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Pachyderms under pressure

They may appear huge and mighty at first glance but elephants aren’t all they are made out to be. The intelligent and socially sensitive pachyderms need an intact ecosystem to thrive and reproduce. In countries like Laos, however, the thick-skinned animals are put to work in the tourism and logging industry, leading to the destruction of their own habitat and worsening their already dwindling numbers. Our reporter Michael Altenhenne shows us how the forests of Laos are being preserved and how animal rights’ groups are working to boost the pachyderm population. Could importing elephants to zoos in Europe be a solution? That’s the question writer Katrin Lechler tackles in our background article. Her research throws up some surprises.

Next week on Global Ideas

Mexico's Monarch butterflies

A butterfly may weigh next to nothing but it's no lightweight when it comes to the role it plays in the natural world. Millions of monarch butterflies travel down to north Mexico each year in early November to stay for the winter. The natural spectacle draws thousands of visitors. But, the butterflies aren't just a tourist magnet. They help farmers in the region by pollinating their flowers. And, the biosphere reserve, Mariposa Monarca where the delicate winged creatures live, secure the drinking water supply to Mexico City.