Experience or evidence: How do big conservation NGOs make decisions? [11/21/2017]
- Scientists have been urging conservation NGOs to make decisions based on scientific evidence. - However, the big conservation NGOs run into many problems in trying to use the available science. Doing impact evaluations of their own projects is also hard and expensive, sources from the big conservation NGOs say. - For their work to be effective, the conservation community needs to develop a common understanding of what credible evidence means, how to best use different strands of evidence, and how organizations can evaluate their work and create evidence that others can use, experts across the conservation spectrum seem to agree. - This story is part of a special Mongabay series on “Conservation Effectiveness.”
From friends to strangers: The decline of the Irrawaddy dolphin (commentary) [11/20/2017]
- Now critically endangered, the last of the Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) are concentrated in nine deep-water pools over a 190-kilometer stretch of the Mekong between Cambodia’s Sambor district and Khone Falls on the Lao border. - Today the Mekong’s dolphins face a new threat. The proposed Sambor Dam on the river’s mainstream would catalyze the extinction of the remaining dolphin population and have disastrous consequences for many other fish species, as well as the communities that depend on them. - Can Cambodia bring this river dolphin back from the brink of extinction? - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Trump puts controversial decision allowing elephant trophy imports ‘on hold’ [11/20/2017]
- Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowed elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia to be imported to the U.S., lifting a previous ban under former President Barack Obama. - This move sparked criticism not only from conservationists and animal rights activists, but also from some President Trump supporters. - Following the widespread criticism, Trump tweeted that he would announce his decision on trophy imports next week.
To feed a growing population, farms chew away at Madagascar’s forests [11/17/2017]
- In Madagascar, farmers are cutting down forests and burning them to make way for rice cultivation. - The practice is traditional but now illegal because of the harm it causes to natural areas. Many species are already threatened with extinction due to forest loss. - With the country’s population expected to double by 2060, the pressure is likely to intensify.
Jane Goodall interview: ‘The most important thing is sharing good news’ [11/17/2017]
- Celebrated conservationist and Mongabay advisor Jane Goodall spoke with Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett A. Butler for the podcast just before departing for her latest speaking tour (she travels 300 days a year raising conservation awareness). Here we supply the full transcript. - This wide-ranging conversation begins with reaction to the science community’s recent acceptance of her six decade contention that animals are individuals with personalities, and moves on to discuss trends in conservation, and she then provides an update on the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI)’s global projects. - She also challenges trophy hunting as an effective tool for funding conservation (“It’s rubbish,” she says), shares her positive view of China’s quickly growing environmental movement, talks about the key role of technology in conservation, and discusses a range of good news, which she states is always so important to share. - Amazingly, Dr. Goodall reports that JGI’s youth program Roots & Shoots now has perhaps as many as 150,000 chapters worldwide, making it probably the largest conservation movement in the world, with many millions having been part of the program. An effort is now underway to document them all.
A tranquilizer shortage is holding back rhino management plans in India [11/16/2017]
- Conservationists rely on a semi-synthetic opioid called Etorphine HCl to tranquilize rhinos for veterinary care, translocation and other critical interventions. - Due to export regulations in South Africa, and red tape at home, Indian states face a critical shortage of the drug. - The lack of Etorphine is already holding up translocation plans in several protected areas, and preventing veterinarians from caring for injured animals.
Video: Thousands of illegally caught African gray parrots being rehabilitated [11/16/2017]
- The Wildlife Conservation Society has released a video showing seized African gray parrots being treated at a rescue facility built specially for the rehabilitation of these birds. - The birds were collected from the wild in the Republic of the Congo, and were most likely being smuggled to markets in Europe and the Middle East. - So far, the WCS team has rehabilitated and released almost 900 parrots back into the wild.
Lemur on the menu: most-endangered primates still served in Madagascar [11/15/2017]
- Officials in Madagascar’s northeastern Sava region say lemur is served illegally in restaurants. - One conservationist says people use a code to order lemur meat. - More than 90 percent of lemur species are threatened, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
Can the Solomon Islands’ Gold Ridge Mine serve as a new model for resource extraction in the South Pacific? [11/15/2017]
- After 17 years of foreign ownership and a checkered environmental history, the Solomon Islands’ Gold Ridge mine is now being led by a local landowner-driven joint venture. - The company saw its first major test in April 2016, when rainfall triggered a spillover from the mine’s tailing dam. However, independent tests found the water quality downstream remained safe. - Though concerns still remain, the new ownership structure could be a model for mining operations elsewhere in the region.
Audio: Dr. Jane Goodall on being proven right about animals having personalities, plus updates direct from COP23 [11/15/2017]
- On today’s episode, we speak with the legendary Jane Goodall, who truly needs no introduction, and will have a direct report from the United Nations’ climate talks happening now in Bonn, Germany. - Just before Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett Butler was scheduled to speak with Goodall recently, research came out that vindicated her contention, which she’s held for nearly 60 years, that animals have personalities just like people. So we decided to record her thoughts about that for the Mongabay Newscast. - Our second guest today is Mongabay contributor and Wake Forest University journalism professor Justin Catanoso, who appears on the podcast direct from COP23 to tell us how the UN climate talks are going in Bonn, Germany, what the mood is like amongst delegates, and how the US delegation is factoring into the talks as the Trump Administration continues to pursue a pullout from the Paris Climate Agreement.
More big mammals found in high-carbon forests, says new study [11/15/2017]
- The researchers used satellite data to measure forest carbon values and camera trap photographs to tally the mammal species present in forests and oil palm plantations. - Finer-scale data did reveal that high-carbon areas do support more species of medium and large mammals that are threatened with extinction. - Experts say that this research validates the high carbon stock approach for identifying priority areas for conservation. - Still, further research is required to better understand the role of connectivity between high-carbon forests in supporting biodiversity.
4 sperm whales dead after mass stranding in Sumatra [11/14/2017]
- A pod of 10 sperm whales beached earlier this week in shallow waters in western Indonesia. - Despite attempts by authorities and residents to push the animals back out into deeper water, four of the whales died after being stranded overnight. - Experts are looking into what caused the whales to swim so close to shore.
Madagascar petitions CITES to sell millions in stolen rosewood [11/13/2017]
- The Madagascar government has petitioned wildlife regulators under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for permission to sell its stockpiles of seized rainforest wood. - Some campaigners warn that traffickers stand to benefit from any such sale and fear it could herald a “logging boom” in the country’s remaining rainforests. - The CITES committee will consider the proposal at the end of this month.
Indonesian president recognizes land rights of nine more indigenous groups [11/12/2017]
- Indonesian President Joko Widodo last month gave several indigenous communities back the land rights to the forests they have called home for generations. - The total amount of customary forests relinquished to local groups under this initiative remains far short of what the government has promised, and looks unlikely to be fulfilled before the next presidential election in 2019. - At a recent conference in Jakarta, a senior government official said the president would sign a decree to help more communities secure rights.
Citizen scientists around the world are monitoring elephants in Gabon via camera traps — and you can too [11/10/2017]
- Camera traps have proven to be a powerful tool in conservationists’ arsenal for monitoring forests and wildlife. But the mountains of data they capture need to be sifted through in order to be useful, which often presents a significant challenge for cash-strapped conservationists and researchers. - To meet this challenge, a team led by Anabelle Cardoso, a PhD candidate at Oxford University in the UK, has turned to another promising new method that is reshaping the way research is done in modern times: citizen science. - Slow population growth and the ivory poaching crisis have driven down the numbers of African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) in recent years. “We want to conserve these beautiful creatures, but to do that effectively we need to know where these elephants are and how many of them there are, so we can pick the best places to focus our efforts,” Cardoso and her colleagues write.
Trump family planning policy may up population, hurt women, environment [11/10/2017]
- In January, U.S. President Donald Trump reinstated the global gag rule, first introduced under Ronald Reagan. It requires foreign NGOs receiving U.S. global family planning assistance to certify that they will not “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning” with non-U.S. funds. - According to Marie Stopes International (MSI), the gag rule could result in a minimum of 2.2 million abortions from 2017-2020, with 21,700 women dying as a result. And that only accounts for services lost from MSI. - Research shows that the gag rule is also likely to increase population growth in the developing world by reducing the ability of organizations to provide family planning services. This could endanger the environment in a variety of ways. For example, population growth puts more pressure on forests and wildlife. - A lack of family planning can lead to large families, with women spending more of their time on childrearing, largely leaving them out of any active role in community sustainability and conservation projects, as well as education programs that train them in sustainable livelihoods.
The fate of the Sumatran rhino is in the Indonesian government’s hands [11/10/2017]
- As the Sumatran rhino edges closer to extinction, aggressive interventions have stalled. Even ongoing efforts like ranger protection have been undercut by lack of government support. - As of May, conservation groups are united in their calls to ramp up captive-breeding efforts in Indonesia, but the government has not yet responded. - Frustrated conservationists cite bureaucracy, risk aversion, opaque and arbitrary decisions, and territorial squabbling as barriers to progress — but remain hopeful the government will act in time.
Is anyone going to save the Sumatran rhino? [11/09/2017]
- As the Sumatran rhino’s population dwindled, conservationists were locked in a debate about whether resources should be directed toward captive breeding or protecting wild populations. - With captive breeding efforts showing success, and wild populations becoming non-viable, the pendulum has swung in favor of captive breeding. - Experts agree that action is needed now more than ever, but any steps rely on support from the Indonesian government.
Logjam: Inside Madagascar’s illegal-rosewood stockpiles [11/08/2017]
- Over the past six years, Madagascar has spent millions of dollars and devoted countless person hours to figuring out how to dispose of vast stockpiles of highly valuable, illegally logged rosewood, much of it cut from the country’s rainforests following a 2009 coup. - To do so, the government must conduct a comprehensive inventory of the stockpiles, among other requirements issued by CITES. - The World Bank has supported the effort with at least $3 million to $4 million in murky ad hoc loans. - The current state of affairs, with untold thousands of rosewood logs still unaccounted for, and tens of thousands more stacked outside government offices, is widely seen as facilitating continued corruption and illicit activity.
Where, oh where, are the rhinos of Bukit Barisan Selatan? [11/08/2017]
- Some claim a small but viable population of about a dozen rhinos persists deep within the forests of Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park on Sumatra’s southwestern coast. - Camera traps haven’t captured a single rhino there since 2014, spurring doubts there are any rhinos remaining at all. - The disputed numbers lead to questions about what should happen to any rhinos that might remain in the park — and to the rangers assigned to protect them.
Top 10 most widely traded animals in the Golden Triangle identified in new report [11/08/2017]
- Recent surveys by WWF and TRAFFIC have identified 10 of the most widely trafficked animals in the Golden Triangle. - These top 10 animals are: the tiger, elephant, pangolin, bear, rhinoceros, serow, helmeted hornbill, gaur, leopard, and turtles. - The wildlife markets in the Golden Triangle cater mostly to tourists from China and Vietnam, the report noted.
Scientists plan to map a ‘safety net’ for Planet Earth [11/07/2017]
- The mapping effort, to be led by Washington, D.C.-based non-profit research organization RESOLVE together with Globaïa, an NGO based in Quebec, Canada, and Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Viçosa, aims to identify the most critical terrestrial regions to protect as we work towards the goal of conserving 50 percent of the world’s land area. - Scientists and conservationists have argued for years that setting aside at least half of the world’s land mass as off-limits to human enterprise is necessary if we are to conserve our planet’s biodiversity. - The “safety net” that RESOLVE and its partner institutions plan to map out will consist of a network of wildlife corridors that connect every protected area on Earth and link them up with other high-priority landscapes, as well, even those that are unprotected.
WildSpeak conservation photography event set for Washington, D.C. [11/07/2017]
- WildSpeak 2017 will gather some of the world’s leading conservation photographers, filmmakers, and scientists in Washington, D.C. to explore the role of visual media in improving science communication and conservation outcomes on November 14 and 15. - The annual event is hosted by the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). - ILCP’s new director Susan Norton shares some incredible images made by ILCP fellows and some thoughts about what’s exciting about this year’s event and the conservation photography field generally.
Worst-case scenario: There could be only 30 wild Sumatran rhinos left [11/07/2017]
- In 1986, scientists estimated there could be as many as 800 Sumatran rhinos left. That fell to 400 in 1996, then 275 in 2008. - Today the official estimate is 100 rhinos, but almost all experts believe that figure is overly optimistic. - Adding up the minimum estimate for each of the four known wild populations yields a total of just 30 wild Sumatran rhinos left on earth, plus another nine in captivity.
Breeding-age female vaquita dies after being taken into captivity [11/06/2017]
- A team of marine mammal experts assembled by the Mexican government created a project called VaquitaCPR that aims to capture the remaining 30 vaquitas (Phocoena sinus) and keep them safe in specially built floating “sea pens.” - Late last month, scientists with VaquitaCPR took the first of the marine mammals into captivity. Though the 6-month-old calf became so stressed by its capture that the team quickly chose to release it back into the wild, Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, a scientist with the Mexican government who heads the VaquitaCPR program, suggested that the fact that they were able to successfully find and capture a vaquita at all was an encouraging sign. - This past weekend, however, it was announced that another vaquita — a breeding-age female — was taken into captivity and subsequently died. This has prompted calls to shut down the vaquita capture program altogether.
Recent report: Totoaba trafficking a conservation and security problem [11/06/2017]
- The NGO C4ADS reports that the trade of totoaba swim bladders to feed Asian markets is as much a security issue as a conservation problem. - Fishermen and women in the Gulf of California have continued to pursue the critically endangered fish, despite the ban on gillnets, which have also decimated the vaquita porpoise. - Vaquita in the wild number fewer than 30 animals, scientists say. - C4ADS has published the results of its investigation with evidence of the overlap between totoaba traders and drug traffickers on a new website, and will published their recent report in Spanish.
Three rhinos killed in 48 hours in India’s Kaziranga National Park [11/06/2017]
- An adult female rhino was killed by poachers Nov. 2, and a female and her calf Nov. 4, in Kaziranga National Park. - Kaziranga, which is home to the world’s largest population of greater one-horned rhinoceros, had previously only lost two rhinos to poachers in 2017. - State officials have vowed to provide park guards with more sophisticated arms, while park authorities cite the need to more surveillance inside the park’s difficult terrain.
Indonesia races against time to save new orangutan species [11/06/2017]
- With an estimated population of less than 800, the newly described Tapanuli orangutan is already at risk of extinction due to habitat destruction and fragmentation. - The Indonesian government will come up with a strategy to protect the orangutan, including the establishment of protected forest areas and wildlife sanctuaries. - The government will also review a plan to build a hydroelectric plant in an area with the highest known density of Tapanuli orangutans.
Indonesian NGOs lawyer up against environmental crimes [11/06/2017]
- NGOs in North Sumatra have joined forces to set up a network of legal experts in environmental law. - The region has long suffered from environment-related crimes that often are handled poorly by the authorities. - The team will push for stronger enforcement of environmental law and justice in the province.
Does community-based forest management work in the tropics? [11/02/2017]
- To find out if community-based forest management is effective, we read 30 studies that best represent the available evidence.
(See the interactive infographic below.) - Overall, community-based forest management does not appear to make a forest’s condition worse — and may even make it better. - The evidence on socio-economic benefits is mixed, but what research there is suggests that community-based forest management sometimes aggravates existing inequities within communities. - This story is part of a special Mongabay series on “Conservation Effectiveness”.
Madagascar environmental activist convicted, sentenced — and paroled [11/02/2017]
- At a community meeting on September 27, a farmer named Raleva asked to see the permits of a gold mining company trying to restart work in his village in southeast Madagascar. - He was arrested and held in prison for about one month. On October 26, a judge sentenced him to two years in prison, and then promptly released him on parole. - This follows a recent pattern in the country in which activists are often given suspended sentences, seemingly as a way of keeping them quiet.
A new species of orangutan from Indonesia (analysis) [11/02/2017]
- Scientists have described a third species of orangutan. - The Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) is found in the Tapanuli region of Indonesia’s North Sumatra province. - The species is already considered at risk of extinction. - This guest post is an analysis by researchers, including authors of the paper that describes the new primate species.
Environmental policy under the Kuczynski Administration: Steps forward for conservation efforts in Peru (commentary) [11/02/2017]
- Many national and foreign initiatives exist to curb deforestation in Peru; these range from the implementation of sustainable management plans to the purchase of carbon credits. Still, domestic environmental policy remains a key factor in preserving biodiversity. - The election of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in June 2016 held the potential for an improved approach towards environmental conservation. - While it is still too early to determine Kuczynski’s environmental legacy, a recent series of events suggest that Peru is trying to find a balance between its need for development and the protection of its biodiversity. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Indonesian Supreme Court strikes down regulation on peat protection [11/02/2017]
- Indonesia’s Supreme Court has quashed a ministerial regulation obliging forestry companies to relinquish and protect carbon-rich concessions in protected peat areas. - The regulation was part of a package of new rules meant to prevent a recurrence of the annual fires that burn across Indonesia’s vast peat swamp zones. - Businesses, labor unions and politicians had expressed concern over the regulation, saying that it would result in loss of productivity and massive layoffs. - The government says the court ruling will not hamper the nation’s efforts to protect its peatlands.
Fish vs. forests? Madagascar’s marine conservation boom [11/01/2017]
- Inspired by early successes in marine conservation, locally controlled fisheries projects have expanded quickly along Madagascar’s 3,000-mile-long coastline over the past 15 years. - Now that growth is poised to skyrocket, with rising interest in fisheries management and conservation from international donors, including a planned injection of more than $70 million by the World Bank. - But the scale of funding for marine conservation has prompted concerns from both small NGOs that already work on fisheries and advocates of terrestrial conservation, who point to the uneven track record of locally controlled fisheries projects around the country. - This is the fifth story in Mongabay’s multi-part series “Conservation in Madagascar.”
Audio: Impacts of gas drilling on wildlife in Peru and a Goldman Prize winner on mercury contamination [11/01/2017]
- On today’s episode: a look at the impacts of drilling for natural gas on birds and amphibians through bioacoustics, and a Goldman Prize winner discusses her ongoing campaign to rid mercury contamination from the environment. - Our first guest on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast is Jessica Deichmann, a research scientist with the Center for Conservation and Sustainability at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Deichmann led a study that used acoustic monitoring, among other methods, to examine the impacts on wildlife of a gas drilling platform in the forests of southeastern Peru. - Next, we talk with 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Yuyun Ismawati, an environmental engineer from Indonesia who currently lives in the UK. As the founder of an NGO called BaliFokus and a steering committee member of IPEN, a non-profit based in Sweden that works to improve chemicals policies and practices around the world, Ismawati has made it her life’s mission to stop the use of mercury in activities like gold mining that cause the toxin to leach into the environment and thereby threaten human health and wildlife.
Carbon sequestration role of savanna soils key to climate goals [11/01/2017]
- Savannas and grasslands cover a vast area, some 20 percent of the earth’s land surface — from sub-Saharan Africa, to the Cerrado in Brazil, to North America’s heartland. They also offer an enormous and underappreciated capacity for carbon sequestration. - However, the role of forests in storing carbon has long been emphasized over the role of savannas (and savanna soils) by international climate negotiators, resulting in policies such as REDD+ for preserving and restoring forests, with no such incentives for protecting grasslands. - Scientists warn that the planting of trees, such as nonnative eucalyptus in Africa and Brazil, could be counterproductive in the long term, potentially contributing to climate change emissions while harming grassland biodiversity and altering ecosystems. - As participants prepare to meet for the COP23 climate summit in Bonn, Germany next week, grassland scientists are urging that policymakers turn an eye toward savannas, and begin to develop incentives for preserving them and their carbon storing soils. More research is also needed to fully understand the role savannas can play in carbon sequestration.
Is Cambodia’s plan to reintroduce tigers doomed to fail? [11/01/2017]
- As recently as 1999, Cambodia was home to one of the world’s largest tiger populations. Today the Indochinese tiger is considered functionally extinct in the country. - Cambodia is now looking to emulate the profitable success of India’s tiger reserves by reintroducing the big cats to its own forests - Experts say poaching, rampant corruption and weak law enforcement could spell disaster for the endangered animals.
Brilliantly colored ‘lost’ salamander rediscovered after 42 years [11/01/2017]
- The striking, yellow-hued Jackson’s climbing salamander was first reported to science in 1975, then never recorded again. - But last month, a guard at a recently created amphibian reserve in Guatemala’s Cuchumatanes Mountain range spotted a juvenile of the species while he was patrolling. - Conservationists are excited because the salamander was “rediscovered” in a reserve especially created to help protect the habitat of amphibians like the Jackson’s climbing salamander.
Indonesians plant trees to nurse seagrass back to health in Wakatobi [10/31/2017]
- Long understudied and misunderstood, seagrass is now being recognized for its importance around the world as a carbon sink but also as an essential part of people’s daily lives. - But it is also being lost at an incredibly fast rate, equal to the loss of rainforests, according to researchers. - On an island in Indonesia’s Wakatobi National Park, communities are planting trees and educating local people to save seagrass, for present and future generations.
Is the Forest Stewardship Council going to stay ‘fit for purpose’ for this century? (commentary) [10/31/2017]
- Reflecting on the General Assembly in Vancouver, held earlier this month, has me questioning whether FSC is going to stay fit for purpose for this century, or whether it is going to be held back by misguided economic self-interest. - The idea is that members of the three FSC chambers – social, environmental, and economic – come together to shape the future of the certification system by discussing and voting on motions that fundamentally affect the way FSC is run. But is that really still the case? - For the first time in the eight FSC general assemblies I’ve attended over the past 20+ years, I wondered whether this is a network with a shared vision that is innovative, adaptive, and progressive. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Trump budget undercuts U.S. commitment to global wildlife conservation [10/30/2017]
- President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would make extensive cuts to already underfunded programs to combat wildlife trafficking and to aid African and Asian nations in protecting elephants, rhinos, tigers, pangolins and other endangered wildlife. - Trump’s budget proposes a 32 percent across-the-board cut in U.S. foreign assistance, affecting hundreds of sustainability, health and environmental programs. - Major cuts would come to the Department of State, USAID, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs. - Congress needs to approve a 2018 budget by December, and no one knows if it will approve the president’s desired deep cuts. However, hostility from the administration and many in the GOP to wildlife programs is unlikely to go away any time soon, with more and larger reductions in years to come.
Parks and reserves ‘significant’ force for slowing climate change [10/30/2017]
- Protecting tropical forests between 2000 and 2012 amounted to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to a 29 percent cut in deforestation rates. - The authors used statistical models to estimate the amount of CO2 that would have been released if currently protected areas in South America, Asia and Africa had instead been cleared. - The researchers argue that their findings bolster the conservation case for safeguarding tropical forests.
A roar for nature in Indonesia: Q&A with the poet behind ‘Indigenous Species’ [10/30/2017]
- “Indigenous Species” is a book-length poem that highlights environmental crimes and violations of indigenous peoples’ rights in Indonesia. - The literary work has been performed at international events since 2013 and was published last December. - Mongabay caught up with poet Khairani Barokka to discuss her book, activism and environmental issues in literature.
Indonesia’s big development push in Papua: Q&A with program overseer Judith J. Dipodiputro [10/27/2017]
- Papua and West Papua provinces are among President Joko Widodo’s top focus in his ambitious infrastructure development program for Indonesia’s remote and under-developed regions. - Not everyone supports the program, however, due to the environmental impact it poses and the cost to local communities. - Mongabay speaks with Judith J. Dipodiputro, who heads a special presidential working group for Papua and West Papua, about progress, challenges and solutions in both provinces. - Dipodiputro believes infrastructure development is crucial for realizing equal rights for Papuans.
RAPP to retire some plantation land in Sumatra amid government pressure [10/27/2017]
- A subsidiary of paper giant APRIL has agreed in principle to retire a large part of its plantations in eastern Sumatra for conservation purposes, following government orders. - The company initially refused to comply with what it saw as an illegal order, and warned of a 50 percent reduction in supply from its concessions. - In giving up part of its concessions, RAPP is demanding to be compensated with new land — something the government has agreed to do in stages.
Supporting conservation by playing a game? Seriously? (commentary) [10/26/2017]
- Can you answer important questions about conservation by playing a game? Yes, and it works. - In August, ForDev, the research team I lead, was invited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Congo Basin Office to facilitate a workshop of their Regional Working Group on High Conservation Values. FSC’s goal was to define regional indicators for the management of Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs) within certified forest concessions. - We combined the MineSet role-playing game with facilitation techniques to help members of the Working Group understand each other, integrate research outputs in their discussions, and support the decision-making process. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Lemur species losing favorite food to climate change, new study says [10/26/2017]
- The greater bamboo lemur tends to feed on nutritious bamboo shoots, switching to the woody trunk of the plant only during the dry season. - A longer dry season due to climate change could force them to subsist on this less-than-optimal food source for more of the year, potentially pushing this critically endangered species closer to extinction, according to a new study. - This discovery could have implications for other threatened species, like the giant panda, that depend on one type of food.
As Grauer’s gorillas cling to survival, new population found [10/26/2017]
- Since 1994, civil war has left over 5 million people dead and wildlife decimated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Today, heavily armed militia and illegal miners prospect for “conflict minerals” needed for modern electronic devices made and sold in the U.S. and around the globe. - Hunters have targeted Grauer’s gorillas to feed miners and militias: in just two decades, these great apes have declined by 77 percent. A 2016 survey found only 3,800 Grauer’s gorillas, the world’s largest primates, still hanging on in the most rugged parts of eastern DRC. - The good news: a bold group of scientists, under the protection of armed rangers, has found 50 previously uncounted Grauer’s gorillas in DRC’s Maiko National Park. And more may exist within the 4,000 square-mile park. - The bad news: the US House of Representatives voted last month to defund the “Conflict Mineral Rule,” which required US companies to report where conflict minerals, such as coltan used in cell phones and computers, were sourced. The Senate has yet to take action on the legislation.
Two scientists and a NASA astronaut just biked across the Brazilian Amazon and want to tell you about it [10/25/2017]
- On Sept 26, two scientists and a NASA astronaut completed TransAmazon +25, a bike trek across the Brazilian Amazon. - What makes this trip particularly interesting is that one of the cyclists, Osvaldo Stella, a mechanical engineer with the non-profit Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) in Brazil who works with small-scale farmers and other landowners to preserve and restore forests, did the same ride 25 years ago. - Stella was accompanied on the journey by Paulo Moutinho, a co-founder and senior scientist at IPAM and a Distinguished Policy Fellow at the Woods Hole Research Center in the USA; as well as Chris Cassidy, an astronaut with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Navy SEAL. - “Gold mining, deforestation, and pastures covered many of the areas that were covered with forest 25 years ago,” Stella told Mongabay. ”The cities are larger but have not changed much in their overall appearance. One more sign that the current economic model generates much impact to the environment but little improvement in the quality of life of the people.”
Building conservation’s brain trust in Madagascar [10/25/2017]
- Foreigners have dominated scientific research in Madagascar, with more than 9 out of 10 publications on biodiversity led by foreigners from 1960 to 2015. - A series of programs aimed at boosting early career Malagasy scientists is now bearing fruit as local researchers take on leadership roles in conservation. - But Madagascar’s higher education system remains weak and deeply under-funded, so that the best chance of rigorous training and support for graduate work often comes through connections overseas. - This is the fourth story in Mongabay’s multi-part series “Conservation in Madagascar.”
First vaquita ‘rescued’ in bid to save the porpoise from extinction [10/25/2017]
- A project to save a small, critically endangered porpoise called the vaquita in the Gulf of California succeeded in capturing a 6-month-old calf in mid-October. - Veterinarians noticed signs of stress, so they made the decision to release it back into the wild, rather than keep it in a sea pen. - The project’s leaders are heartened by the experience and hope to round up more vaquita to keep them safe from the still-present threat of gillnet entanglement in the northern Sea of Cortez.
Rhino poacher sentenced to 18 years in prison [10/25/2017]
- A court in Malawi has convicted and sentenced a rhino poacher to 18 years in prison for killing an adult female black rhinoceros. - Two of his accomplices were also handed sentences of ten and eight years each. - The recent 18-year sentence might serve as a deterrent to would-be poachers, some experts say.
Black rhinos in Tanzania now monitored via sensors implanted directly in their horns [10/24/2017]
- In a first for the species, several black rhinos in Tanzania’s Mkomazi National Park have had small, networked sensors embedded directly in their horns in order to allow park rangers to monitor the animals much more closely than in the past. - The sensors make use of LoRaWAN technology (which stands for “Long Range Wide Area Network”), designed to allow low-powered devices, like sensors in rhino horns, to communicate with Internet-connected devices, like computers in a ranger station, over long-range wireless networks. - LoRaWAN is one of several technologies currently being put to use for real-time monitoring of wildlife. The network in Tanzania’s Mkomazi National Park, where the sensors were recently deployed, covers the entire rhino sanctuary in the park.
FSC mulls rule change to allow certification for recent deforesters [10/24/2017]
- Motion 7 passed at the FSC General Assembly meeting in Vancouver on Oct. 13, indicating that the organization will pursue a change to its rules allowing companies that have converted forests to plantations since 1994 to go for certification. - Current rules do not allow FSC certification for any companies that have cleared forested land since 1994. - Proponents of a rule change say it would allow more companies to be held to FSC standards and could result in the restoration or conservation of ‘millions of hectares’ in compensation for recent deforestation. - Opponents argue that FSC is bending to industry demands and that a rule change will increase the pressure for land conversion on communities and biodiversity.
New study: Risky roads cause more than just environmental harm [10/24/2017]
- Globally, 25 million kilometers (15.5 million miles) of paved roads are planned for construction by 2050. - A new study, published Monday in the journal Current Biology, examines the environmental, socio-political and economic risks that accompany road building, particularly in the developing world. - The authors argue for a more deliberate process to select sites for roads that will produce the most economic benefit while minimizing damage to the environment.
Saving the ‘Star Wars gibbon’: Q&A with primatologist Carolyn Thompson [10/24/2017]
- Carolyn Thompson, a Ph.D. student at University College London, is studying the newly described and little-known Skywalker hoolock gibbon. - She is working with the very team that first described the small ape in the China-Myanmar border region. - Thompson hopes that her research will contribute to the gibbon’s threat assessment on the International Union of Conservation for Nature Species Red List.
Life and death and the jaguars of the mind (commentary) [10/23/2017]
- The jaguar is the largest predator in the lands it roams. It once thrived across much of South America, all of Central America, and into the southwestern United States, but hunting and deforestation have slashed its numbers and range. - For a species being nudged to the edge of extinction, the way people think matters. But the jaguars of the mind are always evolving. And, as new research shows, when money enters the picture, opinions can soon shift. - Whether cast as violent killers or noble beasts, as ghosts or money-makers, jaguars are always shifting into new forms, reflecting changes in how we think about the world about us. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
As Northwest salmon economy teeters on brink, Trump gives it a push [10/23/2017]
- Northwest salmon fisheries are in trouble, impacted by warming oceans and overdeveloped, dammed and silted spawning rivers and streams. - Pre-contact indigenous groups in the region once organized their societies around sustainable fishing tribal agreements that worked. More recently, under past presidential administrations, Canadian, US and tribal authorities came together to save the declining salmon fisheries. - Especially successful have been federally funded local, state and tribal programs, administered by NOAA, that protect and restore Northwest spawning streams — an investment in habitat and healthy local economies. - Trump’s 2018 budget would cut all those programs, though for now Congress has restored them. However, politicians and regulators are concerned that Trump’s abandonment of Northwest fisheries and local economies will persist through his administration.
Helmeted hornbill, on verge of extinction, finds respite in new zone outside of known range [10/23/2017]
- A recent survey has found a high concentration of near-extinct helmeted hornbills in a conservation area in western Borneo. - This “hornbill paradise” is currently not included in the IUCN range map for this particular species. - Conservationists have called for the map to be updated, for more research in the area, and for stronger law enforcement to protect the distinctive bird.
Half-Earth Day to be celebrated next week [10/20/2017]
- This Monday, October 23, marks the first-ever Half-Earth Day. - The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and National Geographic timed the event to occur exactly half a year after Earth Day (April 22). But Half-Earth Day also gets its name from the biodiversity conservation initiative spearheaded by renowned biologist and conservationist Edward O. Wilson, discussed in his 2016 book, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life. - Wilson’s idea, which he says is backed up by research, is that we can protect 85 percent of Earth’s biodiversity by conserving half of the world’s land and seas. - The evening program at Half-Earth Day will feature legendary singer/songwriter Paul Simon, who recently did a 19-city tour in support of Half-Earth.
The Philippines commits to science-anchored fishery policies [10/20/2017]
- The Philippines ranks 10th in the world in terms of its annual catch, and Filipinos consume 32.7 kilograms (72.1 pounds) of fish each year. - At the same time, 70 percent of the Philippines’ fish populations are overfished. - The country is now set to work with the Environmental Defense Fund to bring data analysis and science into fisheries decisions by 2022.
Another Madagascar environmental activist imprisoned [10/20/2017]
- Malagasy authorities have held Raleva, a 61-year-old farmer, in custody since September 27 after he asked to see a mining company’s permits to operate near his village. - His arrest is at least the sixth such case of authorities targeting those opposed to wildlife trafficking or land grabs. - Environmental activists say they face bribes and threats from traffickers on one side, and jail time and fines from the government on the other.
Road building threatens forests, water supplies in Kuala Lumpur area [10/19/2017]
- Construction has begun on the East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE), part of a broader plan to create a ring road around Malaysia’s capital. - The road has been controversial from the start, with environmentalists and residents raising concerns about its impact on forests, wildlife, erosion and urban water supplies. - Activists are particularly concerned about the second phase of the project, fearing it will threaten the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge, a proposed World Heritage site.
Leading US plywood firm linked to alleged destruction, rights violations in Malaysia [10/19/2017]
- An investigation has found that Liberty Woods, the top importer of plywood in the US, buys wood from a Malaysian company that has faced numerous allegations of environmentally unsustainable logging and indigenous rights violations. - Environmental NGOs have accused the timber industry in Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, of clearing too much forest too quickly, polluting streams and rivers and failing to obtain consent to log from local communities. - Satellite imagery analysis in 2013 showed that, between 2000 and 2012, Malaysia had the world’s highest deforestation rate. - In Sarawak, where logging company Shin Yang is based, only 5 percent of forests remain relatively untouched.
Seychelles home to new species of caecilian, a legless amphibian [10/19/2017]
- The Petite Praslin caecilian (Hypogeophis pti) is the world’s newest — and possibly the smallest — caecilian, a type of legless amphibian. - Scientists discovered the animal on the island of Praslin in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean. - The new species is the seventh caecilian species found in the Seychelles, where the amphibians have been evolving for 64 million years.
Audio: Indonesian rainforests for sale and bat calls of the Amazon [10/18/2017]
- This episode of the Mongabay Newscast takes a look at the first installment of our new investigative series, “Indonesia for Sale,” and features the sounds of Amazonian bats. - Mongabay’s Indonesia-based editor Phil Jacobson joins the Newscast to tell us all about “Indonesia for Sale” and the first piece in the series, “The palm oil fiefdom.” - We also speak with Adrià López-Baucells, a PhD student in bat ecology who has conducted acoustic studies of bats in the central Amazon for the past several years. In this Field Notes segment, López-Baucells plays some of the recordings he used to study the effects of Amazon forest fragmentation on bat foraging behavior.
How small is too small? The uncertain fate of Madagascar’s forest fragments [10/18/2017]
- Madagascar’s total forest cover fell by 40 percent in the second half of the 20th century, but fragmentation of the forests that remained progressed even more quickly. - Conservation groups are working to conserve a number of small fragments. In Ankafobe, the local community has come together to reconnect three scraps of forest and defend them against fire. - The risk that both animates this work and threatens to make it obsolete is that fire, agriculture, or other pressures could reduce the size of these fragments below some basic threshold of ecological viability. - This is the third story in Mongabay’s multi-part series “Conservation in Madagascar.”
One man’s quest to save the world’s wildest places: Hansjörg Wyss [10/18/2017]
- A summer spent in Colorado in 1958 prompted Hansjörg Wyss’s life-long commitment to conservation. - As his means increased, Wyss became one of the world’s most generous philanthropists, supporting causes ranging from the arts to social justice to science to conservation. - Much of Wyss’s support of conservation has focused on creating permanent public access to the rugged landscapes of the American West - In recent years Wyss has expanded his efforts to other regions, including the Amazon rainforest, African savannas and forests, and in Romania.
Study maps out reptiles’ ranges, completing the ‘atlas of life’ [10/17/2017]
- The study’s 39 authors, from 30 institutions around the world, pulled together data on the habitats of more than 10,000 species of reptiles. - They found little overlap with current conservation areas, many of which have used the numbers of mammal and bird species present as proxies for overall biodiversity. - In particular, lizards and turtles aren’t afforded much protection under current schemes. - The authors report that they’ve identified high-priority areas for conservation that protects reptile diversity, ranging from deserts in the Middle East, Africa and Australia, to grass- and scrublands in Asia and Brazil.
Acidifying oceans a bad trip for marine ecosystems [10/17/2017]
- A new study is one of the few to investigate what ocean acidification might do to fish communities, by studying CO2-producing vents as proxies for elevated carbon environments. - Researchers found that common fish benefited from acidified environments while rarer fish disappeared. - The research has long-reaching implications for biodiversity and ecosystem functionality as the oceans acidify from absorbing the CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere.
When a rhino calls in the forest, this guy hears it: Q&A with a Javan rhino researcher [10/16/2017]
- Javan rhinos are so cryptic and elusive that they are difficult to study, despite the entire species being confined to a single site. - Camera traps are giving researchers new insights into the species’ behaviors and environmental needs. - Steve Wilson, a doctoral student working on a dissertation about Javan rhinos, explains some of these new findings — and how novel research methods might help guide conservation strategies.
Questioning militarization is essential for successful and socially just conservation (commentary) [10/16/2017]
- It is important to question and critically analyze new directions in conservation, as failing to do so will undoubtedly lead to negative outcomes for people and wildlife. Justice for animals is not well served by perpetrating other injustices. - I can agree that poaching is against the law and therefore is a crime. But the law is not a neutral or apolitical instrument. For example, the argument that wildlife laws are neutral instruments renders invisible the colonial origins of wildlife laws in Africa, which separated wildlife and people in ways that actively produce human-wildlife conflict today. - It is useful and important to debate the problems of militarization, because this can and should shape policy and funding strategies for conservation. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Farming and forest loss: study exposes malaria’s best friends [10/16/2017]
- The study compared the rates of forest loss and malaria prevalence across 67 countries, revealing a positive association between deforestation and malaria transmission. - Researchers also considered the socio-economic context behind the environmental trends, highlighting that poverty and poor public health promoted malaria vulnerability while deforestation was driven by large rural populations. - Researchers recommend focusing measures to prevent malaria in areas where deforestation is severe, practicing more tree-friendly agriculture.
Photo of ‘resurrected’ extinct Indonesian tiger is actually leopard, scientists say [10/15/2017]
- A recent photograph of a big cat by park rangers in Java sparked suggestions that it could be the Javan tiger, which was officially declared extinct in 2003. - Scientists, however, have concluded that the animal in the picture is a Javan leopard. - The sighting of the critically endangered leopard subspecies has renewed calls to protect it from also going extinct.
Mexico takes ‘unprecedented’ action to save vaquita [10/15/2017]
- A team of marine mammal experts have begun a search for the last vaquitas (Phocoena sinus) in a last-ditch effort to capture the remaining 30 porpoises until they’re no longer threatened by gillnets. - VaquitaCPR seeks to house the vaquita in sea pens and includes plans for long-term care and breeding. - Though seen as ‘risky’ and ‘bold,’ many conservation organizations agree that finding the animals before it’s too late is the only option.
Seafood calendar promotes sustainable, seasonal eating in India [10/13/2017]
- Indian conservationists have started a campaign called Know Your Fish to help consumers avoid eating seafood caught during critical breeding and spawning times. - It’s an unusual approach; for instance, sustainable seafood campaigns in the U.S. focus on encouraging consumers to pursue or avoid particular species or fisheries altogether. - In India, where seasonal fisheries restrictions are commonly flouted and people typically buy fresh seafood from local markets, conservationists say a change toward seasonal eating could help improve the health of marine ecosystems.
Is Bangladesh’s expanded sanctuary a brave step or a paper tiger? [10/13/2017]
- The government’s decision increases the proportion of the Bangladesh Sundarbans that is off-limits to people from 23 to 52 percent, although pollution from a proposed coal power plant nearby would be an ongoing risk. - Locals living near the forest have minimized the number of tigers killed in conflict with humans by forming response teams that ward tigers away from villages. - Policy tailored to addressing the myriad reasons for tiger killing would have even more success in reversing the decline of the Bengal tiger, research suggests.
Cash for conservation: Do payments for ecosystem services work? [10/12/2017]
- What can we say about the effectiveness of payments for ecosystem services (PES) based on the available scientific literature? To find out, we examined 38 studies that represent the best evidence we could find. - The vast majority of the evidence in those 38 studies was still very weak, however. In other words, most of the studies did not compare areas where PES had been implemented with non-PES control areas or some other kind of countervailing example. - On average, the more rigorously designed studies showed very modest reductions in deforestation, generally of just a few percentage points. Meanwhile, the majority of the available evidence suggests that payments were often too low to cover the opportunity costs of agricultural development or other profitable activities that the land could have been used for. - This is part of a special Mongabay series on “Conservation Effectiveness.”
Ivory is out in the UK, as government moves to shutter legal trade [10/12/2017]
- The British government began a 12-week consultation period on Oct. 6 to sort out the details for a near-total ban on its domestic ivory trade. - Conservation groups have long worried that even a legal trade can mask the illicit movement of ivory and stimulate further demand for ivory from poached elephants. - The conservation groups WCS and Stop Ivory applauded the announcement and pledged to work with the government to put the ban in place.
Trump’s global resorts put profit first, environment last, critics say [10/11/2017]
- Donald Trump’s negative environmental record in Scotland and elsewhere has conservationists concerned in Bali, where Trump firms are developing a major resort and golf facility known as Trump International Hotel & Tower Bali. - Another resort under development, the Trump International Hotel & Tower Lido, a 700-hectare facility including a six-star luxury resort, theme park, country club, spa, villas, condos and 18-hole golf course threatens the nearby Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park, one of Java’s last virgin tropical forests. - Mongabay looked into Trump’s claims that he is an environmentalist, winning “many, many environmental awards.” We were able to locate just two — one a local New York award, and another granted by a golf business association. The Trump Organization did not respond to requests to list Mr. Trump’s awards. - Trump’s environmental record as president, and as a businessman, is abysmal, say critics. His attempt to defund the U.S. Energy Star program, they say, is typical of a compulsion to protect his self interest: Energy Star has given poor ratings to nearly all Trump’s hotels, which experts note has possibly impacted his bottom line.
Eat less meat, save species and ecosystems, says WWF UK [10/11/2017]
- Crops for livestock feed damage ecosystems and threaten wildlife, says WWF UK. - The conservation NGO estimates that just the UK’s livestock industry has caused the extinction of 33 species worldwide. - However, if people lower their protein intake to recommended amounts, farmers would need 13 percent less land to produce feed for livestock and farmed fish, saving an area 1.5 times the size of the EU.
Myanmar caves yield up 19 new gecko species [10/11/2017]
- Scientists have discovered 19 new species of strikingly patterned geckos within a small area of 90 kilometers by 50 kilometers in Myanmar. - These geckos are most likely restricted to the limestone hills and towers within which they were found. - Conservationists hope that these newly discovered animals can serve as “ambassadors” for the limestone hills, especially since many of these hills are being mined by cement companies.
Conservation in a weak state: Madagascar struggles with enforcement [10/10/2017]
- In the years since Madagascar’s 2009 coup d’état, the area around Ranomafana National Park has faced security threats from illegal gold miners, armed cattle rustlers, and bandits that have made it increasingly difficult to operate parts of the park. - Elsewhere in the country illegal logging and mining, corruption, impunity and other breaches threaten to undermine conservation efforts, and limited funds make enforcement difficult. - The problem underscores a broad challenge for conservationists across Madagascar: how to make progress on a set of environmental goals that depend fundamentally on the rule of law? - This is the second story in Mongabay’s multi-part series “Conservation in Madagascar.”
Birdwatching poised to take flight in Colombia, study reveals [10/10/2017]
- A new study identifies 67 communities with high potential for developing birdwatching ecotourism in Colombia. - The country is home to more than 1,900 bird species, including 443 rare birds ‘highly valued by bird watchers.’ - The authors present ecotourism as an alternative to mining and logging as rural communities look for ways to develop economically after a decades-long conflict.
Attacks on ‘militarized conservation’ are naive (commentary) [10/10/2017]
- Over the past few months, a few academics have released a tide of articles criticizing what they call the “militarization of conservation,” but their ideas are not grounded in reality and, if taken seriously, would only speed up the extinction of threatened wildlife. - Critics of “militarized conservation” often deride the “increasing acceptability of human deaths in defense of animal lives”. But this completely misses the point. Most civilized countries do not have the death penalty, yet law enforcement officials occasionally have to resort to lethal force to protect the public, themselves, or their colleagues, in the course of carrying out their professional duty. - If we desire that wildlife and wild places have a place in our future, then we must extend them the same level of protection as we afford other resources, or they will be lost forever. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Experts seek ways to mitigate environmental impacts of infrastructure boom in Asia Pacific [10/09/2017]
- More than 22 million kilometers of new roads are projected to be built in highly biodiverse tropical and developing countries by 2050. - Direct habitat loss, illegal logging, increased poaching and encroachment and animal road kill are some of the environmental risks associated with road development. - Last week, a conference of experts, officials and activists from the Asia-Pacific region discussed ways to maximize the socio-economic benefits of infrastructure development while mitigating the environmental risks.
Colombia, an example to world, balances conservation and development [10/09/2017]
- Colombia, under the leadership of President Juan Santos, has more than doubled its national conserved area — from 13 million hectares (50,193 square miles) in 2010, to 28.4 million hectares (109,653 square miles) today — an extraordinary achievement for any country.* - In an exclusive interview with Mongabay, Luis Gilberto Murillo, Colombia’s minister of the environment and sustainable development, tells how that goal was achieved, and what it will take to keep those conserved lands and waters protected for all time. - The country, first off, has a constitutional provision which assures that protected areas can’t be dismembered by future incoming administrations. The Santos administration has protected many areas that once were FARC rebel strongholds during the 50-year civil war. - Colombia will need significant international financial assistance if it is to continue conserving land, and also enforcing protections. But, says Murillo, that is only proper since the entire world benefits from Colombia’s efforts to conserve forests, which sequester carbon.
Conserving habitat not enough to help species cope with climate change [10/09/2017]
- New research finds that habitat-based conservation strategies don’t adequately compensate for the range that species in three groups stand to lose due to climate change. - The team of scientists based in Austria looked at the effects of climate change on 51 species of grasshoppers, butterflies and vascular plants living in central Europe. - Habitat-based conservation can provide a lifeline, but their model predicts that it won’t be enough to prevent some species from regional extinction.
$100 million dollar fund launched to secure indigenous land rights [10/08/2017]
- A new $100 million initiative will help indigenous peoples and local communities in rural areas secure rights to their traditional lands. - The International Land and Forest Tenure Facility, formally launched launched week, was conceived by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) - The Tenure Facility is a mechanism for scaling up recognition of rights to collective lands and forests. - The tenure facility aims to secure at least 40 million hectares of forests and rural lands for local and indigenous communities.
Trending tree cover loss spikes again in Queensland [10/08/2017]
- A government analysis of Landsat satellite imagery found that 395,000 hectares (976,000 acres) of tree cover was cleared between 2015 and 2016 — nearly a 33 percent bump over the same time period in 2014-2015. - Forty percent of that clearing — some 158,000 hectares (390,000 acres) — occurred in the Great Barrier Reef catchment. - The latest year’s clearing is the highest rate in a decade and represents the sixth consecutive year in which rates in Queensland have risen.
Booming legal Amazon wildlife trade documented in new report [10/06/2017]
- Wildlife trade attention has recently focused on Africa. But a new report spotlights the brisk legal international trade in plants and animals from eight Amazon nations. The report did not look at the illegal trade, whose scope is largely unknown. - The US$128 million industry exports 14 million animals and plants annually, plus one million kilograms by weight, including caiman and peccary skins for the fashion industry, live turtles and parrots for the pet trade, and arapaima for the food industry. - The report authors note that such trade, conducted properly, can have benefits for national economies, for livelihoods, and even for wildlife — animals bred in captivity, for example, can provide scientists with vital data for sustaining wild populations. - The report strongly emphasizes the need for monitoring, regulating and enforcing sustainable harvest levels of wild animals and plants if the legal trade is to continue to thrive, and if Amazonian forests and rivers are not to be emptied of their wildlife.
‘SALT’ alliance aims to tackle illegal fishing on a global scale [10/06/2017]
- The Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability (SALT) alliance announced today at the Our Ocean conference in Malta aims to bring together representatives from seafood companies and seafood-producing and -consuming countries to decrease illegality in the fishing sector. - Scientists reported that between 11 million and 26 million metric tons (12.1 million and 28.7 million tons) of the worldwide catch is illegal or unreported, costing as much as $23.5 billion a year. - A year-long process headed by the NGO FishWise that will seek input from a variety of stakeholders begins this month.
Pandas losing ground to hungry livestock in Chinese nature reserve [10/05/2017]
- A new study finds that a 9-fold uptick in livestock near Wanglang National Nature Reserve has diminished giant panda habitat by more than a third. - More than half of the panda’s range is protected in China, but overlap with grazing livestock, which eat bamboo leaves, maybe putting pressure on the country’s national symbol. - The study’s authors call for investment in alternative livelihoods, in sectors such as tourism and forest management, to steer people away from livestock rearing.
Trade in silky and thresher sharks now to be strictly regulated [10/05/2017]
- All three species of thresher sharks and the silky shark were included under Appendix II of CITES in 2016. - Countries were granted a one-year grace period “put the necessary regulations and processes into place”. The trade restrictions came into force yesterday. - However, merely listing the species under CITES will not protect the sharks, some conservationists warn.
Second Irrawaddy dolphin death in Borneo linked to fishing nets [10/03/2017]
- A second rare Irrawaddy dolphin has washed up dead on a beach in eastern Borneo this year. - Injuries believed to have been inflicted by a fishing net are the most likely cause of death, a biologist says. - An NGO has called on authorities to educate fishermen about minimizing bycatch and to map out dolphin migratory paths and habitats in the area.
Audio: Is forest certification an effective strategy? Plus acoustic ecology of the Javan rhino [10/03/2017]
- We take a closer look at the evidence for the effectiveness of forest certification schemes on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast. - Mongabay recently kicked off a new in-depth series called “Conservation Effectiveness” that looks at the scientific literature examining how well various conservation types work, from forest certification to payments for ecosystem services and community forestry. The first installment is out now, and Zuzana Burivalova, a tropical forest ecologist at Princeton University who did the research analysis that the article was based on, is here to speak with us about what she found. - We also speak with Steve Wilson, who is currently working on a PhD at the University of Queensland on Javan rhino ecology and conservation. This is our latest Field Notes segment, in which Wilson will play for us three different Javan rhino vocalisations and fill us in on what the rhinos use these calls for.
A rhino called hope [10/03/2017]
- Only 50-100 Sumatran rhinos are believed to remain. Seven live at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia. - One of the sanctuary’s residents, Harapan, was transferred from the Cincinnati Zoo two years ago. - Harapan’s caretakers say he is in good health, is settling into the facility and will soon be introduced to one the center’s female rhinos in hopes of siring offspring.
Bats key pollinators for durian production, camera traps confirm [10/03/2017]
- A new study employing camera traps indicates that flying foxes in Malaysia are important pollinators of commercially valuable durian fruit trees. - The researchers set 19 traps in semi-wild durian trees. - Their investigation revealed that the bats had a positive impact on the transformation of the flower to fruit.
Can community forestry deliver for Madagascar’s forests and people? [10/02/2017]
- In recent years “managed resource protected areas”— forests where local people control the use of natural resources — have sprung up across Madagascar, aiming to spark both economic development and conservation, and to include nearby communities in important decision-making. - But the community groups managing these forests often struggle to exert real control over the landscapes they’ve been asked to protect, and complain that promised development assistance has never materialized. - Nevertheless, proponents say the approach can succeed with the right project design, and sufficient funding and support. - This is the first story in Mongabay’s multi-part series “Conservation in Madagascar.”
Two new ‘birdcatcher’ trees described from Puerto Rico [10/02/2017]
- The two newly described trees have been named Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae after two women who spent several decades trying to document plants of Puerto Rico. - The trees belong to the genus Pisonia, a group of “birdcatcher trees” known to produce sticky seeds that can entangle (and sometimes kill) birds. - However, whether Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae use birds to disperse their fruits is currently unknown, the researchers say.
China sends first pandas to Indonesia under captive-breeding agreement [09/29/2017]
- Two giant pandas from China arrived in Indonesia on a mission to increase the species’ population. - The couple, a male and a female, will live in a special enclosure at a zoo outside Jakarta for the next decade. - Zoo officials are open to trying every possible breeding technique to help the bears reproduce.
How effective is conservation in Madagascar? Series starts next week [09/28/2017]
- Madagascar has received more than $700 million in international funding for conservation since 1990, arrayed across more than 500 projects, yet the overall trajectory across the country still seems to be towards rapid declines in biodiversity and natural landscapes. - “Conservation in Madagascar” is an in-depth series by Rowan Moore Gerety that digs into the reasons behind the successes and failures of conservation projects across the highly biodiverse island. - Moore Gerety criss-crossed Madagascar this summer visiting conservation sites and speaking with Malagasy people and conservationists about their experiences. - “Conservation in Madagascar” launches next Monday, October 2.
Camera trap records nearly extinct cuckoo bird in Sumatra [09/27/2017]
- A camera trap captured the Sumatran ground cuckoo in a national park. - The discovery of the avian species indicated that the park might be one of its last refuges. - The park agency said it would investigate the finding to make a conservation strategy for the cuckoo.
Snow leopards no longer ‘endangered,’ but still in decline and in need of urgent conservation measures [09/26/2017]
- The snow leopard, which has been listed on the IUCN Red List as Endangered since 1986, recently had its threat status downgraded to Vulnerable. - “However, its population continues to decline and it still faces a high risk of extinction through habitat loss and degradation, declines in prey, competition with livestock, persecution, and poaching for illegal wildlife trade,” the IUCN reported. - Many scientists and conservationists were quick to underscore the point made by the IUCN about the need for continued conservation efforts to reverse the snow leopards’ ongoing decline and ensure the survival of the species, regardless of its status on the Red List. Indeed, some experts argue that moving the species from Endangered to Vulnerable was not even justifiable based on the available evidence.
Colombian president honored in Washington, D.C. for efforts to protect biodiversity [09/25/2017]
- Colombian President Juan Santos was honored by the National Geographic Society last week for his prodigious efforts since taking office in 2010 to expand the protection of Colombia’s biodiversity on both land and sea. - Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, praised Santos as “one of the foremost champions of the natural world” in an hour-long ceremony at the Society’s headquarters. - Santos has more than doubled the number of hectares under national environmental protection — from 13 million hectares in 2010 to 28.4 million hectares today, including a doubling of Chiribiquete National Park in southern Colombia, one of the world’s most biodiverse places, from 1.29 million hectares to 2.78 million hectares.*
Trade in wild birds going ‘unchecked’ in Vietnam: new report [09/25/2017]
- The number of species and volume of birds being sold in Vietnam’s cities has increased since 2008, a new report by TRAFFIC has found. - Nearly all the birds that the team recorded were native to Vietnam, and have no regulations governing their trade under Vietnamese legislation. - This lack of protection is worrying, researchers say, because it could mean that large numbers of birds are being extracted from the wild with no knowledge about how severely it will impact wild populations.
Liberian park protects Critically Endangered western chimpanzees [09/22/2017]
- The establishment of Grebo-Krahn National Park in southeastern Liberia was approved by the country’s legislature in August 2017. - The 961-square-kilometer (371-square-mile) park is home to an estimated 300 western chimpanzees. - There are about 35,000 Critically Endangered western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) left in the wild, and Liberia is home to 7,000 of them.
Documenting Africa’s poaching epidemic: Q&A with the director of ‘The Last Animals’ [09/22/2017]
- A deadly combination of consumer demand, transnational criminal syndicates and local poverty and conflict drives the illicit trade in ivory and rhino horn. - War photographer turned filmmaker Kate Brooks traveled through four continents to document the wildlife trade for her film “The Last Animals.” - The film is a finalist for the Special Jury award at the 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in Jackson, Wyoming.
Can the Javan rhino be saved before disaster strikes? [09/22/2017]
- The Javan rhinoceros has been reduced to a single population of around 60 individuals in an area prone to natural disasters. - Although the entire species now lives in a single national park, Javan rhinos are difficult to study and researchers are still working to understand the behavior of both individual animals and the population as a whole - Work to expand the existing habitat is underway, but experts agree establishing a second population is critical for the species’ survival.
Wild Kratts episode up for film festival award teaches about rare white bear [09/21/2017]
- The film “Wild Kratts: Spirit Bear” is a finalist for Best Engaging Youth Film at the Jackson Hole Film Festival. The festival is considered to be the “Oscars of nature filmmaking” and received over 1,000 entries for 25 awards. - Wild Kratts is a mixed live and animation youth conservation education cartoon series. - The “Wild Kratts: Spirit Bear” episode highlights a special subspecies of the North American black bear that has white fur.
Capturing the wonder and vulnerability of coral reefs in real-time: Q & A with the director of “Chasing Coral” [09/21/2017]
- Coral reefs support 25% of marine life, as well as protecting human food supplies and shorelines, but they are vulnerable to stress, including warming ocean temperatures. - Over three years and 500 hours of underwater filming, a crew of divers, conservationists, and photographers sought to capture the lives of corals and the results of a global coral bleaching event in real time. - The new film, “Chasing Coral,” is a finalist for Best Impact Film in the 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.
Does forest certification really work? [09/21/2017]
- Based on a review of 40 studies of variable quality, we found that certified tropical forests can overall be better for the environment than forests managed conventionally. - But there wasn’t enough evidence to say if certified tropical forests are better than, the same as, or worse than conventionally managed tropical forests when it comes to people. - We also found that profits and other economic benefits can be hard to come by for certified logging companies working in tropical forests. - This is part of a special Mongabay series on “Conservation Effectiveness”.
‘Ships, sonar and surveys’: Film explores impacts of a noisy ocean [09/21/2017]
- Sonar, air gun charges for oil and gas exploration, and ship traffic in the ocean can interfere with marine mammal communication, cause physiological problems and drive animals to strand on beaches. - A new film, “Sonic Sea,” traces the risks of an increasingly noisy ocean to whales, dolphins and porpoises. - The film is a finalist for the Best Science in Nature prize at the 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in Jackson, Wyoming. - The winners will be announced Sept. 28.
Four new toads discovered in Sumatra [09/21/2017]
- Scientists discovered four new species of toads who, unlike their cousins, live isolated in the highlands of Sumatra. - The four toads are distinguishable from one another by their skin patterns, limb shapes and voices. - In the wake of the discovery, one of the researchers called on the Indonesian government to strengthen the monitoring of harvesting quotas for toad exports so that scientists can keep track of its population in the wild.
Historical nautical maps show coral loss more extensive than previously believed [09/20/2017]
- Researchers used nautical charts produced in the 1770s to help quantify changes in the coral reefs of the Florida Keys over the past 240 years. - Loren McClenachan, a professor at Colby College in Waterville, Maine who led the study, said that, after comparing the historical charts to modern coral maps produced using satellite data, she and her team discovered that, overall, 52 percent of the coral reef habitat mapped by British cartographers in the 18th century no longer exists — and that in some areas, especially nearer to the coastline, coral loss was even more severe. - McClenachan said her team’s findings hold crucial implications for the conservation of what’s left of coral reef systems in the Florida Keys, as they improve our estimates of historical abundance and the full extent of subsequent coral loss and therefore must also alter our aspirations for their recovery.
Stalking snow leopards: Q&A with the director of “Ghost of the Mountains” [09/20/2017]
- In spring 2014 a crew of filmmakers ventured to the remote mountains of Sanjiangyuan in China’s western province of Qinghai to film the notoriously elusive snow leopard in the wild. - A new film, “Ghost of the Mountains,” documents that expedition. - The film is a finalist for Best People and Nature Film in the 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival taking place next week in Jackson, Wyoming.
Pangolins reduced to small, isolated populations in Bangladesh: new study [09/20/2017]
- With the help of the Mro tribe in Bangladesh, researchers have found that pangolins do persist in many forested areas of the country, but in small, isolated populations. - Of the four Asian pangolin species, the Chinese pangolin seems to occur most commonly in Bangladesh, while the Indian pangolin is possibly rare or extinct within the country, the researchers say. - The study also found that pangolin hunting has shot up since 2010, most likely due to a sharp rise in the price of pangolin scales.
Fossil discovery in Indonesia reveals ‘lost world’ of beasts [09/19/2017]
- On the Indonesian island of Sumba, scientists unearthed the bones of tiny elephants, giant rats and other extinct creatures. - They also found Komodo dragon fossils, confirming the lizard’s existence outside the islets off of nearby Flores island. - Sumba remains little researched. The scientists hope more can be done.
Traffickers find new ways to smuggle rhino horn out of Africa [09/19/2017]
- Criminal networks of Chinese origin operating in southern Africa have started processing rhino horn into jewelry and other trinkets before smuggling it out of the continent, reports wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic. - A shift from smuggling whole horns to jewelry complicates law enforcement efforts, and suggests there is a growing demand for luxury items made from rhino horn. - New tactics and trade routes underscore how difficult it is for authorities to combat global trafficking networks.
Audio: Legendary musician Bruce Cockburn on music, activism, and hope [09/19/2017]
- Music has a unique ability to inspire awareness and action about important issues — and we’re excited to welcome a living legend onto the program to discuss that very topic. - Bruce Cockburn, well known for his outspoken support of environmental and humanitarian causes, appears on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast. - Our second guest is Amanda Lollar, founder and president of Bat World Sanctuary, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Texas. - All that plus the top news!
First orangutan birth in Aceh reserve ‘gives hope’ for survival of species [09/19/2017]
- The first baby orangutan was born at the Pinus Jantho Nature Reserve in Sumatra. - The other release site in Sumatra, Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, saw a similar birth last year, the first at either site. - Both Jantho and Bukit Tigapuluh hold an entirely new population of orangutans being established in the Sumatran wilds.
Indonesia abuzz over possible finding of extinct tiger [09/19/2017]
- Park rangers in Java photographed a big cat that resembled the Javan tiger which was officially declared extinct in 2003. - The finding prompted authorities and NGO in Indonesia to deploy an investigation team to gather more evidence. - Meanwhile, some experts argued that the animal was most likely the Javan leopard.
Oil palm firms advance into Leuser rainforest, defying Aceh governor’s orders [09/18/2017]
- The government of Indonesia’s Aceh province has banned land clearance for oil palm development inside the Leuser Ecosystem. - However, deforestation is still ongoing as some companies ignore the moratorium. - During the first seven months of 2017, Leuser lost 3,941 hectares of forest cover, an area almost three times as large as Los Angeles International Airport, watchdogs say.
Does social forestry always decrease deforestation and poverty? (commentary) [09/17/2017]
- Many governmental and non-governmental organizations see community forestry in Indonesia as a new approach to reducing environmental degradation and increasing social welfare. Despite a decade of experimentation with the concept, very little is known, however, about actual impacts. - Studies by the Monitoring and Evaluation of Social Forestry program (MEPS) reveal that Village Forest (Hutan Desa) areas reduce deforestation in forests allocated for watershed protection and limited timber extraction - In forest allocated to normal timber production and conversion, Hutan Desa areas, however, have higher deforestation than comparable forests not managed by communities. Community forestry can achieve positive outcomes, but not everywhere. The government needs to take this insight on board to help in allocating licenses and investments for this scheme. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author.
What works in conservation? In-depth series starts next week [09/15/2017]
- “Conservation Effectiveness” is a multi-part series investigating the effectiveness of some of the most popular strategies to conserve tropical forests around the world. - The series is the result of a collaboration between Mongabay staff reporters Shreya Dasgupta and Mike Gaworecki, and a team of conservation scientists led by tropical forest ecologist Zuzana Burivalova of Princeton University. - Conservation Effectiveness launches next week.
North America’s ash trees, Africa’s antelopes face heightened threat of extinction [09/14/2017]
- The latest update to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, released today, finds that even species once considered so abundant as to be safe have been put at risk of extinction by human activities and their impacts on the environment. - Five of the six most widespread and valuable ash tree species in North America have declined so severely due to an invasive beetle that they have now been entered onto the Red List as Critically Endangered, the last threat level before extinction in the wild. - Five African antelopes also had their threat status upgraded in the latest Red List update, among them the Giant Eland (Tragelaphus derbianus), previously listed as Least Concern but now Vulnerable, and the Mountain Reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula), also previously listed as Least Concern but now assessed as Endangered.
Ecologist wins Heinz environment prize for airborne mapping that informs policy [09/14/2017]
- Ecologist Greg Asner of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory will receive a $250,000 award from the Heinz Family Foundation for his work to map rainforests and coral reefs around the world. - Lawmakers and other key decision-makers use Asner’s research to guide policy in the United States, South America and Southeast Asia. - Asner said he intends to put the funds toward marine education and outreach in Hawaii, where he began his career.
Move to open U.S. Atlantic coast to oil drilling meets increased opposition [09/13/2017]
- In April, Trump issued an executive order aimed at implementing his so-called “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” which called for a review of the 2017-2022 Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program finalized under the Obama Administration and proposed that all U.S. waters be considered for offshore drilling. - The executive order also instructed federal agencies to “streamline” the permitting process for “seismic research and data collection” and “expedite all stages of consideration” of Incidental Harassment Authorizations required under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. - A species of particular concern is the North Atlantic right whale, which is listed as critically endangered under the US Endangered Species Act. There are only about 500 of the whales left, and their only known calving ground is off the coast of the southeast US, including the area where seismic surveying has been proposed.
Curiosity saves the cat: Tourism helps reinvent the jaguar [09/13/2017]
- Retaliatory killings of jaguar by cattle ranchers currently threaten the recovery of the species and the long-term viability of tour operators dependent on their presence. - A recent study found that the value of jaguars to tourism (US$6,827,392) was far in excess of the cost to ranchers from depredation of their cattle (US$121,500). - Tourists were overwhelmingly receptive to the idea of donating to a compensation fund for ranchers that live harmoniously with jaguars.
Central Africa’s ivory trade shifts underground, according to new report [09/12/2017]
- A series of undercover investigations by the NGO TRAFFIC over several years in five Central African countries has revealed a shift in the region from local markets for ivory to an ‘underground’ international trade. - The resulting report, published Sept. 7, finds that organized crime outfits, aided by high-level corruption, are moving ivory out of Central African to markets abroad, especially in China and other parts of Asia. - A 2013 study found that elephant numbers in Central Africa’s forests dropped by 62 percent between 2002 and 2011.
Keeping lions at bay to keep them going [09/12/2017]
- Conflict between local pastoralists and lions remains a tricky problem in lion conservation, but reinforcing traditional fencing structures called “bomas” may provide a cost-effective solution. - A study found adding chain-link fences to bomas cut livestock losses to top predators by 75 percent, according to the research. - When looking at cost, partially reinforced bomas – as opposed to fully reinforced – was actually a more cost-effective solution to the persistent problem of livestock loss in Kenya.
Javan rhinos face human incursions into their last remaining habitat [09/11/2017]
- Only around 60 Javan rhinoceroses are believed to remain, all of them in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park. - Authorities have caught dozens of people hunting, gathering forest products and planting crops in the park, including the recent arrest of 13 people in core rhino habitat. - Despite the challenges, the population is believed to be stable and calves continue to be born.
Why we can’t lose hope: Dr. David Suzuki speaks out [09/11/2017]
- Suzuki on hope: “I can certainly see that people in the environmental movement are being disheartened… [but] we’ve all got to do our little bit… Actually doing something invigorates you.” - On politics: “In many ways, the election of Trump was dismaying, but it has galvanized Americans to oppose him and to get on with reducing carbon emissions.” - The big problem: “[T]he values and beliefs we cling to are driving our destructive path… You can’t change the rules of Nature. Our chemistry and biology dictate the way we have to live.” - The solutions: “We need to enshrine environmental protection in our Constitution… [A]s consumers, we’ve got a big role to play, [and] we’ve also got to be… much more active in the political process.”
Deforestation in Cambodia linked to ill health in children [09/11/2017]
- A new study has found that the loss of dense forest cover in Cambodia is associated with an increased risk of diarrhea, acute respiratory infection and fever in children younger than five years. - Just a 10 percentage increase in the loss of dense forest around Cambodian households was associated with a 14 percent increase in the rate of diarrhea among children, the researchers found. - In contrast, a higher coverage of protected areas around the households was linked to a lower incidence of diarrhea and acute respiratory infection in children.
A lingering ‘legacy’: Deforestation warms climate more than expected [09/08/2017]
- Tropical deforestation results in the release of not only carbon dioxide but also methane and nitrous oxide, leading to greater-than-anticipated warming of the global climate. - The study compared emissions from land conversion with those from burning fossil fuels for energy and other sources. - The researchers found that tropical deforestation at current rates could cause a 1.5-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures by 2100.
Community pulls water-thirsty invasive weeds from Ethiopia’s Lake Tana [09/07/2017]
- Lake Tana is Ethiopia’s largest lake, and feeds the Blue Nile. - At several points where tributaries flow into the lake, invasive water hyacinth is soaking up water and choking the shoreline. - A 2012 study found that there were 20,000 hectares of water hyacinth on Lake Tana. In five years, that number doubled.
Trees provide ecosystem services worth $500 million to the world’s megacities [09/07/2017]
- Just as they do in forests and other natural ecosystems, trees deliver a variety of ecosystem services in cities. They sequester carbon and reduce air pollution and stormwater runoff, for instance. - Researchers looked at 10 megacities on five continents that lie in five different biome types: Beijing, China; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cairo, Egypt; Istanbul, Turkey; London, UK; Los Angeles, United States; Mexico City, Mexico; Moscow, Russia; Mumbai, India; and Tokyo, Japan. - They determined that trees provide an average of $505 million in benefits to each megacity every year, or about $1.2 million per square kilometer of trees.
Audio: Technologies that boost conservation efforts right now and in the future [09/06/2017]
- On this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we take a look at the role technology is playing — and might play in the future — in conservation efforts. - Our first guest is Topher White, the founder of Rainforest Connection, a nonprofit based in San Francisco that has deployed upcycled cell phones in tropical forests around the world to provide real-time monitoring of forests and wildlife. - Our second guest is Matthew Putman, an applied physicist with a keen interest in conservation. Putman is CEO of Nanotronics, a company headquartered in Brooklyn, NY that makes automated industrial microscopes used by manufacturers of advanced technologies like semiconductors, microchips, hard drives, LEDs, and aerospace hardware.
A global view from a mountain town: how conservation became ingrained in Monteverde [09/06/2017]
- Beginning with Quakers arriving in the 1950s, Monteverde has become a distinct community in Central America. - In 1972, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was established, securing a home for many rare species. - Today, many locals take conservation as a way of life, from organic farming to scientific endeavors to mitigating the impacts of climate change.
India and Nepal team up to rescue flooded rhinos [09/05/2017]
- At least 15 greater one-horned rhinoceroses have been swept across the Indo-Nepal border by this year’s monsoon floods. - Officials from both countries have worked together to find and rescue the flood-swept animals. - The floods pose great dangers for rhinos, but highlight the progress made by cross-border conservation initiatives between India, Nepal and Bhutan.
Fishing mortality of mako sharks ten times higher than fisheries’ estimates [09/05/2017]
- For the first time, researchers used satellite tags attached to the fins of 40 juvenile shortfin mako sharks to directly quantify fishing mortality in the Northern Atlantic. - Over the course of three years, 12 (30 percent) of the sharks were harvested, mostly by longline fisheries from five countries. - Fishing mortality was ten times higher than estimates based on catch data reported by the fisheries, and 15 to 18 times higher than the rate associated with maximum sustainable yield, suggesting substantial overfishing.
80% of Bornean orangutans live outside protected areas [09/05/2017]
- The finding is part of a new report led by the Indonesian government. - The study confirms that orangutan populations have plunged over the past decade. - It recommends several strategies for protecting the primates, including working with plantation companies to preserve forests within lands they have been licensed to develop.
381 new species described from the Amazon over two-year period [09/04/2017]
- Between January 2014 and December 2015, scientists described 381 new species of wildlife from the Amazon in peer-reviewed scientific journals, a new report by WWF and a Brazil-based organization says. - These include 216 new species of plants, 93 fish, 32 amphibians, 20 mammals (two of which are fossils), 19 reptiles and one bird. - Many of the newly described species are already on the verge of extinction, the report says.
Jackie Chan joins the fight for endangered pangolins [09/01/2017]
- In a video, martial arts action star Jackie Chan urges people to never buy pangolin meat or scale. - “When the buying stops, the killing can too,” he says. - Conservationists hope that Chan will help reduce consumption of pangolins by reaching a wider audience across Asia, especially China and Vietnam.
‘Ecological disaster’: controversial bridge puts East Kalimantan’s green commitment to the test [08/30/2017]
- Work is currently underway on a bridge and access road that will connect the fast-growing city of Balikpapan with its rural outskirts. - The project is part of a broader government program to transform Indonesian Borneo into an economic powerhouse. - Conservationists have opposed the project since it was launched in 2008, fearing it will disrupt marine life, cut a crucial wildlife corridor and spark land speculation and encroachment along a protected forest.
New crab with star-shaped outgrowths discovered in Taiwan [08/30/2017]
- From a red coral fishing ground off Taiwan, scientists have collected a new species of crab. - The orange crustacean is covered in numerous tiny, star-shaped protrusions and has been named Pariphiculus stellatus, from the Latin word stellatus meaning ‘starry’. - In the same study, the scientists report the first-ever record of a rare crab species – Acanthodromia margarita – that they collected from the red coral beds.
Video: Hatchlings boost hope for extremely rare duck [08/29/2017]
- WCS has filmed three white-winged ducklings leaving a tree-hollow in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary (KPWS), Cambodia. - The mother duck had herself been rescued by villagers in mid-2015 when she was injured. She was treated, rehabilitated and later returned to the wild in December 2015. - Fewer than 1,000 mature white-winged ducks remain in the wild, and the species is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.