Audio: Exploring humanity’s deep connection to water, plus the sounds of the Sandhill crane migration [03/20/2018]
- On today’s episode, we discuss humanity’s deep connection to water and hear sounds of one of the most ancient animal migrations on Earth, that of the Sandhill crane. - Our first guest today is marine biologist and conservationist Wallace J. Nichols, the author of Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, & Better at What You Do. - Our second guests are Ben Gottesman and Emma Brinley Buckley, researchers who are using bioacoustics to document Sandhill cranes on the Platte River in the U.S. state of Nebraska as the birds make a stopover during their annual migration. We’ll hear recordings of the cranes and other important species in this Field Notes segment.
The world’s last male northern white rhino has died [03/20/2018]
- Sudan, a 45-year-old rhino believed to be the world’s last surviving male northern white rhino, died at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on March 19. - Sudan had been battling ill health over the past few months, and after his condition worsened considerably in the last 24 hours, veterinarians decided to euthanize him. - Sudan lived at Ol Pejeta with the only other northern white rhinos left on Earth — his daughter, Najin, and her daughter, Fatu — under 24-hour armed surveillance. - The survival of the species now hinges on costly and never-before-attempted in vitro fertilization using eggs from the remaining females, stored sperm samples, and southern white rhino females as surrogates.
Sarawak’s Penan now have detailed maps of their ancestral homeland [03/20/2018]
- Some 63 Penan communities came together to create 23 maps of their territory in central Borneo over the past 15 years. - For three days in late November 2017, the Penan of the region celebrated the completion of the maps. - The Penan now believe they are armed with the information that will help them hold on to their land in the face of pressure from outside timber and industrial agriculture interests.
Belize creates one of Central America’s largest biological corridors [03/19/2018]
- On Feb. 13, the government of Belize approved the 110-square-kilometer Belize northeastern biological corridor. - The corridor aims to provide safe passage for wild animals like jaguars, pumas and Baird’s tapir to move freely between the Shipstern Nature Reserve and Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve in northern Belize. - Private landowners have agreed to place their corridor-designated lands into a trust in perpetuity, with the lands to be managed as part of the protected area system for conservation purposes.
Indonesia launches bid to restore national park that’s home to tigers, elephants [03/19/2018]
- Tesso Nilo National Park in Sumatra is home to critically endangered tigers and elephants, but has been heavily deforested by illegal oil palm plantations and human settlements. - The government has introduced a program to gradually relocate the people living within the park’s borders, by encouraging them to shift away from oil palm farming to alternative and sustainable forms of livelihood. - If successful, the program could serve as a model for restoring other national parks across Indonesia, which face similar problems of human encroachment.
FSC-certified timber importer failed to check legality of shipment from Cameroon [03/19/2018]
- Hardwood Dimensions, a timber importer in the U.K., violated the EU Timber Regulation by not properly verifying the legality of a shipment of Cameroonian ayous in January 2017. - A judge ordered Hardwood Dimensions to pay 4,000 pounds ($5,576) plus court costs in the case. - The case calls into question the effectiveness of Forest Stewardship Council certification, which Hardwood Dimensions has held since 2000.
Oil palm plantations’ dearth of biodiversity rubs off on nearby forests, study shows [03/19/2018]
- Oil palm plantations in Malaysian Borneo host a lower number of frog species than forests in same area. - However, the plantations exhibit an edge effect that extends as far as 4 kilometers, resulting in a decline in the diversity of frog species in adjacent forests. - The researchers suggest that for small forest patches or narrow corridors to be of long-term conservation value in oil palm landscapes, their sizes and widths need to adequately account for these edge effects.
Madagascar: Conservation official arrested for killing 11 endangered lemurs [03/16/2018]
- Two weeks ago, the bodies of 11 critically endangered lemurs were discovered in the Zahamena Ankeniheny Corridor protected area in eastern Madagascar. - The lemurs were allegedly killed by one of the local officials charged with protecting them, to the dismay of conservation leaders. - The alleged poacher was arrested on Feb. 27, and this week the police set out to arrest his suspected accomplices. - The Madagascar government reacted to the poaching incident at the highest level, including pledges by the prime minister and minister of the environment to crack down on poaching.
Sharp-eyed Mongabay readers spot a jaguarundi (commentary) [03/16/2018]
- Last Monday, in an article about Brazil’s Cerrado, this Mongabay editor mistakenly identified an animal in a photo as a puma (Puma concolor). - Within hours multiple readers corrected that mistake, properly identifying the animal as a jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi). - Curiosity aroused, this editor went to work learning more about jaguarundis. - Most interesting find: these small cats of North, Central and South America, were until recently on track to be reintroduced to Texas, but a new president and his plan for a U.S. / Mexico border wall has put those plans in limbo.
Save the Sumatran rhino ‘because we can’ (commentary) [03/16/2018]
- Mongabay sent contributing editor Jeremy Hance to Indonesia in 2017 to visit the last remaining Sumatran rhinos in the forests and protected sanctuaries where captive breeding is having some limited success. - Hance argues today in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald that we should save the Sumatran rhino, not only because losing biodiversity is bad for the health of humanity’s environment, but also “because we can.” - To keep these ‘lovably weird’ rhinos from extinction, the Indonesian government must act, he argues, because even if there’s 100 left, that size population is unlikely to be viable in the long term.
Report finds projects in DRC ‘REDD+ laboratory’ fall short of development, conservation goals [03/16/2018]
- The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) released a new report that found that 20 REDD+ projects in a province in DRC aren’t set to address forest conservation and economic development — the primary goals of the strategy. - The Paris Agreement explicitly mentions the role of REDD+ projects, which channel funds from wealthy countries to heavily forested ones, in keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius this century. - RRI is asking REDD+ donors to pause funding of projects in DRC until coordinators develop a more participatory approach that includes communities and indigenous groups.
Indonesia races to catch tiger alive as villagers threaten to ‘kill the beast’ [03/15/2018]
- A conservation agency in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island has deployed two teams to capture alive a wild tiger that has reportedly killed two people at an oil palm plantation. - The incidents prompted villagers living near the plantation to threaten to kill the tiger themselves if it was not caught. - Authorities are keen to take the animal alive, following the killing of a tiger earlier this month under similar circumstances.
Five years after zero-deforestation vow, little sign of progress from Indonesian pulp giant [03/15/2018]
- Environmental watchdogs have criticized Indonesian paper behemoth Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) for not making good on the zero-deforestation pledge it made five years ago. - The NGOs have highlighted several key problems in the implementation of APP’s Forest Conservation Program, including virtually no progress in addressing longstanding land conflicts with local communities, and the glacial pace of peatland restoration. - APP has acknowledged some of the shortcomings in the implementation of its pledge, but says many of the outstanding issues and complex and that it remains committed to its goal.
Bushmeat hunting threatens hornbills and raptors in Cameroon’s forests, study finds [03/15/2018]
- A new study has found that hornbills, vultures and eagles are being hunted for bushmeat in Cameroon in much greater numbers than previously thought. - Researchers estimate that people living around the proposed Ebo National Park in Cameroon’s Littoral region consumed an average of 29 hornbills and eight raptors per month. - But they remain unsure how the current levels of hunting are affecting the bird populations, given that so little is known about the latter.
For climate action to take hold, activists need more than just polar bears [03/15/2018]
- A new study finds that people who do not have “biospheric concerns” are unconvinced by climate change arguments that hinge on such avatars as polar bears, coral reefs and pikas. - Researchers suggest policymakers, activists and the media must choose stories that hit closer to home, by focusing on the more personal impacts of climate change. - Scientists would also like to see more research on how to convince people who are largely concerned with their own narrow interests that climate change, and nature in general, matters.
Activists eye bigger roles for local officials, businesses in Indonesia’s orangutan protection plan [03/15/2018]
- The Indonesian government is drafting another 10-year guideline for orangutan conservation that aims to staunch the decline in the population of the critically endangered great ape. - This time around, orangutan experts want the federal government to lay out clearer guidelines for conservation roles to be played by local authorities and companies working in orangutan habitats. - Local authorities and companies are seen as key to protecting the animals’ increasingly fragmented habitat, but tend to favor short-term development and business plans that don’t serve long-term conservation goals.
Will Madagascar’s industrial shrimp trawlers make way for local fishers? [03/14/2018]
- Shrimp is one of Madagascar’s most lucrative exports. - But local fishers and environmental groups say shrimp trawlers are harming the country’s marine environment and leaving too few fish in the sea for the fishing communities that depend on them. - Until now, relatively little has been done to address the issue. - But there are small signs that may be starting to change, with fishing communities raising their voices to press for exclusive access to Madagascar’s coastal waters.
Mysterious new butterfly named after YouTuber Emily Graslie [03/14/2018]
- Scientists have named a new species of butterfly for Emily Graslie, the writer, producer and host of the YouTube channel The Brain Scoop, and the chief curiosity correspondent of Chicago’s Field Museum. - The postage stamp-sized butterfly Wahydra graslieae is dark rust-colored with jagged bands of silver scales on the underside of its hind wings. - The scientists identified the butterfly from a single museum specimen collected by American biologist Harold Greeney from the Ecuadorian Andes in 2004. The specimen remained inside a Tupperware box until 2016.
Hope for the rarest hornbill in the world (commentary) [03/13/2018]
- There are three Critically Endangered hornbill species in the world. The rarest, the Sulu hornbill in the Philippines, is little studied, does not occur in any protected areas, and is in imminent danger of extinction. - In January 2018, a team of conservationists from the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore visited the only known habitat of this bird to assess its status and make recommendations regarding its survival. - Five individuals were located, as well as a potential nesting site. Work will continue this year to train local rangers in hornbill study techniques; the patches of forest where the Sulu hornbill clings on should be granted legal protection from logging, hunting, and human encroachment. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Video: Rare newborn western lowland gorilla filmed in the wild [03/13/2018]
- The baby gorilla was born on Feb. 17 in the rainforests of Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo, according to WCS. - The infant is the offspring of a female gorilla named Mekome and a male silverback named Kingo, who has been studied by the WCS Congo researchers of the Mondika Gorilla Project for about two decades. - Mekome’s newest baby is her fifth offspring, and represents hope for the species, researchers say.
Cerrado: appreciation grows for Brazil’s savannah, even as it vanishes [03/12/2018]
- The Brazilian Cerrado – a vast savannah – once covered two million square kilometers (772,204 square miles), an area bigger than Great Britain, France and Germany combined, stretching to the east and south of the Amazon. - Long undervalued by scientists and environmental activists, researchers are today realizing that the Cerrado is incredibly biodiverse. The biome supports more than 10,000 plant species, over 900 bird and 300 mammal species. - The Cerrado’s deep-rooted plants and its soils also sequester huge amounts of carbon, making the region’s preservation key to curbing climate change, and to reducing Brazil’s deforestation and CO2 emissions to help meet its Paris carbon reduction pledge. - Agribusiness – hampered by Brazilian laws in the Amazon – has moved into the Cerrado in a big way. More than half of the biome’s native vegetation has already disappeared, as soy and cattle production rapidly replace habitat. This series explores the dynamics of change convulsing the region.
Oil palm, rubber could trigger ‘storm’ of deforestation in the Congo Basin [03/12/2018]
- Earthsight documented approximately 500 square kilometers (193 square miles) of deforestation to clear the way for new rubber and oil palm plantations in Central Africa’s rainforest countries in the past five years. - The team also found that companies in five Central African countries hold licenses for industrial agriculture on another 8,400 square kilometers (3,243 square miles) of land. - The investigators warn that thousands of hectares of forest could fall to industrial agriculture in the COngo Basin, the world’s second-largest rainforest, if governance of the forest doesn’t improve.
Cambodia creates its first marine national park where pirate fishers prowl [03/12/2018]
- In February, Cambodia announced the establishment of its very first marine national park, covering 524 square kilometers (202 square miles) in the Gulf of Thailand. - Koh Rong Marine National Park takes in the seven islands of the Koh Rong archipelago and the web of coral, seagrass and mangrove ecosystems around them. - Wedged between Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia’s tiny territorial waters have long been plundered by illegal fishing gangs feeding an ever-rising demand for seafood. - But the declaration of the new park does nothing to protect the environment, at least in the short term, with no new patrols of the heavily fished waters until next year and a $2 billion island development plan allowed to continue unhindered.
How deforestation risks for investors can become opportunities for conservation (commentary) [03/09/2018]
- Deforestation can damage a company’s reputation and business performance, presenting a real risk for investors. - Recent research showcases examples of how companies have suffered from failing to properly manage deforestation-related issues. Impacts include multi-million dollar fines, loss of key customers, falling share prices, and even liquidation. - Investors and companies can reduce these risks by adopting, implementing, and transparently reporting on credible zero-deforestation policies, and joining partnerships to improve production in key landscapes. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.
Plastic not so fantastic for Bali’s iconic manta rays [03/09/2018]
- Two recent videos from a diving site in Bali known for its manta rays have garnered global attention for highlighting the dire state of plastic pollution in Indonesia’s waters. - While the local government and volunteers have made efforts to clean up the garbage, a lack of proper planning and poor awareness of waste disposal means huge volumes of trash continue to be dumped into the ocean daily. - Indonesia produces around 130,000 tons of plastic and solid waste every day, and is the second-largest plastic polluter in the world, behind China.
NGOs seek suspension of forest-related funding to DRC in response to proposed end to logging moratorium [03/08/2018]
- More than 50 conservation and human rights organizations have called on international donors to halt forest conservation-related funding to the Democratic Republic of Congo. - The call comes in response to signals by the country’s leaders of their intention to end a 16-year-old moratorium on new logging licenses in the country, including a secretive push to alter the DRC forest code. - The NGOs argue that opening DRC up to logging will destabilize the country and damage the environment and forest-dependent communities.
Tropical deforestation: the need for a strategy adjustment (commentary) [03/08/2018]
- Ecologist Dan Nepstad is the founder and executive director of the Earth Innovation Institute. - In this commentary, Nepstad makes the case for building stronger government support to end deforestation in tropical countries. - Without this support, it may not be possible to further curb tropical deforestation. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Only 12 vaquita porpoises remain, watchdog group reports [03/08/2018]
- The International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita reported in 2017 that there were just 30 vaquita left in the Upper Gulf of California, the body of water that separates Baja California from mainland Mexico and the species’ only known range. - Mongabay contacted Andrea Crosta, director of the international wildlife trade watchdog group Elephant Action League, just before his return to Mexico in early March 2018. - After his previous trip in February 2018, Crosta said his sources reported that no more than a dozen vaquitas remain. - The primary cause of death for the vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is becoming entangled in gillnets used to illegally catch totoaba, a giant Mexican fish whose swim bladders are in high demand, especially in China.
Trump to allow elephant and lion trophies on case-by-case basis [03/08/2018]
- President Obama banned U.S. citizens from bringing home elephant and lion trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe. In November, 2017, Trump’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reversed that ban until Trump himself overruled the USFWS, pausing the new rule until the president could make a final decision. - This week, the USFWS said in a memorandum that it will permit U.S. citizens to bring lion and elephant hunting trophies home from Africa – potentially including Zimbabwe and Zambia – on a case-by-case basis. - Conservationists largely responded negatively to the decision, critiquing it for offering little or no transparency, inviting corruption, and identifying no stated system or criteria for determining how permit selections will be made. - A variety of lawsuits are ongoing which could still influence the shape of the new rule.
Beyond polar bears: Arctic animals share in vulnerable climate future [03/07/2018]
- The media has long focused on the impacts of climate change on polar bears. But with Arctic temperatures rising fast (this winter saw the warmest October to February temperatures ever recorded), a wide range of Arctic fauna appears to be at risk, though more studies are needed to determine precise causes, current effects on population, and future projections. - Diminishing Arctic snow, especially in the spring, may leave wolverines without ideal places to den. Caribou and reindeer populations have been in serious decline due to natural population fluctuation, but scientists don’t know if their numbers will recover under changed climate conditions. - Lemmings are also being impacted by diminishing snow, often leaving the rodents without cover in spring and autumn. Their decline could impact the predators that prey on them, including Arctic foxes, red foxes, weasels, wolverines, and snowy and short-eared owls. - Snowy owls have raised concerns because the seabirds they hunt in winter, which congregate around small holes in the Arctic ice, could become more widely dispersed in broader stretches of open water and therefore be harder to prey on. Scientists say more study of Arctic wildlife is urgently needed, but funding and media attention remains sparse.
Jaguar numbers rising at field sites, WCS says [03/07/2018]
- WCS reports that jaguar numbers have risen by almost 8 percent a year between 2002 and 2016 at study sites in Central and South America. - The sites cover around 400,000 square kilometers (154,440 square miles) of jaguar habitat. - Despite the promising findings, WCS scientists caution that habitat destruction, hunting in response to livestock killings, and poaching for their body parts remain critical threats to jaguars.
How Tibetan Buddhism and conservation efforts helped Eurasian otters thrive in a city of 200,000 people (commentary) [03/07/2018]
- The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) is now locally extinct in most of its former range in China due to hunting for its pelt, water pollution, and habitat destruction. - Recently, researchers recorded a healthy population of otters in Yushu, Qinghai, a city of 200,000 people. - What allowed this population to survive? Besides conservation efforts, Tibetan Buddhism traditions also played a vital role in reducing hunting and maintaining freshwater ecosystem health. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Audio: How effective is environmental restoration? [03/06/2018]
- How effective is environmental restoration? On today’s episode, we seek answers to that question through the lens of a much needed new project at the University of Cambridge collecting restoration evidence, and we also speak with the editor of Mongabay’s ongoing series that examines how well a range of other conservation efforts work, too. - Our first guest today is Claire Wordley, a communications and engagement officer with the Conservation Evidence group at the University of Cambridge in the UK who recently wrote a commentary for Mongabay to alert the world to a new website called Restoration Evidence that collects research into how effective various restoration activities actually are. - Our second guest is Mongabay’s own Becky Kessler. We’re about to bring the current reporting phase of a series called Conservation Effectiveness to a close, and because Becky has served as the head editor for the series, we wanted to have her on the Newscast to discuss some of the main findings of the series.
Bornean bearded pigs seen adapting to oil palm habitats, study finds [03/06/2018]
- Bornean bearded pigs appear to thrive in oil palm plantations, but remain heavily dependent on nearby forests as their primary habitat, a recent study indicates. - The findings are crucial because of the species’ key role as an “ecosystem engineer,” controlling the spread of tree species and turning over the soil with their rooting behavior. - The researchers have called on the Malaysian government to better protect these forests in a bid to ensure a sustainable population of bearded pigs in mixed forest-oil palm areas.
Villagers cite self-defense in tiger killing, but missing body parts point to the illegal wildlife trade [03/06/2018]
- Villagers in Indonesia have killed a critically endangered Sumatran tiger, after labeling it a menace to the village. - Conservation authorities, though, have found strong indications that the animal may have been killed for its body parts, which are highly prized in the illegal wildlife trade. - Habitat loss and poaching have already driven two other species of tiger in Indonesia to extinction, and conservationists warn the Sumatran tiger is being pushed along the same same path. - Warning: The article contains some disturbing images.
Ecotourism payments for more wildlife sightings linked to conservation benefits in Laos [03/05/2018]
- A four-year research project in a national protected area in Laos established a connection between higher payments for more wildlife sightings and improved protections for wildlife. - Over the course of the study, sightings of common wildlife rose by more than 60 percent. - Payments were funded by the entry fees paid by tourists. - They were placed in village development funds, which would then finance projects like school construction and healthcare.
Last of its kind: sole surviving male northern white rhino is gravely ill [03/03/2018]
- The planet’s last male northern white rhino is gravely ill. - Sudan, as the rhino is named, has developed a serious infection. - Only three northern white rhinos remain, including two females who are Sudan’s offspring. - The northern white rhinos are protected from poachers by armed guards.
ICAO and forest offsets: Substantial opportunities and exceptional benefits (commentary) [03/02/2018]
- Without drastic and expensive technology advancements, trajectories for aviation emissions are unlikely to change substantially in upcoming decades. However, current policy is aiming to offset those emissions — with substantial benefits to other sectors, particularly global forests. - The CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme, slated to start three-phase implementation in 2021 and end in 2035, will act as the first global market-based measure (MBM) governing an entire industry. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is currently reviewing the work of its MBM Task Force and will soon determine the framework that will ultimately be implemented. - Over 90 NGOs, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, have called CORSIA a distraction from measures to reduce aviation emissions beyond offsetting. However, considering the growing aviation sector and technological barriers in rapidly reducing aviation emissions, unique external solutions like CORSIA can provide a solution with benefits to other sectors. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
New thumbnail-sized pygmy squid discovered in Australia [03/02/2018]
- The new species of pygmy squid belongs to the genus Idiosepius, a group of tiny, squid-like marine animals that are believed to be the world’s smallest cephalopods. - Researchers have named the new species Idiosepius hallami, or Hallam’s pygmy squid after Australian malacologist Amanda Reid’s son, Hallam, who helped her collect live animals for further comparisons. - Pygmy squids are generally found in shallow waters among seagrass and mangroves, some of the most threatened marine habitats.
Judge OKs waiving environmental laws to build U.S.-Mexico border wall [03/01/2018]
- On Tuesday, a federal judge in California ruled that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not abuse its authority in waiving dozens of environmental laws to build sections of wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. - The ruling frees the department to waive laws for future border wall construction projects. - President Trump has pushed to erect walls along the entire 2,000-mile border, saying it is necessary to prevent the flow of drugs and undocumented immigrants over the border. - The proposal is intensely controversial, with opponents raising practical, humanitarian, and environmental concerns. Conservationists say that existing border infrastructure has disrupted connectivity for wildlife and that coast-to-coast fencing would be devastating.
Brazil high court Forest Code ruling largely bad for environment, Amazon: NGOs [03/01/2018]
- In a tight decision, the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) upheld the constitutionality of much of Brazil’s 2012 New Forest Code, that had been created under the powerful influence of the bancada ruralista agribusiness lobby. The upheld 2012 New Forest Code is a weaker body of environmental regulations than the 1965 code created under Brazil’s military government. - The court ruling made constitutional a declared amnesty for those who illegally cleared their Legal Reserves (lands, by law, they must not clear) before 22 July 2008, eliminating required fines and tree replantings. It allows for the reduction of Legal Reserves in states or municipalities largely occupied by indigenous reserves or protected areas. - The STF decision also allows for the reduction in size of APAs (Areas of Permanent Protection), even when considered fundamental by environmentalists for maintaining water supplies and preventing climate disasters such as floods and mudslides. - The ruling allows farmers who have already illegally cleared protected APAs, to get authorization to clear even more land, and approves farming activities on steep slopes and hilltops. Environmentalists were critical of the high court decision, while agribusiness praised it.
‘S.O.S.’ carved out of former plantation shines a light on palm oil-driven deforestation [03/01/2018]
- A dramatic S.O.S. sign has been carved out of a stand of oil palms on a former plantation in Sumatra, serving to highlight the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests. - The work is part of a campaign by a Lithuanian artist, a conservation group and a cosmetics firm to raise awareness about palm oil-driven deforestation in Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer of the commodity. - Extensive deforestation has for decades threatened the lives of the island’s native wildlife and the people who depend on the forests for a living.
Javan rhino population holds steady amid ever-present peril [03/01/2018]
- The latest survey from the Indonesian government shows the population of the Javan rhino, one of the world’s most endangered large mammals, holding steady in its last remaining habitat. - While the findings indicate a healthy and breeding rhino population, wildlife experts warn of the dangers looming over the animal’s existence, including human encroachment into its habitat and the ever-present threat of a volcanic eruption and tsunami. - The Javan rhino is one of the last three Asian rhino species — alongside the Sumatran and Indian rhinos — all of which have been pushed to the brink of extinction.
Five-year sentences for elephant poachers in Republic of Congo [02/28/2018]
- A court in the Republic of Congo has convicted three men of killing elephants for their tusks. They were handed five-year prison sentences and fined $10,000 each. - The three men were part of a six-member poaching gang that managed to escape an ambush set up by park authorities, but not before leaving behind some 70 kilograms of ivory as well as an AK-47 rifle, according to the WCS. - The gang is believed to have links to some of northern Congo’s most notorious elephant poachers and ivory traffickers, including two who were jailed in the last two years.
New study: Radar reveals bats are a bellwether of climate change [02/28/2018]
- New research indicates that bats could signal seasonal shifts due to climate change. - The study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, is the first to use radar to track an animal migration. - The scientists found that bats that migrate between Mexico and a cave in Texas are now arriving about two weeks earlier than they did in 1995.
Vanishing species deserve our few cents (commentary) [02/27/2018]
- By simply paying their taxes, Americans are helping protect some of Earth’s most threatened and charismatic animals. But these vital funds are in jeopardy due to President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, which includes deep cuts to species conservation programs. - Elephants, tigers, rhinos, great apes, and marine turtles are all protected by Acts of Congress, from which came grant programs administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). - Trump’s proposed budget would slash the funding for these programs by nearly half, from $12 million to $7 million. For African elephants, this would mean $1.5 million in 2019, down from this year’s $2.5 million, which was already spread thin. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
African Parks to manage gorges, rock art and crocodiles of Chad’s Ennedi [02/27/2018]
- African Parks will manage the 40,000-square-kilometer (15,444-square-mile) Ennedi Natural and Cultural Reserve in Chad. - The reserve is home to unique rock formations, ancient human art, and wildlife, including a small population of crocodiles. - Two semi-nomadic groups currently depend on the oases found in the Ennedi Reserve.
Cambodia’s banteng-eating leopards edge closer to extinction, new study finds [02/27/2018]
- In just five years, the population density of Indochinese leopards within a protected area in eastern Cambodia has fallen from about 3 leopards per 100 square kilometers in 2009 to 1 leopard per 100 square kilometers in 2014, a new study has found. - This is one of the lowest densities of leopards reported in Asia, researchers say. - This statistic is worrying because the eastern Cambodian population is the last remaining breeding leopard population within a huge region spanning southeastern China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. - Eastern Cambodia’s leopards are also part of the only leopard population in the world to prey predominantly on an animal weighing more than 500 kilograms — the banteng.
Easter Island votes for world’s newest marine reserve [02/27/2018]
- The Rapa Nui Marine Protected Area encompasses 740,000 square kilometers (286,000 square miles) of Pacific Ocean surrounding Easter Island, or Rapa Nui. The reserve was approved by a 73 percent majority in a September 2017 referendum of islanders. - The MPA is intended to eliminate the pressures of commercial fishing and mining on the unique and isolated ecosystem of Rapa Nui. Supporters of the project cite public support and participation as an encouraging sign of the reserve’s long-term potential. - The Rapa Nui people and government of Chile are currently planning how the reserve will be enforced and monitored, prior to the official signing ceremony on February 27. Many in and outside Rapa Nui believe the reserve will aid relations between the island and the mainland, although there is lingering distrust among some islanders toward Chile.
On an island of plenty, a community tempered by waves braces for rising seas [02/27/2018]
- For generations, the indigenous Papuans on Indonesia’s Auki Island have depended on rich coastal ecosystem around them for sustenance and livelihoods. - But when an earthquake and a tsunami struck the area in 1996, they realized they needed to do more to protect these resources to sustain their way of life. - A decade later, they enshrined practices such as sustainable fishing in a local regulation, which to date has already shown positive results for the islanders and the environment. - But the threat of another disaster — rising sea levels as a result of global warming — looms over the community. This time, they’re preparing through mitigation programs, including protecting mangroves.
Scientists aim to give engineers the tools for ecologically sensitive development [02/26/2018]
- EIAs, or environmental impact assessments, are notoriously flawed and don’t always provide an accurate assessment of the risks of development projects. - A recent article by a team of scientists is part of a larger effort to give planners and engineers the data for more environmentally sensitive development. - The article appears in the February issue of Jurutera: The Journal of Malaysian Engineers.
Indonesia braces for return of fire season as hotspots flare up [02/26/2018]
- Indonesia’s annual forest fire season has started, with reports of blazes in four peat-rich provinces, all of which have declared a state of emergency. - The stake is high for Indonesia to prevent the fires and resultant haze this year, as it prepares to host tens of thousands of athletes and visitors for the Asian Games. One of the host cities is in South Sumatra province, a perennial tinderbox. - The Indonesian government rolled out extensive measures to prevent fires in the wake of the 2015 blazes, focusing on restoring drained peatland, but questions remain over the effectiveness of those efforts.
New maps reveal industrial fishing in over half of world’s oceans [02/24/2018]
- Researchers poring through billions of ship-tracking data points have found that industrial fishing vessels operated across more than 55 percent of ocean, or over 200 million square kilometers (77 million square miles), in 2016 alone. - While most countries fished predominantly within their own exclusive economic zones, five nations — China, Spain, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea — accounted for more than 85 percent of observed fishing in the high seas. - Mapping the fishing fleets also showed that global fishing patterns were strongly linked to holidays and periods of fishing closures.
Volunteering on the front lines of rhino conservation (commentary) [02/23/2018]
- Zimbabwe is home to the world’s fourth largest black rhino population after South Africa, Namibia and Kenya. - Author Ed Warner travels there frequently to volunteer with the International Rhino Foundation’s Zimbabwe Lowveld Rhino Program, which conducts monitoring and anti-poaching efforts aimed at treating, rehabilitating, and translocating rhinos as needed. - Here we publish Warner’s diary of six days in the bush supporting the team’s data collection and anti-poaching efforts. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Seychelles announces two new marine protected areas the size of Great Britain [02/22/2018]
- The government of Seychelles has announced the creation of two new marine protected areas covering 210,000 square kilometers, the size of the island of Great Britain. - The first marine protected area includes 74,400 square kilometers of waters surrounding the extremely isolated Aldabra archipelago that is home to the world’s largest population of rare giant tortoises. - The second marine protected area covers 136,000 square kilometers of a commercially important stretch of ocean between the Amirantes group of islands and Fortune Bank. - The creation of the marine protected areas is part of a debt-for-nature deal that will allow the Seychelles to restructure its national debt in exchange for protecting 30 percent of its exclusive economic zone.
Audio: Exploring the minds and inner lives of animals [02/20/2018]
- On this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we speak with an author of a new book about the minds and lives of animals – about their amazing memories and minds, how they dream, and more – and we’ll also learn what Mongabay’s newest bureau just launched in India is reporting about. - Our first guest is Sy Montgomery, the author of two dozen books for adults and kids about animals. She recently teamed up with her friend and fellow animal writer Elizabeth Marshall Thomas to write Tamed and Untamed: Close Encounters of the Animal Kind, and is here to share a few of the fascinating stories from the book with us. - Our second guest today is Sandhya Sekar, program manager for Mongabay India, who’s here to tell us about the environmental challenges India is facing and what kinds of coverage you’ll find at india.mongabay.com.
Study delves into overlooked community perceptions of conservation impact [02/20/2018]
- A new study measures the impacts of conservation projects on people’s lives by letting the people define what matters to them. - The study has adapted the Global Person Generated Index (GPGI), an index that has previously been used in the health sector to see what people consider important for their quality of life, and lets the people rate the performance of those domains. - The study found that overall, the local people were most commonly concerned with agriculture, health, livestock, education, jobs, and family-related activities, but more than 50 percent of the people who were interviewed said that the conservation projects had had no significant impacts on these aspects of their well-being.
‘It’s our home’: Pygmies fight for recognition as forest protectors in new film [02/20/2018]
- A recent short film, Pygmy Peoples of the DRC: A Rising Movement, tracks the push for the recognition of indigenous land rights in the DRC. - The film catalogs the importance of the forest to pygmy groups, as well as their role as stewards of the forest. - A raft of recent research has shown that indigenous groups around the world often do a better job of protecting forests than parks and reserves.
Protected areas with deforestation more likely to lose status in Brazilian state [02/18/2018]
- A recent study finds that ineffective protected areas stand a lower chance of surviving if deforestation has occurred within their boundaries. - The research took place in the state of Rondônia in the Brazilian Amazon. - The team of scientists also found that protected areas that work are less likely to be carved up for development. - The authors argue that removing safeguards, even from degraded areas, does not take into account the benefits that we may derive from existing protected areas, including carbon storage and clean water.
Four Indonesian farmers charged in killing of orangutan that was shot 130 times [02/18/2018]
- Police in Indonesia have arrested four farmers for allegedly shooting a Bornean orangutan whose body was found riddled with 130 air gun pellets. - The suspects claimed to have killed the animal because it had encroached onto their pineapple farm and ruined the crop. - The killing was the second such case reported this year in Indonesia, where orangutans are ostensibly protected under the conservation act. But lax enforcement means few perpetrators ever face justice for killing or trading in these great apes.
Watch: A minke whale’s view of the Antarctic [02/16/2018]
- Scientists in Antarctica have attached a “whale cam” to the back of a southern minke whale for the very first time. - The video footage is giving scientists a sneak peek into a day in the life of a minke, one of the most poorly understood baleen whales. - At one point, the camera slid down the side of the animal and this side view ended up capturing remarkable footage of the whale feeding.
Queen conch dying out in the Bahamas despite marine parks [02/16/2018]
- There has been a major decline in the population of protected queen conchs in the Bahamas’ Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park over the last 20 years. - The most recent survey found predominantly older queen conchs, with a shortage of juveniles to replace them. - Researchers believe overfishing in upstream areas has depleted the park’s larval supply. Increased predator density within the park may also be a problem for juveniles. - Queen conch fisheries outside protected areas in the Bahamas are experiencing intense fishing pressure and are near collapse.
Borneo, ravaged by deforestation, loses nearly 150,000 orangutans in 16 years, study finds [02/15/2018]
- A new study calculates that the island of Borneo lost nearly 150,000 orangutans in the period between 1999 and 2015, largely as a result of deforestation and killing. There were an estimated 104,700 of the critically endangered apes left as of 2012. - The study also warns that another 45,000 orangutans are doomed by 2050 under the business-as-usual scenario, where forests are cleared for logging, palm oil, mining and pulpwood leases. Orangutans are also disappearing from intact forests, most likely being killed, the researchers say. - The researchers have called for more effective partnerships between governments, industries and local communities to ensure the Bornean orangutan’s survival. Public education and awareness will also be key.
East Africa’s Albertine Rift needs protection now, scientists say [02/15/2018]
- The Albertine Rift in East Africa is home to more than 500 species of plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet. - Created by the stretching apart of tectonic plates, the unique ecosystems of the Albertine Rift are also under threat from encroaching human population and climate change. - A new report details a plan to protect the landscapes that make up the Rift at a cost of around $21 million per year — a bargain rate, scientists argue, given the number of threatened species that could be saved.
Webs under water: The really bizarre lives of intertidal spiders [02/15/2018]
- Scientists have discovered a 15th species of intertidal spider, a family of unusual arachnids that live in coastal habitats that are submerged during high tides. - The newest species, named after singer Bob Marley, was discovered living on brain coral off the Australian coast. - Scientists know that some species create air pockets with their hairs, while others build waterproof webs, but little is known about most of these fascinating spiders. - Intertidal spiders face a number of threats, including rising sea levels due to climate change, and pollution.
New population of extremely rare ‘red handfish’ discovered off Tasmania [02/14/2018]
- Last month, divers discovered a new population of the critically endangered red handfish off Tasmania’s coast. - The new site, currently undisclosed, potentially harbors about 20 to 40 individuals, doubling the number of known red handfish on Earth. - The new population is helping scientists understand the rare fish better.
‘Eye of Papua’ shines a light on environmental, indigenous issues in Indonesia’s last frontier [02/14/2018]
- For decades the Papua region in Indonesia has remained the country’s least-understood, least-developed and most-impoverished area, amid a lack of transparency fueled by a strong security presence. - Activists hope their new website, Mata Papua, or Eye of Papua, will fill the information void with reports, data and maps about indigenous welfare and the proliferation of mines, logging leases and plantations in one of the world’s last great spans of tropical forest. - Companies, with the encouragement of the government, are fast carving up Papua’s land, after having nearly depleted the forests of Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo.
Restoration optimism: Bringing nature back (commentary) [02/13/2018]
- As we hear tales of environmental destruction from across the world, some conservationists are working not just to conserve what is left, but to put back what has been lost. - A new website, www.restorationevidence.org, is working to gather the evidence for what works (and what doesn’t) to restore habitats and biodiversity globally. Run by the Endangered Landscape Programme and the Conservation Evidence project (where I work), the website aims to support decision-making by conservationists by providing them with concise summaries of scientific work. - This will help those planning and implementing restoration projects globally to make the best possible decisions about how to spend restoration funds. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Bridgestone aims for full sustainability by 2050 [02/13/2018]
- Bridgestone is the world’s largest tire and rubber manufacturer. - The company joins Pirelli and Michelin in committing itself and its suppliers to a sustainable supply chain by 2050. - The move could be particularly beneficial in places like Cambodia, where deforestation has closely tracked the global price for rubber.
Illegal ‘white gold,’ South Africa’s abalone, pouring into Hong Kong: TRAFFIC [02/13/2018]
- South African abalone imports into Hong Kong have progressively increased from 3,000 tonnes in 2000 to 6,170 tonnes in 2015, according to a new report by TRAFFIC. - During this period, South Africa was the largest source of dried abalone to Hong Kong among other African countries. Much of these imports were illegal, the researchers found. - While most abalone traders in Hong Kong seem to be aware that South African abalone is frequently poached, fewer consumers know about the illegal trade.
Rewriting biological history: Trump border wall puts wildlife at risk [02/12/2018]
- Mexican conservationists are alarmed over Trump’s wall, with the loss of connectivity threatening already stressed bison, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, bears and other animals. - About one-third of the border, roughly 700 miles, already has fencing; President Trump has been pushing a controversial plan to fence the remainder. - A wall running the entire nearly 2,000-mile frontier from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, conservationists warn, would be catastrophic for borderland ecosystems and many wildlife species, undoing years of environmental cooperation between the two countries to protect animals that must move freely or die. - The wall is currently a key bargaining chip, and a sticking point, in ongoing immigration legislation negotiations taking place this week in Congress. Also expected this week: a federal court ruling on whether the administration can legally waive environmental laws to expedite border wall construction.
The ozone layer is still getting thinner, new study finds [02/12/2018]
- A team of scientists measured the total amount of ozone in the atmosphere and found that the overall concentration is about the same as it’s been, despite a measured boost in the upper layer. - That discovery led the team to surmise that the lower level of the ozone layer is still getting thinner. - It could be that climate change is forcing ozone in the atmosphere to spread out more quickly toward the poles. - Another hypothesis is that some of the compounds that have replaced CFCs in the past three decades may similarly be stripping the atmosphere of ozone, just as CFCs did.
Indonesian police bust Chinese nationals with 200 kg of turtle shells [02/12/2018]
- Police in eastern Indonesia have arrested two Chinese men for illegally being in possession of 200 kilos (440 pounds) of turtle shells, which they believe was headed to China. - All turtle species are protected under Indonesian law, and the possession or trade in their parts is punishable by up to five years in prison and $7,000 in fines. The estimated value of the seized shells was $13,200. - The bust highlights the continued role of the city of Makassar as the main gateway for traffickers moving wildlife products out of the biodiversity haven of Papua, where the suspects say they obtained the turtle shells.
Tree-dwelling animals can ‘climb’ away from climate change, study finds [02/09/2018]
- A new study has found that the temperature within a tropical forest varies considerably, with tree canopies experiencing wider extremes of heating and cooling compared to the ground or soil. - The range of canopy temperatures in tropical forests at the bottom of mountains overlaps considerably with those at the top of the mountains, which suggests that canopy animals likely have the physiology that might allow them to move across a mountain gradient freely unhindered by the climate. - This implies that tree-dwelling tropical animals might be more resilient to climate change, according to the study.
A tale of two otters: settling in Singapore, suffering in China [02/07/2018]
- New research shows a massive decline in China’s otter populations, including the possible local extinction of the smooth-coated otter. - But otters have recolonized Singapore, even appearing near the city center due to the island-nation’s campaign to clean up its rivers. - If China can successfully tackle fur trading and rampant river pollution, could otters one day make a comeback there?
Orangutan shot 130 times in Indonesia, in second killing reported this year [02/07/2018]
- A second Bornean orangutan has been killed in Indonesia this year after being shot multiple times with an air gun. - An autopsy revealed 130 pellets in the animal’s body, most of them in its head. Authorities managed to recover 48 of them. - Wildlife conservation activists have called on the authorities to launch an investigation into the killing of the critically endangered ape.
Earthquake triggers spawning in world’s rarest fish a few thousand miles away [02/07/2018]
- An earthquake that struck Alaska, U.S., on Jan. 23 caused more than 1-foot high waves in Devils Hole, a small water-filled limestone cave in the Death Valley National Park in Nevada, more than 2,000 miles away. - Devils Hole is the only known natural habitat of the incredibly rare Devils Hole pupfish. - Immediately after the waves hit the pool, the pupfish started spawning, indicated by the females turning a drab olive brown, which made the brilliant blue males stand out.
Audio: The cutting-edge technologies allowing us to monitor ecosystems like never before [02/06/2018]
- On today’s episode, we discuss the cutting-edge remote sensing technologies used to monitor ecosystems like rainforests and coral reefs. We also listen to a few ecoacoustic recordings that are used to analyze species richness in tropical forests. - Our first guest today is Greg Asner, who leads the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) at Stanford University’s Carnegie Institution for Science. Asner invented a technique he calls “airborne laser-guided imaging spectroscopy” that utilizes imaging spectrometers mounted on the Carnegie Airborne Observatory airplane to produce highly detailed data on large and complex ecosystems like tropical forests. - Our second guest is Mitch Aide, the principal investigator at the University of Puerto Rico’s Tropical Community Ecology Lab. In this Field Notes segment, Aide will play us a few of the audio recordings he’s uploaded to Arbimon as part of his recent research and will explain how these recordings are used to examine species richness in tropical forests.
Fishing with insecticide-laced mosquito nets is a global phenomenon [02/06/2018]
- In regions of the world threatened by malaria, bed nets treated with insecticides are an increasingly common public health tool to fend off mosquitos. - But there is growing evidence that the nets, often provided for free or at a subsidized price by hospitals and aid organizations, are being put to other uses, including fishing. - A new study is the first to document just how common fishing with mosquito nets may be, finding that people in countries around the world are doing it. - The practice could have significant environmental and socioeconomic implications.
Robbery or retribution? Police investigate death of prominent conservationist in Kenya [02/06/2018]
- Esmond Bradley Martin, a 76-year-old American, was found stabbed to death in the home he shared with his wife in a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday. - Martin had been working in Africa and around the world since the 1970s to stop the slaughter of rhinos and elephants for their horns and tusks. - Colleagues credit Martin with increasing the conservation community’s understanding of the trade of wildlife parts through his often-undercover investigations.
Mountain lions often lose to wolves and bears, study finds [02/06/2018]
- When the hunting grounds of pumas overlap with those of other top predators, such as wolves, bears and jaguars, pumas are often the losers, a new study has found. - The findings from the study, a review of existing scientific literature, are especially important given how pumas are still being intensively hunted over much of their range in a bid to reduce conflicts with people and livestock, researchers say. - In some puma habitats where wolves and brown bears are recolonizing and recovering, wildlife managers need to be cautious about hunting limits for pumas, the authors write.
Trumping Colombia’s peace: U.S. drug war threatens fragile accord, forests [02/05/2018]
- President Donald Trump has brought new tension to U.S.-Colombian relations, threatening to cut crucial funding at a pivotal moment in Colombia’s peace process and to decertify that agreement for a perceived failure to tackle the drug trade. - According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Colombian coca production has risen to an all-time high, with around 90 percent of cocaine entering the U.S. coming from that Latin American country. - U.S. officials blame the cocaine resurgence on Colombia’s decision to halt aerial spraying of Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicide – a controversial tactic considered to have serious health and environmental impacts by some, but rejected by others. - Now, with Colombia’s fragile internal truce taking hold, the Trump administration’s stance – reminiscent of the War on Drugs strategy of the 80s and 90s – could be a great hindrance to peace, with knock-on negative effects for Colombia’s rural population and world-renowned biodiversity.
Carbon pricing could save millions of hectares of tropical forest: new study [02/05/2018]
- Recently published research in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that setting a price of $20 per metric ton (about $18/short ton) of carbon dioxide could diminish deforestation by nearly 16 percent and the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere by nearly 25 percent. - The pair of economists calculated that, as things currently stand, the world stands to lose an India-size chunk of tropical forest by 2050. - In addition to carbon pricing, stricter policies to halt deforestation, such as those that helped Brazil cut its deforestation rate by 80 percent in the early 2000s, could save nearly 1 million square kilometers (386,000 square miles).
Safe spaces: Tackling sexual harassment in science [02/05/2018]
- Through this 3-month long investigation, Mongabay examined a variety of common situations in sciences where people are victimized by uneven power dynamics and abuses of authority in the sciences across the Americas. - Most of those who spoke to Mongabay for this story asked to remain anonymous for fear of serious repercussions for their career. - Though those interviewed were based throughout the Americas, Mongabay has received other tips from around the world describing a wide variety of abuses of power.
Deforestation wanes in Indonesia’s Aceh and Leuser Ecosystem, but threats remain, NGO says [02/05/2018]
- Deforestation in Indonesia’s Aceh province last year fell 18 percent from 2016 — a trend activists attribute to better law enforcement and intensified campaigning about the importance of protecting the unique Leuser Ecosystem. - Another factor is a government moratorium on oil palm planters clearing peatlands, but this hasn’t stopped many such operators from acting with impunity. - Activists worry that future threats will come from road projects and planned hydropower and geothermal plants.
Maps tease apart complex relationship between agriculture and deforestation in DRC [02/02/2018]
- A team from the University of Maryland’s GLAD laboratory has analyzed satellite images of the Democratic Republic of Congo to identify different elements of the “rural complex” — where many of the DRC’s subsistence farmers live. - Their new maps and visualizations allow scientists and land-use planners to pinpoint areas where the cycle of shifting cultivation is contained, and where it is causing new deforestation. - The team and many experts believe that enhanced understanding of the rural complex could help establish baselines that further inform multi-pronged approaches to forest conservation and development, such as REDD+.
Indonesian rubber farmers charged in gruesome killing of Bornean orangutan [02/02/2018]
- Police in Indonesia have arrested two rubber farmers for allegedly shooting and beheading a Bornean orangutan whose body was discovered last month in a river. - The suspects claimed they killed the animal in self-defense, saying it attacked them after encroaching on their farm. - Wildlife conservation activists have lauded the police’s determination to catch the perpetrators and have called on the courts to be just as strict in trying them. - Warning: Some photos may be disturbing or graphic.
Zero-deforestation pledges need help, support to meet targets, new study finds [02/01/2018]
- The study’s authors reviewed previous research to understand the impact that zero-deforestation commitments are having on reducing the loss of forests. - Nearly 450 companies made 760 such commitments by early 2017. - These pledges can reduce deforestation in some cases, but in others, they weren’t effective or had unintended effects, according to the study. - The authors advocate for increased public-private communication, more support for smallholders, and complementary laws that support these pledges.
Hong Kong votes to ban ivory trade by 2021 [02/01/2018]
- Hong Kong, one of the world’s largest ivory markets, has overwhelmingly voted to ban its domestic ivory trade. - This ban comes just a month after China shut down all of its ivory markets on the mainland. - The ban will be implemented in a three-step plan over the next three years.
$23.5 million funding pledge aims to protect critical West African national park [02/01/2018]
- The National Geographic Society, Wyss Foundation, African Parks and the government of Benin have announced a combined commitment of more than $23 million to secure and restore the Pendjari National Park in Benin, West Africa. - The park is one of the last remaining strongholds for elephants in West Africa, and is also home to the critically endangered West African lion and Saharan cheetah. - In 2017, African Parks assumed management of the national park.
New study suggests Borneo’s had elephants for thousands of years [01/31/2018]
- The research, published in January in the journal Scientific Reports, used genetic information and changes to the topography of the region to surmise that Asian elephants arrived in Borneo between 11,000 and 18,000 years ago. - The authors hypothesize that elephants moved from nearby islands or the Malaysian peninsula to Borneo via land bridges. - It’s an indication that the elephants are ‘native’ to Borneo, the scientists argue, and points to the need to bolster conservation efforts.
Two new dog-faced bats discovered in Panama and Ecuador [01/31/2018]
- Researchers have described two new species of dog-faced bats: the Freeman’s dog-faced bat (Cynomops freemani) from Panama and the Waorani dog-faced bat (Cynomops tonkigui) from Ecuador. - The Freeman’s dog-faced bat was named after bat specialist Patricia Freeman. - The species name of the Waorani dog-faced bat, “tonkigui,” honors the Waorani tribe of Ecuador that lives near one of the locations where the bats were captured, the study says.
Sumatra’s ‘tiger descendants’ cling to their customs as coal mines encroach [01/30/2018]
- Sekalak village in southern Sumatra lies in one of the last remaining strongholds of the Sumatran tiger, a critically endangered species that the locals revere as both an ancestral spirit and the guardian of the forest. - This respect for the tiger has sustained a generations-long pledge to protect the local environment, including the wildlife and water resources. - However, the presence of a coal-mining operation in the area poses a threat to both the tigers and the villagers’ way of life: the mining road gives poachers greater access to once-secluded tiger habitat, and the mining waste is polluting the river on which the villagers depend.
For Australia’s fire-starting falcons, pyromania serves up the prey [01/30/2018]
- Australia’s indigenous peoples have long spoken of birds of prey intentionally starting bushfires to flush out prey. - In a new study, researchers have now compiled observations and anecdotes from scientific reports, firefighters and Aboriginal peoples to get a better understanding of how such bird-caused fires spread in Australia’s Northern Territory. - Overall, most instances of fire-spreading by birds seem to be intentional, the authors say, but it is hard to say how common such fires are.
10 million acres added to Chile’s national park system [01/30/2018]
- The announcement marked the culmination of a plan agreed to in March 2017 by President Bachelet and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, President and CEO of Tompkins Conservation, to create a network of five new national parks in Chile, and the expansion of three others. - As a herd of guanacos grazed in the distance, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared, “With these beautiful lands, their forests, their rich ecosystems, [we] expand the network of parks to more than 10 million acres. Thus, national parklands in Chile will increase by 38.5% to account for 81.1% of Chile’s protected areas.” - Tompkins Conservation is a US-based foundation aimed at preventing biodiversity loss and added 1 million acres to the deal — it was founded by Kristine and Doug Tompkins, business leaders of clothing brands The North Face, Esprit, and Patagonia.
Camera trap captures spotted hyena in Gabon national park, the first in 20 years [01/29/2018]
- The spotted hyena was thought to be extinct in Gabon’s Batéké Plateau National Park for 20 years as a result of wildlife poaching. - But the camera trap image captured has given conservation groups hope that protection of the park is working and allowing wildlife to return. - Camera traps have also recently snagged images of a lion, a serval and chimpanzees.
Elephant tusks and pangolin scales seized, six suspects arrested in Ivory Coast [01/29/2018]
- Ivory Coast officials have announced the seizure of over half a ton each of elephant tusks and pangolin scales. - The ivory and pangolin scales were being shipped to Vietnam and other Asian countries, officials said. - Six people, including a Vietnamese national alleged to be the leader of the criminal syndicate, were also arrested.
Do catch and release-induced abortions harm shark and ray populations? [01/26/2018]
- Female sharks and rays are more susceptible to aborting their young after being captured than previously realized, according to a recent review of scientific literature. - The review found that 88 species that bear live young were susceptible. Among a subset of those species for which adequate data was available, researchers estimated that an average of 24 percent of pregnant females abort their offspring when captured. - The authors argue that the phenomenon may be responsible for lost generations of threatened species. - However, outside researchers consulted for this story say that the killing of adult sharks poses a much bigger threat to species survival.
The ups and downs of marine protected areas: Examining the evidence [01/25/2018]
- To find out if marine protected areas achieve their environmental and socioeconomic goals, we read 42 scientific studies and talked to seven experts. - Overall, marine protected areas do appear to help marine animals recover within their boundaries. But a lot more rigorous research is needed. - The effects of marine protected areas on socioeconomic outcomes and fisheries are less clear. - This is part of a special Mongabay series on “Conservation Effectiveness.”
Indonesia buckles to protests against seine fishing ban [01/25/2018]
- The Indonesian government has exempted fishermen operating off the north coast of Java from complying with a ban on the use of a particular type of dragnet known locally as cantrang. - As part of the program, the government is offering financial aid to fishermen to buy new equipment that reduces bycatch and poses less of a risk of damaging seabed ecosystems. - The government’s concession to the group of north Java fishermen falls in line with its own target of boosting fish catches to nearly 10 million tons this year.
Indonesia to strengthen environmental impact assessments through process review [01/24/2018]
- Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry wants to reform the structure of conducting environmental impact assessments, which are required to approve any development project that could cause harm to the environment. - These assessments, known as an AMDAL, have routinely come under scrutiny in the wake of land conflicts and disputes. - Environmental activists have welcomed the push for a review as long as it results in a more efficient and stringent process for developers to obtain an AMDAL.
Indonesia hints rhino sperm transfer to Malaysia may finally happen this year [01/24/2018]
- Indonesia has signaled it may send a much-needed sample of Sumatran rhino sperm to Malaysia for use in a captive-breeding program seen as the last means of saving the critically endangered species. - If it goes to plan, the program would boost the genetic diversity of the species, of which only 30 to 100 individuals are believed to remain in the wild. - The Sumatran rhino population has been decimated by poaching and habitat loss, but the biggest threat facing the species today is the small and fragmented nature of their populations, with an increased risk of inbreeding.
Muskox and other Arctic mammals are feeling the heat of climate change [01/23/2018]
- Past studies have looked at Arctic climate change impacts on wildlife primarily among marine animals and with polar bears, but there is little data on most terrestrial mammals. - Now, As part of a broader attempt to develop an ecological baseline for Arctic wildlife, researchers have focused on muskoxen, the least studied mammal in North America. - According to a new study, increasingly common extreme weather events – such as rain-on-snow and extremely dry winter conditions occurring in Russia and Alaska during muskox gestation – result in smaller head size among muskox young. Smaller animals generally have poor survivorship rates. - Scientists say that, with the Arctic warming twice as fast as the world average, new studies are urgently needed on cold climate mammals including muskoxen, reindeer and caribou, to determine how rapidly escalating climate change up North is impacting wildlife, habitats and ecosystems.
After exporting baby elephants, Zimbabwe pledges to turn over new leaf on conservation [01/23/2018]
- On December 23, Zimbabwe officials quietly loaded thirty-five elephants between the ages of three and five onto planes that would fly them thousands of miles to safari parks in China. The elephants had been taken from the wild and their families in Hwange National Park. - Zimbabwe airlifted the elephants to their new homes just a month after a stunning bloodless coup in the country led to the ouster of Robert Mugabe, who oppressively ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years, and the installation of Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former First Vice President and ally of Mugabe’s. - For years, Zimbabwe conservation policies have largely depended on exploitation, often via trophy hunting and selling animals abroad. But change may be in the air.
Legal recognition in the works for communities occupying Indonesia’s conservation areas [01/23/2018]
- The Indonesian government plans to formally recognize the occupation and use of land inside conservation areas, including national parks, by local and indigenous communities. - The program will grant these communities access to clearly defined areas within these conservation zones, in exchange for managing these areas responsibly and sustainably, and not expanding their encroachment. - However, the program could clash with a 2017 presidential regulation that emphasizes resettlement as a solution to human encroachment in conservation areas.
Friend, not foe: Review highlights benefits of predators and scavengers [01/23/2018]
- Predators are typically better known for harassing pets and livestock or being the source of disease than they are for the valuable — and often less visible — services they provide. - A review published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution catalogs benefits provided by predators to humans documented in the scientific literature. - Authors of the review highlighted instances that ranged from the potential for mountain lions to cut down deer-vehicle collisions, bats that save corn farmers at least $1 billion annually, and vultures that clear away tons of organic waste.
New app hopes to reduce wildlife deaths on India’s roads, railway lines [01/23/2018]
- Roadkills, a newly launched Android app, lets users in India record information on deaths of animals — both domestic and wild — on roads or railway lines, and upload geotagged photos. - Such roadkill data can be useful for both researchers and people planning infrastructure projects across the country, conservationists say. - The app data can help identify what sections of roads and railway lines animals use the most, for instance, which could in turn help guide measures that would reduce or prevent wildlife deaths. - Warning: Some photos may be disturbing or graphic.
Crowdsourcing the fight against poaching, with the help of remote cameras [01/22/2018]
- A U.S. non-profit and a cadre of volunteers have teamed up with reserves in South Africa and Indonesia to combat wildlife poaching through a series of connected camera traps. - The group’s monitoring system, wpsWatch, can transmit visual, infrared, and thermal camera images as well as data from radar, motion detectors, and other field devices. - The volunteers monitor image feeds while rangers sleep and have become an effective part of the team, which has detected roughly 180 intrusions into the reserves, including rhino and bushmeat poachers.
Mesoamerican Reef gets improving bill of health [01/22/2018]
- The Healthy Reefs Initiative released its report card on the state of the Mesoamerican Reef. In the last decade, the grade has risen from poor to fair. - The Mesoamerican Reef runs along about 1,000 kilometers of the coastlines of Mexico, Honduras, Belize and Guatemala. - Fish populations have grown, as have the coral that make up the reef. - But scientists were concerned to see an increase in macroalgae on the reef, which results from runoff and improperly treated sewage effluent.
Thai police bust leading wildlife trafficker [01/22/2018]
- Thai police have arrested Boonchai Bach, the alleged kingpin behind one of the world’s biggest and most notorious wildlife trafficking syndicates. - Bach and his family operation have been the target of authorities and anti-trafficking groups for more than a decade for moving vast quantities of rhino horns and elephant tusks to markets in China, Vietnam and Laos, via their hub in Thailand. - One of the family’s main customers remains at large, however. Vixay Keosavang, said to be the most prominent wildlife dealer in Southeast Asia, is beyond the reach of Thai authorities, in Laos.
Decapitated orangutan found near palm plantations shot 17 times, autopsy finds [01/19/2018]
- Indonesian authorities have found 17 air gun pellets in the headless body of an orangutan found floating in a river in Borneo’s Central Kalimantan province earlier this week. - The body was found in an area close to five plantations, whose operators the government plans to question about the killing of the protected species. - Orangutans are often killed in human-animal conflicts, and wildlife activists have slammed the authorities for not doing enough to prosecute such cases. - Warning: Some photos may be disturbing or graphic.
Pope set to visit site of deforestation, indigenous struggle in Peru [01/19/2018]
- Pope Francis plans to visit Puerto Maldonado in the Peruvian region of Madre de Dios Friday morning on his trip to South America. - He will speak with indigenous communities in a coliseum. - Madre de Dios had the second-highest rate of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon in 2017, with 208 square kilometers (80 square miles) of forest cover loss as a result of farming, logging and mining.
Facebook being used for illegal reptile trade in the Philippines [01/19/2018]
- Researchers from TRAFFIC, who monitored 90 Facebook groups over a three-month period in 2016, recorded 2,245 live reptile advertisements representing more than 5,000 individual animals from 115 taxa. - Most advertisements were for the ball python and the Burmese python, and also included critically endangered species such as the Philippine crocodile and the Philippine forest turtle. - At least 80 percent of the documented online traders on Facebook were selling reptiles illegally, the report concluded.
U.S. National Park Service advisory panel disintegrates [01/17/2018]
- On Monday, 9 of 12 members of the advisory council resigned in a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, citing more than a year of waiting for meetings that are required by law. - The board is responsible for National Parks stewardship, and they often interface with the public and scientific experts. - Advisory councils generally for agencies and their board members are chosen or re-approved by the administration of the newly-elected leader.
Company to probe for minerals close to Mekong River dolphin habitat [01/17/2018]
- The Phnom Penh Post reported today that Medusa Mining, an Australian company, plans to invest $3 million over four years in explorations for gold, copper, oil, gas and precious stones in tributaries of the Mekong River in Cambodia. - Irrawaddy river dolphins, an endangered species of cetacean, live in the Mekong adjacent to the areas slated for exploration. - Only about 80 dolphins remain in the Mekong River, and, although their numbers are on the rise, they face threats from gillnets, dams, boat traffic and water pollution, which could be exacerbated by mining activity.
Belize imposes offshore oil moratorium to protect reefs [01/15/2018]
- Belize stopped the exploration for oil in its waters as of Dec. 29, 2017. - Environmentalists and local businesses opposed a 2016 plan to begin wider oil exploration around Belize, halting those plans within weeks. - Tourism directly contributed about 14 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2016, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, and 50 percent of Belize’s 360,000 people depend on tourism or fishing for their livelihoods. - Conversely, WWF estimated that an oil spill would cost $280 million in cleanup costs.
A Pacific bluefin tuna sold for $323,000. Can the species be saved? [01/12/2018]
- A single Pacific bluefin tuna sold for 36.45 million yen, or $323,111, during the famed New Year auction at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market last Friday, Jan. 5. - The sale took place amid ongoing concerns over the dire status of stocks of the species, Thunnus orientalis, which are now at 2.6 percent of pre-fishing levels. - An international agreement reached in September aims to rebuild Pacific bluefin populations to 20 percent of pre-fishing levels by 2034. - Observers are urging countries to fulfill their commitments under the agreement in order to preserve the species.
Indonesia’s Aceh extends moratorium on new mining sites [01/12/2018]
- The governor of Indonesia’s Aceh province has extended for another six months a moratorium on issuing new mining permits. - The government says it will use the extended moratorium period to review and improve the management of the province’s mining sector. - The freeze has been in place since 2014, and has been credited by activists with saving hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest in Aceh — home to critically endangered Sumatran orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants — from being cleared.
Natural World Heritage Sites in trouble, especially in the Tropics [01/11/2018]
- From the Great Barrier Reef to the Galapagos Islands and the forests of central Africa, over a third of Natural World Heritage Sites designated by UNESCO are under threat from myriad problems. - Of the seventeen locations with a critical conservation outlook, sixteen are in the Tropics, and the majority of those are in Africa. Less than half of African World Heritage sites received a “good” outlook. Lack of funding in developing nations is a major problem. - Sites harboring rich biodiversity, such as Virunga and Garamba national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras, are especially at risk. - The most common threats to Natural World Heritage Sites are invasive non-native species, unsustainable tourism, poaching, hydroelectric dams, and logging, with climate change the fastest growing threat.
There’s a new member of the lemur family [01/11/2018]
- Grove’s Dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus grovesi) was discovered in two of Madagascar’s national parks, Ranomafana and Andringitra, both of which are part of the Rainforests of Atsinanana UNESCO World Heritage Site. - The new lemur is a nocturnal primate that is smaller than a squirrel. The fur on its back, limbs, and head are a reddish-brown in color, and there are brownish-black rings around its large eyes. - The species was named for British-Australian biological anthropologist and primate taxonomist Colin Groves, who passed away last year.
Wars kill wildlife in Africa’s protected areas, study finds [01/11/2018]
- Researchers have found that wars and armed conflict have led to severe declines in large mammal populations in Africa’s protected areas. - Even low-grade, infrequent conflicts were enough to reduce large mammal numbers, the study found. - Despite devastation, wild animal populations can recover if efforts are made to conserve them, the researchers conclude.
Lions deal blow to giraffe numbers by targeting young, study finds [01/11/2018]
- New research demonstrates that lions can diminish the number of young giraffes in a population by more than 80 percent. - The giraffe species was recently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, after its numbers dropped by nearly 40 percent in just three decades. - A 2015 estimate puts numbers at 97,500, down from 157,000 in 1985. - The findings could prompt the rethinking of conservation strategies aimed at protecting giraffes.
Indonesian ex-soldier among three jailed for illegal trade in Sumatran rhino, tiger parts [01/10/2018]
- A court in Indonesia has jailed three men for the illegal trade in endangered Sumatran rhino and tiger parts. - An ex-Army captain and a middleman were sentenced to two years for trying to trade in a rhino horn, while a similar sentence was handed down to a man convicted of trapping and killing a tiger and trying to sell it - While both the Sumatran rhino and Sumatran tiger are deemed critically endangered, or just a step away from being extinct in the wild, conservationists say enforcement of local laws meant to protect them remains lax.
Audio: Lessons from indigenous peoples about coping with climate change, plus the call of the night parrot [01/09/2018]
- Happy new year to all our listeners out there! On our first episode of 2018, we speak with the author of a book about the resilience of indigenous peoples in the face of climate change, and we’ll hear some recordings of the elusive night parrot in Australia! - Our first guest today is Gleb Raygorodetsky, the author of The Archipelago of Hope: Wisdom and Resilience from the Edge of Climate Change, which details the author’s experiences with a number of Indigenous cultures and the ways their lives on their traditional territories are being reshaped by the impacts of global warming. - Our second guest is Nick Leseberg, a PhD student at the University of Queensland in Australia whose work focuses solely on the night parrot, a species endemic to Australia that scientists have only recently been able to study. Just four years ago, nobody knew what a night parrot sounded like — but now Leseberg is here to play us some of the calls he’s recorded in this Field Notes segment.
Reliance on natural healing cultivates respect for nature in Indonesian village [01/09/2018]
- A small village in the Indonesia island of Sulawesi is keeping alive a tradition of healing based on remedies derived from locally grown herbs and other plants. - The importance of traditional medicine to the community means the villagers have long been diligent about protecting the forest in which the plants grow. - This has translated into hefty fines for unregulated logging or poaching of local wildlife, including the maleo, a bird found only in Sulawesi.
Global warming, pollution supersize the oceans’ oxygen-depleted dead zones [01/09/2018]
- Large areas of the world’s oceans are rapidly losing oxygen as a result of global warming and pollution, threatening marine ecosystems and the hundreds of millions of people who depend on them, according to a new study. - The scientists expect deoxygenation to increase well beyond these so-called dead zones as long as human-driven global warming continues. - Despite the grim outlook for the oceans, the researchers suggest that cutting fossil fuel use and protecting vulnerable marine life could tackle the problem.
‘AudioMoth’ device aims to deliver low-cost, power-efficient monitoring of remote landscapes [01/08/2018]
- UK-based researchers who have developed a low-power, open-source acoustic monitoring device say it shows promise for monitoring wildlife and illicit incursions by mankind into remote habitats. - The researchers say that the device, which is about the size of a matchbox, can be made for as little as $43 per unit — a price-point that could be key to ensuring coverage across large landscapes, where numerous monitoring devices are required. - The AudioMoth can be programmed to monitor wildlife populations by recording the calls of specific target species while at the same time serving as an alert system when the sounds of human exploitation, such as the blast of a shotgun or the roar of a chainsaw, are detected.
Rhino DNA database helps officials nab poachers and traffickers [01/08/2018]
- A DNA-based system is helping authorities prosecute and convict poachers and rhino horn traffickers in Africa. - RhODIS, as the system is called, is built on a foundational database with genetic information from nearly 4,000 individual rhinos. - By comparing the frequencies of alleles in confiscated horn and horn products with those in tissue from a poached animal, investigators can then come up with a probable match for where that horn came from. - So far, RhODIS has been instrumental in nine convictions in East and Southern Africa.
IUCN, UN, global NGOs, likely to see major budget cuts under Trump [01/08/2018]
- President Donald Trump has proposed cutting foreign aid funding to nations and inter-governmental organizations by 32 percent, about $19 billion – cuts the U.S. Congress has yet to vote on. Voting has been delayed since September, and is next scheduled for 19 January, though another delay may occur. - One inter-governmental organization on Trump’s cutting block is the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) best known for its global Red List, the go-to resource for the status of endangered species planet-wide. Over the past four years the U.S. contributed between 5 and 9 percent of the IUCN’s total framework funding, and 4 to 7 percent of its programmatic funding. - Currently it remains unclear just how much, or even if, the IUCN budget will be slashed by Congress, leaving the organization in limbo. Another organization potentially looking at major cuts under Trump is TRAFFIC, the international wildlife trade monitoring network. - Also under Trump’s axe are the UN Population Fund ($79 million), the Green Climate Fund ($2 billion, which no nation has stepped up to replace), and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ($1.96 million annually, funding already replaced by other nations for 2018).
U.S. zoos learn how to keep captive pangolins alive, helping wild ones [01/05/2018]
- The Pangolin Consortium, a partnership between six U.S. zoos and Pangolin Conservation, an NGO, launched a project in 2014 which today houses fifty White-bellied tree pangolins (Phataginus tricuspis). - Common knowledge says that pangolins are almost impossible to keep alive in captivity, but the consortium has done basic research to boost survival rates, traveling to Africa and working with a company, EnviroFlight, to develop a natural nutritious insect-derived diet for pangolins in captivity. - While some conservationists are critical of the project, actions by the Pangolin Consortium have resulted in high captive survival rates, and even in the successful breeding of pangolins in captivity. - The Pangolin Consortium is able to conduct basic research under controlled conditions at zoos on pangolin behavior and health ¬– research that can’t be done in the wild. Zoos can also present pangolins to the public, educating about their endangered status, improving conservation funding.
Meet Indonesia’s new honeyeater species from Rote Island [01/05/2018]
- A new bird species from Indonesia has been described by a group of scientists after it was first observed in 1990, a paper said. - The bird, which belongs to the honeyeater family, has been named after Indonesia’s first lady, Iriana Joko Widodo, as a way to promote the protection of the species. - The researchers said the newly described species’ population was primarily threatened by deforestation to clear land for residential and agricultural use.
Reef bleaching five times more frequent now than in the 1980s, study finds [01/04/2018]
- Severe coral bleaching is now happening about every six years, whereas in the 1980s, it took place every 25 to 30 years. - Severe bleaching can kill the reef’s constituent corals. - It takes at least a decade for a reef to recover from bleaching. - Unless humans act to halt the rise of global temperatures, scientists predict that we’re headed for a time when bleaching might be an annual occurrence.
Rainforests: the year in review 2017 [01/04/2018]
- 2017 was a rough year for tropical rainforests, but there were some bright spots. - This is Mongabay’s annual year-in-review on what happened in the world of tropical rainforests. - Here we summarize some of the more notable developments and trends for tropical forests in 2017.
New ‘ghost’ scorpion among several species recorded for the first time in Malaysian rainforest [01/04/2018]
- For the first time ever, scientists have surveyed the rainforest of Penang Hill comprehensively. The 130-million-year old forest is believed to have never been cut before and has remained largely unexplored. - Among the exciting discoveries is a potentially new species of “ghost” scorpion, and numerous first records for Penang Hill. - With a more complete understanding of the forests of Penang Hill, the scientists hope to nominate Penang’s forest as a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
Rhino horn seizure taps into Southeast Asian trafficking ring [01/03/2018]
- Officials confiscated 12.5 kilograms (27.6 pounds) of South African rhino horn on Dec. 12. - The seizure led to the arrest of a member of the Bach family, which is suspected of running a wildlife trafficking syndicate from Thailand. - The NGO Elephant Action League provided Thai authorities with information that led to the arrest, as well as that of another wildlife trafficking ‘kingpin’ in December.
U.S. court ruling complicates Trump’s elephant and lion policy [01/02/2018]
- A federal appeals court has found that the Obama administration did not follow proper procedures in 2014 when it banned importing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe. The USFWS failed to seek public comment at the time, among other infractions. - This new ruling puts the Trump administration decision, made in November, ending the ban and allowing elephant trophy hunting imports, into question. - Further complicating matters is Trump’s dubbing of the November USFWS decision as a “horror show,” and his putting of the policy on hold awaiting his response. To date, Trump has said nothing further. - The way things stand now, U.S. hunters can import elephant trophies from South Africa and Namibia. They can import lion body parts from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. But the legality of importing elephant trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe remains in limbo.
Reefscape: A global reef survey to build better satellites for coral conservation [01/02/2018]
- While science has fully documented only a small portion of reef species that occur around our planet, we know that human activities have taken an extensive toll on reef ecosystems worldwide. - To gather a more comprehensive understanding of the condition of global reef ecosystems, we need a way to assess and monitor them on a large geographic scale. - With our partners, we are planning a new satellite mission for global reef ecosystems, which will advance our ability not only to map reef extent, but also to monitor changes in coral reef health. - This post is the first in a series that will chronicle field work ongoing for the next year to develop an understanding of reef characteristics that need to be monitored from Earth orbit.
In a Papuan district, tribes push to revive a legacy of sustainability [01/02/2018]
- Two tribes in the foothills of the Cyclops Mountains in eastern Indonesia have ratified a village regulation that aims to formalize their age-old traditions of sustainable forestry, farming and fishing. - Though practiced for generations, the traditions have increasingly been abandoned in favor of higher-yield — but destructive — practices such as indiscriminate logging and blast fishing. - The new regulation stipulates customary fines on top of those imposed under national legislation, which the tribes say the government must do more to enforce.
Ivory trade in China is now banned [01/02/2018]
- China has shut its legal, domestic ivory markets and banned all commercial ivory trade. - Conservationists have welcomed this ban, calling it “one of the most important days in the history of elephant conservation”. - But for China’s ivory ban to work, neighboring countries must follow suit, conservationists say.