VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the government's drought policy - and the trust divide in politics

Michelle Grattan says the announcement of extra money for drought-stricken farmers "won't be enough" to alleviate pressure on the government on the issue of drought. ShutterstockUniversity of Canberra...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Our ability to manufacture minerals could transform the gem market, medical industries and even help suck carbon from the air

Pictured is a slag pile at Broken Hill in New South Wales. Slag is a man-made waste product created during smelting. Anita Parbhakar-Fox, Author providedLast month, scientists uncovered a mineral call...

Anita Parbhakar-Fox, Senior Research Fellow in Geometallurgy/Applied Geochemistry, The University of Queensland - avatar Anita Parbhakar-Fox, Senior Research Fellow in Geometallurgy/Applied Geochemistry, The University of Queensland

Lambie stays mute on medevac vote after Senate inquiry splits on party lines

Jacqui Lambie has yet to announce whether she will support the bill to have medevac repealed.AAP/Mick TsikasThe Senate inquiry into repealing medevac has predictably split along party lines, with the ...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Sydney's 9,189 'sister politicians' who petitioned Queen Victoria

One spring morning in 1850, over 8,000 Sydneysiders marched through town to protest the resumption of transportation – the act of sending British criminals to Australia. It was the largest prote...

Kiera Lindsey, University of Technology Sydney - avatar Kiera Lindsey, University of Technology Sydney

Penny Whetton: A pioneering climate scientist skilled in the art of life

Penny Whetton, right, addressing a March for Science rally. Her death last month shocked and saddened colleagues.Supplied by familyLast month we lost Dr Penny Whetton - one of the world’s most r...

John M Clarke, Team Leader, Regional Projections, CSIRO - avatar John M Clarke, Team Leader, Regional Projections, CSIRO

​The Coalition government is (again) trying to put the squeeze on the ABC

The Coalition government has reintroduced a bill seeking to mandate the ABC devote more resources to covering regional Australia – a measure that has been defeated before by parliament.Danny Cas...

Fiona R Martin, Senior Lecturer in Convergent and Online Media, University of Sydney - avatar Fiona R Martin, Senior Lecturer in Convergent and Online Media, University of Sydney

Trump is flouting global trade rules with China yet embracing them with the EU – here's why it matters

Just as America’s trade war with China may be winding down, its troubles with Europe seem to be growing. On Oct. 11, President Donald Trump said that the United States and China had agreed, in p...

Charles Hankla, Associate Professor of Political Science, Georgia State University - avatar Charles Hankla, Associate Professor of Political Science, Georgia State University

Where is my Xanax Rx? Why your doctor may be concerned about prescribing benzodiazepines

Xanax, sold generically as alprazolam, is a popular drug to treat anxiety -- and to sell on the street.PureRadiancePhoto/Shutterstock.comAs an academic psychiatrist who treats people with anxiety and ...

Arash Javanbakht, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Wayne State University - avatar Arash Javanbakht, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Wayne State University

Blockchain voting is vulnerable to hackers, software glitches and bad ID photos – among other problems

How secure is online voting with blockchain technology?WhiteDragon/Shutterstock.comA developing technology called “blockchain” has gotten attention from election officials, startups and ev...

Nir Kshetri, Professor of Management, University of North Carolina – Greensboro - avatar Nir Kshetri, Professor of Management, University of North Carolina – Greensboro

Pope affirms Catholic Church's duty to indigenous Amazonians hurt by climate change

Pope Francis at the start of the Amazon synod, at the Vatican, Oct. 7, 2019.AP Photo/Andrew MedichiniThe Catholic Church “hears the cry” of the Amazon and its peoples. That’s the mes...

Vincent J. Miller, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Dayton - avatar Vincent J. Miller, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Dayton

How Mister Rogers' faith shaped his idea of children's television

Fred Rogers rehearses with some of his puppet friends in Pittsburgh,.Gene J. Puskarg/AP The beloved children’s television icon Fred Rogers – who is played by actor Tom Hanks in the upcomin...

L. Benjamin Rolsky, Adjunct Professor of History, Religion, and Anthropology, Monmouth University - avatar L. Benjamin Rolsky, Adjunct Professor of History, Religion, and Anthropology, Monmouth University

The Chicago teachers' strike isn't just about kids – it's about union power too

Chicago's teachers are on strike for the first time since 2012.AP Photo/Martha IrvineClasses in Chicago’s public schools were canceled starting Oct. 17 as more than 25,000 teachers in the nation...

Bradley D. Marianno, Assistant Professor of Educational Policy & Leadership, University of Nevada, Las Vegas - avatar Bradley D. Marianno, Assistant Professor of Educational Policy & Leadership, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

This overdose-reversal medicine could reduce opioid deaths – so why don't more people carry it?

Naloxone, available as a nasal spray called Narcan or in injectable form, resuscitates 100% of people who overdose if administered quickly. AP Photo/Patrick SemanskyForty-seven thousand Americans died...

Tarlise Townsend, Joint PhD Student, Health Policy and Sociology, University of Michigan - avatar Tarlise Townsend, Joint PhD Student, Health Policy and Sociology, University of Michigan

Here's what's missing in efforts to curb heavy drinking and hazing on campus

Colleges throughout the nation are beset with problems of alcohol and hazing on campus. AP Photo/Dake KangMaxwell Gruver had been a student at Louisiana State University for only a few weeks in 2017 b...

Adam M. McCready, Visiting Assistant Professor, Higher Education & Student Affairs, University of Connecticut - avatar Adam M. McCready, Visiting Assistant Professor, Higher Education & Student Affairs, University of Connecticut

imageWho knew Olympics came in eggs?Rio 2016

The mascots for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics and Paralympics have been announced. The yellow chap above is the Olympic mascot, apparently an amalgam of all Brazilian animals, which surprisingly only includes monkeys, cats and birds. The green and blue fellow, the Paralympic mascot, is supposed to represent all of Brazil’s plant species.

I’m not using their names as they don’t have them yet – the mascots are waiting for the results of a public competition. The name choices on offer are not great. Two are from Brazilian slang meaning great (Oba and Eba), two are from a native language and have meanings related to dance (Tiba Tuque and Esquidim) and the final two choices are after two of the founders of bossa nova music (Tom and Vincius). It’s a real shame that neither of the mascots has the chance of being given a female name.

Over the past year Brazilian conservationists have been lobbying for various different species to be the Olympic mascot. Of course this is motivated by the financial funds likely to be directed towards the winner. Proposed species included primates (muriquis and golden lion tamarins), cats (ocelot) and birds (hummingbirds). All of these would be appropriate and worthy choices.

The golden lion tamarin is one of the true symbols of conservation biology – I learnt about its reintroduction back into the wild as an undergraduate student more than 25 year ago. It is also a natural Carioca: a species that once lived within the boundaries of Rio de Janeiro.

imageMuriqui: coulda been a contender.Peter Schoen, CC BY

The muriqui, while not a Caricoa, can be found in the mountains which form a backdrop to the city. Ocelots are medium sized cats, which once lived in present-day Rio. And hummingbirds are also Cariocas. All species are threatened with extinction in the region.

One of the world’s great wildlife hotspots

When you talk about Brazilian wildlife most people think of the Amazon. It may therefore come as a surprise to find out that the Amazon basin is not actually considered a true biodiversity hotspot. These hotspots, 35 in total around the world, are defined by the large number of species they contain and the high degree of threat from human activities.

imageOcelot: mascot reject.Shannon Kringen, CC BY

Brazil has two: the Cerrado (savannahs) and the Atlantic forest. The latter extends along much of Brazil’s south-eastern coast and once covered the whole of the city of Rio de Janeiro. It is ranked the fourth most important biodiversity hotspot in the world, but it is being chopped down faster than ever.

Despite conservation biologists having their own preference for the mascot, everyone agreed these games are an opportunity to highlight the importance of the Atlantic forest to the world. Biologists were thus dismayed to see two mascots who appear uncannily like Pokémon characters. This has caused some derision among Brazil’s conservationists.

For the football World Cup held in Brazil earlier this year the organisers went with Fuleco, a three-banded armadillo – cuddly but endangered. However they didn’t back things up with sufficient conservation support or even make it too clear what Fuleco was supposed to represent.

I had hoped that the Rio Olympics would not make the same mistakes, and it seems they haven’t. However they appear to have avoided this simply by inventing cartoon characters. If a mascot is invented – if there is no “real animal” to preserve – then no-one can complain about lack of support for its conservation. To me this odd hybrid-creature smacks of trying to appease the biologists lobbying for real species.

imageInspiration?Antonio Tajuelo, CC BY

It should be pointed out that while Pokémon was popular with children its premise as a game was about capturing, collecting and training wild creatures. Given that animal trafficking is a major problem in Brazil, the Pokémon-like mascots are particularly inappropriate.

As a father of two small children whose life is plagued by cartoons on the TV I understand the need for these mascots to appeal to kids. But actually the real species proposed were all very cute. What I object to more is the unashamed anthropomorphising of the mascots and giving them super powers – the ability to stretch. Children’s TV series such as Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go were perfectly entertaining and educational without the lead characters needing to have abilities of the Fantastic Four.

I hope that some of the lessons from Fuleco have been learnt, and that the organisers of the Rio Olympics will grasp the opportunity to promote the plight of the Atlantic Forest and its amazing wildlife.

image

Robert John Young does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Read more http://theconversation.com/pokemon-style-rio-2016-mascots-will-do-nothing-to-help-brazilian-wildlife-34736