Thanks to sustained and successful conservation efforts, Nepal is on track to hit its goal of doubling the country's tiger population by 2022.
A recent tiger survey found that there are an estimated 235 tigers living in the wild in Nepal, up from 121 in 2009. In 2010, representatives from the 13 countries where tigers roam wild met in St. Petersburg for a summit, and they agreed to try to double the world's tiger population within 12 years. It's believed that worldwide, there are only 3,900 tigers in the wild.
The main threats tigers face are poaching and a loss of habitat, and Nepal is showing other countries what can be done when there's an increase in anti-poaching efforts and policing at national parks. Bishwa Nath Oli, secretary of Nepal's ministry of forests and environment, said that "protecting tigers is a top priority of the government," and the country's World Wildlife Federation representative, Dr. Ghana Gurung, declared that "every tiger counts, for Nepal and for the world." Catherine Garcia
They don't call Bob Williams of Long Grove, Iowa, the "Candy Man" for nothing.
Every day, the 94-year-old retired high school teacher and World War II veteran passes out Hershey's chocolate bars to people he meets around town. He got the idea 15 years ago, after reading in the newspaper about random acts of kindness and paying it forward. He has always eaten half a chocolate bar every day, and started buying a few extra to hand out to people he comes across during the day. Over the last 15 years, Williams has given out more than 6,000 candy bars. "You'd think I'd given them keys to a new car," he told the Des Moines Register. "Honest to God, these people were thunderstruck."
Williams keeps his refrigerator stocked with the candy bars and also buys two cases a week. His wife of 69 years, Mary Elizabeth, died six years ago, and he visits her memorial bench every day, where he always hands out a chocolate. Over the years, just three people have declined his gift, he told the Register. "One was a little girl in the store with her dad," he said. "On the way out, I complimented her father for training her right — to suspect old men." Catherine Garcia
As Terry Lauerman can attest, there's no better place to enjoy a cat nap than at an animal rescue.
Lauerman, 75, visits the Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary in Green Bay, Wisconsin, every day. The shelter's founder, Elizabeth Feldhausen, told HuffPost on Thursday that Lauerman walked into the facility about six months ago, armed with a cat brush, and said he wanted to help with grooming. Safe Haven rescues cats with disabilities that otherwise would likely be euthanized, and Lauerman spends about three hours a day there. During each visit, Lauerman will pick up a cat, start brushing it, and then doze off, still holding the feline.
Lauerman will sleep "for about an hour, then he'll wake up and switch cats," Feldhausen said. He knows all the cats, she said, and told her volunteering is "as great of an experience for him as it is for them." On Facebook this week, the shelter wrote a post praising Lauerman, and it immediately went viral. Lauerman said he hopes the attention will result in more donations to Safe Haven, and he also praised his fellow volunteers. Safe Haven is grateful for his dedication, writing on Facebook, "We are so lucky to have a human like Terry." Catherine Garcia
In the middle of a busy Washington, D.C., neighborhood, a garden is growing.
The GroW Garden was launched by George Washington University students in 2009, and in recent years, most of the produce has been donated to Miriam's Kitchen, an organization that aims to end homelessness. Depending on the time of year, the garden is overflowing with tomatoes, zucchini, squash, Swiss chard, and various herbs. Every week, a vegetable delivery — sometimes as much as 40 pounds — is brought straight from the garden to Miriam's Kitchen, where the produce is then given to people living in permanent supportive housing. The rest is prepared for homeless people who eat at a nearby church.
Recently, the students switched things up and started growing vegetables based on what Miriam's Kitchen specifically needs. Anything that doesn't go to Miriam's Kitchen is donated to George Washington University's on-campus food pantry. Senior Isabelle Moody told WTOP-FM the garden helps students understand the issue of food insecurity and "think about what exists beyond GW's bubble." The garden is "really special," senior Elizabeth Ferrante added, due to the way "that it connects people." Catherine Garcia
Rhami Zeini did the right thing, and he's now $100 richer.
Zeini, a 16-year-old high school junior from Santa Barbara, California, was headed home from school last Wednesday when he saw a black purse in the middle of the street. He picked it up and started digging around, trying to find an ID. Instead, he discovered that the purse was filled with money — $10,000 to be exact. Zeini notified his parents, and they brought it to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.
"To me, I figured this is the right thing to do if I take it and find whoever's purse it was because if the roles were reversed and I had lost something with a significant sum of money inside, I know I would want it back for sure," he told KEYT. Deputies were able to track down the purse's owner, and she was so grateful that she gave Zeini $100 as a reward. Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's department, said the woman likely put her purse on the roof of her car and forgot to grab it before driving off. Catherine Garcia
Jason Alexander is doing his part to help the planet, one cigarette butt at a time.
Alexander, who lives near the coast of Suffolk in England, decided in 2015 that he wanted to photograph at least 100 sunrises over the year. He kept having to move trash while taking photos so as to not ruin his shots, and realized just how much garbage there is on beaches, walkways, and parking lots. "As a society, we've become blind to a lot of the litter and plastic that we produce, in particular cigarette butts," he told The Washington Post. "Many people that I've spoken to, smokers and nonsmokers, have no idea that there's plastic in cigarette butts. And many of them ... didn't even consider cigarette butts as litter."
He spent six days this summer walking 60 miles and cleaning up 12 beaches, and he realized he was picking up a lot of cigarette butts. Alexander started doing some research, and he was astonished to find that an estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are tossed out every year around the world, and the toxins can get into the water and ground. To raise awareness of the problem, Alexander set a goal to pick up one million cigarette butts, and he takes photos of the piles he collects. One day, he scooped up 1,789 cigarette butts from a parking lot, and another time more than 3,000 from a walkway. It's a disgusting job, he told the Post, but it needs to be done so people can understand the scope of the situation. "A million cigarette butts could just be the beginning," he said. Catherine Garcia
Even the whales in Canada are nice, with a band of belugas adopting a lost narwhal far from home.
Narwhals live in the Arctic, but in July a team of researchers from the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) filmed a narwhal playing with about 10 belugas in the St. Lawrence River, hundreds of miles from its normal habitat. The team believes the narwhal is a juvenile male, and even before the July spotting, he was seen with the pod four other times, starting in 2016.
Robert Michaud, GREMM's president and scientific director, told CBC News the way the belugas were interacting with the narwhal suggested he had been fully accepted into the pod, with the narwhal acting like he was "one of the boys." Martin Nweeia, a researcher from Harvard University who has spent two decades studying narwhals, said this shows the "compassion and the openness of other species to welcome another member that may not look or act the same. And maybe that's a good lesson for everyone." Catherine Garcia
A Cincinnati couple didn't realize that when they hired a caterer for their wedding, they'd be getting an officiant for free.
During the rehearsal dinner, the man who was supposed to officiate the wedding fell and broke his leg, leaving the couple without anyone to marry them, WLWT reports. Enter Manny Morales, a caterer for City Barbeque, the company that was preparing food for the rehearsal. He told the couple he had a license and offered to perform the ceremony, a proposal they happily accepted.
Bride Kelsey Schneck said she couldn't describe how grateful she was to Morales for stepping in. "Not only did we have a great dinner, but our wedding ceremony was saved and went off without a hitch," she said. "Thank you for saving my big day." Catherine Garcia