Good news Thursday: Biologists work to protect environment, elderly couple connect through glass window

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Biologists work beyond ethnic divide to protect the environment

A sign shows the way to the abandoned village of Varisha inside the U.N controlled buffer zone that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish, north, Cypriots areas since 1974 of the Turkish invasion, in the divided island of Cyprus. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

On the island Cyprus, positioned on the eastern end of the Mediterranean, 3% of the land acts as a U.N. buffer zone after the ethnic war between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in 1974. The abandoned land divides the island in two. The Greeks dominate the south and the Turkish dominate the north. After decades of abandonment this area became an unofficial wildlife reserve. Rare and endangered species flourish in the area. Some of the species include Egyptian fruit bat, the bee orchid and the Eurasian Thick-knee. Despite the ethnic divide that cause the land to be abandoned, two environmental scientists on either side of the land, one Greek and one Turkish, have joined together to study, protect and advocate for the wildlife area since 2007.

Greek Cypriot Iris Charalambidou and Turkish Cypriot Salih Gucel are working to create communication between the two ethnicities in order to care for Cyprus’s environment. They strive for both parties to be aware of the issues the country faces and to address them in unity. “In order to adequately protect and conserve the environment on such a small island, it is important to cooperate and manage the plant, animal and other species, as well as habitats and ecosystems, as a common resource,” Charalambidou told the Associated Press.

Spanish couple connect through glass window

Javier Anto, 90, and his wife Carmen Panzano, 92, blow one another kisses through the window separating them . (AP Photo)

When the pandemic hit Spain, nursing homes implemented strict lockdowns to prevent mass spreading. Visits were highly limited and face-to-face accessibility was restricted. This meant that Carmen Panzano would have to go without seeing her husband of 65 years, Javier Anto. The two had rarely been separated since their marriage in 1955. However, the nursing home was able to set up a window for Panzano and Anto to communicate.

Sitting on both sides of the glass, the couple is able to communicate in whatever way they can. Though they cannot hear each other, Anto holds up pictures of their children and grandchildren to counteract Panzano’s Alzheimer’s and the couple blows each other kisses. The two are both vaccinated, but nursing homes in Spain are still under heavy restrictions. “I come as often as I can and will keep doing so as long as my body allows me,” Anto told the Associated Press. “If I were the sick one, she would do the same thing for me, and then some.”

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