in some cultures as a status symbol. The leather is also used in fashion and accessories. In 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which administers a world list of endangered species, put them at Vulnerable status, signaling a need to minimize their threats.

In 2017, the Fish and Wildlife Service received a petition, signed by numerous environmental groups and activists, asking to investigate the animals' status. Now, the agency has agreed to evaluate the giraffe and consider action. The review process could last up to 12 months. If giraffes receive the endangered species classification, conservationists would receive federal funding to help curb incentives to kill the animals, including the import of its body parts for sale and distribution. Land encroachment is more difficult to monitor and would involve interfering in land deals and development.

Why hasn’t their plight been more publicized? One theory is that giraffes are common sights in zoos, leading to a widespread belief they’re still thriving. Activists are also concerned the review process by the Fish and Wildlife Service could take longer than anticipated and have urged policymakers to act quickly. In a statement, Natural Resources Defense Council spokesperson Elly Pepper said that “it’s time for the federal government to stick its neck out” for the species.

[h/t Smithsonian.com]

This Gorgeous Vintage Edition of Clue Sets the Perfect Mood for a Murder Mystery

WS Game Company
WS Game Company

Everyone should have a few good board games lying around the house for official game nights with family and friends and to kill some time on the occasional rainy day. But if your collection leaves a lot to be desired, you can class-up your selection with this great deal on the Vintage Bookshelf Edition of Clue for $40.

A brief history of Clue

'Clue' Vintage Bookshelf Edition.
WS Game Company.

Originally titled Murder!, Clue was created by a musician named Anthony Pratt in Birmingham, England, in 1943, and he filed a patent for it in 1944. He sold the game to Waddington's in the UK a few years later, and they changed the name to Cluedo in 1949 (that name was a mix between the words clue and Ludo, which was a 19th-century game.) That same year, the game was licensed to Parker Brothers in the United States, where it was published as Clue. Since then, there have been numerous special editions and spinoffs of the original game, not to mention books and a television series based on it. Most notably, though, was the cult classic 1985 film Clue, which featured Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, and Lesley Ann Warren.

As you probably know, every game of Clue begins with the revelation of a murder. The object of the game is to be the first person to deduce who did it, with what weapon, and where. To achieve that end, each player assumes the role of one of the suspects and moves strategically around the board collecting clues.

With its emphasis on logic and critical thinking—in addition to some old-fashioned luck—Clue is a masterpiece that has stood the test of time and evolved with each decade, with special versions of the game hitting shelves recently based on The Office, Rick and Morty, and Star Wars.

Clue Vintage Bookshelf Edition

'Clue' Vintage Library Edition.
WS Game Company

The Vintage Bookshelf Edition of Clue is the work of the WS Game Company, a licensee of Hasbro, and all the design elements are inspired by the aesthetic of the 1949 original. The game features a vintage-looking game board, cards, wood movers, die-cast weapons, six pencils, an ivory-colored die, an envelope, and a pad of “detective notes.” And, of course, everything folds up and stores inside a beautiful cloth-bound book box that you can store right on the shelf in your living room.

Clue Vintage Bookshelf Edition is a limited-release item, and right now you can get it for $40.

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How to Watch the Great Smoky Mountains' Synchronous Fireflies From Home

QEYES/iStock via Getty Images
QEYES/iStock via Getty Images

Each June, thousands of synchronous fireflies put on a stunning light show in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. People won't be able to view the spectacle in person this year due to the COVID-19 crisis, but for the fireflies, it will be business as usual. As CarolinaCoastOnline reports, the nonprofit Discover Life in America found a safe way to share the event with as many people as possible by streaming it online.

The fireflies of Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains are the only fireflies in the Western Hemisphere that flash in sync. For two weeks in June, the males above ground blink for the females on the forest floor below, creating a rhythmic, hypnotic display.

In a typical year, thousands of people would gather to witness the phenomenon, but in April 2020, Great Smoky Mountains National Park canceled the event after determining that social distancing would be impossible. The synchronous fireflies are so popular that the park has to distribute tickets for shuttle access by lottery. Whether you had plans to see the show this year or you're hearing about it for the first time, it's now easy to view it from home.

Discover Life in America, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting biological diversity, streamed its virtual firefly-watching event to YouTube on Monday, June 1. After an introduction explaining the science behind the insect's behavior, the feed cuts to footage of the Great Smoky Mountains at night. The fireflies can be seen flashing over a stream, a hiking trail, and an open field in the park. There's even a clip that shows the insects performing the mating ritual as a thunderstorm brews in the background. You can watch the full video below.

If you're looking to relax with more wildlife content, check out these animal webcams you can watch right now.

[h/t CarolinaCoastOnline]