Jaw-dropping footage: conservationists catch Javan rhino in mud wallow [11/19/2018]
- With just 68 individuals surviving in a single site, the Javan rhino is one of the world’s rarest and most endangered animals. - The species is so elusive that conservationists have studied it for years without meeting one in the flesh. Even images are rare. - Now, newly released video and photos from a recent expedition by Global Wildlife Conservation and WWF show a Javan rhino wallowing in a mud bath.
Deforested, degraded land restoration a top priority for African leaders [11/19/2018]
- African leaders met at a summit to discuss land restoration across the continent on Nov. 13, ahead of the U.N. Biodiversity Conference in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt. - Representatives from several African countries shared their countries’ pledges to restore hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of degraded and deforested land in the coming decades. - The summit’s leaders said they hoped the deliberations during the day-long summit would help African countries in both their contributions to international targets and to the improvement of their natural ecosystems for the benefit of their citizens.
Latam Eco Review: Rampant roadkill and shrinking seaweed stocks [11/16/2018]
The top stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay Latam, investigated Colombia’s roadkill rates; Chile’s marine forests; and Chinese energy projects in Ecuador. Mammals pay highest toll on Colombia’s highways Plans to double Colombia’s highway network by 2035 represent a major threat to wildlife conservation. A roadkill app and research have documented some 11,000 roadkill incidents, […]
Plan to ship gorillas from DRC to Zimbabwe raises alarm [11/16/2018]
- The head of Zimbabwe’s wildlife authority says the agency plans to receive a donation of gorillas and okapis from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), part of a wildlife exchange program that recently saw 10 white rhinos sent to the DRC from Zimbabwe. - The plan, officials say, is still being worked out. But the prospect has raised alarm over the welfare of the animals, the impact on the local ecosystem, and the possibility that animals from the DRC could be infected with Ebola. - Zimbabwe has previously sold wild animals for display in China, leading some activists to fear the gorillas and okapis could ultimately end up in that country — an allegation Zimbabwean authorities strongly deny.
‘Not all hope is lost’ as outlook for mountain gorillas brightens [11/14/2018]
- The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) changed the status of mountain gorillas from Critically Endangered to Endangered today. - The new assessment cites the subspecies’ growing numbers, now at around 1,000 individuals, and the conservation efforts on its behalf. - Scientists say that, while this is an important milestone, mountain gorillas’ survival depends on continued conservation.
Republic of Congo names new national park, home to gorillas, elephants [11/14/2018]
- The new Ogooué-Leketi National Park is the Republic of Congo’s fifth national park. - It borders Batéké Plateau National Park in neighboring Gabon, and together the two parks form a transboundary protected area covering more than 5,500 square kilometers (2,120 square miles). - The official designation of Ogooué-Leketi National Park comes after three logging concessions that overlapped with the proposed park area were finally closed down. - All of the rights-holding communities that live close to the Ogooué-Leketi National Park were involved in the process of creating the protected area, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Congo program.
‘No one is helping us’: Venezuelan conservation crippled by crisis [11/14/2018]
- Many conservationists have fled Venezuela since an economic crisis began in 2014. - Those who have chosen to remain behind complain of a lack of funding and resources, and say they feel abandoned by the international community. - Despite incredible difficulties, some conservationists are still able to take action, including rediscovering a long-lost bird.
Audio: A Half-Earth progress report from E.O. Wilson [11/13/2018]
- On this episode, a progress report on the Half-Earth Project direct from legendary conservation biologist E.O. Wilson. - When Mongabay contributor Jeremy Hance spoke with Dr. Wilson back in January of 2017, Wilson said he’d found the goal of Half-Earth was energizing for people — and he tells us on this episode of the podcast that this continues to be true, as the conservation community has responded eagerly to the Half-Earth goal. - Wilson also discusses why he sees Half-Earth as a “moonshot” and how close we currently are to protecting half of Earth’s lands and waters.
China restores ban on rhino and tiger parts, for now [11/13/2018]
- In an announcement on Oct. 29, the Chinese government said it would permit the controlled use of rhino horn and tiger bone, obtained from farmed rhinos and tigers, for medical purposes. - China has since walked back the decision, postponing the implementation of the new regulations temporarily. - Even with the ban restored for now, activists are concerned that the message about the acceptability of animal parts in traditional Chinese medicine lacks clarity, and say they hope the ban will be reinstated permanently.
Honduras aims to save vital wildlife corridor from deforestation [11/13/2018]
- Honduras has pledged to remove livestock from the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s home to jaguars, tapirs and macaws. - The reserve is found in the Moskitia region’s rainforests, around 30 percent of which have been cleared in the past 15 years, largely due to cattle and livestock ranching. - Conservation groups hailed the move as one that would benefit both Honduras and the world because of the region’s biodiversity and carbon stocks.
Haiti may lose all primary forest by 2035, mass extinction underway [11/09/2018]
- Analysis of satellite imagery and aerial photographs indicate that all of Haiti’s remaining primary forest will disappear in less than two decades if current deforestation rates continue. Results indicate primary forest cover in Haiti shrank from 4.4 percent in 1988 to just 0.32 percent in 2016, and that 42 of Haiti’s 50 largest mountains have lost all of their primary forest cover. - These forests are home to endangered animals found nowhere else in the world; researchers say the country is already experiencing a mass extinction event due to habitat loss. - Deforestation-intensified flooding has also been implicated in thousands of human deaths. - Researchers say Haiti’s forest loss is driven largely by charcoal production and agriculture.
End of funding dims hopes for a Sumatran forest targeted by palm oil growers [11/09/2018]
- The Harapan lowland rainforest in Sumatra, one of only 36 global biodiversity hotspots, could be lost to oil palm plantations within the next five years. - The Danish government, which since 2011 has funded efforts to restore the forest and keep out encroaching farmers, will cease its funding at the end of this year. No other sources of funding are in sight to fill the gap. - The Danish ambassador to Indonesia says local authorities need to take on more of the responsibility of protecting the forest. - He says relying on donor funding is unsustainable over the long term, and has called for greater emphasis on developing ecotourism and trade in non-timber forest products.
Latam Eco Review: Hungry manatees and grand theft tortoise [11/09/2018]
The recent top stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay Latam, concerned hungry manatees in Venezuelan zoos; giant tortoises stolen from the Galápagos Islands; and a ban on free, prior and informed consent in Colombian extractive projects. Venezuelan zoos struggle to feed their animals Venezuela’s ongoing economic crisis is affecting the ability of researchers and zoo […]
Four of six black rhinos translocated to Chad are now dead [11/08/2018]
- Four of the six black rhinos reintroduced to Chad’s Zakouma National Park from South Africa in May are now dead, authorities say. - Two of the rhinos were found dead recently, following from the deaths of two other rhinos in October. - Authorities say the rhinos were not poached, and suggest they may have been having trouble adapting to their new habitat. More tests will be needed to determine the cause of death. - The deaths in Zakouma come just months after 11 black rhinos died within days of being reintroduced into Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park in July.
Roads divide opinions along with forests, study finds [11/08/2018]
- A team of researchers found that support for new road construction was split among indigenous communities living in Malaysia. - In general, people living in communities near an existing highway were more likely to support roads than those living in villages farther away from the highway. - The authors write that the findings lend support to the need for comprehensive social impact assessments before and during the construction of new roads.
Troika of trouble for Bolivia’s Cordillera de Sama Reserve [11/08/2018]
- Overgrazing and the construction of a highway, in addition to more severe and extreme droughts and cold spells, have significantly impacted the delicate ecosystem of Bolivia’s Cordillera de Sama Biological Reserve. - Water is the most affected resource, even though the reserve is protected and an internationally important wetland. - Concerns remain that the changes could irreversibly alter the ecosystem.
For Javan rhinos, the last holdout may also be a deadly disease hotspot [11/08/2018]
- The Critically Endangered Javan rhino survives in just a single population in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park. - In addition to environmental threats such as volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, the rhino is threatened by diseases that could be transmitted from both domestic livestock and native wild cattle living in and near the park. - Zoonotic diseases that pose a potential threat include trypanosomiasis and hemorrhagic septicemia.
Researchers say orangutans are declining, despite Indonesian government’s claims [11/07/2018]
- Researchers say a recent Indonesian government report inaccurately claims that the orangutan population in the country is increasing, which could have significant implications for future conservation plans. - The report, issued by Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, states that the populations of 19 priority species, including orangutans, “increased by more than 10 percent” between 2015 and 2017. - But, in a letter published in the journal Current Biology on Monday, researchers say that that assertion “is in strong contrast” to many recently published and peer-reviewed scientific studies on the status of the three orangutan species.
Protection flip-flop leaves rare Indonesian shrikethrush in harm’s way [11/07/2018]
- The Sangihe shrikethrush is an elusive songbird found only on a single remote island in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province. - The species, which numbers less than 300 in the wild, was one of hundreds granted protected status by the Indonesian government earlier this year. - But the government inexplicably struck it from the list soon after, leaving wildlife activists concerned that the lack of protection will harm efforts to conserve the species. - Activists say one workaround would be to push for protective measures by local authorities.
Parrotfish, critical to reef health, now protected under Mexican law [11/07/2018]
- The government of Mexico added 10 species of parrotfish to its national registry of protected species in October. - In a letter to the government, the environmental NGO AIDA argued that parrotfish and other herbivorous fish, whose numbers have been declining due to fishing, are necessary to maintain the health of coral reefs. - AIDA has embarked on a three-year project to work with policymakers to protect herbivorous fish in Mexico and five other Latin American countries.
Research finds humans across the globe have microplastics in their stool [11/06/2018]
- Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna and the Environment Agency Austria monitored eight people in eight different countries and found that every single stool sample collected tested positive for the presence of microplastics. - Food processing and plastic food packaging are major sources of microplastics in human diets. Microplastics can also enter the human food chain via marine animals that people consume — significant amounts of microplastics have been found in lobster, shrimp, and tuna, for instance. - The researchers found 9 different types of plastic in the human stools they tested — shipped to Vienna in plastic-free containers to be screened at the Environment Agency Austria — with an average of 20 microplastic particles ranging in size from 50 to 500 micrometres found in every 10 grams of stool.
Savanna fires, a boon to grazers, cast rhinos into a ‘food desert’ [11/06/2018]
- Fire is a common tool used in conservation areas across Africa to help regenerate grass for grazers, reduce encroachment of bushes, and control ticks and diseases. But how fire affects rhinos and their food has remained unclear. - Researchers have found that black rhinos in Serengeti National Park prefer to graze in spots that burn just once in 10 years, and actively avoid areas that are burned frequently. The park’s managers carry out controlled burns at least once a year. - The study found that fires reduce the availability of the plants that the black rhinos prefer to eat. - The researchers have called for an adaptable fire strategy that allows burning in some areas to benefit grazers such as wildebeest and zebra, and avoids fires in rhinos’ preferred habitats.
Bear-human conflict risks pinpointed amid resurgent bear population [11/05/2018]
- New research maps out the potential risk “hotspots” for black bear-human conflict based on an analysis of conditions that led to nearly 400 bear deaths between 1997 and 2013. - The study area covered the Lake Tahoe Basin and the Great Basin Desert in western Nevada. - The methods used to predict risks based on environmental variables could help wildlife managers identify and mitigate human-carnivore conflict in other parts of the world, the authors write.
Why top predators matter (insider) [11/03/2018]
- Few species have faced such vitriolic hatred from humans as the world’s top predators. - Even where large areas of habitat are protected, the one thing that is often missing is top predators. - Jeremy Hance writes about three studies that reveal just how important top predators are to their ecosystems. - This is an insider story. To read, please become a member.
Latam Eco Review: Killing jaguars for arthritis creams and wine [11/02/2018]
The top stories last week from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay Latam, followed the fate of Suriname’s hunted jaguars, Bogota’s urban forest preserve, and Chile’s Humboldt Archipelago. Suriname’s jaguars killed for arthritis creams and wine Suriname’s jaguar population is being decimated for the Asian market in arthritis cream, soap, aphrodisiacs and even wine, according to an […]
Call to protect dwindling wilderness ‘before it disappears forever’ [11/01/2018]
- Just 23 percent of wilderness on land and 13 percent of wilderness at sea remains, according to new maps of global human impacts. - Five countries — Russia, Canada, Australia, the United States and Brazil — contain 70 percent of the remaining wilderness. - The authors of the suite of studies argue that wilderness protection should move to the forefront of the conservation agenda.
‘At capacity’? A Nepali park reckons with its rhinos [11/01/2018]
- An investigation into a recent increase in natural deaths among the 600 greater one-horned rhinos in Chitwan National Park suggested the park may have reached its carrying capacity for the species. - The park and its resources are facing pressure both from a growing population of rhinos within the park and from increasing human settlement on its periphery. - Assessments of the park’s carrying capacity for rhinos vary wildly, ranging from 500 to more than 2,000, leading to differences of opinion about the role overcrowding could play in rhino deaths.
17 new brilliantly colored species of sea slugs described [11/01/2018]
- Researchers have just described 17 stunning new species of sea slugs that live among coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region. - All the species belong to the genus Hypselodoris, and come in a wide variety of colors. - Researchers reorganized the genus Hypselodoris, adding new-to-science species to the group, and revealing secrets of the evolution of their brilliant color patterns.
Zoos: Why a revolution is necessary to justify them (insider) [11/01/2018]
- Jeremy Hance writes about zoos. - You and I and all of us are the reason these animals sit behind glass or bars; we are the reason only a fraction of their habitat remains; we are the reason they have been driven to almost nothing and may very well, sooner than we can imagine, be extinct and gone, forever cast from existence. - What right do we have to this authority? And what right do zoos have to exist, if not to show us our illusion of mastery, our waste of creation, and our responsibility to make it right — as right as it can be? - This is an insider story. To read, please become a member.
Language and conservation (insider) [11/01/2018]
- Using an example from a trip to Zimbabwe and Botswana, Jeremy Hance writes about the words we choose matter when it comes to conservation. - A trip to Africa to see its wildlife should be an experience that goes well beyond entertainment: it should be educational, enlightening, moving, spiritual and, ultimately, transformative. - When a guide refers to species by silly nicknames, one can’t help but feel that the guide places little value on their own wildlife. - This is an insider story. To read, please become a member.
Thousands of radiated tortoises seized from traffickers in Madagascar [10/31/2018]
- More than 7,000 critically endangered radiated tortoises were confiscated by authorities from suspected wildlife traffickers in Madagascar on Oct. 24. - The seizure happened in the same area where a similar bust, involving nearly 10,000 tortoises of the same species, took place in April. - The NGO Turtle Survival Alliance is working with the Madagascar environment ministry to care for the surviving tortoises.
Will trade bans stop a deadly salamander plague from invading the US? [10/30/2018]
- In 2008, scientists started noticing that populations of fire salamanders were disappearing in Western Europe. A few years later, nearly all had vanished from large portions of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The culprit turned out to be a fungus called Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bsal, which infects the skin of salamanders and often kills them. Research indicates Bsal came from Asia and was spread to Europe via the importation of Asian salamanders. - The U.S. is home to the world’s highest diversity of salamander species, many of which are thought to be susceptible to Bsal infection. So far, scientists haven’t detected the pathogen in North America, but many believe it’s just a matter of time until it gets here unless drastic action is taken. - In response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service imposed a ban on the trade of 201 salamander species in 2016. However, the recent discovery that frogs can also carry Bsal has led to an outcry from scientists urging the government to ban the import of all salamander and frog species. - However, many hobbyists think a total ban is overkill. They instead favor a “clean trade” in which some imported animals would tested for Bsal.
What’s killing Nepal’s rhinos? [10/30/2018]
- Nepal has had remarkable success at tackling the poaching of its greater one-horned rhinos. But since 2015, it has witnessed a sharp increase in deaths from unknown or natural causes. - A number of theories have been advanced to explain the deaths: habitat degradation in Chitwan National Park and its surroundings leading to increased conflict over resources; the area reaching its natural carrying capacity for rhinos; a “baby boomer” die-off; or a simple shift in cause of death from death by poaching to death by natural causes. - The government commissioned a study into the problem, but the report has not been published
Audio: Documenting emperor penguin populations, a dispatch from Antarctica [10/30/2018]
- On this episode we get an update direct from Antarctica’s McMurdo Station about ongoing work to document Emperor penguin populations, an important indicator species of the Southern Ocean’s health. - Our guest is Michelle Larue, a research ecologist at the University of Minnesota who is helping lead a project that’s using satellite imagery together with ground and flight surveys to compile population estimates for each of the 54 known Emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica. The project’s goal is to compile population estimates every year for an entire decade. - LaRue, who has been to Antarctica multiple times to help assemble a decadal-scale dataset on Emperor penguin colonies, tells us what it’s like to work out of McMurdo Station, how she’s going about studying Emperor penguin population trends, and why the study of these flightless aquatic birds can help us keep tabs on the health of the Southern Ocean.
China legalizes use of tiger bone and rhino horn for traditional medicine [10/30/2018]
- China has legalized the “controlled” use of rhino horn and tiger bone for medical use and cultural purposes, the government said in an announcement. - China banned the trade in tiger bone and rhino horn in 1993, and removed both products from the list of medical ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine’s pharmacopoeia and curriculum. The latest decision reverses that 25-year ban. - Conservationists worry that legalization of the trade could provide cover for illegal activities, threatening the already imperiled global populations of the endangered animals.
Tsetse fly numbers dwindle in the warming Zambezi Valley [10/29/2018]
- Tsetse flies carry the microorganism that causes sleeping sickness in humans and livestock, but a recent study reveals that their numbers have dropped at a site in the Zambezi Valley as temperatures have climbed. - Sleeping sickness, known also as trypanosomiasis, is a debilitating and potentially deadly disease to humans that also kills perhaps 1 million cattle each year. - The study’s authors say that the decline of the tsetse in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley might be accompanied by a rise in their numbers in cooler locales where they once weren’t as prevalent.
Latam Eco Review: Wandering hippos, condor central, and the macaw trade [10/26/2018]
Top stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay Latam, last week followed high-flying condors to their lowland home; hippos wandering through Colombia’s jungles; and scarlet macaws in their last holdout in Central America. Ecuador’s León River is ‘condor central’ No matter how high or how far Ecuador’s condors soar, they always return home to a semi-desert, […]
Africa’s slender-snouted crocodile is not one but two species [10/26/2018]
- The critically endangered slender-snouted crocodile is not one but two species, a new study has found. - While the West African crocodile continues to retain its original name Mecistops cataphractus, the Central African species has been named Mecistops leptorhynchus. - The description of M. leptorhynchus makes it the first new living crocodile species to be named and detailed in more than 80 years. - As two species, the slender-snouted crocodiles are smaller in numbers and are at greater risk of extinction.
Whales and dolphins change the way they communicate in a noisy ocean [10/26/2018]
- Two independent teams of biologists looked at the impact of ambient sound from ships on whales and dolphins. - The research on whales revealed that noise from a passing ship led humpbacks in the vicinity to stop singing, sometimes for 30 minutes after the ship had passed. - In the study on dolphins, the scientists showed that dolphins abbreviated their whistles in response to the sound. - Both teams raised concerns about whether sound in the ocean increases the stress on marine mammals and how it might affect their ability to communicate with fellow members of the same species.
Bird-rich Indonesian island yields up new songbird species [10/26/2018]
- Researchers have described a new species of songbird found only on the Indonesian island of Rote — the second new avian discovery there in less than a year. - The Rote leaf-warbler (Phylloscopus rotiensis) was initially assumed to be the same species as the Timor leaf-warbler from a neighboring island, but closer studies of its physical characteristics and genetic analyses have distinguished it as its own species. - Rote is home to a large number of species found only there or on neighboring islands, but lacks any major terrestrial protected area.
Genome-wide study confirms there are six tiger subspecies [10/25/2018]
- According to a study published in the journal Current Biology today, uncertainty about how many tiger subspecies there are in the world has frustrated efforts at conserving what’s left of the global tiger population. - A research team led by Yue-Chen Liu of China’s Peking University analyzed the complete genomes of 32 tiger specimens, selected to be representative of all six potential subspecies, to confirm that tigers do indeed fall into six genetically distinct groups. - The researchers also used their genome-wide survey to look for evidence that different groups of tigers have adapted to the distinct environments in their geographic regions through the process of natural selection. They say that their genomic research shows very little gene flow has occurred between tiger populations, but also that, despite the big cat’s low genetic diversity, each subspecies has a unique evolutionary history.
Citizen Ape: The fight for personhood for humans’ closest relatives [10/24/2018]
- The great ape personhood movement aims to extend legal personhood to apes, a distinction that recognizes these non-human animals as beings with the capacity to hold both rights and duties - The movement has had several notable successes in advocating for changes to laws, and in individual court verdicts freeing apes from captivity in harsh conditions. - Proponents hope that granting apes legal rights will also help bridge the gap between humans and non-human animals, along with the greater natural world. - The great ape personhood movement draws on both modern philosophy and on indigenous traditions that recognize apes as creatures with complex societies and rich emotional lives.
Camera trap photos confirm discovery of lowland bongo in Uganda for first time [10/24/2018]
- Endemic to the tropical forests of Central and West Africa, the lowland bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus eurycerus) is known for its red-brown coat with white-yellow stripes and long, lightly spiraled horns. Adult male bongos can stand as tall as 1.3 meters (or over 4 feet) at the shoulders and weigh as much as 800 pounds. - Scientists with the UK-based Chester Zoo say that the mostly nocturnal ungulate was captured by motion-sensor camera traps in the lowland rainforests of Semuliki National Park in southwest Uganda, where the East African country borders the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). - The western or lowland bongo, one of two recognized subspecies of bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus), is listed as Near-Threatened on the IUCN Red List. The subspecies faces ongoing population declines due to habitat loss, hunting for meat, and trophy hunting, threats that continue to increase as human settlements and commercial forestry expand ever-farther into their range.
Stay or go? Understanding a partial seasonal elephant migration [10/24/2018]
- Elephants in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park wearing GPS tracking tags shared a general dry-season home range but followed three different wet-season migration strategies: residency, short-distance migration, and long-distance migration. - Despite similar dry-season conditions that kept all the tagged elephants near provisioned waterholes, the migrating elephants began their seasonal movements at the onset of the first rains. - Scientists urge collaboration among stakeholders and countries to maintain the long-distance, cross-border migrations some animals need to survive.
Bat Week: the super powers of bats (photos) [10/24/2018]
- This photo post comes via Mongabay’s partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Wild View blog. - Under this partnership, we publish occasional original contributions from Wild View that highlights an animal species or group. - In this post, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Sarah H. Olson and Julie Larsen Maher write about bats on the occasion of Bat Week, which runs from October 24-31.
CITES rejects another Madagascar plan to sell illegal rosewood stockpiles [10/24/2018]
- At a meeting in Sochi, Russia, earlier this month, CITES’s standing committee rejected Madagascar’s latest plan to sell off its stockpiles of illegally harvested rosewood, largely because the plan called for local timber barons to be paid for their troves of wood. - Environmental groups argued that operators who logged illegally should not be rewarded for it, and delegations from several African countries reportedly opposed the plan because they feared their own timber barons would learn the wrong lesson from the deal. - Madagascar’s environment ministry released a statement after the meeting indicating that it would take the recommendations made by the CITES committee into account in revising the plan for submission again in 2019.
Absent for decades, zebras reintroduced to park in southern Tanzania [10/24/2018]
- Staff from the Wildlife Conservation Society and its partners in Tanzania released 24 zebras into Kitulo National Park on Oct. 12 and 13. - The Kitulo Plateau in Tanzania’s southern highlands includes high-elevation grasslands, a unique habitat that requires fire and grazing animals to maintain its plant diversity. - The reintroduction, with plains zebras from Mikumi National Park, is part of a broader effort to “rewild” the southern highlands after decades of wildlife hunting and livestock grazing.
Two black rhinos found dead in Chad after move from South Africa [10/24/2018]
- Two of the six black rhinos that were flown from South Africa to Zakouma National Park in Chad in May this year have died. - The two rhinos, a male and a female, were not poached, African Parks said, but the exact cause of death is not yet known. - The translocation of the six rhinos marked the return of critically endangered black rhinos to Chad after nearly 50 years of the species’ absence. - The four surviving rhinos are still alive and are being closely monitored, African Parks said.
New research measures impacts of China’s elephant ivory trade ban [10/23/2018]
- Research released last month by WWF and TRAFFIC, the wildlife monitoring network, found that there has been a substantial decline in the number of Chinese consumers buying ivory since the ivory trade ban went into effect on December 31, 2017. But there is still work to be done to diminish both the supply and demand for elephant ivory in China. - Of 2,000 Chinese consumers surveyed, 14 percent claimed to have bought ivory in the past year — significantly fewer than the 31 percent of respondents who said they’d recently purchased ivory during a pre-ban survey conducted in 2017. Some ivory sales have simply gone international, however: 18 percent of regular travelers reported buying ivory products while abroad, particularly in Thailand and Hong Kong. - TRAFFIC reports that all of the formerly accredited (i.e. legal) ivory shops the group’s investigators visited in 2018 have stopped selling ivory. But the illegal ivory trade has not been so thoroughly shut down. TRAFFIC investigators also visited 157 markets in 23 cities and found 2,812 ivory products on offer in 345 separate stores.
Study warns of dire ecological, social fallout from Sumatran dam [10/23/2018]
- A new study warns that the environmental impact of a planned hydroelectric plant in Sumatra’s unique Leuser Ecosystem will be much greater than initially thought. - The area is the last place on Earth that’s home to wild tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants — all critically endangered species whose habitat would be flooded and fragmented by the dam and its roads and power lines, activists say. - They also warn of the dam exacerbating disaster risks to local communities, in a region already prone to flooding, landslides and earthquakes. - Activists are mulling a lawsuit to void the project permit, but the developer says it has done everything by the book and that the new study is based on an outdated environmental impact analysis.
Indonesia’s Aceh sees harshest penalty yet for a wildlife crime [10/22/2018]
- Two men who tried to sell a tiger pelt received four-year sentences in Indonesia’s Aceh province earlier this month. - Sentences for wildlife traffickers have typically been low. Activists are pushing to revise the law to increase the maximum five-year penalty for wildlife crimes, but courts have tended to impose even lower sentences. - Just a few hundred Sumatran tigers remain in the wild. The big cat is one of a number of rare species sought after by poachers in Indonesia.
Illegal cheetah trade continues through Instagram, 4sale, YouTube [10/22/2018]
- Between February 2012 and July 2018, a total of 1,367 cheetahs were offered on sale through 906 posts on social media, a new analysis by the Cheetah Conservation Fund has found. Almost all of the investigated cheetah sale offers appear to be illegal. - Instagram alone accounted for some 77 percent of the posts, followed by 4sale, a Kuwait-based mobile app, and YouTube. - Nearly all of the posts had some link to the Gulf states, with more than 62 percent linked to users in Saudi Arabia, the analysis found.
Audio: Racing to save the world’s amazing frogs with Jonathan Kolby [10/18/2018]
- On this episode, we discuss the global outbreak of the chytrid fungus, which might have already driven as many as 200 species of frogs to extinction. - Our guest is biologist and National Geographic explorer Jonathan Kolby, who founded the Honduras Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Center, or HARCC for short, to study and rescue frogs affected by the chytrid fungus. Tree frogs in Cusuco National Park in Honduras, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth, are being decimated by the aquatic fungal pathogen. - In this Field Notes segment, Kolby plays for us some recordings of the frog species he’s working to save from the deadly fungal infection in Honduras and says that there might be hope that frogs and other amphibians affected by chytrid can successfully cope with the disease.
Myanmar expands protected area for rare Irrawaddy dolphin [10/17/2018]
- The Myanmar government has expanded the Irrawaddy Dolphin Protected Area, initially spanning 74 kilometers (46 miles) of the Irrawaddy River, to include a 100-kilometer (62-mile) stretch of the river. - Use of gillnets is restricted within the new protected area, and damaging activities such as electric or dynamite fishing and gold mining are strictly prohibited. - An additional 100-kilometer stretch has been designated as a buffer zone, with milder restrictions. - A survey this year put the number of critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins in the Irrawaddy River at 78.
5 bird species lose protections, more at risk in new Indonesia decree [10/17/2018]
- Five bird species in Indonesia have lost their protected status under a new ministerial decree, issued last month in response to complaints from songbird collectors. - The decree also establishes additional guidelines for birds to be granted protected status, which effectively sets the stage for any species to be dropped from the list if it is deemed of high economic value to the songbird fan community. - Scientists and wildlife experts have criticized the removal of the five species from the protected list, and the new criteria for granting protected status. - Indonesia is home to the largest number of threatened bird species in Asia, but their populations in the wild are severely threatened by overexploitation.
One-two punch of habitat loss, capture hammers Southeast Asian birds [10/16/2018]
- The combined impact of habitat loss and exploitation has been underestimated in the assessment of dangers to bird populations in Southeast Asia, a new report says. - Of the 308 species studied by researchers, up to 90 could go extinct by the end of this century. - The researchers have called for urgent policy intervention to curb deforestation and throttle the caged-bird trade, warning that dozens of species could otherwise be lost.
$25m in funding to help African gov’ts prosecute poachers, traffickers [10/15/2018]
- The African Wildlife Foundation has pledged $25 million to projects aimed at combating the illegal wildlife trade across the continent over the next four years. - The Nairobi-based NGO invests in outfitting wildlife rangers, training sniffer dogs to detect illicit shipments, and community-based development. - AWF president Kaddu Sebunya emphasized the need to invest in homegrown solutions to the crisis when he announced the funding at the Illegal Wildlife Trade conference, held Oct. 11-12 in London.
Can we buy our way out of the sixth extinction? [10/15/2018]
- A new study finds that conservation spending has lessened the environmental impacts of ongoing development around the world. - The researchers developed a model that any policymaker can use to see how much money is required to offset the environmental damage done by development, population growth and economic growth. - However, some researchers believe the relentless focus on economic expansion could hurt our efforts to achieve sustainability in the long term.
Scientists, conservationists: Give Nobel Peace Prize to Jane Goodall [10/11/2018]
- Scientists and conservationists argue that primatologist Jane Goodall should receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. - Goodall’s groundbreaking research uncovered startling revelations, including tool use by chimpanzees, that blurred the lines between humans and animals. - Goodall, a U.N. Messenger of Peace, now travels around the world to encourage living in harmony with the natural world.
It’s déjà vu for orangutans, devastated by climate change and hunting once before [10/11/2018]
- The fossil record shows that orangutan numbers and range declined rapidly in the late Pleistocene area; by 12,000 years ago they remained in only around 20 percent of their original range. - A recent study concludes that the twin pressures of climate change and human hunting were responsible for this rapid decline. - The study’s authors say their research indicates that humans and orangutans have co-existed for millennia, and can continue to do so if proper conservation measures are taken. - Their research suggests that far more attention needs to be paid to the impact human hunting has on modern orangutan populations.
In a Colombian sanctuary, once-trafficked birds fly again [10/11/2018]
- Colombia is home to the most important aviary in South America, a sanctuary containing almost 2,000 birds. - The privately run National Aviary of Colombia serves as a refuge in which birds representing 165 different species have a second chance at life after escaping the hands of illegal wildlife traffickers. - So far in 2018, Colombian authorities have rescued nearly 4,000 birds — victims of a trafficking industry that has become the third-largest illicit economy in the country.
In a rhino stronghold, indigenous wood-carvers cut through stereotypes [10/10/2018]
- Local artisans near northeast India’s Kaziranga National Park say their wildlife-inspired woodcraft is an expression of nature-friendly values, and counters stereotypes of tribal people as antagonistic to conservation. - Small, locally owned workshops face competition from big-city businesses who control prime retail locations and can undercut their prices. - Carving a fast-growing local wood by hand, sculptors say theirs is a green craft, and should be promoted and supported by the government.
Whales not enough sustenance for polar bears in fast-changing climate [10/10/2018]
- Scientists believe that whale carcasses may have helped polar bears survive past upswings in temperatures that melted the sea ice from which they usually hunt seals. - As the current changing climate threatens to make the Arctic ice-free during the summer, this strategy may help some populations of polar bears to survive. - But according to new study, whale carcasses won’t provide enough food for most bear populations because there are fewer whales than there once were, and human settlements, industry and shipping could affect the bears’ access to any carcasses that do wash ashore.
Indonesian government puts off Sumatran rhino IVF program [10/10/2018]
- Indonesia says a long-awaited program to breed Sumatran rhinos through IVF has been postponed, citing the lack of viable eggs from a female rhino in Malaysia. - The news becomes the latest setback in the years-long saga between the two countries, with some conservationists in Malaysia blaming the Indonesian government inaction for the dwindling odds of a successful artificial insemination attempt. - There are only an estimated 40 to 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the world, scattered on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
Hot pink swamp eel discovered in Indian rainforest [10/09/2018]
- Scientists from London’s Natural History Museum discovered a previously unknown species of swamp eel in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, India. - The biologists found only a single specimen living in mud near a rainforest stream. - Like other swamp eels, Monopterus rongsaw lives terrestrially, is blind, and has sharp teeth. - There are some 25 species are known to science worldwide.
The bioethics of wildlife intervention (commentary) [10/08/2018]
- As health care professionals, veterinarians are uniquely positioned to address complex ethical issues involving human, animal, and ecosystem health — a concept aptly known as “One Health.” This initiative governs the core of conservation medicine and reflects the interrelationship and transdisciplinary approach needed to ultimately ensure the wellbeing of all. - Veterinarians regularly wrestle with whether their actions are restorative or destructive, and reflect on a track record of gratifying wins and unsavory losses to learn from. - Given our substantial roles in the fate of conservation, it is imperative to debate the significance of interventional efforts and whether they can be rationalized. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Int’l protections not stopping pangolin overexploitation in Cameroon [10/08/2018]
- A recent report indicates that the 2016 listing of pangolins under CITES Appendix I, outlawing their international trade, is not translating into protections for the anteater-like animal at the local level in Central Africa. - The study used data gathered from an investigation in Cameroon. - Pangolins are considered the world’s “most illegally traded wild mammal” by the IUCN, and scientific research in 2017 found that between 420,000 and 2.71 million pangolins are hunted from Central African forests each year.
Loss of forest elephant may make Earth ‘less inhabitable for humans’ [10/08/2018]
- A new review paper finds that the loss of Africa’s forest elephants has broad impacts on their ecosystems, including hitting several tall tree species, which play a key role in sequestering carbon dioxide. - Forest elephants disperse large seeds, keep the forest canopy open, and spread rare nutrients across the forest, benefiting numerous species across the African tropics. - While the IUCN currently defines African elephants as a single species, scientists believe it long past time to split them into two distinct species, savanna and forest, to bolster protection for both from the ivory trade.
Hunting, agriculture driving rapid decline of jaguars in South America’s Gran Chaco [10/05/2018]
- New research finds that one-third of critical jaguar habitat in the Gran Chaco, South America’s largest tropical dry forest, has been lost since the mid-1980s. - According to the study, led by researchers at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin) and published in the journal Diversity and Distributions this week, deforestation driven by agricultural expansion — mainly for soy and cattle production — has caused the steep decline of jaguar habitat in the region. - Meanwhile, the conversion of jaguar habitat into cropland and pastureland gives hunters easier access to the forest. Thus overhunting and persecution by cattle ranchers has also become one of the chief causes of the big cat’s shrinking numbers, the study found.
Deforestation surges in Virunga National Park in the wake of violence [10/05/2018]
- In the DRC’s Virunga National Park, rangers and wildlife are caught in the crosshairs of a brutal civil conflict. - Forest monitoring platform Global Forest Watch detected more than 1,100 hectares (2,718 acres) of tree cover loss from May to September. - The recent uptick coincides with the temporary closure of the Virunga after rebel forces killed a park ranger and kidnapped two British tourists. - The primary driver deforestation is likely charcoal production. Illegal logging and land clearing for agriculture are also presumed to play a role.
Latam Eco Review: Kissable sharks and spectacled bears [10/05/2018]
The most popular stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay Latam, followed a new green-eyed shark species in Belize, salmon farms in Patagonia, blast fishing in Peru, a cocaine-laden plane in a Peruvian park, and an Andean bear mystery, also in Peru. Belize’s tiny sixgill shark species at risk “A little shark so adorable, you want […]
Dam project pushes threatened orangutans from forest to farms [10/05/2018]
- Critically endangered Tapanuli orangutans are starting to flee from their only known habitat in Sumatra and encroaching on plantations, as the development of a controversial hydropower project in the Batang Toru forest gets underway. - The finding comes just days after the project developer joined forces with the local government and a prominent university to speed up the pace of development ahead of the 2022 deadline. - Indonesia’s environment ministry has ordered the developer to revise its environmental impact assessment, but conservationists say there are far too many problems with the project for it to continue. - A key risk that remains unaddressed is the proposed dam’s location along a known fault line, which critics of the project say could have disastrous consequences in a region known for its high level of seismic activity.
Frogs coping with fatal fungus in Panamanian forest, study finds [10/05/2018]
- Scientists discovered that frogs in the El Copé forest appear to have found a way to live with chytrid (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), a fungus that is still devastating amphibian populations in other parts of the world. - The team found that surviving frog species had similar survival rates whether they were infected with chytrid or not. - The results offer the possibility that frog communities, though altered, can stabilize after these catastrophic events.
Young right whale dies, likely from entanglement in fishing gear [10/03/2018]
- A young North Atlantic right whale died off the coast of Massachusetts in August, probably as the result of entanglement in fishing gear. - After centuries of hunting, the right whale population in the North Atlantic has failed to recover, in large part because they’re prone to getting entangled in fishing gear. - Only about 450 of the animals remain, after 17 died between late 2016 and 2017, and no new calves were observed last winter.
New tree species from Cameroon is possibly already extinct [10/03/2018]
- Nearly 70 years ago, Edwin Ujor of the Nigerian Forestry Service collected a specimen of a tree from a forest high up in the Bamenda highlands in Cameroon. - Now, in a new study, researchers have formally described the Ujor specimen as a new species named Vepris bali. - The researchers believe the species is either critically endangered or already possibly extinct, mainly because it has been found in only one location, and because the higher-altitude regions from which the Ujor specimen was collected have mostly been cleared for agriculture.
Audio: How an African bat might help us prevent future Ebola outbreaks [10/02/2018]
- On this episode, we look at research into an African bat that might be the key to controlling future Ebola outbreaks. - Our guest is Sarah Olson, an Associate Director of Wildlife Health for the Wildlife Conservation Society. With Ebola very much in the news lately due to a recent outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Olson is here to tell us how research into hammer-headed fruit bats might help us figure out how Ebola is transmitted from animals to humans — and potentially control or prevent future outbreaks of the viral disease. - The bats don’t contract the disease, but there is evidence that they carry the virus. Olson is part of a study in the Republic of the Congo that seeks to understand how the Ebola virus is transmitted from carriers like hammer-headed fruit bats to other wildlife and humans.
The rhino reckoning [10/02/2018]
- The Sumatran rhino captive-breeding program caught 40 rhinos from 1984 to 1995. To date, the program has produced five calves. - Some view these figures as evidence of a colossal failure. Others point to the births achieved as proof of the program’s eventual success. - Momentum has been growing to relaunch efforts to capture wild rhinos. The most significant step yet was the September announcement of a new initiative dubbed the Sumatran Rhino Rescue.
Ape sanctuaries in the DRC brace themselves as Ebola hits the country [10/02/2018]
- The Democratic Republic of Congo’s most recent Ebola outbreak, which has already claimed 105 human lives, is making great-ape conservation more challenging in an already volatile region. - The disease can be transmitted between humans and apes, so conservation groups in the country need to take extra precautions to keep the animals in their sanctuaries safe. - Most at risk is the GRACE gorilla sanctuary, situated four and a half hours from a city where Ebola has been confirmed. - Researchers say the outbreak is not currently a significant threat to wild ape populations.
Managing the data deluge: Twitter as a tool for ecological research [10/01/2018]
- Access to constant streams of observational data from 60 or 70 million Twitter users is a potential trove for scientists, but extracting the target data is a challenge. - A big advantage of social media data mining is the ability to turn data into usable information on a short timetable. The question is, how does quick, retrospective data compare to data from painstakingly prepared collection processes? - A recent study compared the results from three published citizen science studies to data sets mined retrospectively from Twitter for the same time periods. It confirmed that mining Twitter could yield reliable baseline data (when, where). As for testing causal relationships or hypotheses involving dependent variables, the jury is still out. - Twitter shows promise for ecological study, particularly studies around seasonal phenomena such as the annual emergence of flying ants. But filtering out the noise of random human observation is a still-evolving science.
A ‘monoculture of jellyfish’ threatens the oceans as we know them (insider) [10/01/2018]
- Jeremy Hance writes about how jellyfish could come to dominate the world’s oceans - Overfishing has removed fish from marine ecosystems at astounding rates, which has opened the door for jellyfish to take their place. - Eutrophication is another human-caused change in the ocean that has likely contributed to jellyfish explosions. - This is an insider story. To read, please become a member.
Largely banned industrial chemicals could wipe out killer whales, study warns [10/01/2018]
- New research shows that despite countries phasing out polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) more than 40 years ago, the chemicals remain a major threat to killer whales around the world, and could wipe out most populations in just 30 to 50 years. - Killer whale populations that occur in least PCB-polluted parts of the ocean, such as those around the poles, Norway and Iceland, still have a large number of individuals and are at low risk. - However, populations occurring in waters that have had historically high concentrations of PCBs, such as those around Japan, Brazil, the northeast Pacific, the Strait of Gibraltar, and the U.K., are all tending toward complete collapse in the next few decades, according to the study’s modeled scenarios.
Massive loss of mammal species in Atlantic Forest since the 1500s [09/28/2018]
- A new study examined the loss of mammal species in the Atlantic Forest, which is currently only about 13 percent of its historical size. - Forest clearing for agriculture, along with hunting, has cut the number of species living at specific sites throughout the forest by an average of more than 70 percent. - The researchers call for increased restoration efforts in the Atlantic Forest to provide habitat and allow the recovery of these species.
The great rhino U-turn [09/28/2018]
- As the 20th century drew to a close the Sumatran rhino captive breeding program, launched in 1984, had yet to produce a single calf. - Home to the last two Sumatran rhinos in the United States, the Cincinnati Zoo made several key discoveries about the species’ reproductive behavior, including the fact that females only ovulate when they have contact with males. - Andalas, the first Sumatran rhino bred in captivity in more than a century, was born in Cincinnati in 2001. This success, and the subsequent birth of four other calves, has led to a re-evaluation of the program as a whole. - Now, attention is turned to breeding centers in the rhinos’ original habitat as the future of captive breeding efforts.
Latam Eco Review: Shark ceviche, bat-friendly tequila, and protein-rich worms [09/27/2018]
Recent top stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay-Latam, revealed Peruvians’ hidden shark diet, new species in Colombia’s Chiribiquete National Park, dire predictions from Mexico’s “Batman,” and more. Peruvians are eating shark and don’t know it Three out of four Peruvians recently surveyed were found to have eaten shark meat without knowing it. The problem stems […]
New survey results show Nepal is on track to double its tiger population by 2022 [09/26/2018]
- Data gathered from camera trap surveys conducted across most of Nepal’s tiger habitats between 2017 and 2018 show that there are now 235 of the big cats who call the South Asian country home. - That represents a 19 percent increase over the 198 tigers found during a nationwide study completed in 2014. Nepal’s first census, in 2009, found 121 tigers. - These numbers put Nepal firmly on the path to becoming the first nation to double its tiger population since the Tx2 goal — which seeks a doubling of the global tiger population by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger on the Asian lunar calendar — was adopted by the world’s 13 tiger range countries at the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010.
New species of neon-colored fish discovered off Brazil [09/26/2018]
- While diving in the waters surrounding Saint Paul’s Rocks, an archipelago off Brazil, in June last year, researchers discovered a stunning pink-and-white neon-colored fish that’s new to science. - The researchers were so taken by the colorful fish that they did not notice a large six-gill shark swimming very close to them. For its “enchanting” beauty, they named the fish Tosanoides aphrodite, or the Aphrodite anthias, after the Greek goddess of love and beauty. - Aphrodite anthias is the only known species of the genus Tosanoides found in the Atlantic Ocean. All the other known species of Tosanoides live in the Pacific Ocean.
Dress like a polar bear: learning to love muskoxen at 15 below zero [09/25/2018]
- Enduring subzero temperatures that make your face freeze, dressing as a bear, and getting chased by an angry male muskox, are all in a day’s work for biologist Joel Berger. His experiences and scientific insights are featured in a new book that focuses on the lives and survival strategies of muskoxen and other cold-adapted animals. - The autobiographical book, “Extreme Conservation: Life at the Edge of the World,” profiles Berger’s studies of inhospitable ecosystems, ranging from the high latitudes above the Arctic Circle, to the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau. - Mongabay contributor Gloria Dickie interviews Berger to see what makes a human want to live and work in some of the Earth’s most brutal environments. The quick answer: to see how barely studied Northern and alpine large mammals — especially muskoxen — are adapting, or not adapting, to a rapidly warming world. - Berger’s findings regarding instinctual and learned behavior, evolution and survival in a globally warmed world turn out to be revelatory not only to cold-adapted animals, but also relevant to wildlife species around the globe — and to the scientists who want to conserve them.
China’s primates could disappear by end of this century, study warns [09/25/2018]
- China has some 25 species of primates, of which 15 to 18 have fewer than 3,000 individuals surviving in the wild, according to a new study. - Two species of gibbons have become extinct in China in just the past two decades, while two other species of gibbons have fewer than 30 individuals in the country. - Researchers warn that primate distributions in China could shrink by 51 percent to 87 percent by the end of this century. - Expanding suitable habitat for primates is critical, the researchers say, as is prioritizing a network of protected corridors that can connect isolated primate subpopulations.
A herd of dead rhinos [09/24/2018]
- An agreement to launch a captive breeding program was brokered in 1984. By 1985, key participants began pulling out, including the Malaysian state of Sabah. - Despite the setbacks, efforts to capture rhinos quickly got up and running. Keeping the animals healthy proved to be a much greater challenge. - By 1995, nearly half of the 40 rhinos caught were dead, and none of them had successfully bred in captivity.
Using space tech to improve palm oil transparency in Colombia [09/21/2018]
- Palm oil is one of Colombia’s biggest agricultural exports, but the commodity has been linked to environmental and social damage in tropical areas around the world. - Industry insiders say Colombian palm oil growers are underinsured as a group. - A new $5 million project sponsored by the UK Space Agency aims to use satellites and other technology to monitor the country’s oil palm plantations. - Project leaders say this could help solve some of the industry’s problems by providing more information to farmers and grower federations.
New species of blood-red coral found off Panama coast [09/21/2018]
- Researchers have found a new species of bright red coral in Hannibal Bank, an underwater seamount off Panama’s Pacific coast. - The new coral, Thesea dalioi, is only the second known species of Thesea found in the eastern Pacific, the researchers say. - Researchers named the new coral after Ray Dalio, a U.S. philanthropist and hedge fund manager whose foundation supports ocean exploration. - The reefs on Hannibal Bank, where T. dalioi was discovered, occur in low-light environments that are thought to be fragile habitats made of a high diversity of corals, algae and sponges.
1984: the meeting that changed everything for Sumatran rhinos [09/20/2018]
- A 1984 agreement between zoos, conservationists and government officials marked the formal beginning of an international program that brought 40 Sumatran rhinos into captivity in an attempt to ward off extinction. Within 11 years, the program collapsed. - The program was long viewed as an epic failure due to high mortality rates and the lack of live births for over a decade; it also paved the way for later breeding successes that just may offer the Sumatran rhino hope for the future. - As conservationists mull a new plan to capture more rhinos, what lessons do past efforts offer?
Wildlife detectives link smuggled African elephant ivory to 3 major cartels [09/20/2018]
- By matching DNA from elephant tusks found in major illegal ivory shipments, and using information on the ports of origin of the shipments, researchers have pinpointed three major cartels that moved most of Africa’s large illegal ivory shipments between 2011 and 2014. - These three cartels operated from Entebbe in Uganda, Mombasa in Kenya, and Lomé in Togo. - The researchers hope that links established in the study will help tie ivory-trafficking kingpins to multiple large ivory seizures, and strengthen the case against them.
Indonesia’s Teater Potlot takes on the plight of the Sumatran tiger [09/19/2018]
- A seventh-century Srivijaya king, Srijayanasa, believed progress should bring merit to man and creature alike. - “Puyang,” a play by a South Sumatra theater group, explores the undoing of this pact through the eyes of a mythical tiger. - Today, there are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers believed to be living in the wild, as plantation and mining interests raze their forest homes.
As turtles go, so go their ecosystems [09/19/2018]
- Turtles are among the most threatened of the major groups of vertebrates in the world, a new review paper says, perhaps even more so than birds, mammals, fish or amphibians. - Of the 356 species of turtles recognized today, about 61 percent are either threatened or have become extinct in modern times. - Turtles contribute to the health of a variety of environments, including desert, wetland, freshwater and marine ecosystems, and losing these animals could have serious ecological consequences, researchers say.
Audio: How the social sciences can help conservationists save species [09/18/2018]
- On this episode, we take a look at how the social sciences can boost conservation efforts. - Our guest is Diogo Verissimo, a Postdoctoral Fellow with the University of Oxford in the UK and the Institute for Conservation Research at the US-based San Diego Zoo Global. Verissimo designs and evaluates programs that aim to change human behavior as a means of combating the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. - While we all come in contact with marketing campaigns nearly every single day of our lives, conservationists have been much slower to employ marketing principles in the interest of influencing human behaviors that are harmful to the planet. We discuss with Verissimo the intersection of social marketing and conservation science — in other words, how the social sciences can provide us with a better understanding of human motivation and behavior and help create a more sustainable world.
Latam Eco Review: Gold fever in Peru and cryptic fish from the deep [09/14/2018]
The most popular stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay-Latam, followed new deforestation from gold mining in Peru, new fish species deep in Chile’s sea, mining on Ecuador’s beaches, and hundreds of dead turtles in Mexico. Gold mining tears through Peru’s Amazon A new study shows that gold mining in Peru’s Madre de Dios region has […]
How much plastic is too much plastic for sea turtles? [09/14/2018]
- Researchers in Australia examined the digestive tracts of 246 dead sea turtles collected from along the coast of the state of Queensland and counted up to 329 pieces of plastic. - Younger turtles were found to have consumed considerably higher amounts of plastic pieces than adult turtles, the study found, possibly because they are less selective about what they eat. The young turtles also drift with ocean currents, just like plastic debris tends to do, and both might end up aggregating in the same places. - The higher the number of plastic pieces a turtle has inside its gut, the higher the chance of it being killed by the plastic. For an average-sized turtle, ingesting more than 14 pieces of plastic translates into a 50 percent likelihood of death.
On the hunt for a silent salamander-killer [09/13/2018]
- Sometime around 2008, a mysterious disease started killing off the Netherlands’ fire salamanders. Three years later, 96 percent were dead. - The disease turned out to be Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), a relative of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) that has been implicated in the decline or extinction of some 200 frog species around the world. - Scientists think Bsal originated in Asia and spread to Europe through the pet trade. And they believe it’s only matter of time before it gets to the U.S. – the world’s hotspot of salamander diversity, where nearly half of all species may be susceptible. - Now, scientists are in a race against time to find the fungus as soon as possible after it gets here in the hopes that quickly enacted quarantines may stop, or at least slow, its spread.
Illegal wildlife trade on Facebook in Thailand open ‘for all to see’ [09/12/2018]
- In a rapid assessment in 2016, carried out for just 30 minutes a day over a total of 23 days, wildlife trade watchdog TRAFFIC found 1,521 listings of live wild animals for sale on Facebook in Thailand. - The animals on offer belonged to at least 200 species, of which about half are protected by the country’s laws, while the rest aren’t regulated at all. - More than 500 individuals listed were mammals, with 139 listings of the Sunda slow loris, a threatened primate. - The listings also included the critically endangered helmeted hornbill and Siamese crocodile.
Conservation groups herald protection of tiger habitat in Malaysia [09/11/2018]
- The state government of Terengganu has set aside more than 100 square kilometers (39 square miles) for critically endangered Malayan tigers and other wildlife in Peninsular Malaysia. - The state’s chief minister said the newly created Lawit-Cenana State Park’s high density of threatened species made the area a priority for protection. - The park is home to 291 species of birds and 18 species of mammals, including elephants, tapirs and pangolins.
These Asian monkeys can’t taste the sweetness of natural sugars [09/11/2018]
- Asian leaf-eating monkeys cannot taste natural sugars and show no preference for foods flavored with sugars, a new study has found. - While these monkeys have the sweet-taste receptor genes needed to taste natural sugars, when the researchers expressed these genes in single cells, the cells did not show any response to maltose, sucrose, glucose, fructose, lactose or sorbitol. - The researchers also conducted a behavior test using sugar-flavored and non-sugar-flavored jellies, and found that colobine monkeys like the silvery lutung and the hanuman langur ate all of the jellies without preferring one over the other. On the other hand, Japanese macaques preferred sucrose and maltose-flavored jellies over bland ones. - This lack of preference for sugary foods, along with a previously known inability to taste bitterness, means these monkeys are less likely to face competition from other species for food sources.
Plantations can produce more palm oil if they keep riverbanks forested [09/10/2018]
- Conservationists have long known that keeping riverbanks forested in regions with heavy palm oil development helps protect wildlife and their habitat. - Now, a recently published study finds there are economic benefits to palm oil producers, as well. It finds oil palm plantations that maintain buffers of forest along rivers can improve their yields because these buffers reduce erosion. - The team found that a larger buffer has a bigger payoff in the long term, but a forest buffer of 10 to 20 meters could maximize yields even within a ten-year period. Meanwhile, buffers of 30 meters or more could maximize yields in the long term. - The authors note that their calculations were conservative, meaning that the economic benefits of riparian forest buffers to oil palm plantations may be even higher than their estimates indicate.
Indonesia gives in to bird traders, rescinds protection for 3 species [09/07/2018]
- The Indonesian government has removed three popular songbirds from its newly updated list of protected species. They are the white-rumped shama, straw-headed bulbul and Javan pied starling — a critically endangered species. - The move comes amid protests from songbird owners and breeders, who have raised concerns about loss of livelihoods. - The owners and breeders now say they will push for more species to be removed from the list. - Conservationists and scientists have blasted the ministry for backing down and called into question its assessment that protecting the three species would have had an adverse economic impact.
8 species of birds have possibly gone extinct over past few decades [09/06/2018]
- A new study has found that eight species of birds are likely to have completely disappeared in the past couple of decades. - Researchers recommend that three species currently listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List be reclassified as extinct, while one be treated as extinct in the wild. - Four more bird species are dangerously close to extinction, if not already there, and should be re-classified as critically endangered (possibly extinct), researchers say.
Fires tear through East Java park, threatening leopard habitat [09/05/2018]
- Authorities in East Java, Indonesia, are trying to stop a wildfire from spreading into core zone of the Coban Wisula forest, home to Javan leopards. - The fire is burning within Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, a major tourist attraction. An iconic landscape in the park, known as Teletubbies Hill, has already gone up in flames. - A local NGO is monitoring the situation to make sure none of the leopards are flushed out of their habitat and into contact with humans, which could turn violent.
Diverse family of algae could help corals survive warming seas [09/05/2018]
- Scientists have found that some algae that associate with corals are much more diverse and much older than previously thought. - The origin of certain algae occurred at around the same time corals began building reefs on a grand scale around the world, the researchers showed. - The diversity of these algae could boost corals’ resistance to higher ocean temperatures.
87 elephants found dead in Botswana, one of last safe havens for the species [09/05/2018]
- At least 87 elephants were killed by poachers in recent months, conservation nonprofit Elephants Without Borders said based on an ongoing aerial survey in northern Botswana. - Given that the current aerial survey is only halfway through, conservationists worry the final number of poached elephants will be much higher. - The government of Botswana, however, has refuted the organization’s claims and called the figures “unsubstantiated,” in a statement published on Twitter.
New Zealand penguins make ‘crazy’ 7,000-km round trip for food [09/03/2018]
- Until recently, researchers did not know where the Fiordland penguins of New Zealand, known locally as tawaki, went to hunt during their pre-moult summer period. - A new study that tracked 17 penguins has found that the birds made a round trip of up to 6,800 kilometers (4,225 miles) in 2016, making it one of the longest-known pre-moult penguin migrations to date. - The penguins went nearly halfway to Antarctica, traveling to the sub-tropical front south of Tasmania or to the sub-Antarctic front to hunt, the researchers found. - It’s not clear why they went so far, given that other penguin species in New Zealand seem to find enough food in the waters near their breeding colonies. Researchers say more studies over several seasons and involving more individual penguins are needed.
The secret life of the southern naked-tailed armadillo [09/03/2018]
- The southern naked-tailed armadillo spends 99.25 percent of its time underground. If by chance you locate one above ground, it can dig away in a matter of seconds. - The air of mystery surrounding this species led Desbiez and his team to seek out any information they could about its day-to-day activities and its natural history in Brazil’s Pantanal region. - Unlike other species that Desbiez studies, such as the giant armadillo and the giant anteater, the southern naked-tailed armadillo is rated as being of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
Madagascar: Where young whale sharks party [08/31/2018]
- Whale sharks don’t need help being spectacular. The world’s biggest fish is impressive in nearly every aspect, growing as long as 12 meters (40 feet) and weighing up to 21 tons. - A new study in the journal Endangered Species Research used photo-identification techniques based on the sharks’ distinctive spots to discover a new hotspot for juvenile whale sharks around the tiny island of Nosy Be, in northwest Madagascar. - This is a rare bit of good news for a species that, like many other sharks, is struggling to survive in oceans increasingly subject to the negative impacts of human activity.
Cheap prices lead to more exotic pets in the wild, research finds [08/30/2018]
- New research shows that exotic amphibians and reptiles sold inexpensively as pets are more likely to end up in the wild, where they can pose problems for native wildlife. - The authors of the study believe that many pet owners may not fully understand the responsibility of owning these animals, some of which can grow to large sizes and live for decades. - They suggest that limiting the numbers of certain species popular as pets could help limit their often-destructive impact on ecosystems.
Will protecting half the Earth save biodiversity? Depends which half [08/30/2018]
- Adding large swaths of “wild areas” to the current network of protected areas in order to protect half of the Earth doesn’t mean more species will be protected, or that a larger portion of species’ ranges will be covered, a new study has found. - Researchers say it’s important to not be seduced by the idea of protecting areas simply because they’re big and politically easier to protect, but instead to prioritize areas because they’re special and/or have key species in them. - The study also revealed a surprising trend: existing protected areas around the world are good at covering at least some of the range of most of the world’s birds, mammals and amphibians.
More remote islands might be more susceptible to invasive species: study [08/29/2018]
More isolated oceanic islands harbor fewer native species due to the fact that plants and animals are less capable of naturally dispersing to and colonizing those islands. This is known as the species-isolation relationship (SIR), one of the most fundamental concepts in the study of island biogeography. While the isolation of islands means that they […]
Taking it slow can help reduce impacts of Arctic shipping on whales (commentary) [08/28/2018]
- Thanks to climate change, traveling through the Northwest Passage is quickly becoming an exotic option for cruise ship passengers — and an enticing shortcut for cargo ships. - But an increasingly ice-free Arctic means more than just a chance for a new sightseeing adventure: Significantly increased ship traffic is altering the submarine calm of one of the quietest places on Earth. That could have serious implications for marine mammals and fish that rely on sound for group cohesion, socializing, finding mates, navigating, and detecting threats. - As we grow sensitive to plastics and other toxins that plague ocean species, we must remember that while noise is the one form of pollution that we cannot see, we can work together to turn down the volume. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
For India’s black-necked cranes, dogs are a major threat [08/28/2018]
- In the cold desert region of Ladakh in northern India, dogs are currently the “single biggest threat” to black-necked cranes, experts say. - Recent surveys have found feral dogs responsible for driving down the bird’s population by eating its eggs and chicks. - The forest department’s dog-sterilization efforts have not had any impact so far, officials say.
Bandits raid village near Madagascar park, killing conservation worker [08/27/2018]
- Armed bandits attacked a village on the edge of Ranomafana National Park in southeastern Madagascar in late July. - They robbed residents and killed a technician for the Centre ValBio research institute. - The incident is part of a growing pattern of banditry, both in the Ranomafana area and across Madagascar, where instability has increased in the run up to presidential elections scheduled for later this year.
Rare bird, feared extinct after hurricane, is spotted in Bahamas again [08/27/2018]
- The Bahama nuthatch (Sitta insularis), known only from a small pine forest on the island of Grand Bahama, some 84 kilometers (52 miles) east of Palm Beach, Florida, was thought to have gone extinct after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. - But two recent, independent expeditions have yielded sightings of the bird again. - Only a handful of individuals have been spotted, though, and researchers fear that chances of reviving the species’ population look bleak.
As the DMZ turns 65, a call for Korean peace through conservation (commentary) [08/24/2018]
- Long viewed as an untouchable border between two hostile nations, the DMZ has become an accidental paradise for plants and animals. Its 400 square miles have been largely unmarred by human activities since the 1950s, providing refuge for some 90 threatened or endangered species, including some that are found nowhere else on the planet. - As relations in the Korean Peninsula improve, there is now an opportunity to establish the DMZ as a globally significant natural site and cultural venue. - Imagine the enduring symbol of hope and collaboration that the DMZ would represent: A shared commitment to a wondrous and sustainable future for generations of people and wildlife to come. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.
In Morocco’s markets, conditions for wildlife are ‘universally poor’ [08/24/2018]
- In Morocco’s wildlife markets, animals are usually kept in poor conditions without water, food and shade, a new study has found. - This is because vendors are largely unaware of the animals’ needs, researchers found. - Much of the trade is also illegal, but a lack of enforcement of existing animal welfare laws means there’s little deterrent to end the trade, researchers say. - Current Moroccan laws also do not reflect the stated commitment of the government to international standards for animal welfare.
Saving rare orchids that are ‘confusingly difficult’ to grow in labs: Q&A with orchid expert Marc Freestone [08/22/2018]
- Leek orchids are a group of small, native wildflowers found in bushlands across southern Australia. Of the 140-odd leek orchids known today, one-third are at risk of extinction, primarily from habitat loss. - For some of the more threatened leek orchids with just a handful of plants known to exist, captive breeding and reintroduction to the wild might be the only way to save them, researchers say. - But leek orchids are notoriously difficult to grow in labs, unlike many other orchids that can be easily artificially propagated. - Mongabay spoke with orchid expert Marc Freestone who is trying to save leek orchids along with his colleagues at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and Australia National University.
Poachers caught on video killing mother bear and cubs at den in Alaska [08/21/2018]
- Two hunters allegedly killed a female bear and her cubs at the animals’ den in April, in violation of hunting laws. - The mother bear was part of a wildlife study and wore a tracking collar. - As part of the study, a video camera had been set up near the den and captured the hunters’ alleged actions. - The U.S. Humane Society says proposed changes to federal hunting laws that would make killing bears in their dens legal are “cruel and unsporting,” while several hunting groups argue that the law changes are necessary to stop the federal government’s overreach into Alaska’s wildlife management.
Fight to protect the world’s most threatened great ape goes to court [08/21/2018]
- Indonesia’s leading environmental watchdog has filed a lawsuit to block a project to build a dam and hydroelectric power plant in the Sumatran habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan, the world’s newest known and most endangered great ape. - The lawsuit claims a series of administrative oversights in the project’s environmental impact permit, as well as a breach of zoning laws by building along a known tectonic fault line. - An online petition has also taken off, with more than 1.3 million people signing to call on President Joko Widodo to scrap the project. - Opposition to the project has also drawn the attention of top scientists from around the world, who last month signed an open letter to the president to press their case for the habitat to be preserved.
Wild-caught timber elephants in Myanmar die earlier than captive-born ones [08/20/2018]
- Myanmar’s wild-caught timber elephants have higher rates of mortality and shorter life spans compared to those born in captivity, a new study has found. - Among wild-caught individuals, elephants that were captured at older ages were worse off than those caught at younger ages, the researchers found. - Wild-caught elephants also suffered the highest mortality rates during the first year after capture, which decreased slowly over subsequent years. - The high number of deaths in the year following capture is likely related to capture-related injuries and trauma, followed by harsh taming, the authors say.
The appeal acquittal of Feisal Mohamed Ali: A victory for rule of law, a process corrupted, or both? (commentary) [08/17/2018]
- With Kenya still stinging from the humiliation and embarrassment over the translocation-related deaths of 11 rhinos, a Kenyan court declared on August 3 that convicted ivory trafficker Feisal Mohamed Ali was to be set free. - Lady Justice Dora Chepkwony ruled that he should be acquitted for a number of reasons, ranging from constitutional concerns to original trial irregularities. - Following Feisal’s conviction, Feisal’s counsel said that the “trial court erred in law and fact [and] that it convicted [Feisal] on the basis of mere suspicion.” The counsel also stated that Feisal had been made a “sacrificial lamb so as to appease the public.” Considering the substantial national and international media attention that this trial had received as well as the political climate at the time, this possibility cannot be ignored. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
The Japan pig is a tiny colorful pygmy seahorse smaller than a fingernail [08/17/2018]
- Scientists have described a new species of pygmy seahorse that’s colorful and smaller than the average fingernail. - The researchers have officially named the tiny seahorse Japan pig, or Hippocampus japapigu, because local people believe the animal resembles a “tiny baby pig.” - Unlike other pygmy seahorses, the newly described species has an elevated ridge on its upper back made of triangular bones, the purpose of which is still unclear. - The Japan pig is now the fifth pygmy seahorse species to be recorded in Japan.
Protected landscape across India-Bhutan border a refuge for wildlife during armed conflict [08/17/2018]
- From the late 1980s until 2003, ethno-political violence rocked Manas National Park (MNP), home to Bengal tigers and Indian rhinos, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. - But a shared border between the park and Bhutan’s Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) helped the wildlife find refuge from the human presence. Since the end of the unrest, MNP has managed to preserve its overall animal diversity, according to a new study. - Extensive camera-trapping exercise across the three ranges of the park have confirmed the presence of 25 mammalian species, including threatened species such as clouded leopards, Asian elephants, Indian hog deer, and swamp deer.
New Caledonia votes to protect coral reefs [08/16/2018]
- The government of New Caledonia voted on Tuesday to establish marine protected areas across 28,000 square kilometers of waters around the French overseas territory. - The move safeguards coral reefs, marine habitats, and critical bird nesting areas. - New Caledonia is known for its rich marine life, including nesting grounds for turtles, humpback whales, and sea birds.
Scientists say endangered whale sharks can live up to 130 years [08/15/2018]
- Scientists at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in the United States led a team of researchers who used minimally invasive methods for examining the growth patterns of whale sharks in the South Ari Atoll of the Maldives. The team repeatedly took measurements of free-swimming sharks over a 10-year period using three different approaches: visual, laser, and tape measures. - The team built models of whale shark growth patterns based on the measurements they had taken from 186 encounters with 44 sharks and determined that male whale sharks reach maturity at about 25 years of age, can grow to nearly 62 feet in length, and can live as long as 130 years. - Approximately 75 percent of the global whale shark population lives in the Indo-Pacific region of Earth’s oceans, with the other 25 percent occurring in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the IUCN Red List, combined data from both regions shows that the global whale shark population has likely declined by more than 50 percent over the past 75 years.
‘Biological passports’ show whale sharks travel less than we thought [08/15/2018]
- A study looking at chemical signatures in whale shark tissue and using photographic identification has revealed that young sharks in three countries along the western rim of the Indian Ocean don’t typically stray more than a few hundred kilometers from their feeding sites. - Of the more than 1,200 sharks photographed, only two traveled between different feeding sites — in this case, about 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) between Mozambique and Tanzania. - The authors of the study say their findings demonstrate that local conservation of these populations is important because if whale sharks are wiped out in an area, they’re unlikely to repopulate it later on.
Recovering conservationist: Q&A with orangutan ecologist June Mary Rubis [08/15/2018]
- The rainforest in the Malaysian state of Sarawak is one of last remaining habitats of the nearly extinct Bornean orangutan. - Orangutan conservation efforts have made the region a top priority for protecting the iconic species, but Malaysian conservationist June Mary Rubis says these efforts often sideline the indigenous peoples who live along with the great apes. - Mongabay spoke with Rubis after she gave the keynote speech at the recent conference of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, in which she reflected on mainstream conservation narratives, politics, and power relations around orangutan conservation in Sarawak and elsewhere in Borneo. - Rubis says she believes indigenous knowledge is crucial for the success of conservation and community development in orangutan landscapes.
The tropics are in trouble, warn scientists [08/14/2018]
- Plants and animals in the tropics are threatened by a range of issues, warn researchers writing in the journal Nature. - The tropics are facing a mélange of well-documented human-driven threats: destruction of forests and marine ecosystems, overexploitation by the likes of industrial fishing fleets and commercial hunters, the spread of diseases and invasive species, and the growing impacts of climate change, which stress both ecosystems and their inhabitants. - These threats aren’t likely to diminish soon. Human population continues to rise, but growing affluence means that it is increasingly outpaced by resource consumption, which acts a multiplier in terms of humanity’s planetary footprint. - To stave off this bleak future, the researchers call for “major improvements in local and global governance capacity and a step-change in how environmental objectives are integrated into broader development goals.”
Predatory coral bring down jellyfish by working together [08/14/2018]
- For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that corals can work cooperatively to capture jellyfish. - The team observed the bright orange Astroides calycularis, which lives on sea walls and caves in the Mediterranean Sea, snagging mauve stinger jellyfish that became trapped by ocean currents. - Coral polyps first grab onto a jellyfish’s bell, and then others will begin ingesting the jellyfish’s arms in a process that takes just a few minutes.
In protecting songbirds, Indonesia ruffles owners & breeders’ feathers [08/13/2018]
- Songbird owners and breeders have denounced the Indonesian government’s recent decision to add hundreds of bird species to the national list of protected species. - Birdkeeping has long been a popular and highly lucrative pastime in the country, with deep cultural roots. - The government has sought to accommodate the owners’ concerns by insisting that enforcement of bans on capturing and trading in the newly protected species will not be applied retroactively. - It has also given owners and breeders a generous window in which to register their birds — an opportunity that conservation activists say could be exploited by people looking to stock up on wild-caught birds.
Millipedes might soothe itchy lemurs, research finds [08/13/2018]
- Scientists have observed red-fronted lemurs in Madagascar biting millipedes and then rubbing themselves with the secretions. - A team of researchers published their observations in the journal Primates, along with their hypothesis that the lemurs were using the millipede secretions to treat worm infections. - The study’s lead author also observed lemurs eating the millipedes, which may slow the growth of parasites living in the primates’ intestines.
Earless African pygmy toad discovered on remote mountain in Angola [08/13/2018]
- Researchers have found a new species of African pygmy toad in Serra da Neve Inselberg, an isolated mountain and Angola’s second-highest peak. - The new species, formally named Poyntonophrynus pachnodes, or the Serra da Neve pygmy toad, lacks both external and internal parts of the ear that help frogs hear. - While earless toads aren’t rare, this is the first time a Poyntonophrynus species has been reported without ears.
Rare mountain-dwelling Nilgiri tahr could lose 60% of habitat as climate warms [08/10/2018]
- The shy, elusive Nilgiri tahr once occurred over a large area in the Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot in India, but its distribution has shrunk considerably since the 1950s. - Currently, about 3,000 individuals are known to occur in isolated groups that are restricted to the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, covering less than 10 percent of their former range. - Extreme global warming could slash by 60 percent the amount of available habitat that’s suitable for the tahr, a new study has found.
In protecting the Javan rhino, locals gain a ‘more meaningful life’ [08/10/2018]
- Working in Javan rhino protection programs is no mean feat, according to locals who have dedicated decades of their lives to the endeavor. - From getting chased by rhinos to meeting face-to-face with armed hunters, their experiences speak to the often grueling reality of on-the-ground conservation work, highlighted by rare encounters with the elusive animals. - Yet despite the challenges, the workers say they have found worth in their daily duties, and have come to value the rhinos even more as a result.
Camera trap videos help protect biodiversity of Bigal River Biological Reserve in Ecuador [08/09/2018]
- Bigal River Biological Reserve is located in the southern buffer zone of Ecuador’s Sumaco Napo-Galeras National Park, a less-explored national park that the biological reserve helps to protect, according to Thierry Garcia of the Sumac Muyu Foundation, which founded and manages the reserve. - As part of its Bigal River Conservation Project, the Sumac Muyu Foundation has maintained camera traps in the reserve since 2014 and has collected hundreds of hours of footage showing big mammals like jaguars and tapirs as well as rare birds and other species going about their business in the foothill forests. - The main goals of the camera trap program run by the Sumac Muyu Foundation include documenting the mammals present in the reserve and which parts of the reserve they tend to roam, as well as monitoring those mammal populations and studying variations in their behavior due to natural forest dynamics or human pressures.
Madagascar proposes paying illegal loggers to audit or buy their rosewood [08/08/2018]
- In June, the World Bank facilitated a workshop to discuss what Madagascar should do with its stockpiles of illegally logged rosewood. - Madagascar has been grappling with the question for years, but has been unable to make a proper inventory of the stockpiled wood or control illegal exports. - The rosewood could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars on the international market, but the country cannot sell it until it shows progress in enforcing its own environmental laws. - At the workshop, Madagascar’s government proposed a radical solution: paying loggers for access to their illicit stockpiles in order to keep tabs on the wood, or even buying the wood back from them directly.
Africa’s biggest cobra is five species, not one, study finds [08/08/2018]
- Africa’s largest true cobra is not one, but five separate species, a new study has confirmed. - Two of these species, the black forest cobra (N. guineensis) and the West African banded cobra (N. savannula), are new to science. - As a single species, forest cobras were not considered threatened. But with the splitting of the cobra into five species, some species could be more vulnerable to forest loss and bushmeat hunting than others. - The occurrence of five forest cobra species also has implications for the development of antivenom to treat forest cobra bites, researchers say.
Audio: Beavers matter more than you think [08/07/2018]
- We discuss one of the world’s most overlooked keystone species, the beaver, on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast. - Environmental journalist and writer Ben Goldbarb is a big proponent of giving beavers far more attention than they’re paid. His latest book is fittingly called Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter. - Today, the North American beaver population is on the rebound thanks to conservationists who are helping bring this keystone species back to habitat across the continent. Goldfarb tells us all about these efforts and just why beavers’ role as “ecosystem engineers” is so crucial.
Alan Rabinowitz, big cat evangelist and voice of the wild, dies at 64 [08/07/2018]
- Alan Rabinowitz, a U.S. zoologist dubbed the “Indiana Jones of wildlife protection” by Time Magazine, died of cancer on Aug. 5 at the age of 64. He leaves behind a legacy of more than three decades of unceasing efforts to protect big cats and other wildlife at risk of extinction. - Rabinowitz was instrumental in the creation the world’s first jaguar sanctuary, the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve in Belize, as well the creation of protected areas in Thailand and Myanmar, and the discovery of new species. - In 2006, Rabinowitz co-founded Panthera, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation the world’s 40 wild cat species and the vast landscapes that hold them, along with his close friend Thomas S. Kaplan, a U.S. entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Ocean acidity stifles coral-anchored communities [08/06/2018]
- Researchers working in the seas around Japan found that higher levels of carbon dioxide, like those found around volcanic vents in the ocean floor, diminish the diversity of corals and other lifeforms. - The study took place at the convergence of marine temperate and subtropical climates. - Their findings indicate that rising acidity could inhibit coral growth and reduce the number of species living in these ecosystems.
Largest king penguin colony in the world has shrunk by 90% [08/06/2018]
- In 1982, researchers estimated that there were more than 500,000 breeding pairs and over 2 million king penguins on the remote Île aux Cochons, or Pig Island, a French territory in southern Indian Ocean. - More than three decades later, by 2017, the number of king penguins on the island had dropped drastically to just about 200,000 penguins, including some 60,000 breeding pairs, researchers report in a new study. - The reasons for this decline are still unknown, but the researchers hope that further field studies will be able to verify the massive drop and identify the factors that led to it.