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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Experience or evidence: How do big conservation NGOs make decisions? [11/21/2017]
- Scientists have been urging conservation NGOs to make decisions based on scientific evidence.
- However, the big conservation NGOs run into many problems in trying to use the available science. Doing impact evaluations of their own projects is also hard and expensive, sources from the big conservation NGOs say.
- For their work to be effective, the conservation community needs to develop a common understanding of what credible evidence means, how to best use different strands of evidence, and how organizations can evaluate their work and create evidence that others can use, experts across the conservation spectrum seem to agree.
- This story is part of a special Mongabay series on “Conservation Effectiveness.”


From friends to strangers: The decline of the Irrawaddy dolphin (commentary) [11/20/2017]
- Now critically endangered, the last of the Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) are concentrated in nine deep-water pools over a 190-kilometer stretch of the Mekong between Cambodia’s Sambor district and Khone Falls on the Lao border.
- Today the Mekong’s dolphins face a new threat. The proposed Sambor Dam on the river’s mainstream would catalyze the extinction of the remaining dolphin population and have disastrous consequences for many other fish species, as well as the communities that depend on them.
- Can Cambodia bring this river dolphin back from the brink of extinction?
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.


Trump puts controversial decision allowing elephant trophy imports ‘on hold’ [11/20/2017]
- Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowed elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia to be imported to the U.S., lifting a previous ban under former President Barack Obama.
- This move sparked criticism not only from conservationists and animal rights activists, but also from some President Trump supporters.
- Following the widespread criticism, Trump tweeted that he would announce his decision on trophy imports next week.


Forests can beat humans at restoration, new study finds [11/16/2017]
- An analysis of 133 studies found natural regeneration was more effective than active, human-driven restoration at restoring tropical forests.
- The study refutes conventional wisdom that holds that actively restoring a forest is better than letting it grow back by itself.
- The authors say previous research didn’t control for key factors, which skewed results and made it seem like natural regeneration was less effective than it actually may be.
- The say large-scale restoration projects, which tend to favor active restoration, should consider natural regeneration as a way to more effectively achieve their goals while saving money that could be used to scale-up forest restoration worldwide.


A tranquilizer shortage is holding back rhino management plans in India [11/16/2017]
- Conservationists rely on a semi-synthetic opioid called Etorphine HCl to tranquilize rhinos for veterinary care, translocation and other critical interventions.
- Due to export regulations in South Africa, and red tape at home, Indian states face a critical shortage of the drug.
- The lack of Etorphine is already holding up translocation plans in several protected areas, and preventing veterinarians from caring for injured animals.


Video: Thousands of illegally caught African gray parrots being rehabilitated [11/16/2017]
- The Wildlife Conservation Society has released a video showing seized African gray parrots being treated at a rescue facility built specially for the rehabilitation of these birds.
- The birds were collected from the wild in the Republic of the Congo, and were most likely being smuggled to markets in Europe and the Middle East.
- So far, the WCS team has rehabilitated and released almost 900 parrots back into the wild.


Lemur on the menu: most-endangered primates still served in Madagascar [11/15/2017]
- Officials in Madagascar’s northeastern Sava region say lemur is served illegally in restaurants.
- One conservationist says people use a code to order lemur meat.
- More than 90 percent of lemur species are threatened, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.


Audio: Dr. Jane Goodall on being proven right about animals having personalities, plus updates direct from COP23 [11/15/2017]
- On today’s episode, we speak with the legendary Jane Goodall, who truly needs no introduction, and will have a direct report from the United Nations’ climate talks happening now in Bonn, Germany.
- Just before Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett Butler was scheduled to speak with Goodall recently, research came out that vindicated her contention, which she’s held for nearly 60 years, that animals have personalities just like people. So we decided to record her thoughts about that for the Mongabay Newscast.
- Our second guest today is Mongabay contributor and Wake Forest University journalism professor Justin Catanoso, who appears on the podcast direct from COP23 to tell us how the UN climate talks are going in Bonn, Germany, what the mood is like amongst delegates, and how the US delegation is factoring into the talks as the Trump Administration continues to pursue a pullout from the Paris Climate Agreement.


More big mammals found in high-carbon forests, says new study [11/15/2017]
- The researchers used satellite data to measure forest carbon values and camera trap photographs to tally the mammal species present in forests and oil palm plantations.
- Finer-scale data did reveal that high-carbon areas do support more species of medium and large mammals that are threatened with extinction.
- Experts say that this research validates the high carbon stock approach for identifying priority areas for conservation.
- Still, further research is required to better understand the role of connectivity between high-carbon forests in supporting biodiversity.


VaquitaCPR ends capture program in Gulf of California after vaquita dies in captivity [11/13/2017]
- VaquitaCPR, the emergency conservation team pulled together by the Mexican government in a desperate attempt to save the vaquita from extinction, announced last Friday that its capture program had come to an end.
- Just two of the marine mammals were taken into captivity by VaquitaCPR’s scientists, and neither was able to adapt to human care. The second, a breeding-age female that was not pregnant or lactating, responded poorly to being under the care of humans and died as the team was attempting to return her to the wild.
- With the vaquita population continuing to plummet, a prohibition on the use of gillnets adopted by the Mexican government does not appear to have made much difference thus far — but environmentalists say that much tougher enforcement of the ban is the only way to save the vaquita at this point.


Madagascar petitions CITES to sell millions in stolen rosewood [11/13/2017]
- The Madagascar government has petitioned wildlife regulators under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for permission to sell its stockpiles of seized rainforest wood.
- Some campaigners warn that traffickers stand to benefit from any such sale and fear it could herald a “logging boom” in the country’s remaining rainforests.
- The CITES committee will consider the proposal at the end of this month.


Citizen scientists around the world are monitoring elephants in Gabon via camera traps — and you can too [11/10/2017]
- Camera traps have proven to be a powerful tool in conservationists’ arsenal for monitoring forests and wildlife. But the mountains of data they capture need to be sifted through in order to be useful, which often presents a significant challenge for cash-strapped conservationists and researchers.
- To meet this challenge, a team led by Anabelle Cardoso, a PhD candidate at Oxford University in the UK, has turned to another promising new method that is reshaping the way research is done in modern times: citizen science.
- Slow population growth and the ivory poaching crisis have driven down the numbers of African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) in recent years. “We want to conserve these beautiful creatures, but to do that effectively we need to know where these elephants are and how many of them there are, so we can pick the best places to focus our efforts,” Cardoso and her colleagues write.


The fate of the Sumatran rhino is in the Indonesian government’s hands [11/10/2017]
- As the Sumatran rhino edges closer to extinction, aggressive interventions have stalled. Even ongoing efforts like ranger protection have been undercut by lack of government support.
- As of May, conservation groups are united in their calls to ramp up captive-breeding efforts in Indonesia, but the government has not yet responded.
- Frustrated conservationists cite bureaucracy, risk aversion, opaque and arbitrary decisions, and territorial squabbling as barriers to progress — but remain hopeful the government will act in time.


Is anyone going to save the Sumatran rhino? [11/09/2017]
- As the Sumatran rhino’s population dwindled, conservationists were locked in a debate about whether resources should be directed toward captive breeding or protecting wild populations.
- With captive breeding efforts showing success, and wild populations becoming non-viable, the pendulum has swung in favor of captive breeding.
- Experts agree that action is needed now more than ever, but any steps rely on support from the Indonesian government.


Logjam: Inside Madagascar’s illegal-rosewood stockpiles [11/08/2017]
- Over the past six years, Madagascar has spent millions of dollars and devoted countless person hours to figuring out how to dispose of vast stockpiles of highly valuable, illegally logged rosewood, much of it cut from the country’s rainforests following a 2009 coup.
- To do so, the government must conduct a comprehensive inventory of the stockpiles, among other requirements issued by CITES.
- The World Bank has supported the effort with at least $3 million to $4 million in murky ad hoc loans.
- The current state of affairs, with untold thousands of rosewood logs still unaccounted for, and tens of thousands more stacked outside government offices, is widely seen as facilitating continued corruption and illicit activity.


Mapping how to feed 9 billion humans, while avoiding environmental calamity [11/08/2017]
- The “Safety Net” initiative aims to map the best opportunities for conservation and ecosystem restoration globally.
- That means incorporating data on variables ranging from species richness to climate trends to deforestation rates for every point on Earth’s surface.
- That task is being taken up by a consortium of groups led by RESOLVE, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.
- In this interview, RESOLVE’s chief scientist Eric Dinerstein talks about the Safety Net project.


Where, oh where, are the rhinos of Bukit Barisan Selatan? [11/08/2017]
- Some claim a small but viable population of about a dozen rhinos persists deep within the forests of Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park on Sumatra’s southwestern coast.
- Camera traps haven’t captured a single rhino there since 2014, spurring doubts there are any rhinos remaining at all.
- The disputed numbers lead to questions about what should happen to any rhinos that might remain in the park — and to the rangers assigned to protect them.


Top 10 most widely traded animals in the Golden Triangle identified in new report [11/08/2017]
- Recent surveys by WWF and TRAFFIC have identified 10 of the most widely trafficked animals in the Golden Triangle.
- These top 10 animals are: the tiger, elephant, pangolin, bear, rhinoceros, serow, helmeted hornbill, gaur, leopard, and turtles.
- The wildlife markets in the Golden Triangle cater mostly to tourists from China and Vietnam, the report noted.


Scientists plan to map a ‘safety net’ for Planet Earth [11/07/2017]
- The mapping effort, to be led by Washington, D.C.-based non-profit research organization RESOLVE together with Globaïa, an NGO based in Quebec, Canada, and Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Viçosa, aims to identify the most critical terrestrial regions to protect as we work towards the goal of conserving 50 percent of the world’s land area.
- Scientists and conservationists have argued for years that setting aside at least half of the world’s land mass as off-limits to human enterprise is necessary if we are to conserve our planet’s biodiversity.
- The “safety net” that RESOLVE and its partner institutions plan to map out will consist of a network of wildlife corridors that connect every protected area on Earth and link them up with other high-priority landscapes, as well, even those that are unprotected.


Worst-case scenario: There could be only 30 wild Sumatran rhinos left [11/07/2017]
- In 1986, scientists estimated there could be as many as 800 Sumatran rhinos left. That fell to 400 in 1996, then 275 in 2008.
- Today the official estimate is 100 rhinos, but almost all experts believe that figure is overly optimistic.
- Adding up the minimum estimate for each of the four known wild populations yields a total of just 30 wild Sumatran rhinos left on earth, plus another nine in captivity.


Breeding-age female vaquita dies after being taken into captivity [11/06/2017]
- A team of marine mammal experts assembled by the Mexican government created a project called VaquitaCPR that aims to capture the remaining 30 vaquitas (Phocoena sinus) and keep them safe in specially built floating “sea pens.”
- Late last month, scientists with VaquitaCPR took the first of the marine mammals into captivity. Though the 6-month-old calf became so stressed by its capture that the team quickly chose to release it back into the wild, Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, a scientist with the Mexican government who heads the VaquitaCPR program, suggested that the fact that they were able to successfully find and capture a vaquita at all was an encouraging sign.
- This past weekend, however, it was announced that another vaquita — a breeding-age female — was taken into captivity and subsequently died. This has prompted calls to shut down the vaquita capture program altogether.


Recent report: Totoaba trafficking a conservation and security problem [11/06/2017]
- The NGO C4ADS reports that the trade of totoaba swim bladders to feed Asian markets is as much a security issue as a conservation problem.
- Fishermen and women in the Gulf of California have continued to pursue the critically endangered fish, despite the ban on gillnets, which have also decimated the vaquita porpoise.
- Vaquita in the wild number fewer than 30 animals, scientists say.
- C4ADS has published the results of its investigation with evidence of the overlap between totoaba traders and drug traffickers on a new website, and will published their recent report in Spanish.


Three rhinos killed in 48 hours in India’s Kaziranga National Park [11/06/2017]
- An adult female rhino was killed by poachers Nov. 2, and a female and her calf Nov. 4, in Kaziranga National Park.
- Kaziranga, which is home to the world’s largest population of greater one-horned rhinoceros, had previously only lost two rhinos to poachers in 2017.
- State officials have vowed to provide park guards with more sophisticated arms, while park authorities cite the need to more surveillance inside the park’s difficult terrain.


Indonesia races against time to save new orangutan species [11/06/2017]
- With an estimated population of less than 800, the newly described Tapanuli orangutan is already at risk of extinction due to habitat destruction and fragmentation.
- The Indonesian government will come up with a strategy to protect the orangutan, including the establishment of protected forest areas and wildlife sanctuaries.
- The government will also review a plan to build a hydroelectric plant in an area with the highest known density of Tapanuli orangutans.


Scientists surprised to discover new butterflyfish [11/03/2017]
- Because they are relatively well studied, scientists generally don’t expect to come across a new butterflyfish species. But that’s exactly what happened on an expedition by scientists with the San Francisco-based California Academy of Sciences when they were collecting live specimens 360 feet beneath the ocean’s surface in the Philippine’s Verde Island Passage.
- Roa rumsfeldi was found on a mesophotic reef, which is a coral reef system that lies in a narrow band of the ocean known as the “twilight zone” — deep enough for sunlight to be scarce, but not pitch black like the deep sea. Mesophotic reefs are typically located somewhere between 200 and 500 feet beneath the ocean’s surface.
- Scientists with the California Academy of Science’s Hope for Reefs initiative are trained to dive deep into the ocean’s twilight zone in order to explore the mostly unexamined coral reefs that lie there. They frequently collect live fish on their expeditions to these mesophotic reefs, and that is how they first came across Roa rumsfeldi.


Does community-based forest management work in the tropics? [11/02/2017]
- To find out if community-based forest management is effective, we read 30 studies that best represent the available evidence. (See the interactive infographic below.)
- Overall, community-based forest management does not appear to make a forest’s condition worse — and may even make it better.
- The evidence on socio-economic benefits is mixed, but what research there is suggests that community-based forest management sometimes aggravates existing inequities within communities.
- This story is part of a special Mongabay series on “Conservation Effectiveness”.


A new species of orangutan from Indonesia (analysis) [11/02/2017]
- Scientists have described a third species of orangutan.
- The Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) is found in the Tapanuli region of Indonesia’s North Sumatra province.
- The species is already considered at risk of extinction.
- This guest post is an analysis by researchers, including authors of the paper that describes the new primate species.


The Eighth Great Ape: New orangutan species discovered in Sumatra [11/02/2017]
- A study indicates what was once assumed to be an isolated population of the Sumatran orangutan is in fact a distinct species.
- The Batang Toru orangutan differs from the Sumatran orangutan in morphology, behavior and genetics. Genomic analysis suggests it diverged from other orangutan species 3.4 million years ago.
- There are fewer than 800 Batang Toru orangutans in existence, making it the rarest of all the great apes.
- It is highly threatened by habitat loss. The study says a hydropower plant planned for the area could affect 8 percent of the species’ remaining forest habitat.


Will the bird that dodged a bullet pay the price of peace? [11/02/2017]
- Back in 1965, researchers reported that the Blue-billed Curassow was “becoming very rare.” But that same year a conflict began that may have bought the species some time.
- The conflict claimed 270,000 lives and displaced seven million people. Out of this darkness shines one ray of light: the violence protected large portions of the natural wealth that will be key to Colombia’s future.
- But researchers warn of risks to Colombia’s natural heritage as people return to rural areas from which they had fled, and as mining and agriculture expand into forests that were previously off-limits because of the fighting. These areas include the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía de San Lucas, two mountain ranges that are among the last refuges of Crax alberti.


Fish vs. forests? Madagascar’s marine conservation boom [11/01/2017]
- Inspired by early successes in marine conservation, locally controlled fisheries projects have expanded quickly along Madagascar’s 3,000-mile-long coastline over the past 15 years.
- Now that growth is poised to skyrocket, with rising interest in fisheries management and conservation from international donors, including a planned injection of more than $70 million by the World Bank.
- But the scale of funding for marine conservation has prompted concerns from both small NGOs that already work on fisheries and advocates of terrestrial conservation, who point to the uneven track record of locally controlled fisheries projects around the country.
- This is the fifth story in Mongabay’s multi-part series “Conservation in Madagascar.”


Audio: Impacts of gas drilling on wildlife in Peru and a Goldman Prize winner on mercury contamination [11/01/2017]
- On today’s episode: a look at the impacts of drilling for natural gas on birds and amphibians through bioacoustics, and a Goldman Prize winner discusses her ongoing campaign to rid mercury contamination from the environment.
- Our first guest on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast is Jessica Deichmann, a research scientist with the Center for Conservation and Sustainability at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Deichmann led a study that used acoustic monitoring, among other methods, to examine the impacts on wildlife of a gas drilling platform in the forests of southeastern Peru.
- Next, we talk with 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Yuyun Ismawati, an environmental engineer from Indonesia who currently lives in the UK. As the founder of an NGO called BaliFokus and a steering committee member of IPEN, a non-profit based in Sweden that works to improve chemicals policies and practices around the world, Ismawati has made it her life’s mission to stop the use of mercury in activities like gold mining that cause the toxin to leach into the environment and thereby threaten human health and wildlife.


Carbon sequestration role of savanna soils key to climate goals [11/01/2017]
- Savannas and grasslands cover a vast area, some 20 percent of the earth’s land surface — from sub-Saharan Africa, to the Cerrado in Brazil, to North America’s heartland. They also offer an enormous and underappreciated capacity for carbon sequestration.
- However, the role of forests in storing carbon has long been emphasized over the role of savannas (and savanna soils) by international climate negotiators, resulting in policies such as REDD+ for preserving and restoring forests, with no such incentives for protecting grasslands.
- Scientists warn that the planting of trees, such as nonnative eucalyptus in Africa and Brazil, could be counterproductive in the long term, potentially contributing to climate change emissions while harming grassland biodiversity and altering ecosystems.
- As participants prepare to meet for the COP23 climate summit in Bonn, Germany next week, grassland scientists are urging that policymakers turn an eye toward savannas, and begin to develop incentives for preserving them and their carbon storing soils. More research is also needed to fully understand the role savannas can play in carbon sequestration.


Is Cambodia’s plan to reintroduce tigers doomed to fail? [11/01/2017]
- As recently as 1999, Cambodia was home to one of the world’s largest tiger populations. Today the Indochinese tiger is considered functionally extinct in the country.
- Cambodia is now looking to emulate the profitable success of India’s tiger reserves by reintroducing the big cats to its own forests
- Experts say poaching, rampant corruption and weak law enforcement could spell disaster for the endangered animals.


Brilliantly colored ‘lost’ salamander rediscovered after 42 years [11/01/2017]
- The striking, yellow-hued Jackson’s climbing salamander was first reported to science in 1975, then never recorded again.
- But last month, a guard at a recently created amphibian reserve in Guatemala’s Cuchumatanes Mountain range spotted a juvenile of the species while he was patrolling.
- Conservationists are excited because the salamander was “rediscovered” in a reserve especially created to help protect the habitat of amphibians like the Jackson’s climbing salamander.


‘Record’ number of migratory species protected at October wildlife summit [10/31/2017]
- The Convention on Migratory Species adopted 34 proposals to protect species threatened with extinction.
- Attendees adopted proposals to bolster protections for chimpanzees, giraffes, leopards, lions and whale sharks.
- India will host the next such meeting in 2020.


Trump budget undercuts U.S. commitment to global wildlife conservation [10/30/2017]
- President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would make extensive cuts to already underfunded programs to combat wildlife trafficking and to aid African and Asian nations in protecting elephants, rhinos, tigers, pangolins and other endangered wildlife.
- Trump’s budget proposes a 32 percent across-the-board cut in U.S. foreign assistance, affecting hundreds of sustainability, health and environmental programs.
- Major cuts would come to the Department of State, USAID, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs.
- Congress needs to approve a 2018 budget by December, and no one knows if it will approve the president’s desired deep cuts. However, hostility from the administration and many in the GOP to wildlife programs is unlikely to go away any time soon, with more and larger reductions in years to come.


Parks and reserves ‘significant’ force for slowing climate change [10/30/2017]
- Protecting tropical forests between 2000 and 2012 amounted to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to a 29 percent cut in deforestation rates.
- The authors used statistical models to estimate the amount of CO2 that would have been released if currently protected areas in South America, Asia and Africa had instead been cleared.
- The researchers argue that their findings bolster the conservation case for safeguarding tropical forests.


A roar for nature in Indonesia: Q&A with the poet behind ‘Indigenous Species’ [10/30/2017]
- “Indigenous Species” is a book-length poem that highlights environmental crimes and violations of indigenous peoples’ rights in Indonesia.
- The literary work has been performed at international events since 2013 and was published last December.
- Mongabay caught up with poet Khairani Barokka to discuss her book, activism and environmental issues in literature.


‘Decimated’: Germany’s birds disappear as insect abundance plummets 76% [10/27/2017]
- A new study in PLOS ONE reveals a 76 percent reduction in Germany’s flying insect biomass over the past 27 years while another reports the country’s bird abundance has declined 15 percent in just over a decade.
- While the causes behind the insect decline haven’t yet been conclusively studied, the PLOS ONE study suggests agricultural intensification like increased pesticide use may be contributing to the decline.
- Neonicotinoid pesticides have been blamed for bee declines, and studies also link them to declines in aquatic insect communities. Many flying insects have aquatic life stages.
- More research is underway to better understand the causes and ramifications of such a big decline in flying insect biomass.


Lemur species losing favorite food to climate change, new study says [10/26/2017]
- The greater bamboo lemur tends to feed on nutritious bamboo shoots, switching to the woody trunk of the plant only during the dry season.
- A longer dry season due to climate change could force them to subsist on this less-than-optimal food source for more of the year, potentially pushing this critically endangered species closer to extinction, according to a new study.
- This discovery could have implications for other threatened species, like the giant panda, that depend on one type of food.


As Grauer’s gorillas cling to survival, new population found [10/26/2017]
- Since 1994, civil war has left over 5 million people dead and wildlife decimated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Today, heavily armed militia and illegal miners prospect for “conflict minerals” needed for modern electronic devices made and sold in the U.S. and around the globe.
- Hunters have targeted Grauer’s gorillas to feed miners and militias: in just two decades, these great apes have declined by 77 percent. A 2016 survey found only 3,800 Grauer’s gorillas, the world’s largest primates, still hanging on in the most rugged parts of eastern DRC.
- The good news: a bold group of scientists, under the protection of armed rangers, has found 50 previously uncounted Grauer’s gorillas in DRC’s Maiko National Park. And more may exist within the 4,000 square-mile park.
- The bad news: the US House of Representatives voted last month to defund the “Conflict Mineral Rule,” which required US companies to report where conflict minerals, such as coltan used in cell phones and computers, were sourced. The Senate has yet to take action on the legislation.


Building conservation’s brain trust in Madagascar [10/25/2017]
- Foreigners have dominated scientific research in Madagascar, with more than 9 out of 10 publications on biodiversity led by foreigners from 1960 to 2015.
- A series of programs aimed at boosting early career Malagasy scientists is now bearing fruit as local researchers take on leadership roles in conservation.
- But Madagascar’s higher education system remains weak and deeply under-funded, so that the best chance of rigorous training and support for graduate work often comes through connections overseas.
- This is the fourth story in Mongabay’s multi-part series “Conservation in Madagascar.”


First vaquita ‘rescued’ in bid to save the porpoise from extinction [10/25/2017]
- A project to save a small, critically endangered porpoise called the vaquita in the Gulf of California succeeded in capturing a 6-month-old calf in mid-October.
- Veterinarians noticed signs of stress, so they made the decision to release it back into the wild, rather than keep it in a sea pen.
- The project’s leaders are heartened by the experience and hope to round up more vaquita to keep them safe from the still-present threat of gillnet entanglement in the northern Sea of Cortez.


Rhino poacher sentenced to 18 years in prison [10/25/2017]
- A court in Malawi has convicted and sentenced a rhino poacher to 18 years in prison for killing an adult female black rhinoceros.
- Two of his accomplices were also handed sentences of ten and eight years each.
- The recent 18-year sentence might serve as a deterrent to would-be poachers, some experts say.


Black rhinos in Tanzania now monitored via sensors implanted directly in their horns [10/24/2017]
- In a first for the species, several black rhinos in Tanzania’s Mkomazi National Park have had small, networked sensors embedded directly in their horns in order to allow park rangers to monitor the animals much more closely than in the past.
- The sensors make use of LoRaWAN technology (which stands for “Long Range Wide Area Network”), designed to allow low-powered devices, like sensors in rhino horns, to communicate with Internet-connected devices, like computers in a ranger station, over long-range wireless networks.
- LoRaWAN is one of several technologies currently being put to use for real-time monitoring of wildlife. The network in Tanzania’s Mkomazi National Park, where the sensors were recently deployed, covers the entire rhino sanctuary in the park.


FSC mulls rule change to allow certification for recent deforesters [10/24/2017]
- Motion 7 passed at the FSC General Assembly meeting in Vancouver on Oct. 13, indicating that the organization will pursue a change to its rules allowing companies that have converted forests to plantations since 1994 to go for certification.
- Current rules do not allow FSC certification for any companies that have cleared forested land since 1994.
- Proponents of a rule change say it would allow more companies to be held to FSC standards and could result in the restoration or conservation of ‘millions of hectares’ in compensation for recent deforestation.
- Opponents argue that FSC is bending to industry demands and that a rule change will increase the pressure for land conversion on communities and biodiversity.


New study: Risky roads cause more than just environmental harm [10/24/2017]
- Globally, 25 million kilometers (15.5 million miles) of paved roads are planned for construction by 2050.
- A new study, published Monday in the journal Current Biology, examines the environmental, socio-political and economic risks that accompany road building, particularly in the developing world.
- The authors argue for a more deliberate process to select sites for roads that will produce the most economic benefit while minimizing damage to the environment.


Saving the ‘Star Wars gibbon’: Q&A with primatologist Carolyn Thompson [10/24/2017]
- Carolyn Thompson, a Ph.D. student at University College London, is studying the newly described and little-known Skywalker hoolock gibbon.
- She is working with the very team that first described the small ape in the China-Myanmar border region.
- Thompson hopes that her research will contribute to the gibbon’s threat assessment on the International Union of Conservation for Nature Species Red List.


Life and death and the jaguars of the mind (commentary) [10/23/2017]
- The jaguar is the largest predator in the lands it roams. It once thrived across much of South America, all of Central America, and into the southwestern United States, but hunting and deforestation have slashed its numbers and range.
- For a species being nudged to the edge of extinction, the way people think matters. But the jaguars of the mind are always evolving. And, as new research shows, when money enters the picture, opinions can soon shift.
- Whether cast as violent killers or noble beasts, as ghosts or money-makers, jaguars are always shifting into new forms, reflecting changes in how we think about the world about us.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.


As Northwest salmon economy teeters on brink, Trump gives it a push [10/23/2017]
- Northwest salmon fisheries are in trouble, impacted by warming oceans and overdeveloped, dammed and silted spawning rivers and streams.
- Pre-contact indigenous groups in the region once organized their societies around sustainable fishing tribal agreements that worked. More recently, under past presidential administrations, Canadian, US and tribal authorities came together to save the declining salmon fisheries.
- Especially successful have been federally funded local, state and tribal programs, administered by NOAA, that protect and restore Northwest spawning streams — an investment in habitat and healthy local economies.
- Trump’s 2018 budget would cut all those programs, though for now Congress has restored them. However, politicians and regulators are concerned that Trump’s abandonment of Northwest fisheries and local economies will persist through his administration.


Helmeted hornbill, on verge of extinction, finds respite in new zone outside of known range [10/23/2017]
- A recent survey has found a high concentration of near-extinct helmeted hornbills in a conservation area in western Borneo.
- This “hornbill paradise” is currently not included in the IUCN range map for this particular species.
- Conservationists have called for the map to be updated, for more research in the area, and for stronger law enforcement to protect the distinctive bird.


Half-Earth Day to be celebrated next week [10/20/2017]
- This Monday, October 23, marks the first-ever Half-Earth Day.
- The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and National Geographic timed the event to occur exactly half a year after Earth Day (April 22). But Half-Earth Day also gets its name from the biodiversity conservation initiative spearheaded by renowned biologist and conservationist Edward O. Wilson, discussed in his 2016 book, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life.
- Wilson’s idea, which he says is backed up by research, is that we can protect 85 percent of Earth’s biodiversity by conserving half of the world’s land and seas.
- The evening program at Half-Earth Day will feature legendary singer/songwriter Paul Simon, who recently did a 19-city tour in support of Half-Earth.


The Philippines commits to science-anchored fishery policies [10/20/2017]
- The Philippines ranks 10th in the world in terms of its annual catch, and Filipinos consume 32.7 kilograms (72.1 pounds) of fish each year.
- At the same time, 70 percent of the Philippines’ fish populations are overfished.
- The country is now set to work with the Environmental Defense Fund to bring data analysis and science into fisheries decisions by 2022.


Amazonian manatee migration at risk from disruption by proposed dams [10/19/2017]
- Amazonian manatees (Trichechus inunguis) spend the high-water season feeding in flooded forests, but migrate to deeper permanent water bodies to see out the dry season.
- Researchers have found that as the dry season approaches, manatees time their migration out of the floodplain to avoid bottlenecks that would block their route, and doom them.
- But, the scientists warn, those bottlenecks will become far more common, and less predictable, if the hundreds of hydropower dams planned for the Amazon go forward.
- The dams, and the bottleneck problem they create, “generates profound concern for the conservation of manatees,” the scientists write.


Leading US plywood firm linked to alleged destruction, rights violations in Malaysia [10/19/2017]
- An investigation has found that Liberty Woods, the top importer of plywood in the US, buys wood from a Malaysian company that has faced numerous allegations of environmentally unsustainable logging and indigenous rights violations.
- Environmental NGOs have accused the timber industry in Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, of clearing too much forest too quickly, polluting streams and rivers and failing to obtain consent to log from local communities.
- Satellite imagery analysis in 2013 showed that, between 2000 and 2012, Malaysia had the world’s highest deforestation rate.
- In Sarawak, where logging company Shin Yang is based, only 5 percent of forests remain relatively untouched.


Seychelles home to new species of caecilian, a legless amphibian [10/19/2017]
- The Petite Praslin caecilian (Hypogeophis pti) is the world’s newest — and possibly the smallest — caecilian, a type of legless amphibian.
- Scientists discovered the animal on the island of Praslin in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
- The new species is the seventh caecilian species found in the Seychelles, where the amphibians have been evolving for 64 million years.


Audio: Indonesian rainforests for sale and bat calls of the Amazon [10/18/2017]
- This episode of the Mongabay Newscast takes a look at the first installment of our new investigative series, “Indonesia for Sale,” and features the sounds of Amazonian bats.
- Mongabay’s Indonesia-based editor Phil Jacobson joins the Newscast to tell us all about “Indonesia for Sale” and the first piece in the series, “The palm oil fiefdom.”
- We also speak with Adrià López-Baucells, a PhD student in bat ecology who has conducted acoustic studies of bats in the central Amazon for the past several years. In this Field Notes segment, López-Baucells plays some of the recordings he used to study the effects of Amazon forest fragmentation on bat foraging behavior.


How small is too small? The uncertain fate of Madagascar’s forest fragments [10/18/2017]
- Madagascar’s total forest cover fell by 40 percent in the second half of the 20th century, but fragmentation of the forests that remained progressed even more quickly.
- Conservation groups are working to conserve a number of small fragments. In Ankafobe, the local community has come together to reconnect three scraps of forest and defend them against fire.
- The risk that both animates this work and threatens to make it obsolete is that fire, agriculture, or other pressures could reduce the size of these fragments below some basic threshold of ecological viability.
- This is the third story in Mongabay’s multi-part series “Conservation in Madagascar.”


Study maps out reptiles’ ranges, completing the ‘atlas of life’ [10/17/2017]
- The study’s 39 authors, from 30 institutions around the world, pulled together data on the habitats of more than 10,000 species of reptiles.
- They found little overlap with current conservation areas, many of which have used the numbers of mammal and bird species present as proxies for overall biodiversity.
- In particular, lizards and turtles aren’t afforded much protection under current schemes.
- The authors report that they’ve identified high-priority areas for conservation that protects reptile diversity, ranging from deserts in the Middle East, Africa and Australia, to grass- and scrublands in Asia and Brazil.


When a rhino calls in the forest, this guy hears it: Q&A with a Javan rhino researcher [10/16/2017]
- Javan rhinos are so cryptic and elusive that they are difficult to study, despite the entire species being confined to a single site.
- Camera traps are giving researchers new insights into the species’ behaviors and environmental needs.
- Steve Wilson, a doctoral student working on a dissertation about Javan rhinos, explains some of these new findings — and how novel research methods might help guide conservation strategies.


Questioning militarization is essential for successful and socially just conservation (commentary) [10/16/2017]
- It is important to question and critically analyze new directions in conservation, as failing to do so will undoubtedly lead to negative outcomes for people and wildlife. Justice for animals is not well served by perpetrating other injustices.
- I can agree that poaching is against the law and therefore is a crime. But the law is not a neutral or apolitical instrument. For example, the argument that wildlife laws are neutral instruments renders invisible the colonial origins of wildlife laws in Africa, which separated wildlife and people in ways that actively produce human-wildlife conflict today.
- It is useful and important to debate the problems of militarization, because this can and should shape policy and funding strategies for conservation.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.


Photo of ‘resurrected’ extinct Indonesian tiger is actually leopard, scientists say [10/15/2017]
- A recent photograph of a big cat by park rangers in Java sparked suggestions that it could be the Javan tiger, which was officially declared extinct in 2003.
- Scientists, however, have concluded that the animal in the picture is a Javan leopard.
- The sighting of the critically endangered leopard subspecies has renewed calls to protect it from also going extinct.


Mexico takes ‘unprecedented’ action to save vaquita [10/15/2017]
- A team of marine mammal experts have begun a search for the last vaquitas (Phocoena sinus) in a last-ditch effort to capture the remaining 30 porpoises until they’re no longer threatened by gillnets.
- VaquitaCPR seeks to house the vaquita in sea pens and includes plans for long-term care and breeding.
- Though seen as ‘risky’ and ‘bold,’ many conservation organizations agree that finding the animals before it’s too late is the only option.


Photos: night owls [10/13/2017]
- 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, David A. Oehler writes about owls.


Conservation leaders in Africa call for a crackdown on biopiracy [10/13/2017]
- Indigenous rights groups and others have long criticized the lack of benefit sharing between bio-prospectors and the local communities that inhabit the places where the organisms are found, calling such acts “biopiracy.”
- The African Union (AU) Strategic Guidelines for the Coordinated Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol in Africa was adopted by the AU Assembly at its 25th Ordinary Session, which was held in South Africa in 2015. The guidelines aim to provide a roadmap for implementation of the Protocol and Access and Benefit Sharing system at national and regional levels.
- But while the Nagoya Protocol and its AU implementation guidelines address many issues, some stakeholders remain worried about those not covered – such as off-site synthesis using information previously collected and the use of materials cultivated abroad.


Is Bangladesh’s expanded sanctuary a brave step or a paper tiger? [10/13/2017]
- The government’s decision increases the proportion of the Bangladesh Sundarbans that is off-limits to people from 23 to 52 percent, although pollution from a proposed coal power plant nearby would be an ongoing risk.
- Locals living near the forest have minimized the number of tigers killed in conflict with humans by forming response teams that ward tigers away from villages.
- Policy tailored to addressing the myriad reasons for tiger killing would have even more success in reversing the decline of the Bengal tiger, research suggests.


Cash for conservation: Do payments for ecosystem services work? [10/12/2017]
- What can we say about the effectiveness of payments for ecosystem services (PES) based on the available scientific literature? To find out, we examined 38 studies that represent the best evidence we could find.
- The vast majority of the evidence in those 38 studies was still very weak, however. In other words, most of the studies did not compare areas where PES had been implemented with non-PES control areas or some other kind of countervailing example.
- On average, the more rigorously designed studies showed very modest reductions in deforestation, generally of just a few percentage points. Meanwhile, the majority of the available evidence suggests that payments were often too low to cover the opportunity costs of agricultural development or other profitable activities that the land could have been used for.
- This is part of a special Mongabay series on “Conservation Effectiveness.”


Ivory is out in the UK, as government moves to shutter legal trade [10/12/2017]
- The British government began a 12-week consultation period on Oct. 6 to sort out the details for a near-total ban on its domestic ivory trade.
- Conservation groups have long worried that even a legal trade can mask the illicit movement of ivory and stimulate further demand for ivory from poached elephants.
- The conservation groups WCS and Stop Ivory applauded the announcement and pledged to work with the government to put the ban in place.


Island-hopping toxic toad threatens iconic Komodo dragon [10/11/2017]
- The islands of Wallacea, which include parts of Indonesia, are home to many species that exist nowhere else in the world.
- The Asian common toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) has spread across the islands under the conservation radar while conservationists struggle to cope with a similar invasion in Madagascar.
- If the advance of the toad across Wallacea is not stopped, scientists worry it could have devastating consequences for the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo dragon.


Trump’s global resorts put profit first, environment last, critics say [10/11/2017]
- Donald Trump’s negative environmental record in Scotland and elsewhere has conservationists concerned in Bali, where Trump firms are developing a major resort and golf facility known as Trump International Hotel & Tower Bali.
- Another resort under development, the Trump International Hotel & Tower Lido, a 700-hectare facility including a six-star luxury resort, theme park, country club, spa, villas, condos and 18-hole golf course threatens the nearby Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park, one of Java’s last virgin tropical forests.
- Mongabay looked into Trump’s claims that he is an environmentalist, winning “many, many environmental awards.” We were able to locate just two — one a local New York award, and another granted by a golf business association. The Trump Organization did not respond to requests to list Mr. Trump’s awards.
- Trump’s environmental record as president, and as a businessman, is abysmal, say critics. His attempt to defund the U.S. Energy Star program, they say, is typical of a compulsion to protect his self interest: Energy Star has given poor ratings to nearly all Trump’s hotels, which experts note has possibly impacted his bottom line.


Eat less meat, save species and ecosystems, says WWF UK [10/11/2017]
- Crops for livestock feed damage ecosystems and threaten wildlife, says WWF UK.
- The conservation NGO estimates that just the UK’s livestock industry has caused the extinction of 33 species worldwide.
- However, if people lower their protein intake to recommended amounts, farmers would need 13 percent less land to produce feed for livestock and farmed fish, saving an area 1.5 times the size of the EU.


Myanmar caves yield up 19 new gecko species [10/11/2017]
- Scientists have discovered 19 new species of strikingly patterned geckos within a small area of 90 kilometers by 50 kilometers in Myanmar.
- These geckos are most likely restricted to the limestone hills and towers within which they were found.
- Conservationists hope that these newly discovered animals can serve as “ambassadors” for the limestone hills, especially since many of these hills are being mined by cement companies.


Conservation in a weak state: Madagascar struggles with enforcement [10/10/2017]
- In the years since Madagascar’s 2009 coup d’état, the area around Ranomafana National Park has faced security threats from illegal gold miners, armed cattle rustlers, and bandits that have made it increasingly difficult to operate parts of the park.
- Elsewhere in the country illegal logging and mining, corruption, impunity and other breaches threaten to undermine conservation efforts, and limited funds make enforcement difficult.
- The problem underscores a broad challenge for conservationists across Madagascar: how to make progress on a set of environmental goals that depend fundamentally on the rule of law?
- This is the second story in Mongabay’s multi-part series “Conservation in Madagascar.”


Birdwatching poised to take flight in Colombia, study reveals [10/10/2017]
- A new study identifies 67 communities with high potential for developing birdwatching ecotourism in Colombia.
- The country is home to more than 1,900 bird species, including 443 rare birds ‘highly valued by bird watchers.’
- The authors present ecotourism as an alternative to mining and logging as rural communities look for ways to develop economically after a decades-long conflict.


Attacks on ‘militarized conservation’ are naive (commentary) [10/10/2017]
- Over the past few months, a few academics have released a tide of articles criticizing what they call the “militarization of conservation,” but their ideas are not grounded in reality and, if taken seriously, would only speed up the extinction of threatened wildlife.
- Critics of “militarized conservation” often deride the “increasing acceptability of human deaths in defense of animal lives”. But this completely misses the point. Most civilized countries do not have the death penalty, yet law enforcement officials occasionally have to resort to lethal force to protect the public, themselves, or their colleagues, in the course of carrying out their professional duty.
- If we desire that wildlife and wild places have a place in our future, then we must extend them the same level of protection as we afford other resources, or they will be lost forever.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.


Dogs, dung, and DNA: mapping multi-species corridors to conserve threatened carnivores [10/09/2017]
- Researchers enlisted dog sniffing power to locate the scat of five threatened carnivores across an increasingly fragmented Atlantic Forest landscape and identified the animals’ species through genetic analysis.
- The ability to collect and distinguish scat of jaguars, pumas, ocelots, oncillas, and bush dogs enabled the scientists to develop spatial models for species-specific movement corridors that connect the region’s protected areas.
- The researchers combined these species presence models with habitat and human factors to map and propose effective least-cost, multi-species biological corridors.


Colombia, an example to world, balances conservation and development [10/09/2017]
- Colombia, under the leadership of President Juan Santos, has more than doubled its national conserved area — from 13 million hectares (50,193 square miles) in 2010, to 28.4 million hectares (109,653 square miles) today — an extraordinary achievement for any country.*
- In an exclusive interview with Mongabay, Luis Gilberto Murillo, Colombia’s minister of the environment and sustainable development, tells how that goal was achieved, and what it will take to keep those conserved lands and waters protected for all time.
- The country, first off, has a constitutional provision which assures that protected areas can’t be dismembered by future incoming administrations. The Santos administration has protected many areas that once were FARC rebel strongholds during the 50-year civil war.
- Colombia will need significant international financial assistance if it is to continue conserving land, and also enforcing protections. But, says Murillo, that is only proper since the entire world benefits from Colombia’s efforts to conserve forests, which sequester carbon.


Conserving habitat not enough to help species cope with climate change [10/09/2017]
- New research finds that habitat-based conservation strategies don’t adequately compensate for the range that species in three groups stand to lose due to climate change.
- The team of scientists based in Austria looked at the effects of climate change on 51 species of grasshoppers, butterflies and vascular plants living in central Europe.
- Habitat-based conservation can provide a lifeline, but their model predicts that it won’t be enough to prevent some species from regional extinction.


Trending tree cover loss spikes again in Queensland [10/08/2017]
- A government analysis of Landsat satellite imagery found that 395,000 hectares (976,000 acres) of tree cover was cleared between 2015 and 2016 — nearly a 33 percent bump over the same time period in 2014-2015.
- Forty percent of that clearing — some 158,000 hectares (390,000 acres) — occurred in the Great Barrier Reef catchment.
- The latest year’s clearing is the highest rate in a decade and represents the sixth consecutive year in which rates in Queensland have risen.


Biodiversity of Indian Sunderbans recorded in one compendium for first time [10/06/2017]
- Zoological Survey of India has, for the first time, published a detailed record of the animal and protozoa species of the Sunderban of West Bengal.
- Sunderbans forests, locally known as Badabon, are one of the richest biodiversity hotspots in India. This UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its mangroves, coastal forests that serve as a biological buffer between the land and sea.
- This unique ecosystem is famous for the royal Bengal tiger, Gangetic dolphin, and estuarine crocodile.


Booming legal Amazon wildlife trade documented in new report [10/06/2017]
- Wildlife trade attention has recently focused on Africa. But a new report spotlights the brisk legal international trade in plants and animals from eight Amazon nations. The report did not look at the illegal trade, whose scope is largely unknown.
- The US$128 million industry exports 14 million animals and plants annually, plus one million kilograms by weight, including caiman and peccary skins for the fashion industry, live turtles and parrots for the pet trade, and arapaima for the food industry.
- The report authors note that such trade, conducted properly, can have benefits for national economies, for livelihoods, and even for wildlife — animals bred in captivity, for example, can provide scientists with vital data for sustaining wild populations.
- The report strongly emphasizes the need for monitoring, regulating and enforcing sustainable harvest levels of wild animals and plants if the legal trade is to continue to thrive, and if Amazonian forests and rivers are not to be emptied of their wildlife.


‘SALT’ alliance aims to tackle illegal fishing on a global scale [10/06/2017]
- The Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability (SALT) alliance announced today at the Our Ocean conference in Malta aims to bring together representatives from seafood companies and seafood-producing and -consuming countries to decrease illegality in the fishing sector.
- Scientists reported that between 11 million and 26 million metric tons (12.1 million and 28.7 million tons) of the worldwide catch is illegal or unreported, costing as much as $23.5 billion a year.
- A year-long process headed by the NGO FishWise that will seek input from a variety of stakeholders begins this month.


Pandas losing ground to hungry livestock in Chinese nature reserve [10/05/2017]
- A new study finds that a 9-fold uptick in livestock near Wanglang National Nature Reserve has diminished giant panda habitat by more than a third.
- More than half of the panda’s range is protected in China, but overlap with grazing livestock, which eat bamboo leaves, maybe putting pressure on the country’s national symbol.
- The study’s authors call for investment in alternative livelihoods, in sectors such as tourism and forest management, to steer people away from livestock rearing.


Trade in silky and thresher sharks now to be strictly regulated [10/05/2017]
- All three species of thresher sharks and the silky shark were included under Appendix II of CITES in 2016.
- Countries were granted a one-year grace period “put the necessary regulations and processes into place”. The trade restrictions came into force yesterday.
- However, merely listing the species under CITES will not protect the sharks, some conservationists warn.


Second Irrawaddy dolphin death in Borneo linked to fishing nets [10/03/2017]
- A second rare Irrawaddy dolphin has washed up dead on a beach in eastern Borneo this year.
- Injuries believed to have been inflicted by a fishing net are the most likely cause of death, a biologist says.
- An NGO has called on authorities to educate fishermen about minimizing bycatch and to map out dolphin migratory paths and habitats in the area.


Audio: Is forest certification an effective strategy? Plus acoustic ecology of the Javan rhino [10/03/2017]
- We take a closer look at the evidence for the effectiveness of forest certification schemes on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast.
- Mongabay recently kicked off a new in-depth series called “Conservation Effectiveness” that looks at the scientific literature examining how well various conservation types work, from forest certification to payments for ecosystem services and community forestry. The first installment is out now, and Zuzana Burivalova, a tropical forest ecologist at Princeton University who did the research analysis that the article was based on, is here to speak with us about what she found.
- We also speak with Steve Wilson, who is currently working on a PhD at the University of Queensland on Javan rhino ecology and conservation. This is our latest Field Notes segment, in which Wilson will play for us three different Javan rhino vocalisations and fill us in on what the rhinos use these calls for.


A rhino called hope [10/03/2017]
- Only 50-100 Sumatran rhinos are believed to remain. Seven live at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia.
- One of the sanctuary’s residents, Harapan, was transferred from the Cincinnati Zoo two years ago.
- Harapan’s caretakers say he is in good health, is settling into the facility and will soon be introduced to one the center’s female rhinos in hopes of siring offspring.


Bats key pollinators for durian production, camera traps confirm [10/03/2017]
- A new study employing camera traps indicates that flying foxes in Malaysia are important pollinators of commercially valuable durian fruit trees.
- The researchers set 19 traps in semi-wild durian trees.
- Their investigation revealed that the bats had a positive impact on the transformation of the flower to fruit.


USAID Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge awards Acceleration Prizes for rapid tech developments [10/02/2017]
- The Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge announced three winners of a $100,000 Acceleration Prize for rapid progress in developing a wildlife crime solution system.
- The winning devices were: an artificial sea turtle egg to track illegal movements of eggs and identify transit routes; a genetic reference map of pangolin poaching hotspots; and a camera-ground sensor system to monitor and communicate illegal human activity in remote reserves.
- The poaching, trafficking, and consumption of meat, scales, tusks, skin, fur, feathers, and horns of many hundreds of species has depleted populations worldwide and caused local extinctions.


Can community forestry deliver for Madagascar’s forests and people? [10/02/2017]
- In recent years “managed resource protected areas”— forests where local people control the use of natural resources — have sprung up across Madagascar, aiming to spark both economic development and conservation, and to include nearby communities in important decision-making.
- But the community groups managing these forests often struggle to exert real control over the landscapes they’ve been asked to protect, and complain that promised development assistance has never materialized.
- Nevertheless, proponents say the approach can succeed with the right project design, and sufficient funding and support.
- This is the first story in Mongabay’s multi-part series “Conservation in Madagascar.”


Two new ‘birdcatcher’ trees described from Puerto Rico [10/02/2017]
- The two newly described trees have been named Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae after two women who spent several decades trying to document plants of Puerto Rico.
- The trees belong to the genus Pisonia, a group of “birdcatcher trees” known to produce sticky seeds that can entangle (and sometimes kill) birds.
- However, whether Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae use birds to disperse their fruits is currently unknown, the researchers say.


Meet the new Bernie Sanders spider [09/29/2017]
- Together with four of his undergraduate students, Ingi Agnarsson, a spider expert and professor of biology at the University of Vermont, described 15 new spiders in a paper published by the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society this week.
- All 15 of the new species belong to the genus Spintharus and are known as “smiley-faced” spiders because of the patterning on their abdomens that resemble a smiley face.
- Each of Agnarsson’s graduate students, who did the photography and lab work to document the new species, were given the chance to name a few of the spiders. “[B]ut we all named the Bernie Sanders spider,” Lily Sargeant, one of the students and a co-author of the paper, said in a statement. “We all have tremendous respect for Bernie. He presents a feeling of hope.”


China sends first pandas to Indonesia under captive-breeding agreement [09/29/2017]
- Two giant pandas from China arrived in Indonesia on a mission to increase the species’ population.
- The couple, a male and a female, will live in a special enclosure at a zoo outside Jakarta for the next decade.
- Zoo officials are open to trying every possible breeding technique to help the bears reproduce.


How effective is conservation in Madagascar? Series starts next week [09/28/2017]
- Madagascar has received more than $700 million in international funding for conservation since 1990, arrayed across more than 500 projects, yet the overall trajectory across the country still seems to be towards rapid declines in biodiversity and natural landscapes.
- “Conservation in Madagascar” is an in-depth series by Rowan Moore Gerety that digs into the reasons behind the successes and failures of conservation projects across the highly biodiverse island.
- Moore Gerety criss-crossed Madagascar this summer visiting conservation sites and speaking with Malagasy people and conservationists about their experiences.
- “Conservation in Madagascar” launches next Monday, October 2.


Camera trap records nearly extinct cuckoo bird in Sumatra [09/27/2017]
- A camera trap captured the Sumatran ground cuckoo in a national park.
- The discovery of the avian species indicated that the park might be one of its last refuges.
- The park agency said it would investigate the finding to make a conservation strategy for the cuckoo.


How much of a shock can an electric eel deliver? A scientist just found out first-hand [09/27/2017]
- Last year, Kenneth Catania, a professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, was able to corroborate a centuries-old story about electric eels leaping out of the water to shock would-be assailants.
- One advantage of leaping out of the water to zap attackers is that the eel’s electrical shock doesn’t have to travel through the water first, which causes it to dissipate and therefore pack less of a punch. But just how much of a charge can eels deliver, anyway?
- Catania has now answered that question, as well, in a study published in the journal Current Biology this month.


Giant tree-dwelling rat discovered in the Solomon Islands [09/27/2017]
- The Uromys vika is the first new rodent species to be described from the Solomon Islands in 80 years.
- The elusive rat was finally discovered when an 18-inch, orange-brown individual fell out of a tree that had been cut down by a logging company.
- The researchers think that the rat should be listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List because the rat appears to be rare, and its rainforest habitat is rapidly being logged away.


Snow leopards no longer ‘endangered,’ but still in decline and in need of urgent conservation measures [09/26/2017]
- The snow leopard, which has been listed on the IUCN Red List as Endangered since 1986, recently had its threat status downgraded to Vulnerable.
- “However, its population continues to decline and it still faces a high risk of extinction through habitat loss and degradation, declines in prey, competition with livestock, persecution, and poaching for illegal wildlife trade,” the IUCN reported.
- Many scientists and conservationists were quick to underscore the point made by the IUCN about the need for continued conservation efforts to reverse the snow leopards’ ongoing decline and ensure the survival of the species, regardless of its status on the Red List. Indeed, some experts argue that moving the species from Endangered to Vulnerable was not even justifiable based on the available evidence.


The plight of predators: Q&A with the director of ‘The Hunt: Living with Predators’ [09/25/2017]
- “The Hunt” is a BBC series that showcases the lives of predators around the world.
- Several episodes have been nominated for prizes at the 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival taking place this week in Jackson, Wyoming.
- Mongabay caught up with series director Rob Sullivan to discuss his work on “The Hunt” – in particular an episode that explores the relationship between predators and humans.


Colombian president honored in Washington, D.C. for efforts to protect biodiversity [09/25/2017]
- Colombian President Juan Santos was honored by the National Geographic Society last week for his prodigious efforts since taking office in 2010 to expand the protection of Colombia’s biodiversity on both land and sea.
- Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, praised Santos as “one of the foremost champions of the natural world” in an hour-long ceremony at the Society’s headquarters.
- Santos has more than doubled the number of hectares under national environmental protection — from 13 million hectares in 2010 to 28.4 million hectares today, including a doubling of Chiribiquete National Park in southern Colombia, one of the world’s most biodiverse places, from 1.29 million hectares to 2.78 million hectares.*


Trade in wild birds going ‘unchecked’ in Vietnam: new report [09/25/2017]
- The number of species and volume of birds being sold in Vietnam’s cities has increased since 2008, a new report by TRAFFIC has found.
- Nearly all the birds that the team recorded were native to Vietnam, and have no regulations governing their trade under Vietnamese legislation.
- This lack of protection is worrying, researchers say, because it could mean that large numbers of birds are being extracted from the wild with no knowledge about how severely it will impact wild populations.


The world’s 5 most Endangered wild cats [09/23/2017]
- 13 percent of wild cats are considered Endangered, but none Critically Endangered, though many populations are on the decline.
- 34 percent of wild cats are considered Vulnerable and their survival will heavily depend on human intervention to protect habitat, enforce existing protective legislation, and preserve species from extinction.
- Conservationists face a lack of information in some cases, since very little is known for about about 20 percent of Endangered wild cats species.


Liberian park protects Critically Endangered western chimpanzees [09/22/2017]
- The establishment of Grebo-Krahn National Park in southeastern Liberia was approved by the country’s legislature in August 2017.
- The 961-square-kilometer (371-square-mile) park is home to an estimated 300 western chimpanzees.
- There are about 35,000 Critically Endangered western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) left in the wild, and Liberia is home to 7,000 of them.


Documenting Africa’s poaching epidemic: Q&A with the director of ‘The Last Animals’ [09/22/2017]
- A deadly combination of consumer demand, transnational criminal syndicates and local poverty and conflict drives the illicit trade in ivory and rhino horn.
- War photographer turned filmmaker Kate Brooks traveled through four continents to document the wildlife trade for her film “The Last Animals.”
- The film is a finalist for the Special Jury award at the 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in Jackson, Wyoming.


Can the Javan rhino be saved before disaster strikes? [09/22/2017]
- The Javan rhinoceros has been reduced to a single population of around 60 individuals in an area prone to natural disasters.
- Although the entire species now lives in a single national park, Javan rhinos are difficult to study and researchers are still working to understand the behavior of both individual animals and the population as a whole
- Work to expand the existing habitat is underway, but experts agree establishing a second population is critical for the species’ survival.


Wild Kratts episode up for film festival award teaches about rare white bear [09/21/2017]
- The film “Wild Kratts: Spirit Bear” is a finalist for Best Engaging Youth Film at the Jackson Hole Film Festival. The festival is considered to be the “Oscars of nature filmmaking” and received over 1,000 entries for 25 awards.
- Wild Kratts is a mixed live and animation youth conservation education cartoon series.
- The “Wild Kratts: Spirit Bear” episode highlights a special subspecies of the North American black bear that has white fur.


Does forest certification really work? [09/21/2017]
- Based on a review of 40 studies of variable quality, we found that certified tropical forests can overall be better for the environment than forests managed conventionally.
- But there wasn’t enough evidence to say if certified tropical forests are better than, the same as, or worse than conventionally managed tropical forests when it comes to people.
- We also found that profits and other economic benefits can be hard to come by for certified logging companies working in tropical forests.
- This is part of a special Mongabay series on “Conservation Effectiveness”.


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


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


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.




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