10-second nature news digest

Conservation news digest for busy people from @Mongabay. Story summaries that can be read in about ten seconds per post.

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‘Ships, sonar and surveys’: Film explores impacts of a noisy ocean [09/21/2017]
- Sonar, air gun charges for oil and gas exploration, and ship traffic in the ocean can interfere with marine mammal communication, cause physiological problems and drive animals to strand on beaches.
- A new film, “Sonic Sea,” traces the risks of an increasingly noisy ocean to whales, dolphins and porpoises.
- The film is a finalist for the Best Science in Nature prize at the 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in Jackson, Wyoming.
- The winners will be announced Sept. 28.


Four new toads discovered in Sumatra [09/21/2017]
- Scientists discovered four new species of toads who, unlike their cousins, live isolated in the highlands of Sumatra.
- The four toads are distinguishable from one another by their skin patterns, limb shapes and voices.
- In the wake of the discovery, one of the researchers called on the Indonesian government to strengthen the monitoring of harvesting quotas for toad exports so that scientists can keep track of its population in the wild.


Stalking snow leopards: Q&A with the director of “Ghost of the Mountains” [09/20/2017]
- In spring 2014 a crew of filmmakers ventured to the remote mountains of Sanjiangyuan in China’s western province of Qinghai to film the notoriously elusive snow leopard in the wild.
- A new film, “Ghost of the Mountains,” documents that expedition.
- The film is a finalist for Best People and Nature Film in the 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival taking place next week in Jackson, Wyoming.


Pangolins reduced to small, isolated populations in Bangladesh: new study [09/20/2017]
- With the help of the Mro tribe in Bangladesh, researchers have found that pangolins do persist in many forested areas of the country, but in small, isolated populations.
- Of the four Asian pangolin species, the Chinese pangolin seems to occur most commonly in Bangladesh, while the Indian pangolin is possibly rare or extinct within the country, the researchers say.
- The study also found that pangolin hunting has shot up since 2010, most likely due to a sharp rise in the price of pangolin scales.


Photos: South America’s adorable Andean bear [09/20/2017]
- This photo essay comes via Mongabay's partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society's Wild View blog.
- Once a month we'll publish a contribution from Wild View that highlights an animal species.
- This month, Scott Silver writes about the only bear species from South America – the Andean bear.
- Sometimes called the spectacled bear due to its cream-colored facial markings that can look like eyeglasses, these bears are found in parts of southern Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and northern Argentina.


Traffickers find new ways to smuggle rhino horn out of Africa [09/19/2017]
- Criminal networks of Chinese origin operating in southern Africa have started processing rhino horn into jewelry and other trinkets before smuggling it out of the continent, reports wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic.
- A shift from smuggling whole horns to jewelry complicates law enforcement efforts, and suggests there is a growing demand for luxury items made from rhino horn.
- New tactics and trade routes underscore how difficult it is for authorities to combat global trafficking networks.


Audio: Legendary musician Bruce Cockburn on music, activism, and hope [09/19/2017]
- Music has a unique ability to inspire awareness and action about important issues — and we’re excited to welcome a living legend onto the program to discuss that very topic.
- Bruce Cockburn, well known for his outspoken support of environmental and humanitarian causes, appears on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast.
- Our second guest is Amanda Lollar, founder and president of Bat World Sanctuary, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Texas.
- All that plus the top news!


First orangutan birth in Aceh reserve ‘gives hope’ for survival of species [09/19/2017]
- The first baby orangutan was born at the Pinus Jantho Nature Reserve in Sumatra.
- The other release site in Sumatra, Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, saw a similar birth last year, the first at either site.
- Both Jantho and Bukit Tigapuluh hold an entirely new population of orangutans being established in the Sumatran wilds.


Indonesia abuzz over possible finding of extinct tiger [09/19/2017]
- Park rangers in Java photographed a big cat that resembled the Javan tiger which was officially declared extinct in 2003.
- The finding prompted authorities and NGO in Indonesia to deploy an investigation team to gather more evidence.
- Meanwhile, some experts argued that the animal was most likely the Javan leopard.


‘Snow white’ giraffes caught on video for the first time [09/16/2017]
- Two rare white giraffes have been captured on video in the wild for the first time, reports a wildlife conservancy in Kenya.
- The giraffes are leucistic, meaning they have a genetic condition that inhibits pigmentation in skin cells.
- The giraffes are not albino, or lacking melanin throughout their bodies.


What works in conservation? In-depth series starts next week [09/15/2017]
- "Conservation Effectiveness" is a multi-part series investigating the effectiveness of some of the most popular strategies to conserve tropical forests around the world.
- The series is the result of a collaboration between Mongabay staff reporters Shreya Dasgupta and Mike Gaworecki, and a team of conservation scientists led by tropical forest ecologist Zuzana Burivalova of Princeton University.
- Conservation Effectiveness launches next week.


Rehabilitating wildlife in the aftermath of Harvey [09/14/2017]
- When the team at Bat World Sanctuary in Weatherford, Texas, a town about 30 miles west of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, heard about what was happening to bats as Hurricane Harvey battered Houston, they knew immediately that they had to help.
- It wasn’t just bats that needed saving, of course: Wildlife rehabilitators rescued numerous species after the storm, from common animals like beavers, deer, opossums, owls, and raccoons to rarer wildlife like alligator snapping turtles and magnificent frigatebirds.
- Many of the animals were treated in the field and released, but those that needed more extensive medical attention were taken to wildlife rehab facilities across the state of Texas.


Protest against hydropower plant in Sumatra ends with injuries [09/14/2017]
- On Aug. 24, indigenous people in North Sumatra staged a protest against the development of a planned 510-megawatt hydroelectric dam which threatens to evict them from their ancestral land.
- The protest turned sour after a woman was knocked over during a scuffle between protestors and people claiming to be representatives of the project's developer, PT North Sumatra Hydro Energy.
- The project also threatens to damage the ecosystem of the Batang Toru forest, home to Critically Endangered Sumatran tigers and orangutans.


North America’s ash trees, Africa’s antelopes face heightened threat of extinction [09/14/2017]
- The latest update to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, released today, finds that even species once considered so abundant as to be safe have been put at risk of extinction by human activities and their impacts on the environment.
- Five of the six most widespread and valuable ash tree species in North America have declined so severely due to an invasive beetle that they have now been entered onto the Red List as Critically Endangered, the last threat level before extinction in the wild.
- Five African antelopes also had their threat status upgraded in the latest Red List update, among them the Giant Eland (Tragelaphus derbianus), previously listed as Least Concern but now Vulnerable, and the Mountain Reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula), also previously listed as Least Concern but now assessed as Endangered.


Ecologist wins Heinz environment prize for airborne mapping that informs policy [09/14/2017]
- Ecologist Greg Asner of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory will receive a $250,000 award from the Heinz Family Foundation for his work to map rainforests and coral reefs around the world.
- Lawmakers and other key decision-makers use Asner’s research to guide policy in the United States, South America and Southeast Asia.
- Asner said he intends to put the funds toward marine education and outreach in Hawaii, where he began his career.


Move to open U.S. Atlantic coast to oil drilling meets increased opposition [09/13/2017]
- In April, Trump issued an executive order aimed at implementing his so-called “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” which called for a review of the 2017-2022 Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program finalized under the Obama Administration and proposed that all U.S. waters be considered for offshore drilling.
- The executive order also instructed federal agencies to "streamline" the permitting process for "seismic research and data collection" and "expedite all stages of consideration" of Incidental Harassment Authorizations required under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
- A species of particular concern is the North Atlantic right whale, which is listed as critically endangered under the US Endangered Species Act. There are only about 500 of the whales left, and their only known calving ground is off the coast of the southeast US, including the area where seismic surveying has been proposed.


Communities struggle to save Sabah’s shrinking mangroves [09/13/2017]
- A development plan establishing shrimp farms and timber plantations begun purportedly to reduce poverty in northern Sabah, Malaysia, has attracted criticism from local communities and NGOs, which say the project is ignoring communities’ land rights.
- Satellite imagery shows the clearing of large tracts of mangrove forest for shrimp farms. Critics of the development say this is depriving forest-dependent local communities of their livelihoods as well as threatening mangrove wildlife.
- Several communities have banded together and are together petitioning the government to officially recognize their rights to the remaining mangroves and prevent further clearing for development.


Curiosity saves the cat: Tourism helps reinvent the jaguar [09/13/2017]
- Retaliatory killings of jaguar by cattle ranchers currently threaten the recovery of the species and the long-term viability of tour operators dependent on their presence.
- A recent study found that the value of jaguars to tourism (US$6,827,392) was far in excess of the cost to ranchers from depredation of their cattle (US$121,500).
- Tourists were overwhelmingly receptive to the idea of donating to a compensation fund for ranchers that live harmoniously with jaguars.


Central Africa’s ivory trade shifts underground, according to new report [09/12/2017]
- A series of undercover investigations by the NGO TRAFFIC over several years in five Central African countries has revealed a shift in the region from local markets for ivory to an ‘underground’ international trade.
- The resulting report, published Sept. 7, finds that organized crime outfits, aided by high-level corruption, are moving ivory out of Central African to markets abroad, especially in China and other parts of Asia.
- A 2013 study found that elephant numbers in Central Africa’s forests dropped by 62 percent between 2002 and 2011.


Keeping lions at bay to keep them going [09/12/2017]
- Conflict between local pastoralists and lions remains a tricky problem in lion conservation, but reinforcing traditional fencing structures called “bomas” may provide a cost-effective solution.
- A study found adding chain-link fences to bomas cut livestock losses to top predators by 75 percent, according to the research.
- When looking at cost, partially reinforced bomas – as opposed to fully reinforced – was actually a more cost-effective solution to the persistent problem of livestock loss in Kenya.


Javan rhinos face human incursions into their last remaining habitat [09/11/2017]
- Only around 60 Javan rhinoceroses are believed to remain, all of them in Indonesia's Ujung Kulon National Park.
- Authorities have caught dozens of people hunting, gathering forest products and planting crops in the park, including the recent arrest of 13 people in core rhino habitat.
- Despite the challenges, the population is believed to be stable and calves continue to be born.


Deforestation in Cambodia linked to ill health in children [09/11/2017]
- A new study has found that the loss of dense forest cover in Cambodia is associated with an increased risk of diarrhea, acute respiratory infection and fever in children younger than five years.
- Just a 10 percentage increase in the loss of dense forest around Cambodian households was associated with a 14 percent increase in the rate of diarrhea among children, the researchers found.
- In contrast, a higher coverage of protected areas around the households was linked to a lower incidence of diarrhea and acute respiratory infection in children.


Audio: Technologies that boost conservation efforts right now and in the future [09/06/2017]
- On this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we take a look at the role technology is playing — and might play in the future — in conservation efforts.
- Our first guest is Topher White, the founder of Rainforest Connection, a nonprofit based in San Francisco that has deployed upcycled cell phones in tropical forests around the world to provide real-time monitoring of forests and wildlife.
- Our second guest is Matthew Putman, an applied physicist with a keen interest in conservation. Putman is CEO of Nanotronics, a company headquartered in Brooklyn, NY that makes automated industrial microscopes used by manufacturers of advanced technologies like semiconductors, microchips, hard drives, LEDs, and aerospace hardware.


India and Nepal team up to rescue flooded rhinos [09/05/2017]
- At least 15 greater one-horned rhinoceroses have been swept across the Indo-Nepal border by this year's monsoon floods.
- Officials from both countries have worked together to find and rescue the flood-swept animals.
- The floods pose great dangers for rhinos, but highlight the progress made by cross-border conservation initiatives between India, Nepal and Bhutan.


Fishing mortality of mako sharks ten times higher than fisheries’ estimates [09/05/2017]
- For the first time, researchers used satellite tags attached to the fins of 40 juvenile shortfin mako sharks to directly quantify fishing mortality in the Northern Atlantic.
- Over the course of three years, 12 (30 percent) of the sharks were harvested, mostly by longline fisheries from five countries.
- Fishing mortality was ten times higher than estimates based on catch data reported by the fisheries, and 15 to 18 times higher than the rate associated with maximum sustainable yield, suggesting substantial overfishing.


80% of Bornean orangutans live outside protected areas [09/05/2017]
- The finding is part of a new report led by the Indonesian government.
- The study confirms that orangutan populations have plunged over the past decade.
- It recommends several strategies for protecting the primates, including working with plantation companies to preserve forests within lands they have been licensed to develop.


381 new species described from the Amazon over two-year period [09/04/2017]
- Between January 2014 and December 2015, scientists described 381 new species of wildlife from the Amazon in peer-reviewed scientific journals, a new report by WWF and a Brazil-based organization says.
- These include 216 new species of plants, 93 fish, 32 amphibians, 20 mammals (two of which are fossils), 19 reptiles and one bird.
- Many of the newly described species are already on the verge of extinction, the report says.


Saving the Serranía de San Lucas, a vital link in the ‘jaguar corridor’ [09/01/2017]
- The Serranía de San Lucas in Colombia’s department of Bolivar is an area of renowned biodiversity. Due to the country’s long-running conflict the region has not yet been fully explored and scientists believe a “treasure trove” of undiscovered species may be lying in wait.
- The mountain massif is also key to the “jaguar corridor,” a habitat link that connects Central American jaguar populations to those in South America.
- But San Lucas is also home to some of Latin America’s richest deposits of gold. Mining for gold has damaged the region’s lowlands, releasing mercury into the surrounding environment. In 2014, two jaguar canines were found to contain mercury.
- The race is on to protect the area through establishing it as a national park. Proponents of the initiative say doing to would help maintain its rich biodiversity and ensure it retains viable habitat for jaguars and other wildlife.


Jackie Chan joins the fight for endangered pangolins [09/01/2017]
- In a video, martial arts action star Jackie Chan urges people to never buy pangolin meat or scale.
- "When the buying stops, the killing can too," he says.
- Conservationists hope that Chan will help reduce consumption of pangolins by reaching a wider audience across Asia, especially China and Vietnam.


Collateral damage: Snow leopards and trophy hunting in Kyrgyzstan [08/31/2017]
- The mountains of Kyrgyzstan provide important connective habitat for endangered snow leopards.
- Government-supported hunting of Marco Polo sheep and Siberian ibex is being blamed for depleting the food supply of snow leopards and driving their numbers down.
- Ecologists say more animals are being hunted than can naturally reproduce, while government representatives contend the harvest is sustainable.
- A bill that would have banned hunting until 2030 was narrowly defeated earlier this year.


‘Ecological disaster’: controversial bridge puts East Kalimantan’s green commitment to the test [08/30/2017]
- Work is currently underway on a bridge and access road that will connect the fast-growing city of Balikpapan with its rural outskirts.
- The project is part of a broader government program to transform Indonesian Borneo into an economic powerhouse.
- Conservationists have opposed the project since it was launched in 2008, fearing it will disrupt marine life, cut a crucial wildlife corridor and spark land speculation and encroachment along a protected forest.


New crab with star-shaped outgrowths discovered in Taiwan [08/30/2017]
- From a red coral fishing ground off Taiwan, scientists have collected a new species of crab.
- The orange crustacean is covered in numerous tiny, star-shaped protrusions and has been named Pariphiculus stellatus, from the Latin word stellatus meaning 'starry'.
- In the same study, the scientists report the first-ever record of a rare crab species - Acanthodromia margarita - that they collected from the red coral beds.


Video: Hatchlings boost hope for extremely rare duck [08/29/2017]
- WCS has filmed three white-winged ducklings leaving a tree-hollow in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary (KPWS), Cambodia.
- The mother duck had herself been rescued by villagers in mid-2015 when she was injured. She was treated, rehabilitated and later returned to the wild in December 2015.
- Fewer than 1,000 mature white-winged ducks remain in the wild, and the species is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.


Bats and viruses: Beating back a bad reputation [08/29/2017]
- Ecologist Merlin Tuttle argues that too much research and media attention is focused on bats based on tenuous links to deadly disease-causing viruses such as Ebola.
- Live Ebola virus has never been found in bats, and virologists acknowledge that other animals may be involved.
- But scientists have plucked live strains of other dangerous viruses from bats, and researchers argue that continuing to study the association between viruses and bats (as well as other animals) will ultimately help us better prepare for future disease outbreaks.


Rhino horn confiscated, three alleged traffickers arrested in Sumatra [08/28/2017]
- Indonesian authorities arrested three alleged wildlife traffickers and seized a rhino horn in Medan, North Sumatra on Aug. 13.
- Officials believe the horn comes from a Sumatran rhino, one of the world's rarest and most endangered mammal species.
- The arrest followed a June 12 raid in a neighboring province that also resulted in the confiscation of a Sumatran rhino horn. Authorities have not yet determined whether there is a connection between the two incidents.


Good quality monitoring surveys key to wildlife conservation: new study [08/24/2017]
- Most population monitoring surveys of wild animals and plants are poorly designed, a new study says.
- Populations that are monitored are sometimes not representative of the community we seek to understand, for example, which can lead to highly misleading estimated trends, scientists say.
- Existing monitoring programs should be reviewed, scientists say, and available technologies can be used to collect reliable data on population trends.


‘Yoda bat’ happy to be recognized as new species [08/23/2017]
- A new fruit bat species found in the rainforests of Papua New Guinea and described in the Records of the Australian Museum this month resembles Yoda closely enough that it has actually been referred to simply as the “Yoda bat” — at least until now.
- Acccording to Nancy Irwin, author of the study describing the species, the name Hamamas or "happy" tube-nosed fruit bat was chosen because "Most of the morphological characteristics that separate this bat from other species are associated with a broader, rounder jaw which gives the appearance of a constant smile.”
- The bat was given its scientific name, N. wrightae, in honor of conservationist Deb Wright, who spent two decades building conservation programs and long-term scientific capacity in Papua New Guinea.


Deforestation from gold mining in Peru continues, despite gov’t crackdowns [08/22/2017]
- A team of scientists from the Carnegie Institution for Science found that, between 1999 and 2016, gold mining expansion cost the region 4,437 hectares (10,964 acres) of forest loss per year.
- Miners were working an area in 2016 that was 40 percent larger than it was in 2012.
- The findings, along analyses by ecologists at the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project, indicate that increased enforcement by the Peruvian government has slowed the rate of deforestation.


Audio: A rare earth mine in Madagascar triggers concerns for locals and lemurs [08/22/2017]
- Our first guest on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast is Eddie Carver, a Mongabay contributor based in Madagascar who recently wrote a report about a troubled company that is hoping to mine rare earth elements in a forest on the Ampasindava peninsula, a highly biodiverse region that is home to numerous endangered lemur species.
- Carver speaks about the risks of mining for rare earth elements, how the mine might impact wildlife like endangered lemur species found nowhere else on Earth, the complicated history of the company and its ownership of the mine, and how villagers in nearby communities have already been impacted by exploratory mining efforts.
- Our second guest is Jo Wood, an Environmental Water Project Officer in Victoria, Australia, who plays for us the calls of a number of indicator species whose presence helps her assess the success of her wetland rewetting work.


The world’s first biotacide (commentary) [08/22/2017]
- Many refer to it as the Sixth Mass Extinction, but it isn’t. It’s different.
- We are not simply in the sixth round of a continuing series of events that have devastated life on Earth. We are in the midst of the first of a new type of event, unlike the earlier mass extinction events.
- The five mass extinctions were naturally occurring cataclysmic events that completely changed the course of evolution and life on Earth. The current event is a ‘biotacide,’ an unnatural cataclysmic event that is changing the course of life on Earth.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.


Massive highway planned for Philippines’ Palawan Island [08/22/2017]
- A plan to enlarge a two-lane highway into six prompts skepticism among locals.
- Experts say highway plans would endanger Palawan’s fragile forests, coral reefs and unique species.
- Observers believe corruption, not necessity, is behind the plan.


Modern Fish Act: boon to recreational fishing or risk to U.S. fishery? [08/21/2017]
- The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act sets strict, scientifically adjusted, annual catch limits on U.S. commercial, charter and recreational fisheries in order to sustain saltwater fish stocks, and is seen as a model of fishery management globally.
- The Modern Fish Act (MFA), a bill introduced in the U.S. House in April, would do away with limits on recreational fishermen, who argue they have no impact on fishery stocks. Environmentalists, however, say the MFA introduces legal loopholes that would allow for uncontrolled fishing at potentially unsustainable levels that could cause stocks to crash.
- Critics also say that the MFA muddies the waters between federal and state management, and allows political and economic considerations to override science in management decisions. The bill is still moving through Congress, and its chances for passage are presently unknown.
- The Trump administration has already made moves to undermine scientifically arrived at recreational fishing limits. Its Commerce Department overruled a NOAA limit on the red snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico, a ruling experts say could delay the fishery’s recovery.


Leading ivory trade investigator slain in Tanzania [08/18/2017]
- One of Africa’s top ivory trade investigators has been shot dead by gunmen in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
- Wayne Lotter was the co-founder and President of PAMS Foundation, which set up and supported the elite unit behind more than 2,000 arrests since November 2014.
- He was killed late on Wednesday, while traveling in a taxi from the airport to his rented flat in the quiet suburb of Masaki.


Kenyans fear proposed Trump cuts could threaten elephants, ranger jobs [08/18/2017]
- In March, President Trump proposed cuts to the 2018 USAID global budget totaling 40 percent, a recommendation Congress isn’t required to follow, but which the legislature won’t likely vote on before October 1st.
- As a result, nations in the developing world are in limbo over cuts, and worried they’ll lose vital USAID funds. Trump’s budget is only slated to reduce USAID to Kenya by 10 percent, but officials and NGOs there still fear environmental programs will be slashed.
- They worry USAID funds to protect elephants and curb trafficking, to pay community ranger salaries, and to keep East Africa’s only wildlife forensics lab open will be lost. There are no known plans to cut these programs at present, but rumors abound, with many rangers disheartened and “losing motivation to work” according to one observer.
- An unnamed U.S. embassy official in Nairobi told Mongabay that the Trump administration has, however, taken one action that could harm environmental research, with 34 visas denied to Kenyan scientists wishing to travel to the United States.


A clouded future: Asia’s enigmatic clouded leopard threatened by palm oil [08/17/2017]
- The clouded leopard is the least well-known of the big cats. Both species (Neofelis nebulosa and Neofelis diarti) are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN across their ranges.
- Clouded leopard habitat falls within three of the world's top palm oil producing countries: Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. While many questions remain about this elusive species' ecology, it's widely believed that palm oil development severely threatens its long-term survival in the wild.
- At a recent workshop in Sabah, Malaysia, experts devised a 10-year action plan to help secure the Sunda clouded leopard in the state, where it’s estimated there are around 700 left in the wild.
- Biologists who study the species are hopeful that enough time remains to save the species in the long term – if plantations and development take conservation into consideration.


New study: Bird species blossom in stable climates [08/17/2017]
- A team of scientists from Sweden and the United States found that more bird species inhabit stable climates.
- The finding runs counter the hypothesis that a changing climate induces the evolution of species.
- That could mean that these bird species will be less adapted to upticks in temperature as part of current climate change.
- But the stability of these climates could also protect the species living there since they’re not expected to warm as much as more seasonal areas.


The tiger population in Nepal’s Parsa National Park is recovering rapidly [08/16/2017]
- According to Babu Ram Lamichhane, a wildlife research officer with Nepalese non-profit National Trust for Nature Conservation and lead author of a study published this month in the journal Oryx, Nepal’s Parsa National Park (known as Parsa Wildlife Reserve until June of this year) was an area where tigers no longer roamed despite having the potential to harbor the species.
- That appears to be changing, however: Lamichhane led a team of researchers who documented a threefold increase in Parsa’s tiger population in just three years.
- Parsa's tiger population recovery is due mainly to conservation measures undertaken since 2009, including village relocations, enhanced security (such as additional guard posts), the formation of community-based anti-poaching units, and other community engagement efforts.


Mammal numbers high in logged tropical forests, study finds [08/16/2017]
- The study quantified mammal numbers in forests and landscapes with varying degrees of human impact in Malaysian Borneo.
- Across 57 mammal species recorded with live and camera traps, the average number of all animals combined was 28 percent higher in logged forests -- where hunting wasn’t an issue -- compared to old-growth forests.
- The findings demonstrate the importance of conserving degraded forests along with more pristine areas.


9 rare Siamese crocodiles hatch in Cambodia [08/15/2017]
- In June this year, conservationists discovered a nest containing 19 eggs of the extremely rare Siamese crocodile in the Sre Ambel District of Koh Kong Province in Cambodia.
- Eggs of nine Siamese crocodiles have now hatched at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center (KKRCC), WCS said.
- The nine hatchlings will remain at the KKRCC for the next few years, until they are large enough to be released into the wild.


Nearly one-third of bat species in North America are on the decline [08/14/2017]
- Scientists with NatureServe, an international biodiversity conservation NGO, looked at the conservation status of the 45 species of bat that occur in North America north of Mexico.
- Using a methodology for assessing conservation status developed by NatureServe, the researchers determined that, as of 2015, more than 30 percent of the 45 bat species included in the study qualified as vulnerable, imperiled, or critically imperiled.
- The authors of the study say that the rapid spread of a deadly fungal disease called white-nose syndrome has killed several million cave-dwelling bats of multiple species in eastern North America over the past decade.


On World Elephant Day, troubling times for African elephants [08/11/2017]
- August 12 is World Elephant Day
- World Elephant Day was founded in 2012 by Patricia Sims and the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation.


‘Tango in the Wind:’ New film captures courtship dance of critically endangered Hooded Grebe for first time ever [08/11/2017]
- The Hooded Grebe wasn’t discovered by scientists until 1974, due mainly to the fact that it lives in one of the most remote and inhospitable environments on Earth: the windswept plateaus of southern Patagonia, often referred to as “The end of the world.”
- During the breeding season, the birds set up their nesting colonies on just a few basaltic lakes on the arid Patagonian steppes in extreme southwest Argentina, so it’s safe to say that very few people on Earth have ever witnessed its incredible courtship display.
- But now, thanks to filmmakers Paula and Michael Webster, who captured the mating ritual of the Hooded Grebe on film for the first time, you can watch it from the comfort of your own home.


High volumes of ivory continue to be sold online in Japan [08/11/2017]
- A new report by TRAFFIC has found that thousands of jewelry, seals, scrolls and other items made of elephant ivory continue to be sold online in Japan every week.
- Over a four-week survey, ivory items worth over JPY 45.2 million ($407,000) were sold across various websites, the team found.
- The sheer scale of the trade warrants scrutiny to prevent illicit activities, the team says.


The American pika: A case study in wildlife acclimating to climate change [08/10/2017]
- Research published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment last month that examines how wildlife adapts to the impacts of global climate change focuses on the American pika, a small, tailless mammal that exhibits a range of adaptive behavioral changes, as a case study.
- The authors of the study note that there are a few “primary responses” to climatic variability available to animals in the wild: “move, adapt, acclimate, or die.” When “acclimate” is a species’ response, that will usually require the species to adapt its behavior to the new climatic conditions it finds itself facing.
- The American pika (Ochotona princeps) has been known to employ a number of behavioral responses to the impacts of climate change, including changes to their foraging habits, making use of different habitats, and adapting their methods for regulating their core internal body temperatures (known as thermoregulation).


U.K. is the world’s biggest exporter of legal ivory, data analysis shows [08/10/2017]
- The United Kingdom legally exported more than 36,000 pieces of ivory between 2010 and 2015, 370 percent more than the United States, the next biggest exporter.
- Over the same time period, the U.K. has been the major supplier for markets in China and Hong Kong.
- EIA and other environmental groups fear that the trade of legal ivory encourages the continued poaching of elephants by perpetuating demand and masking the trade of illegally harvested ivory.


Monkey rediscovered in Brazil after 80 years [08/09/2017]
- An Ecuadorian naturalist collected the bald-faced Vanzolini saki in 1936 along the Eiru River. His record was the first and last known living evidence of the species.
- In February 2017, an expedition called Houseboat Amazon set out to survey the forest along the Juruá River and its tributaries, with the hopes of finding the Vanzolini saki.
- After just four days, the team spotted one leaping from branch to branch in a tall tree by the Eiru River.
- The saki's habitat is still fairly pristine, but the scientists worry its proximity to Brazil's "arc of deforestation" and hunting pressure may threaten the species in the future.


New research provides baseline for evaluating effectiveness of US ban on ivory trade [08/08/2017]
- The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) announced a “near-total ban” on the commercial trade of elephant ivory last year.
- Now, new research led by wildlife trade monitoring NGO TRAFFIC released last week provides a baseline for the state of the ivory market in the U.S. at the time the ban went into effect — which future monitoring efforts will rely on in order to determine the impacts of the legislative and regulatory changes made by the FWS a year ago.
- Researchers found that a total of 1,589 elephant ivory items, including figurines (780 items), jewelry (417), and household goods (261), were being sold by 227 different vendors in six major American cities from May to July 2016.
- They also also found that some 2,056 elephant ivory items were available on six major online auction sites and marketplaces between June and August 2016.


Canary in the Arctic coal mine: warming harms migrating red knot [08/08/2017]
- The Arctic is warming faster than any other part of the world, and its ecosystems are changing quickly, with shifts in the timing of insect hatches, plant growth and more.
- Those changes are impacting migratory species that move between the Arctic, the tropics and temperate zones. One such species is the red knot, a shorebird whose Arctic food supply and stored energy have been reduced due to climate change.
- A recent study found that young red knots (Calidris canutus) have shrunk by about 15 percent since 1985. This shrinkage includes a smaller beak which jeopardizes the juvenile birds’ survival as they dig for bivalves.
- Researchers have detected a variety of global warming risks to species as they move from tropical wintering and Arctic summering grounds, and along migratory routes, including shrinking tundra; rising seas; increasingly extreme weather; ocean acidification; and changes to specialized environments, such as temperate stopover havens.


Audio: Katharine Hayhoe on how to talk about climate change: ‘Share from the heart and then the head’ [08/08/2017]
- Our first guest on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast is atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe, a professor in the Department of Political Science and the director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, who teamed up last year with her local PBS station, KTTZ, to write and produce a web series called "Global Weirding."
- We check in with Hayhoe as she’s in the midst of shooting the second season of Global Weirding in order to get a sense of what to expect from the new episodes of the show and how Hayhoe views the overall political landscape around climate action today.
- Our second guest is Branko Hilje Rodriguez, a PhD student in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department at the University of Alberta, Canada who studies the soundscapes of different successional stages of the tropical dry forest in Costa Rica’s Santa Rosa National Park, the largest remaining remnant of tropical dry forest in Mesoamerica.
- In this Field Note segment, Hilje Rodriguez plays for us a number of the recordings he’s made in the park, allowing us to hear the sounds of the dry forest during different stages of regrowth and different seasons, as well as some of the iconic bird species that call the dry forest home.


Troubled firm aims to mine Madagascar forest for rare earth elements [08/08/2017]
- A Singaporean company called ISR Capital is working to develop a rare earth mine on Madagascar’s highly biodiverse Ampasindava peninsula. The company faces an investigation by financial regulators and turnover among its top executives.
- The mining of rare earth elements needed for cell phones and many other modern devices can have severe environmental and health impacts. This would be the first such mine in Madagascar.
- The Ampasindava peninsula is home to a number of threatened lemur species that could be further imperiled if the mining project goes forward, scientists warn. Local farmers and tourism operators oppose the project, fearing it could contaminate land and water.


Road projects threaten Sumatra’s last great rainforests [08/07/2017]
- Local officials currently have plans to build roads in Mount Leuser, Bukit Barisan Selatan and Kerinci Seblat National Parks in Indonesia's Sumatra Island.
- Conservationists fear these plans could accelerate habitat loss and degradation in this highly biodiverse forest complex, which is home to many endangered species.
- Proponents of road development cite the need for increased economic opportunities for local people and evacuation routes in case of natural disasters.


Sixth mass extinction ‘tsunami’ coming, but preventable [08/04/2017]
- Biologist Thomas Lovejoy writes in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that we can stop the current spate of biodiversity and species loss that the Earth is experiencing.
- Pointing to a recent study showing that many animals are declining in numbers in addition to those facing the imminent risk of extinction, Lovejoy argues that we need to address all of the impacts that humans have on ecosystems.
- He calls for the restoration of degraded forests and wetlands — activities in which everyone can participate — to facilitate the movement of wildlife between habitats and bring back the services that ecosystems provide.


Three new frog species found in Peruvian Andes with more to come [08/04/2017]
- Few biological surveys have been conducted in the Pui Pui Protected Forest in the decades since it was established in 1985, and “the potential for additional discoveries is enormous,” according to one researcher who helped discover the three new frog species.
- The three new species all belong to a family of land-breeding frogs called Craugastoridae whose embryos hatch as froglets rather than going through a tadpole stage, which allows them to survive in a wide array of habitat types with sufficient moisture.
- The researchers say they will describe three more new frogs as well as two new lizards they’ve discovered in the Pui Pui Protected Forest in future papers.


Watch: $8 million worth elephant ivory crushed in New York City [08/04/2017]
- The ivory, weighing nearly two tons, is believed to represent more than 100 slaughtered elephants.
- By destroying the illegally obtained ivory, authorities hope to send a message to poachers, traffickers and dealers that the slaughter of elephants will not be tolerated.
- All of the ivory that was crushed on Thursday came from seizures over the past three years, mostly from New York City.


Study examines sex-specific responses of Neotropical bats to habitat fragmentation [08/02/2017]
- While scientists have long known that males and females of some species use their habitat in different ways, the various responses to habitat destruction that are sex-specific are less well understood.
- Research published in the journal Biotropica this month looked at the different responses to the effects of fragmentation exhibited by male and female individuals of Seba's Short-tailed Bat (Carollia perspicillata) and the Dwarf Little Fruit Bat (Rhinophylla pumilio), both fruit-eating bats native to the Neotropics.
- Researchers captured more than 2,000 bats of the target species in eight forest fragments of various sizes and nine control sites at the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, a research forest about 80 kilometers north of Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon.
- The authors of the study write that their results align with those of previous research in temperate areas, where male and female bats have been found to differ in their responses to habitat degradation at the local and landscape level.


Canopy bridges keep rainforest animals connected over gas pipeline [08/02/2017]
- Pipelines, roads, railways and transmission lines cause severe habitat fragmentation in the Amazon rainforest. A new study looked at canopy connectivity for large arboreal mammal populations using natural bridges above a new gas pipeline in Peru.
- In 7,102 canopy camera trap nights, the crossing rate of natural bridges in the canopy above a new pipeline was surprisingly high: nearly 200 times that of the ground (3,100+ overhead versus 16 ground occurrences).
- Researchers recorded 25 species from 12 mammal families using natural canopy bridges in 3,372 photo events, including night monkeys, kinkajous, olingos, dwarf porcupines, opossums and squirrels.
- These results suggest natural and artificial canopy bridges could significantly improve habitat connectivity for rainforest arboreal species when new, or already existing, transportation, mining and energy corridors threaten fragmentation


In Nepal, the rhino evokes national pride [08/01/2017]
- Nepal's greater one-horned rhinos were historically revered for their spiritual potency as well as for their value as thrilling quarry for sport hunting.
- The rise of wildlife tourism in the 1960s and 70s brought awareness of the economic value of live, free-roaming rhinos — helping to increase support for conservation.
- As rhino numbers soar, leading to increased human-wildlife conflict, conservationists are working to ensure rhinos don't become victims of their own success.


Western Chimpanzee numbers declined by more than 80 percent over the past quarter century [07/31/2017]
- Research published in the American Journal of Primatology earlier this month finds that the overall Western Chimpanzee population declined by six percent annually between 1990 and 2014, a total decline of 80.2 percent.
- The main threats to the Western Chimpanzee are almost all man-made. Habitat loss and fragmentation driven by slash-and-burn agriculture, industrial agriculture (including deforestation for oil palm plantations as well as eucalyptus, rubber, and sugar cane developments), and extractive industries like logging, mining, and oil top the list.
- In response to the finding that the Western Chimpanzee population has dropped so precipitously in less than three decades, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) elevated the subspecies’ status to Critically Endangered on its Red List of Threatened Species.


Conservation community failing to use evidence to make decisions, scientists say [07/31/2017]
- In a new article, scientists have coined the term “evidence complacency” to highlight the persistence of a culture in which, “despite availability, evidence is not sought or used to make decisions, and the impact of actions is not tested.”
- This complacency can not only lead to a wastage of money, time and opportunities, but also show conservation as an unjustifiable investment, the researchers say.
- Conservation practitioners say that scientists need to collaborate more with decision makers and look at evidence more broadly than just peer-reviewed studies.


The “dolphin who became man”: will the boto survive the catfish trade? [07/31/2017]
- Fernando Trujillo has spent more than 30 years studying the Amazon’s elusive river dolphin, under threat by the fishing trade.
- Twelve years ago, locals started killing river dolphins to attract a lucrative fish to the carcasses, causing the animals to become endangered.
- A new film, A River Below, explores the story of the river dolphin and how it relates to the larger tale of the millions of people who call the Amazon home.


Five promising stories for Global Tiger Day [07/28/2017]
- Since the last Global Tiger Day in 2016, researchers have discovered tiger populations in unexpected areas, such as forested corridors along riverbanks and in areas that recently served as theaters of war.
- Several countries have worked to protect the tigers that live within their borders, including the creation of a massive national park and taking steps to end tiger farming.
- Camera trap surveys continue to prove invaluable to wildlife researchers in tracking down tigers and other species that can range over huge areas.


Amazonian city drags down fish stocks in 1,000-kilometer shadow [07/28/2017]
- A study of tambaqui, a popular table fish, in the Brazilian Amazon found that fish caught near the city of Manaus are half the size of those upriver.
- Boats that buy the fish have brought the demand into the forest surrounding the city, and with holds full of ice, they’re able to travel further to bring tambaqui back to Manaus’ markets.
- The fishers living in the relatively pristine forest along the Purus River reported that tambaquie are smaller and harder to catch than they were previously, a trend extended 1,000 kilometers from Manaus, the researchers found.


First ‘intrusions’ into unbroken forests drive pulses of biodiversity loss [07/28/2017]
- The study examined ‘initial intrusions’ into tropical forests and their effect on the threat status of species.
- The researchers found that deforestation at current rates in high-priority areas such as Borneo, the Congo Basin, and the Amazon could push 121 to 219 species closer to extinction in the next 30 years.
- While the authors point out that their conclusions are not a call to protect only intact landscapes, the data could help policymakers working with limited resources to decide where to place new protected areas.


Photos: Bald eagle bird bath [07/28/2017]
- This photo essay comes via Mongabay's partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society's Wild View blog.
- Once a month we'll publish a contribution from Wild View that highlights an animal species.
- This month, Julie Larsen Maher and Megan Maher write about the bald eagle.


Sumatran rhino horn, pangolin parts seized in Aceh wildlife trafficking bust [07/27/2017]
- Police in Aceh detained a male villager who had allegedly been trading wildlife parts for about a year.
- Authorities confiscated a Sumatran rhino horn, a deer head and bags filled with pangolin tongues and scales.
- The alleged trafficker faces five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $7,500.


Rare bird not seen in 60 years rediscovered [07/27/2017]
- The Táchira antpitta (Grallaria chthonia) was first recorded during an expedition in the mid-1950s.
- In June last year, scientists decided to look for the bird again.
- During the expedition, the team obtained the first ever photographs and sound recordings of a living Táchira antpitta.


Visualizing the impacts of human disturbance on tropical forest biodiversity [07/26/2017]
- Efforts to protect biodiversity often focus on keeping forests and the habitat they represent from being cut down. But research published in the journal Nature last year suggests that forest degradation resulting from human activities is perhaps just as urgent a threat to biodiversity as deforestation.
- According to the study, man-made disturbances in Pará’s tropical forests have resulted in levels of biodiversity loss equivalent to clearing 92,000 to 139,000 square kilometers (around 35,500 to 53,700 square miles) of pristine forest.
- If that kind of raw data is hard to wrap your brain around, that’s where Silent Forest comes in. Thiago Medaglia described it as “a journalistic data visualization project” in an email to Mongabay.


Proposed Colombia dam threatens to wipe out endangered plants, disrupt river [07/26/2017]
- A proposed $800 million dam in northwestern Colombia would provide 352 megawatts of electricity annually.
- The dam is sited in the Samaná Norte River, which scientists are just starting to survey after being barred due to conflict. A recently discovered, critically endangered species of palm, Aiphanes argos, is highly threatened by the dam. Its discoverer says that flooding caused by dam construction could put the palm at high risk of extinction.
- Other critics say the dam may also displace local communities and reduce populations of a fish species important to the local economy. A dam expert says reduced water flow from damming the Samaná Norte could release more methane into the atmosphere.
- A representative from the company charged with construction of the dam says precautions will be taken to mitigate environmental damage.


Working with communities to fight fires in Way Kambas National Park [07/26/2017]
- Way Kambas National Park in southern Sumatra supports populations of Critically Endangered Sumatran rhinos, tigers and elephants, along with hundreds of other species.
- In 1997, forest fires hit 70 percent of the park, killing many animals and hampering regeneration in previously logged areas.
- Local authorities and conservation groups are now working with residents to prevent and fight fires, with notable success.


How effective are wildlife corridors like Singapore’s Eco-Link? [07/26/2017]
- Man-made wildlife corridors are becoming a popular policy tool to create connectivity between natural areas for animals – but how well are they working?
- Early data suggests the Eco-Link@BKE has helped some species, including the critically endangered Sunda pangolin.
- More research is needed to understand which species benefit from eco corridors and why.


Audio: Global megadam activism and the sounds of nature in Taiwan [07/25/2017]
- Activists from around the world attended the conference to strategize around stopping what they see as destructive hydropower projects. As Bardeen relates in her commentary, many attendees at the conference have faced harassment, intimidation, and worse for their opposition to dam projects, but they’re still standing strong in defense of free-flowing rivers.
- We also speak with Yannick Dauby, a French sound artist based in Taiwan. Since 2002, Dauby has been crafting sound art out of field recordings made throughout the small country of Taiwan and posting them on his website, Kalerne.net.
- In this Field Notes segment, Dauby plays a recording of his favorite singer, a frog named Rhacophorus moltrechti; the sounds of the marine life of the corals of Penghu, which he is documenting together with biologists; the calls bats use to echolocate (slowed down 16 times so they can be heard by human ears!); and more!
- All that plus the top news on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast!


Flood hits India’s Kaziranga National Park, killing four rhinos [07/24/2017]
- Annual monsoon floods are a natural part of Kaziranga National Park's ecosystem but pose multiple threats to animals, including the risk of drowning or getting poached or hit by cars while fleeing rising water.
- According to officials, 81 animals have been killed in this year's flood, including four rhinos. Another 78 animals have been stranded or injured.
- Mitigation measures include increased monitoring by rangers, police and drones; closely tracking the speed of vehicles through the park; and the construction of artificial highlands.
- Authorities are also considering a controversial proposal to build a road-cum-embankment to prevent floodwaters from inundating the park.


Pangolin hunting skyrockets in Central Africa, driven by international trade [07/24/2017]
- The study pulled together information on markets, prices and hunting methods for pangolins from research in 14 countries in Africa.
- Pangolins are hunted for their meat in some African countries, and their scales are used in traditional medicine, both locally and in several Asian countries, including China.
- The researchers found that as many as 2.71 million pangolins from three species are killed every year across six Central African countries – at least a 145 percent increase since before 2000.
- They recommend better enforcement of the 2016 CITES ban across the entire supply chain, from Africa to Asia.


Meet the new giant sunfish that has evaded scientists for centuries [07/24/2017]
- Scientists have named the new species the Hoodwinker sunfish or Mola tecta (derived from the Latin word tectus meaning disguised or hidden).
- The team is yet to determine the Hoodwinker's range, but they have found the fish around New Zealand, off Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales (Australia), South Africa and southern Chile.
- The Hoodwinker sunfish can grow up to 2.5 meters (over eight feet), the team estimates, and its slimmer, sleeker body doesn't change much between juveniles and adults.


Orangutans find home in degraded forests [07/24/2017]
- The study leveraged three years of orangutan observation in the field and airborne mapping of the forest structure using laser-based light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology.
- The research team found that orangutans make use of habitats that have been ‘degraded’ by logging and other human uses.
- The research is part of a larger effort in collaboration with the Sabah Forestry Department to map carbon stocks and plant and animal biodiversity throughout the Malaysian state of Sabah with the goal of identifying new areas for conservation.


On the front lines of conservation: How do rural women feel? [07/21/2017]
- Researchers interviewed women living inside a national park in the West African state of Guinea-Bissau about how the park affects their daily lives.
- The women felt the park was the cause of malnutrition because chimpanzees and baboons in particular damaged their crops and they did not receive compensation.
- Although reluctant to participate in conservation, they hoped the researchers could help provide compensation and improve their lives.


Camera traps capture elusive ocelots in Peru’s Madre de Dios [07/20/2017]
- The ocelot is a particularly important part of the Amazonian ecosystem because it’s a dominant species in the food chain, especially at the mesopredator level.
- Between 1960 and 1970, Peru’s population of ocelots went through a crisis known as a population bottleneck. Even today, they are sometimes kept as pets or killed for their fur.
- In addition to the hunting of ocelots, the study highlights the vulnerability of Peru’s Las Piedras District. Although it has some of the most remote forests in Peru, the district is at risk of deforestation and degradation due to the human pressures like logging.


Climate change is increasing the mortality rate of African wild dog pups [07/20/2017]
- The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), a native of sub-Saharan Africa, is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, which reports that there are only an estimated 6,600 adults in 39 subpopulations left in the wild — and that their numbers continue to decline due to ongoing habitat fragmentation, conflict with humans, and infectious disease.
- Compounding these threats to the species’ survival, according to a paper published in the Journal of Animal Ecology yesterday, climate change appears to be increasing the mortality rate for African wild dog pups.
- Researchers discovered that the packs spend less time hunting in hot weather. They also found that more pups died as the days got hotter, which they theorize is because, simply put, decreased hunting time means less food to feed the young.


Behind rising rhino numbers in Nepal, a complex human story [07/19/2017]
- The fortunes of the indigenous Tharu people and Nepal's rhinos have been linked for centuries.
- The establishment of Chitwan National Park in 1973 deepened the marginalization the Tharu, evicting thousands from their land and depriving them of access to the forest.
- Since the 1990s, conservation groups have been working to develop a community-based conservation model that includes the Tharu.
- Other ethnic groups have long remained outside the community conservation model, and have in some cases turned to poaching for income.


Mothers vs. loggers: the destruction of Białowieża Forest splits Poland [07/19/2017]
- A bark beetle outbreak has led Polish officials to begin large-scale logging across old-growth Białowieża Forest, home to bison, wolves and a rich cultural history.
- The logging is opposed by everyone from scientists to the UN to the European Commission to a group of mothers concerned about the world their children will inherit.
- The European Commission has recently declared that all logging should cease.


Charcoal and cattle ranching tearing apart the Gran Chaco [07/19/2017]
- The year-long probe of Paraguay’s charcoal exports by the NGO Earthsight revealed that much of the product was coming from the Chaco, the world’s fastest-disappearing tropical forest.
- Suppliers appear to have reassured international supermarket chains that it was sustainable and that they had certification from international groups such as FSC and PEFC.
- But further digging by Earthsight revealed that the charcoal production methods used may not fit with the intent of certification.
- Several grocery store chains mentioned in the report have said they’ll take a closer look at their supply chains, and the certification body PEFC is reexamining how its own standards are applied.


Investigation finds ‘thriving’ rhino horn trade in Asia [07/18/2017]
- Over 11 months, EAL investigators posed as potential buyers and identified 55 'persons of interest' involved in the trade of rhino horn.
- The group mapped out the routes by which rhino horn – valued at tens of thousands of dollars per kilogram – arrives in China.
- Recorded conversations during the investigation allude to the fact that dealers and traders understand that rhinos face the threat of extinction.


Nepal’s rhino numbers rise, thanks to national and local commitment [07/18/2017]
- Nepal's population of greater one-horned rhinos has fluctuated wildly over the past century.
- Widespread in the early 1900s, rhinos were reduced to a few pockets by the 1950s and around 100 individuals in the 1970s.
- Conservation efforts boosted the population by the 1990s, but the 1996-2006 Maoist insurgency took a devastating toll.
- Numbers are now rising again, a trend attributed to commitment at both the grassroots and the highest levels of government.


Inflated quotas for captive-bred wildlife in Indonesia may aid traffickers: report [07/18/2017]
- Indonesia's captive breeding plan is meant to enable the legal wildlife trade while protecting the country's natural riches, including its incredible biodiversity.
- But "unrealistically high" quotas for the maximum production of certain species in the plan are likely being taken advantage of by wildlife traffickers, according to a new study.
- The Indonesian environment ministry official in charge of setting the quotas says his department has audited the country's breeding centers to ensure their professionalism and quality.


Ranges for majority of world’s large carnivores have shrunk by more than 20 percent [07/17/2017]
- The red wolf’s (Canis rufus) global range, in particular, has shrunk almost entirely, with researchers quantifying the loss as 99.7 percent.
- The range for five other species has also decreased by more than 90 percent: Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis, 99 percent), tiger (Panthera tigris, 95 percent), lion (Panthera leo, 94 percent), African wild dog (Lycaon pictus, 93 percent) and cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus, 92 percent).
- Researchers found that proximity to higher densities of rural humans, livestock, and cropland area made the decline of large carnivore ranges far more likely — a finding that would seem to contradict previous research showing that larger-bodied carnivore species are at greater extinction risk due to their need for larger prey and extensive habitat.


As Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem faces multiple threats, local resistance grows [07/17/2017]
- Sumatra’s Leuser Ecosystem covers 2.6 million hectares and is home to some 105 mammal and 382 bird species, many found nowhere else on earth.
- The ecosystem is part of a World Heritage Site that has been listed as "In Danger" since 2011 — a designation that was renewed earlier this month.
- The local government's plans for the ecosystem include large hydroelectric dams. Deforestation and encroachment for palm oil and pulp and paper production are also major problems for the Leuser.
- Local NGOs and community groups are speaking out against large-scale projects in the ecosystem, citing threats to the area's human residents as well as to wildlife.


First ever photos of wild lion nursing leopard cub [07/17/2017]
- Five-year-old lioness named Nosikitok is currently collared and monitored by KopeLion, a conservation NGO in Tanzania.
- The circumstances that brought the lioness and the leopard cub together still remain a mystery.
- She is believed to have recently given birth to her second litter of cubs and scientists think that the lioness's maternal instincts may have driven her towards caring for the little leopard.


Big mammals flourish as Cerrado park’s savanna comes back [07/14/2017]
- The study examined a state park in the Brazilian Cerrado, which contains land used in recent decades for eucalyptus plantations, cattle ranching and charcoal production.
- The researchers used camera traps, recording the dry season presence of 18 species of large mammals.
- In a subsequent analysis, they found that the number of large mammals found in the ‘secondary’ savanna was similar to numbers found in untouched regions of the Cerrado.


Illegal mining threatens last remaining habitat of green peafowl in China [07/13/2017]
- China is home to about 500 green peafowls, all of which are known to occur only in the Yunnan province.
- The mining operations — that include construction of roads, mine shafts and storehouses — are all illegal, the report says.
- Greenpeace's investigation also revealed that two roads servicing a hydropower project have been built inside the core area of Konglong River Nature Reserve.


Seafood giant Thai Union commits to clean up supply chains following pressure campaign [07/12/2017]
- Said to be the largest tuna company in the world, Thai Union owns a number of popular canned tuna brands sold in markets around the globe, including Chicken of the Sea in North America; John West, Mareblu, and Petit Navire in Europe; and Sealect in the Asia Pacific region.
- Tuna fleets are pulling the fish out of the ocean faster than tuna populations can recover, and the overuse of fish aggregating devices (FADs) and the practice of transhipment are compounding the problem, as is rampant illega fishing.
- According to the agreement struck between Thai Union and environmental NGO Greenpeace, which spearheaded the campaign that compelled the company to adopt better sustainability policies, Thai Union’s new commitments are intended “to drive positive change within the industry” by addressing the issues of FADs, longlines, transhipment, and labor abuses.


Audio: DJ remixes the sounds of birds, lemurs, and more to inspire conservation [07/12/2017]
- Our first guest is Ben Mirin, aka DJ Ecotone, an explorer, wildlife DJ, educator, and television presenter who creates music from the sounds of nature to help inspire conservation efforts.
- In this very special Field Notes segment, Mirin discusses his craft and some of the challenges of capturing wildlife sounds in the field — including why it can be so difficult to record dolphins when all they want to do is take a bow ride on your boat.
- We also speak with Cleve Hicks, author of a children’s book called A Rhino to the Rescue: A Tale of Conservation and Adventure, not only to express his love of nature but to help raise awareness of the poaching crisis decimating Africa’s rhino population.
- All that plus the top news on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast!


Ongoing mass extinction causing ‘biological annihilation,’ new study says [07/11/2017]
- Building on research in which they showed that two species have gone extinct per year over the past century, a team of biologists analyzed the population trends for 27,600 vertebrates around the world.
- They found that nearly a third of the animals they looked at were on the decline.
- In a closer look at 177 well-studied mammals, the team found that all had lost 30 percent or more of their home ranges, and 40 percent had lost at least 80 percent of their habitat.


How a mass extinction event gave us the majority of frogs alive today [07/11/2017]
- Based on fossil records and the available genetic data, scientists have generally estimated that modern frog species first began to appear at a steady pace between 150 million and 66 million years ago. But new research shows that the timeframe for the first appearance of modern frog species was significantly tighter than that.
- While most frogs alive at the time were also wiped out by the mass extinction event 66 million years ago, the researchers theorize that, with so many other species having disappeared, there were suddenly an abundance of new ecological niches that the surviving frogs could fill. Moving into all of those different habitats essentially jumpstarted the evolutionary process and allowed for rapid frog diversification.
- Nearly 90 percent of the short-bodied, tailless amphibians roaming our planet right now first appeared in the years following the cataclysmic event that caused all dinosaurs but birds to go extinct, according to the study.


Study: Biodiversity poorly protected by conservation areas worldwide [07/10/2017]
- The study identified the highest concentrations of species, phylogenetic and functional biodiversity on Earth and determined how well the current network of protected areas encompasses these dimensions.
- The three facets of biodiversity overlap on only 4.6 percent of land on Earth, with only 1 percent under protection.
- The research points to areas that could be prioritized to maximize the amount of unique biodiversity protected.


A spotty revival amid decline for China’s endemic leopards [07/07/2017]
- The North China leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis) is one of nine leopard subspecies and an endemic to China.
- The cats’ population has shown signs of revival in certain parts of the country in recent years, according to conservation groups
- However, industrial development and infrastructure construction remain major threats to the integrity of the leopards’ habitat and conflicts with people over livestock in their mountainous territories are intense.


African great ape bushmeat crisis intensifies; few solutions in sight [07/07/2017]
- Gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos are all Critically Endangered or Endangered, and continue to decline toward extinction due to habitat loss and degradation, disease, and illegal hunting.
- Great ape poaching, which supplies growing urban and rural bushmeat markets, is now at crisis levels across Central Africa, and despite conservationists’ efforts, is showing no sign of slowing down.
- Vast networks of logging roads, modern weapons, cell phones, cheap motorized transportation, and high demand for wild meat in urban centers is driving the booming bushmeat market.
- Africa’s great ape sanctuaries rescue some survivors, and active outreach to local communities offer a partial solution. Educational programs for children and adults, teaching the value of great apes, are seen as essential.


Hong Kong officials seize ‘largest ever’ ivory shipment worth $9 million [07/07/2017]
- The customs authorities discovered the tusks inside a 40-feet Malaysian consignment declared as "frozen fish".
- Following an initial investigation, the authorities have arrested the owner and two staff members of a trading company in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong.
- In December last year, Hong Kong government announced a three-step plan to phase out domestic ivory trade by the end of 2021.


Rare fishing cat photographed in Cambodia [07/06/2017]
- One researcher spotted a young fishing cat in the sanctuary in broad daylight, suggesting the population may not be under heavy pressure.
- Globally, the cat’s numbers have plummeted by over 30 percent in the last 15 years, putting the species at high risk of extinction.
- Research on the fishing cat began only in 2009, but it is already believed to be extinct in Vietnam; meanwhile, there are no confirmed records in Laos PDR and scarce information from Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia.
- This article is a news analysis by a non-Mongabay writer. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.


How the World Heritage Convention could save more wilderness: Q&A with World Heritage expert Cyril Kormos [07/06/2017]
- Since its inception in the 1970s, the UNESCO World Heritage Convention has officially recognized 1,052 sites of cultural or ecological importance around the planet.
- Making the list as a World Heritage site can help provide a location with increased protection and attention.
- The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an advisor to the World Heritage Committee, released a study showing that 1.8 percent of wilderness areas are covered under World Heritage protection.
- The IUCN recommends a more methodical approach to the designation of World Heritage sites to help fill these gaps.


The Chinese town at the epicenter of the global illegal ivory trade [07/05/2017]
- According to a report released yesterday by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Shuidong is “the world’s largest hub for ivory trafficking,” home to a network of criminal syndicates that have come to dominate the trade in illegal ivory poached from elephants in East and West Africa.
- One illegal ivory trafficker told EIA’s undercover investigators that he estimated as much as 80 percent of all poached ivory smuggled out of Africa and into China goes through Shuidong.
- The illegal trade in ivory is contributing to precipitous declines in African elephant populations.


India’s Assam state moves to fast track trials for wildlife crime [07/04/2017]
- Poachers in Assam state target endangered and vulnerable species including rhinos, tigers and leopards.
- Even when poachers are caught, authorities have often struggled to secure convictions.
- Assam is working to reverse this trend with the establishment of fast-track courts for wildlife crime, as well as training programs for police and forest officials.
- Six convictions have been secured in wildlife cases this year, compared to just one in all of 2016.


Indonesia is running out of places to put rescued animals [07/03/2017]
- The head of the state conservation agency in North Sumatra says both of her rescue centers are over capacity. She is having to send animals to zoos.
- The glut is due to an increase of people handing over protected species to the government, in line with efforts by authorities and NGOs to raise awareness of the law.
- Dedicated facilities exist to receive some species, but for others, authorities have had to improvise.


Harry Potter may have sparked illegal owl trade in Indonesia [07/03/2017]
- Owls were rarely recorded in the country's bird markets in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, but this trend appears to have changed in the late 2000s.
- Surveys of 20 bird markets in Java and Bali conducted between 2012 and 2016 revealed that owls are now widely traded, with at least 12,000 Scops owls being sold in Indonesia's bird markets each year.
- Most of these owls are caught from the wild, making the trade largely illegal.


Rate of human-wildlife conflict in India has researchers making urgent appeals for solutions [06/30/2017]
- Between 2011 and 2014, Dr. Krithi Karanth, a conservation scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Sahila Kudalkar, a research associate with the Centre for Wildlife Studies, surveyed 5,196 families from 2,855 villages adjacent to 11 different wildlife reserves in western, central, and southern India.
- The researchers found that 71 percent of households surveyed have lost crops to wild animals, 17 percent have lost livestock, and three percent have had human injury or death result from a run-in with wildlife.
- Tallying these losses and understanding the methods used to mitigate the impacts of human-wildlife conflict is crucial to designing better policies to deal with the problem, Karanth and Kudalkar write in the study.


The women who live alongside rhinos in India [06/30/2017]
- India's rising population of greater one-horned rhinos brings residents of villages bordering protected areas into proximity with the animals.
- Women — who are generally responsible for collecting fodder, fuelwood and other forest products — are particularly likely to have encounters with rhinos.
- In Manas and Orang national parks, where authorities allow local women access to the parks' buffer zones, such sightings are a source of joy and pride.
- In Kaziranga, where access has been cut off, women express resentment that their fortunes have so far not risen in tandem with the rhinos'.


Photos: Four new species of burrowing frogs discovered in India [06/30/2017]
- The four new species include Kadar Burrowing Frog (Fejervarya kadar), CEPF Burrowing Frog (F. cepfi), Manoharan’s Burrowing Frog (F. Manoharani) and Neil Cox’s Burrowing Frog (F. neilcoxi).
- Two of the newly described frogs, the Kadar Burrowing Frog and CEPF Burrowing Frog, could be facing serious threats, the researchers warn.
- The Rufescent Burrowing Frog was previously listed as a Least Concern species under the IUCN Red List because of its wide distribution, but the new study shows that the species is actually restricted to a much smaller area.


Hard but worth it: researchers fight invasives on Subantarctic islands (commentary) [06/29/2017]
- Sealers and subsequent human visitors to the Southern Ocean’s windswept islands brought with them a variety of invasive species, such as mice, rats, cats, sheep, and goats, that have wrought havoc on the islands’ native wildlife and ecosystems.
- On Marion Island, midway between South Africa and Antarctica, researchers and conservationists completed the largest successful cat eradication on an island in history in 1993.
- Marion Island’s wildlife has largely rebounded from the sealers and cats, but invasive mice continue to take a toll.
- The author points to other recent successful eradications of invasive species on Subantarctic islands and argues that they are a wise investment with benefits for wildlife as well as research into the region’s ecology and the effects of climate change. The views expressed are the author’s own, not necessarily Mongabay’s.


‘Tracking Gobi Grizzlies:’ Book excerpt and Q&A with Douglas Chadwick, wildlife biologist and author [06/29/2017]
- Gobi bears, or mazaalai in Mongolian, actually belong to the species Ursus arctos, more commonly known as brown bears or grizzly bears, though they’re the only bear of any species known to make their home exclusively in desert habitat.
- Due to the impacts of climate change in their already punishing environment, it’s believed that there may be just 30 or so Gobi bears left in the world.
- In this Q&A, Chadwick discusses why now was the right time for Tracking Gobi Grizzlies to be written, the conservation status of Gobi bears, and just how important the endangered bear’s survival is to the overall Gobi Desert ecosystem.


A dangerous path: New highway could jeopardize tigers in India [06/28/2017]
- Conservationists have witnessed several unsettling deaths of tigers in Corbett National Park recently, one of India’s most important tiger parks.
- The state government of Uttarakhand, however, is moving forward on a plan to upgrade a road through the park into a full, public highway leading to alarm among tiger conservationists.
- Officials are currently discussing turning portions of the highway into a flyover, allowing wildlife to pass underneath, but even this would only mitigate the impact.


Surprisingly, Indonesia’s most famous dive site is also a playground for whales and dolphins (commentary) [06/27/2017]
- Raja Ampat — an island chain in Indonesia’s West Papua province — is world renowned for its beautiful and unique marine biodiversity. But its marine mammals have not received as much attention.
- Half of the 31 whale and dolphin species found in all of Indonesia — 16 different types — have been regularly observed there.
- However, a designated long-term study of the behavior of whales and dolphins there has yet to be conducted. We don’t know much about them; more to the point, we don't know how to effectively protect them.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.


Audio: The fight to save Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem [06/27/2017]
- One of the richest, most biodiverse tropical forests on the planet, Leuser is currently being targeted for expansion of oil palm plantations by a number of companies.
- Tillack explains just what makes Leuser so unique and valuable, details some of her organization’s investigations into the ongoing clearance of Leuser in violation of Indonesia’s moratorium on deforestation for new oil palm plantations, and how consumers like you and me can help decide the fate of the region.
- We also welcome to the show research ecologist Marcone Campos Cerqueira for our latest Field Notes segment. Cerqueira has recently completed a study that used bioacoustic monitoring to examine bird ranges in the mountains of Puerto Rico, and he’ll share some of his recordings with us on today’s show.


2 new reptiles discovered in Sumatra [06/27/2017]
- A newly discovered snake in Takengon, in the highlands of Aceh province, was named for one of Indonesia's few herpetologists.
- The snake is non-venomous, but it mimics the characteristics of its venomous cousins as a survival technique.
- The other creature, a lizard, inhabits the forests along central Sumatra's western coast.


Logging in Malaysia’s Ulu Muda forest threatens wildlife and water supplies [06/26/2017]
- The Ulu Muda forest is the primary source of water for four million Malaysians, as well as for industry and agriculture.
- The forest is also home to a huge diversity of species, including the Asian elephant, Malayan tapir, sambar deer and clouded and spotted leopards.
- Although the federal government imposed a ban on logging in the reserve in 2003, local authorities have allowed commercial logging to increase over the past decade.


Footprints in the forest: The future of the Sumatran rhino [06/23/2017]
- Fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) remain in the wild, a number many biologists say is too low to ensure the survival of the species.
- Several organizations have begun to build momentum toward a single program that pools resources and know-how in Malaysia and Indonesia, the last places in Southeast Asia where captive and wild rhinos still live.
- Advocates for intensive efforts to breed animals in captivity fear that an emphasis on the protection of the remaining wild animals may divert attention and funding away from such projects.
- They worry that if they don’t act now, the Sumatran rhino may pass a point of no return from which it cannot recover.


Dried lizard penis being sold online as rare ‘magical’ plant root [06/22/2017]
- The fake Hatha Jodi are not only being sold in stores in India, but also through major online retailers like Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Snapdeal and Etsy to customers around the world.
- Laboratory tests have confirmed that the Hatha Jodi being sold online as plant roots are in fact dried penises of the Bengal monitor lizard and the Yellow monitor lizard, as well as their plastic replicas.
- The Bengal and Yellow monitor lizards are listed under Appendix I of CITES, which bans their global trade.


New highway brings deforestation near two Colombian national parks [06/21/2017]
- The Marginal de la Selva is a $1 billion dollar highway project would connect Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador without having to enter the Andes mountains.
- The unfinished section that would complete the project cuts through a natural corridor between two national parks, which both contain exceptionally high levels of biodiversity — even by Colombia’s standards.
- Forest loss in the sensitive ecological area has shot up in anticipation of the highway and as illegal armed groups promote deforestation in the region.
- Critics say institutions lack territorial control in the area and are unable to coordinate effectively to ensure environmental laws are enforced.


Creating corridors: researchers use GPS telemetry data to map elephants’ movements [06/21/2017]
- Elephant corridors in the Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem are threatened by human development, which has fragmented habitat and intensified human-elephant conflict.
- With GPS telemetry data from three bull elephants, researchers mapped the elephants’ habitat use and connectivity from 2006-2008 and compared it to data from 1960 using new analysis techniques.
- The expansion of agriculture and villages decreased corridor connectivity and disrupted elephants’ movements, according to results of a circuit theory model.


Research suggests less affluent countries more dedicated to wildlife conservation than rich countries [06/20/2017]
- A team of researchers with Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) and non-profit conservation organization Panthera looked at 152 countries and compiled what they call a Megafauna Conservation Index in order to evaluate each country’s contributions to the conservation of the world’s biodiversity.
- African countries Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, together with South Asian nation Bhutan, were the top five megafauna conservation performers, the researchers found.
- Norway came in at sixth, the top-ranked developed country, followed by Canada, which came in at eighth. The United States ranked nineteenth, lower than countries like Malawi and Mozambique that are among the least-developed in the world.


Photos: India’s rarest crocodile, the gharial [06/19/2017]
- Indian gharials are fish-eating crocodiles.
- These reptiles are classified as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List.
- WCS recently imported eight young gharials from the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust Center for Herpetology under a conservation partnership.
- These gharials are on display at the Bronx Zoo.


DNA analysis reveals a third species of flying squirrel in North America [06/19/2017]
- Researchers described the new species in a study published in the Journal of Mammalogy in May. Glaucomys oregonensis, or Humboldt’s flying squirrel, can be found all along the Pacific Coast, from southern British Columbia all the way down to the mountains of southern California.
- It is what’s known as a “cryptic species,” because coastal populations of the squirrel had previously been classified as northern flying squirrels (G. sabrinus) due to their similar appearance.
- A genetic analysis revealed the coastal populations belong to a distinct species all their own.


Ring-tailed lemurs down by 95 percent? Maybe not. [06/19/2017]
- Two studies published this winter claim that Madagascar’s iconic ring-tailed lemur has suffered a 95 percent decline in its population and that only some 2,400 animals remain alive.
- A new paper published in the International Journal of Primatology claims those studies exaggerate the severity of ring-tailed lemur declines.
- It contends that the other papers have methodological problems, including misinterpretation of existing literature, incomplete sampling of lemur populations, and restricted geographic coverage.


Wildlife ecologist killed in Rwandan national park by recently translocated rhino [06/16/2017]
- "It is with utmost regret that I inform you that Krisztián Gyöngyi was killed this morning by a rhinoceros in Akagera National Park in Rwanda while out tracking animals in the park,” Peter Fearnhead, CEO of the non-profit conservation organization African Parks, announced in a statement.
- According to Fearnhead, Gyöngyi was a rhino specialist who had more than five years of experience monitoring and conserving rhinos in Majete Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park, both in Malawi.
- In a joint initiative of the Rwandan government and African Parks, which employs more than 600 rangers and manages 10 national parks and protected areas in seven countries, 18 Eastern black rhinos were airlifted from South Africa to Akagera National Park.


Elusive seabird breeding grounds discovered in Chilean desert [06/16/2017]
- A Chilean expedition into the Atacama Desert has located the first known breeding grounds of the ringed storm-petrel, a seabird of unknown population size that is endemic to the western coast of South America.
- The nests, located in natural cavities in the desert’s rocks and salt pans, were found 70 kilometers (44 miles) from the Pacific coast, where the birds feed and spend most of their time.
- Chilean scientists see the discovery as critical to estimating the stability and size of the ringed storm-petrel population and determining the threat posed by mining and proposed wind farms in the region.


If we wish to save the Javan rhinoceros, we must work to know it (commentary) [06/15/2017]
- The Javan rhino survives in a single population of roughly 60 individuals in Indonesia's Ujung Kulon National Park.
- Despite successful efforts to protect the park's rhinos from poachers, the species remains at risk due to multiple threats including lack of genetic diversity, disease and natural disasters.
- Designing effective conservation strategies requires filling crucial gaps in knowledge about the population's size, status and behavior.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.


Mangrove loss threatens migratory shorebird route in North Sumatra [06/15/2017]
- A new study examines the impact of agricultural expansion on an important shorebird habitat in North Sumatra.
- Mangrove cover in the Indonesian province has dropped 85 percent in the last 14 years.
- The study's authors want the government to issue a regulation to protect shorebirds specifically.


New ‘Elfin mountain toad’ discovered in Annamite Mountains of Vietnam [06/14/2017]
- A team of Russian and Vietnamese researchers described Ophryophryne elfina, the Elfin mountain toad, in the journal ZooKeys last month.
- The toad, one of the smallest species of horned mountain toads ever described to science, was given the name Ophryophryne elfina, which roughly translates to "elfish eyebrow toad” — and the researchers who made the discovery say that there is evidence to suggest that the species could already be considered endangered.
- The species name "elfina," of course, derives from the English word "elf," small, magical forest creatures found in German and Celtic folklore.


Why losing big animals causes big problems in tropical forests [06/14/2017]
- A team of scientists from Germany and Spain built a mathematical model to test the interplay between plants and animals that results in the distribution of seeds.
- Field data collected from Peru’s Manu Biosphere Reserve formed the foundation of the model.
- The scientists discovered the importance of matching between the sizes of seeds and the birds in the ecosystem.
- As larger birds were removed from the forest, the forest’s biodiversity dropped more quickly.


Norway bans government purchasing of palm oil biofuel [06/13/2017]
- The growth of the palm oil industry has been blamed for a host of damaging environmental impacts, such as deforestation and carbon emissions.
- Research indicates that biofuel made with palm oil may be even worse for the climate than fossil fuels.
- The Norwegian parliament responded to these impacts by voting in a regulation to its Public Procurement Act to stop using biofuel palm oil-based biofuel. The resolution further stipulates that the "regulatory amendment shall enter into force as soon as possible."
- Conservationists laud the move, but say more countries need to follow suit. They recommend the EU's biofuel policy be updated to reflect concerns about palm oil.


Audio: Activists determined to protect newly discovered Amazon Reef from oil drilling [06/13/2017]
- John talks about the discovery of the reef, what it’s like to be one of a few people on Earth who have ever seen it with their own eyes, and what the opposition to plans to drill for oil near the reef will look like should the plans move forward.
- We also welcome two staffers from Mongabay Latin America to the show: MariaIsabel Torres and Romi Castagnino.
- Mongabay LatAm just celebrated its one-year anniversary recently, so we wanted to take the chance to speak with MariaIsabel and Romi about what it’s like covering the environment in Latin America, what some of the site’s biggest successes are to date, and what we can expect from Mongabay LatAm in the future.


30 years of protecting the mysterious Okapi [06/13/2017]
- The discovery of the elusive okapi, once believed to be a mythical unicorn, was one of the most exciting taxonomic findings of the twentieth century.
- To protect this shy, giraffe-like animal, wildlife conservationist John Lukas founded the Okapi Conservation Project (OCP) in 1987.
- During the past three decades, the project team has seen both successes and challenges, from political unrest to a brutal rebel attack in 2012 that killed 6 people and 14 okapis.


Australian spider named for world champion surfer [06/09/2017]
- Pisauridae mickfanningi is a newly discovered species of water spider named in the surfer’s honor.
- The Queensland Museum actually let the public name the new species as part of the World Science Festival Brisbane, which took place in late March. The public was asked to submit names inspired by the science festival and its setting in Queensland.
- Brazilian arachnologist and surfing fan Hector Manuel Osório Gonzalez Filho submitted the name mickfanningi for the new water spider as a tribute to Fanning, whose favorite surfing spot is said to be Snapper Rocks in Queensland.


In rare move, Brazil’s Temer ups conserved lands by 282,000 hectares [06/09/2017]
- President Temer announced the expansion of Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Goiás; the Taim Ecological Station, Rio Grande do Sul; and the Biological Reservation Union, in Rio de Janeiro; along with the creation of Ferruginous Fields National Park, Pará — increasing conserved lands by more than 282,000 hectares.
- Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park sees the biggest expansion, increasing from 65,000 hectares (251 square miles) to 240,000 hectares (927 square miles). Its protection is seen as vital to the preservation of biodiversity in the Cerrado, where only 3 percent of land is federally protected.
- The protection of 282,000 hectares comes as Temer and Congress finalize plans to reduce the National Park of Jamanxim and National Forest of Jamanxim by 587,000 hectares (2,266 square miles) — an Amazon land deal criticized by conservationists and expected to benefit the agribusiness lobby that helped put Temer in power.


Leonardo DiCaprio teams up with Mexico’s president and wealthiest individual to save the vaquita [06/08/2017]
- A report by the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita released in February found that there are as few as 30 vaquita left in the Upper Gulf of California, the small marine cetacean species’ only known range.
- Despite the ban adopted by Mexico two years ago, unlawful use of gillnets remains widespread in the Upper Gulf of California, where they’re used to catch totoaba, a fish whose swim bladder is much prized by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine.
- Both the Carlos Slim Foundation and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation will reportedly be backing the agreement by committing funds to local development projects and alternative fishing gear options.
- In order to further crack down on illegal fishing activities, the agreement also includes a prohibition on night fishing and measures to tighten entry and exit controls in the vaquita reserve, according to the AP.


Field Notes: Pond turtle studies could help sea turtles survive toxic algal blooms [06/08/2017]
- Harmful algal blooms (HABs), dubbed “red tides,” occur worldwide. When ingested, tiny, toxin-producing algae threaten marine and human life. These events — sometimes natural, but often human-induced — now happen annually on the U.S. Gulf Coast and kill endangered turtle species.
- Physiologist Sarah Milton, at Florida Atlantic University, researches the effect of HABs on freshwater turtles to improve treatment for endangered sea turtles that are rescued from toxin-filled waters.
- Milton found that pond turtles tolerate far more algal toxin than similar sized mammals can survive — resistance possibly rooted in their ability to dive, living without oxygen for months. Understanding this ability could help sickened sea turtles rescued during harmful algal outbreaks.
- Understanding the cellular mechanisms that allow pond turtles to maintain brain and body function during anoxic conditions could also help scientists improve outcomes for people who have suffered oxygen-deprivation events, such as stroke, which trigger irreversible brain cell death.


Vaquita survival hinges on stopping international swim bladder trade [06/08/2017]
- Recent investigations by the Elephant Action League and WWF have uncovered the complicated trade in fish swim bladders from the Gulf of California that is pushing a porpoise known as the vaquita toward extinction.
- A two-year-old gillnet ban so far has not yet stemmed the declining numbers of vaquita, which are down 50 percent since 2015 and 90 percent since 2011.
- Not more than 30 vaquita remain in the wild, making it the most endangered cetacean on the planet.
- The swim bladders can sell for as much as $20,000 per kilogram.


Bringing rhinos back to India’s parks [06/07/2017]
- Launched in 2005, the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 aimed to boost the population of rhinos in Assam State and expand the species' range within the state from three protected areas to seven.
- Manas National Park was the first to receive translocated rhinos. The animals appeared to adapt well to their new home, but poachers repeatedly struck the park.
- The program then turned to Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuary, but the rhinos moved there grew sick and died.
- Conservationists still believe the overarching goal of boosting the state's rhino population to 3,000 by 2020 is achievable.


‘Crunch time for biodiversity’: Farming, hunting push thousands of species toward extinction [06/07/2017]
- Eighty percent of threatened animals are losing ground - literally, in the form of habitat loss - to agriculture.
- Up to 50 percent of threatened birds and mammals face extinction at the hands of hunters.
- In a study published in the journal Nature, a team of scientists explores solutions to avoid destroying the habitats of these animals, such as increasing yields in the developed world and minimizing fertilizer use.


Gabon pledges ‘massive’ protected network for oceans [06/06/2017]
- The network of marine protected areas covers some 53,000 square kilometers (20,463 square miles) of ocean, an area larger than Costa Rica.
- The marine parks and reserves could also draw tourists eager to catch a glimpse of the humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) and leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) that all shuttle through Gabonese waters.
- Government officials are in the process of overhauling how they manage fisheries, and they hope the move to protect Gabon’s territorial waters will improve the country’s food security and give its citizens a better chance to earn a living from fishing.


Small but not forgotten: Gibbons need more attention (commentary) [06/06/2017]
- Gibbons are frequently misidentified as monkeys, and few people are familiar with the taxonomic diversity represented by this primate family.
- With the inclusion of the recently discovered Skywalker hoolock, there are now 17 recognized species of gibbon, and all but one of them are listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered by the IUCN Redlist.
- By failing to recognize the broad diversity within the gibbon family, policy makers and local stakeholders may underestimate the threat to individual species.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.


Demand for elephant skin driving up poaching in Myanmar (warning: graphic images) [06/06/2017]
- Elephant hide is reportedly being used for traditional medicine or is being turned into jewellery.
- With an increase in demand for elephant skin and teeth, elephant mothers and calves are also being killed.
- WWF has launched a #SaveTheirSkins campaign to help put a stop to elephant poaching.




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