Illegal wildlife trade’s ‘dirty money’ targeted by big banks [10/19/2018]
- Leading global banks and financial institutions have pledged their commitment to a financial task force to uncover laundering of profits derived from the illegal wildlife trade. - Alongside the task force, there are also calls for a greater focus on the role corruption plays in facilitating the poaching of fauna and flora. - There have also been warnings that efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade should not focus too heavily on large, charismatic mammals like elephants and rhinos.
Secrets revealed: Researchers explore unique, isolated forest in Mozambique [10/19/2018]
- Researcher Julian Bayliss discovered a forest on Mount Lico by using satellite imagery from Google Earth. In May, Bayliss and a team of more than two-dozen scientists and other experts set out on an expedition to see what kinds of animals and plants lived in the forest. - According to Bayliss, they found several new species, including a new butterfly. - Protected by 410-meter cliffs, Mount Lico’s forest is undisturbed by human activity. However, the surrounding lowlands – as well as other nearby mountains – are heavily cleared for agriculture. - These mountains serve as important habitat for unique species, as well as critical water sources for local communities. However, their soil is very fertile and often targeted for cropland. Bayliss says these mountain forests need more conservation attention, and urges the development of programs aimed at balancing local livelihoods with forest preservation.
Guyana deforestation rate hits 7-year low, officials say [10/19/2018]
- According to data released on Oct. 5 by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), the small South American nation’a deforestation rate in 2017 was 0.048 percent. - Government official say that their new deforestation estimates are the lowest since assessments started back in 1990. - Environmental advocates say the reduction in timber concession areas has reduced road building by loggers that once facilitated opportunistic mining.
Bolivian coca crops follow a planned highway through indigenous lands [10/19/2018]
- Bolivia’s Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory hosts 33 hectares (82 acres) of illegal coca crops, despite being an ostensibly protected area. - Indigenous leaders blame the encroachment on the coca growers who formally occupy part of the park and are steadily expanding beyond their territory and into indigenous lands. - Central to the conflict is a planned highway that would cut through the park and has already splintered the indigenous community into camps opposing or supporting the project.
Women’s work in Senegalese conservation includes exorcising demons [10/19/2018]
- Women, and older women in particular, play important roles in the Kawawana ICCA, an indigenous conservation group in Senegal’s Casamance region. - They set rules for oyster harvesting and mediate conflicts that arise with outsiders who infringe upon Kawawana rules. - They also deploy ancient animist traditions in defense of the local environment and act as spiritual doctors for those who break the rules. - Since 2010, Kawawana has made huge strides in repopulating the local river with fish, reducing damaging levels of salinity in its waters, and halting deforestation, largely by returning to traditional fishing and forestry practices.
Tropical deforestation now emits more CO2 than the EU [10/18/2018]
- According to a new analysis, tropical forest loss currently accounts for 8 percent of the world’s annual carbon dioxide emissions. If tropical deforestation were a country, it would be the third-biggest emitter globally – ranking just below the U.S. and significantly higher than the EU. - Between 2015 and 2017, forest-related emissions were 63 percent higher than the average for the previous 14 years, rising from 3 billion to 4.9 billion metric tons per year. - Researchers say this increase can be traced to three main factors: A growing global middle class, a population boom in Sub-Saharan Africa, and fires and hurricanes that are becoming more intense and destructive due to climate change. - The analysis finds tropical forests could potentially provide 23 percent of the climate change mitigation needed to keep warming under 2 degrees by 2030. But researchers say increased government intervention and funding are needed in order to more effectively protect them.
Vietnamese environmental blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’ suddenly released from prison [10/18/2018]
- Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was released from prison in Vietnam this week without warning and expelled to Houston, Texas with her family. She was at the start of a 10-year prison sentence. - Quynh gained international fame for blogging about the Formosa environmental disaster in 2016, and was imprisoned for speaking out against the government’s lackluster response to the related death of thousands of fish and other massive impacts. - Also known by her blogging moniker ‘Mother Mushroom,’ Quynh is just one of a number of other environmental activists and bloggers who remain imprisoned for speaking out about the same disaster.
Audio: Racing to save the world’s amazing frogs with Jonathan Kolby [10/18/2018]
- On this episode, we discuss the global outbreak of the chytrid fungus, which might have already driven as many as 200 species of frogs to extinction. - Our guest is biologist and National Geographic explorer Jonathan Kolby, who founded the Honduras Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Center, or HARCC for short, to study and rescue frogs affected by the chytrid fungus. Tree frogs in Cusuco National Park in Honduras, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth, are being decimated by the aquatic fungal pathogen. - In this Field Notes segment, Kolby plays for us some recordings of the frog species he’s working to save from the deadly fungal infection in Honduras and says that there might be hope that frogs and other amphibians affected by chytrid can successfully cope with the disease.
Politics and peace: The fate of Colombia’s forests (commentary) [10/18/2018]
- Juan Manuel Santos will be forever remembered as the president who ended one of the world’s longest armed conflicts, establishing a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016. - While the peace accords have shaped his image at home and abroad, they do not represent his entire presidential legacy. In addition to lowering the domestic poverty, unemployment, and murder rates, Santos advanced the country’s environmental agenda during his two terms. This should not be undervalued. - Deforestation in the post-conflict era has grown at an alarming rate. Rather than a policy solution, Santos’ environmental legacy should be viewed as an initial step in securing the fate of Colombia’s forests. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Jair Bolsonaro: looming threat to the Amazon and global climate? [10/18/2018]
- Jair Bolsonaro is poised to win the Brazilian presidential runoff on 28 October – currently polling with 58 percent of the vote. He holds strong policy positions in opposition to the environment, indigenous rights and traditional land claims. - Bolsonaro has pledged to open the Amazon to economic exploitation, greatly expand energy production, abolish Brazil’s environmental ministry, relax environmental licensing and regulation, open indigenous reserves to mining, and back out of the Paris climate accord. - Moreover, Bolsonaro’s once tiny PSL Party elected 52 new federal deputies and four senators in the 7 October election. It is very likely that these ultra-right PSL representatives will caucus with the right-wing bancada ruralista agribusiness and mining bloc in Congress, giving them a majority. - As a result, analysts say that if Bolsonaro is elected president, he will probably have the full support of Congress in fulfilling his agenda, with only the Supreme Court likely standing in the way of significant Amazon deforestation and other environmental harm.
Cambodia accuses Vietnam of complicity in illegal cross-border logging [10/18/2018]
- Cambodia has accused neighboring Vietnam of systemically accepting fraudulent permits for rare, illegally trafficked rosewood timber. - Siamese rosewood (Dalbergia Conchinchinensis) is one of the most valuable species of tree in the world and has been destructively logged in Cambodia. - Items made from rosewood have been known to sell for millions of dollars in markets like China.
In a first, DRC communities gain legal rights to forests [10/18/2018]
- Provincial authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have approved forest concessions for five communities. - Following the implementation of a new community forest strategy in June, this is the first time the government has given communities control of forests. - Sustainable use of the forest is seen by conservation and development organizations as a way to both combat rural poverty and fight deforestation.
Real-time plantation map aims to throttle deforestation in Papua [10/18/2018]
- The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) plans to roll out an interactive map showing the spread of plantations and roads in Indonesia’s Papua region. - The region is home to some of the last expanses of pristine tropical forest left in the world, but now faces an influx of plantation companies that have already deforested much of Sumatra and Borneo. - The Papua Atlas is designed to monitor the spread of plantations and road networks in the region, and builds on CIFOR’s earlier Borneo Atlas. - Crucially this time, the developers are pitching the Papua Atlas to local officials to help inform their policymaking and planning for the region to minimize adverse impacts on the environment and indigenous communities.
Myanmar expands protected area for rare Irrawaddy dolphin [10/17/2018]
- The Myanmar government has expanded the Irrawaddy Dolphin Protected Area, initially spanning 74 kilometers (46 miles) of the Irrawaddy River, to include a 100-kilometer (62-mile) stretch of the river. - Use of gillnets is restricted within the new protected area, and damaging activities such as electric or dynamite fishing and gold mining are strictly prohibited. - An additional 100-kilometer stretch has been designated as a buffer zone, with milder restrictions. - A survey this year put the number of critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins in the Irrawaddy River at 78.
Fate of the Amazon is on the ballot in Brazil’s presidential election (commentary) [10/17/2018]
- In the late 20th and early 21st century, Brazil set policies that made it a world leader in reducing deforestation, helping safeguard the Amazon. - However, the gains made over those years are now at risk due to the proposed environmental policies of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who analysts say is highly likely to become Brazil’s president in a runoff election on 28 October. - Bolsonaro has pledged to shut down Brazil’s environmental ministry, relax environmental law enforcement and licensing, open indigenous reserves to mining, ban international environmental NGOs such as Greenpeace and WWF from the country, and back out of the Paris climate accord. - A study by this commentary’s authors estimates that Brazilian deforestation and carbon emissions under Bolsonaro’s policies would cause unprecedented Amazon forest loss, and contribute to destabilizing the global climate. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.
5 bird species lose protections, more at risk in new Indonesia decree [10/17/2018]
- Five bird species in Indonesia have lost their protected status under a new ministerial decree, issued last month in response to complaints from songbird collectors. - The decree also establishes additional guidelines for birds to be granted protected status, which effectively sets the stage for any species to be dropped from the list if it is deemed of high economic value to the songbird fan community. - Scientists and wildlife experts have criticized the removal of the five species from the protected list, and the new criteria for granting protected status. - Indonesia is home to the largest number of threatened bird species in Asia, but their populations in the wild are severely threatened by overexploitation.
Scientists map the impact of trawling using satellite vessel tracking [10/17/2018]
- Using satellite tracking data, researchers have come up with new maps showing the impact of trawling in 24 regions around the world. - Trawling produces a sizable portion of the world’s seafood but is also seen as destructive and indiscriminate. - The team found that trawlers fished 14 percent of the ocean in the areas they studied, leaving 86 percent untouched. - But the study did not include parts of the world known to have high levels of trawling activity, leading one researcher to question whether the authors “over-interpreted” their results.
Can social media save great apes? [10/16/2018]
- Bonobos, gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees face a fight for survival, and social media offers a new tool to help people connect with these endangered great apes. - Conservation groups say that, handled correctly, social media can help raise awareness — and funds. - What’s good for social media isn’t always good for apes. Experts caution that posts featuring interactions between humans and animals or unusual animal behavior should be accompanied by explanations that put the images into context.
Is S&P Dow Jones greenwashing conflict palm oil? (commentary) [10/16/2018]
- In its annual listing of sustainable companies released last month, S&P Dow Jones Indices included Golden Agri-Resources, a palm oil company financing operations in Liberia. - However, reports and complaints about the company’s practices are leading some conservation and human rights organizations to question whether Golden Agri-Resources is operating in a sustainable manner. Accusations include widespread deforestation in Indonesia and Liberia, land grabbing, and violations of international sustainability principles. - The company’s Liberian arm, Golden Veroleum Liberia, is no longer a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, after the certification body found ongoing violations including the use of coercion and intimidation to pressure villagers to sign agreements with the company, destruction of community sacred sites, and continued development on disputed lands. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
One-two punch of habitat loss, capture hammers Southeast Asian birds [10/16/2018]
- The combined impact of habitat loss and exploitation has been underestimated in the assessment of dangers to bird populations in Southeast Asia, a new report says. - Of the 308 species studied by researchers, up to 90 could go extinct by the end of this century. - The researchers have called for urgent policy intervention to curb deforestation and throttle the caged-bird trade, warning that dozens of species could otherwise be lost.
As climate change takes its toll, world leaders call for adaptation [10/16/2018]
- A new global initiative led by former U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon aims to help the world adapt to the fallout from a changing climate. - The Global Commission on Adaptation differs from current climate initiatives, which focus largely on mitigation, i.e. efforts to slow the emissions of greenhouse gases. - The launch of the commission comes in the shadow of a new U.N. report warning of dire consequences from climate change affecting hundreds of millions of people around the world unless the global temperature rise is kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). - But even if this is achieved, Ban says, irreversible changes have been made that are already manifesting as unseasonal heat waves, more destructive storms, and other extreme weather events — which will require adaptation rather than mitigation by countries worldwide.
Land rights, forests, food systems central to limiting global warming: report [10/15/2018]
- In the wake of the dire, just released UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, a climate advocacy group known as CLARA (Climate, Land, Ambition and Rights Alliance) has published a separate report proposing that the world’s nations put far more effort into land sector measures to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. - They suggest that these nature-oriented, land-based approaches could be far more effective, and more rapidly implemented, than relying on costly or largely untested high tech solutions such as bioenergy, carbon capture-and-storage, and geoengineering. - Among the approaches CLARA proposes are the establishment of far stronger land rights for indigenous peoples (who are among the world’s best forest stewards), as well as a serious reduction in deforestation and the restoration of forest ecosystems worldwide. - The CLARA report also calls for the transformation of agriculture (less tilling, less fertilizers, more support for small farms), and a global revolution in dietary habits, including a reduction in meat consumption and less food waste.
For an Amazon tribe, phone cameras shine a light on their wildlife [10/15/2018]
- Armed with smartphone cameras, teams of indigenous Matsés people have partnered with North American herpetologists to inventory the reptiles and amphibians of their territory along the remote divide between Peru and Brazil. - The easy-to-use cameras are robust, small enough to carry while climbing a tree or crossing a stream, store thousands of images, and can be recharged with low-cost solar panels. - The teams have built a database of more than 2,000 photos, including several new species, and they have expanded the known distributions of other species. - The long-term project complements rapid ecological assessments of a poorly studied region and empowers Matsés elders to pass on their knowledge of the region’s forests to both their families and the outside world.
Watching the wildlife return: Q&A with a rural Senegalese river monitor [10/15/2018]
- In the mid-2000s, villagers from the Jola ethnic group in the Casamance region of Senegal noticed a decline in local fish stocks and forest cover, and an increase in water salinity, all of which threatened their food supply and way of life. - They formed a fishing association in 2006 that grew into a community-wide conservation group known as the Kawawana ICCA in 2010, and have since turned their dire situation around by reviving traditional fishing and forestry methods. - As part of that effort, the Kawawana ICCA established a team to check up on the state of the river and forest, counting birds, fish, crocodiles, otters and dolphins, whose presence indicates healthy fish stocks, and monitoring rainfall and river salinity. - Bassirou Sambou, 53, a fisherman by trade, heads that effort. Mongabay interviewed him as part of a larger reporting project about the Kawawana ICCA.
Landless movement leader assassinated in Brazilian Amazon [10/15/2018]
- Landless movement leader Aluisio Sampaio, known as Alenquer, was murdered last Thursday in his home in Castelo de Sonhos in Pará state – an area that has become increasingly violent as land grabbers take over, clear forest, and sell the land for high profits to cattle ranchers. - When Mongabay interviewed Alenquer late in 2016, he was helping defend the land rights of a peasant settlement along the BR-163 highway. At the time, he had been receiving death threats, and wore a bullet-proof vest provided to him by the government. The peasant settlement was later visited by armed gunman. - Following that confrontation, Alenquer published a Youtube video accusing two prominent local citizens of threatening to kill him. Authorities have so far arrested two suspects in relation to Alenquer’s murder, while another man was killed in a police shootout on Saturday. The police investigation is on going. - Alenquer’s murder comes as Brazil sees an uptick in violence that some analysts tie to the strong showing on 7 October of Brazilian far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, projected to win a 28 October runoff. Bolsonaro, a law-and-order candidate, has made inflammatory statements regarding violence.
$25m in funding to help African gov’ts prosecute poachers, traffickers [10/15/2018]
- The African Wildlife Foundation has pledged $25 million to projects aimed at combating the illegal wildlife trade across the continent over the next four years. - The Nairobi-based NGO invests in outfitting wildlife rangers, training sniffer dogs to detect illicit shipments, and community-based development. - AWF president Kaddu Sebunya emphasized the need to invest in homegrown solutions to the crisis when he announced the funding at the Illegal Wildlife Trade conference, held Oct. 11-12 in London.
Can we buy our way out of the sixth extinction? [10/15/2018]
- A new study finds that conservation spending has lessened the environmental impacts of ongoing development around the world. - The researchers developed a model that any policymaker can use to see how much money is required to offset the environmental damage done by development, population growth and economic growth. - However, some researchers believe the relentless focus on economic expansion could hurt our efforts to achieve sustainability in the long term.
123 baby giant tortoises stolen from Galápagos breeding center [10/15/2018]
- Authorities in Ecuador have confirmed that 123 baby giant turtles were stolen from the Arnaldo Tupiza breeding center on Isabela, the largest island of the Galápagos, on the night of Sept. 24. - The hatchlings belonged to two species, the Cerro Azul giant tortoise (Chelonoidis vicina) and Sierra Negra giant tortoise (Chelonoidis guntheri), both listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. - Provincial lawmaker Washington Paredes Torres said the breeding center did not have surveillance systems, security cameras or light sensors, and had only one guard. He added: “If somebody wants to go in by night and steal, they can.”
Latam Eco Review: Millennial trees and Pacific coral larvae [10/12/2018]
Top recent stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay Latam, include a multi-country series on illegal logging, traveling coral larvae, and a treaty to protect environmental defenders. Peru’s millennial trees could disappear in 10 years Peru’s Shihuahuaco trees (Dipteryx micrantha) take hundreds of years to grow but could be lost in a decade. Listed as critically […]
Amazonia and the setbacks of Brazil’s political moment (commentary) [10/12/2018]
- In the October 7 Brazilian election, far right candidate Jair Bolsonaro won 46 percent of the vote, not enough to earn the presidency, but triggering a runoff election October 28 with Fernando Haddad who came in second with 29 percent. Analysts say that, barring surprises, Bolsonaro could be Brazil’s next leader. - Bolsonaro was elected based on several issues, including reaction to government corruption and his stance on crime. However, says analyst Philip Fearnside, Jair’s most lasting impacts will likely be on the environment, especially the Amazon, indigenous and traditional peoples, and destabilization of the global climate. - The candidate has promised to abolish Brazil’s environmental ministry, expel NGOs such as Greenpeace and WWF from the country, slash science and technology budgets, “sell” indigenous lands, and “relax” licensing for major infrastructure projects such as dams, industrial waterways, roads and railways. - But his most impactful act could be a pledge to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, ending Brazil’s global commitment to reduce deforestation, triggering massive Amazon forest loss, and possibly runaway climate change. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Fire fundamentally alters carbon dynamics in the Amazon [10/12/2018]
- With higher temperatures and increasingly severe droughts resulting from climate change, fires are becoming a more frequent phenomenon in the Amazon. - New research finds that fires fundamentally change the structure of the forest, leading it to stockpile less carbon even decades after a burn. - The research also shows that the burning of dead organic matter in the understory can release far more carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought.
Scientists, conservationists: Give Nobel Peace Prize to Jane Goodall [10/11/2018]
- Scientists and conservationists argue that primatologist Jane Goodall should receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. - Goodall’s groundbreaking research uncovered startling revelations, including tool use by chimpanzees, that blurred the lines between humans and animals. - Goodall, a U.N. Messenger of Peace, now travels around the world to encourage living in harmony with the natural world.
Top Madagascar shrimp co. moved millions among tax-haven shell companies [10/11/2018]
- Aziz Ismail, 85, a French citizen born in Madagascar, bought into Madagascar’s shrimp business in 1973. His empire, known generally as Unima, now includes at least eight privately held companies in Europe and Africa that are mainly involved in seafood from Madagascar, where operations are centered. - Ismail has also owned a British Virgin Islands-based shell company called Ergia Limited since 2000. In the last decade, Ergia appears to have had financial transactions totaling several million dollars with another apparent shell company in Mauritius that has close ties to Unima, and with Unima companies in Europe. - Although owning and using offshore companies is generally legal, tax and law enforcement officials are increasingly scrutinizing transactions through tax havens like the British Virgin Islands and Mauritius. Tax inspectors from Madagascar and other experts said Unima’s use of multiple offshore companies raises the risk of lost taxes for one of the world’s poorest countries. - Files obtained from the now-defunct Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca as part of the “Panama Papers” were the basis for this investigation by Mongabay and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Tech prize finalists promote collaboration to fight extinction [10/11/2018]
- Conservation X Labs recently announced 20 finalists for the Con X Tech Prize. As finalists, each project receives $3,500 seed money to develop ideas that may be early stage or broad in scope. - Among the finalists, the Wild N.O.S.E technology will use olfactory data to detect animals or animal parts and help stem trafficking, and the Right Whale Auto-Detect project listens for and identifies whale calls and then warns ships of whales in the area. - These projects express Con X Tech values, such as collaboration, working across disciplines and thinking big enough to deliver transformative conservation solutions with “exponential impact.” One finalist will be selected in November 2018 to receive the $20,000 grand prize.
Second environmental expert sued over testimony against palm oil firm [10/11/2018]
- A palm oil company convicted and fined for negligence over fires in its concession is now suing one of the expert witnesses who testified against it in court. - Bambang Hero Saharjo, an expert in fire forensics, is the second witness hit with a lawsuit by the company, JJP, which is seeking hefty damages on an apparently trivial technicality. - The company dropped an earlier lawsuit against another expert who testified against it, but its latest move has sparked concerns among activists about a rising tide of litigation to silence environmental defenders. - Indonesia has regulations in place to protect environmental defenders and witnesses giving testimony, but critics say there is little awareness among law enforcers about these protections.
It’s déjà vu for orangutans, devastated by climate change and hunting once before [10/11/2018]
- The fossil record shows that orangutan numbers and range declined rapidly in the late Pleistocene area; by 12,000 years ago they remained in only around 20 percent of their original range. - A recent study concludes that the twin pressures of climate change and human hunting were responsible for this rapid decline. - The study’s authors say their research indicates that humans and orangutans have co-existed for millennia, and can continue to do so if proper conservation measures are taken. - Their research suggests that far more attention needs to be paid to the impact human hunting has on modern orangutan populations.
Fire and agroforestry revive California indigenous groups’ traditions [10/11/2018]
- In Northern California, the Karuk and Yurok indigenous peoples are burning away decades of forest management practices and revitalizing their foodways and communities. - Prescribed burning is the main tool in the groups’ agroforestry system, which encourages proliferation of traditional foods like huckleberries, acorns, salmon and elk, medicinal herbs like wormwood, plus willow, bear grass and hazel for basket making. - Agroforestry is the conscious tending of groups of trees, shrubs and herbs in a forest system that benefits biodiversity, sequesters carbon from the atmosphere, improves water quality, and also provides traditional foods that these indigenous peoples need to carry on their customs. - At a time when California is repeatedly ravaged by wildfires, these groups’ fire management practices are being studied by state and national agencies to inform their own fire management techniques.
In a Colombian sanctuary, once-trafficked birds fly again [10/11/2018]
- Colombia is home to the most important aviary in South America, a sanctuary containing almost 2,000 birds. - The privately run National Aviary of Colombia serves as a refuge in which birds representing 165 different species have a second chance at life after escaping the hands of illegal wildlife traffickers. - So far in 2018, Colombian authorities have rescued nearly 4,000 birds — victims of a trafficking industry that has become the third-largest illicit economy in the country.
In a rhino stronghold, indigenous wood-carvers cut through stereotypes [10/10/2018]
- Local artisans near northeast India’s Kaziranga National Park say their wildlife-inspired woodcraft is an expression of nature-friendly values, and counters stereotypes of tribal people as antagonistic to conservation. - Small, locally owned workshops face competition from big-city businesses who control prime retail locations and can undercut their prices. - Carving a fast-growing local wood by hand, sculptors say theirs is a green craft, and should be promoted and supported by the government.
Senegal: After reviving fish and forests, Jola villages tackle new threats [10/10/2018]
- Thirteen years ago, the eight Jola villages in Mangagoulack, in Senegal’s Casamance region, were indebted and hungry, with overfishing, rising saltwater levels and rampant deforestation of mangroves contributing to a downward spiral. - In 2006, the community formed an association and began work toward drawing up a code of conduct based on traditional fishing and land-management techniques. The group, now known as the Kawawana ICCA, operates through consensual decision-making and has pledged to remain independent from the government and NGOs. - By 2012, the river was full of fish, oysters and other wildlife once again. Local people rejoiced at the renewed supply of food and income. - Today, climate change, a dam, state indifference to poachers, and a youth exodus are putting their hard-won standard of living at risk. Kawawana has served as a model for other communities in the region, and now the villagers hope that working together will help them face down their problems and fortify their gains.
Whales not enough sustenance for polar bears in fast-changing climate [10/10/2018]
- Scientists believe that whale carcasses may have helped polar bears survive past upswings in temperatures that melted the sea ice from which they usually hunt seals. - As the current changing climate threatens to make the Arctic ice-free during the summer, this strategy may help some populations of polar bears to survive. - But according to new study, whale carcasses won’t provide enough food for most bear populations because there are fewer whales than there once were, and human settlements, industry and shipping could affect the bears’ access to any carcasses that do wash ashore.
Indonesian government puts off Sumatran rhino IVF program [10/10/2018]
- Indonesia says a long-awaited program to breed Sumatran rhinos through IVF has been postponed, citing the lack of viable eggs from a female rhino in Malaysia. - The news becomes the latest setback in the years-long saga between the two countries, with some conservationists in Malaysia blaming the Indonesian government inaction for the dwindling odds of a successful artificial insemination attempt. - There are only an estimated 40 to 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the world, scattered on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
Hot pink swamp eel discovered in Indian rainforest [10/09/2018]
- Scientists from London’s Natural History Museum discovered a previously unknown species of swamp eel in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, India. - The biologists found only a single specimen living in mud near a rainforest stream. - Like other swamp eels, Monopterus rongsaw lives terrestrially, is blind, and has sharp teeth. - There are some 25 species are known to science worldwide.
Plastic trash from the ‘sachet economy’ chokes the Philippines’ seas [10/09/2018]
- The Philippines generates an enormous amount of trash and is the third worst ocean plastic polluter in the world, according to a 2015 study in the journal Science. - The trash is piling up on land, clogging coastlines, spilling into the sea, and traveling to remote corners of the globe as the country fails to meet targets for improved waste management that it signed into law 18 years ago. - The central government claims it’s done all it can, and that the onus is on local governments and the Philippine people to solve the problem. - But environmental advocates disagree, saying the government could do more, including pressuring multinational corporations to change how they package their products.
Decoding the language of bats key to their conservation [10/08/2018]
- Uruguayan scientists have developed a new artificial intelligence algorithm and reference library of bat ultrasound pulses to enable the use of acoustic monitoring of this understudied regional fauna. - Bats in the Southern Cone are threatened by wind turbines, but their species and sonar emissions differ from other areas, requiring the scientists to build their own acoustic library and predictive algorithms. - The scientists are collaborating with wind farm companies and international academics to help expand the reference library and improve the algorithm’s accuracy and speed.
The bioethics of wildlife intervention (commentary) [10/08/2018]
- As health care professionals, veterinarians are uniquely positioned to address complex ethical issues involving human, animal, and ecosystem health — a concept aptly known as “One Health.” This initiative governs the core of conservation medicine and reflects the interrelationship and transdisciplinary approach needed to ultimately ensure the wellbeing of all. - Veterinarians regularly wrestle with whether their actions are restorative or destructive, and reflect on a track record of gratifying wins and unsavory losses to learn from. - Given our substantial roles in the fate of conservation, it is imperative to debate the significance of interventional efforts and whether they can be rationalized. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Brazil scraps 11 new Amazon protected areas covering 2,316 square miles [10/08/2018]
- In recent months, the state deputies of the Legislative Assembly of Rondonia had moved to create 11 new protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon, covering about 600,000 hectares (2,316 square miles) of forest. - However, the bancada ruralista agribusiness lobby, bitterly opposed to the action, launched a counter legislative measure, attaching the scrapping of the protected areas to an emergency state funding bill. On 25 September, that funding bill passed, effectively killing the conserved areas. - Thirty years ago, only 2 percent of Rondonia’s forested land had been felled. That has increased to 28.5 percent today, the highest level in any Amazonian state due to a massive influx of land-hungry families, relocation encouraged by the government, along with the uncontrolled expansion of logging and land clearing for ranching. - Conservationists fear that continued illegal incursions into conserved areas could result in escalating violence as land grabbers, illicit loggers and cattlemen conflict with indigenous groups and Brazilian law enforcement over Amazon land claims.