Cheetah is now 'running for its very survival'

Media captionEndangered species like the cheetah are being used as pets, as David Shukman reports

Pitiful scenes of cheetah cubs lying emaciated and bewildered highlight one of the cruellest but least-publicised examples of illegal wildlife trafficking.

Baby cheetahs are so prized as exotic pets that entire litters are seized from their mothers when they may only be four to six weeks old.

Each tiny animal can fetch as much as $10,000 on the black market and end up being paraded on social media by wealthy buyers in Gulf states.

But the trade exacts a terrible toll on a species that claims a superlative status as the fastest land animal on the planet but which now faces a serious threat to its survival.

Image copyright Günther Wirth / Cheetah Conservation Fund
Image caption The lucky ones: These young cheetahs were rescued

According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund, some 1,200 cheetah cubs are known to have been trafficked out of Africa over the past 10 years but a shocking 85% of them died during the journey.

Read full article Cheetah is now 'running for its very survival'

Pollution particles 'get into brain'

Brain Image copyright ZEPHYR/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Tiny particles of pollution have been discovered inside samples of brain tissue, according to new research.

Suspected of toxicity, the particles of iron oxide could conceivably contribute to diseases like Alzheimer's - though evidence for this is lacking.

Read full article Pollution particles 'get into brain'

Global warming and the race for the White House

A power station on Ohio River

Two starkly different visions of global warming are offered by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in their race for the White House.

The Democratic Party contender says she believes in the science of climate change and plans to see America become a "clean energy superpower" - installing half-a-billion solar panels by the end of her first term.

Read full article Global warming and the race for the White House

Watching Tim Peake return to Earth

Tim Peake Image copyright Stephane Corvaja
Image caption A cheerful Tim Peake was transferred by battered helicopter, after landing in a remote area

Witnessing Tim Peake's descent through the clouds towards the arid emptiness of the Kazakh steppe must rank as one of the highlights of any reporter's career.

At first, we had no idea if we were in the right place but then the parachute appeared as a miniature white blob in the sky as our helicopter circled the landing zone - one of a fleet involved in recovering the spacecraft.

Read full article Watching Tim Peake return to Earth

Tim Peake: What has Britain's astronaut achieved?

Tim Peake Image copyright PA

Tim Peake grabbed the headlines for blazing a trail as Britain's first government-funded astronaut but it's fair to ask what his six months in space have actually achieved.

Addressing the Brit Awards in a fake tuxedo, running a virtual London Marathon, playing with spheres of water live on television - all these are eye-catching moments but what did his mission add up to?

Read full article Tim Peake: What has Britain's astronaut achieved?

EU referendum: Farmers split on the future

Media captionThe BBC's David Shukman examines how farmers feel about the EU referendum

Behind the quiet tapestry of farmland stretching across the UK is a turbulent debate over Britain's membership of the European Union.

At first sight, with billions in subsidies, you might think that every farmer would automatically want to keep the cash flowing and therefore choose to stay in.

Read full article EU referendum: Farmers split on the future

Hinkley Point: Design difficulties loom

Hinkley Point - artist's impression Image copyright EDF Energy
Image caption An artist's impression for EDF of how the new power station would look

Six years ago a French government inquiry issued a warning that makes for chilling and highly relevant reading even today.

The report said that the complexity of the kind of nuclear reactor destined for Hinkley Point was itself a "handicap" to its construction and its cost.

Read full article Hinkley Point: Design difficulties loom

Colombia warns on Zika baby risk

Baby with microcephaly
Image caption Colombian health officials have been closely monitoring the situation in Brazil

Health officials in Colombia are warning that as many as 600 babies could be born with microcephaly this year.

With the second highest rate of Zika virus infections after Brazil, Colombia has more than 2,000 pregnant women showing symptoms.

Read full article Colombia warns on Zika baby risk

Fears grow amid Brazil's Zika crisis

Water tank Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Brazilian authorities are targeting mosquito breeding sites

An alarming mixture of confusion and fear is blighting the pregnancies of thousands of women across this teeming tropical city in the northeast of Brazil, and wherever else the Zika virus has infected people.

Every day the emergency clinic at one of Recife's largest hospitals sees queues of nervous women so long that they reach into the car park, and the medical staff, already stretched, are now overwhelmed.

Read full article Fears grow amid Brazil's Zika crisis

Hawking: Humans at risk of lethal 'own goal'

Stephen Hawking Image copyright BBC/RichardAnsett
Image caption Prof Hawking said humans are creating "new ways things can go wrong"

Humanity is at risk from a series of dangers of our own making, according to Prof Stephen Hawking.

Nuclear war, global warming and genetically-engineered viruses are among the scenarios he singles out.

Read full article Hawking: Humans at risk of lethal 'own goal'