Conservation news

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Researchers evacuated due to polar bear trapped on land by melting sea ice

(08/07/2008) The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) evacuated five of its scientists from a remote camp in northern Alaska because of a new and unusual threat: a polar bear stuck on land due to climate change. Polar bears would normally be out on sea ice this time of year, but with recent warming the ice is miles from shore and bears are becoming increasingly trapped on land well away from their usual seal prey.


Global warming increases "extreme" rain storms

(08/07/2008) Global warming is increasing the incidence of heavy rainfall at a rate greater than predicted by current climate models have predicted, reports a new study published in the journal Science. The findings suggest that storm damage from precipitation could worsen as greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise.


Fossils grant new insight into the Antarctica's natural history

(08/07/2008) At one time an alpine lake was inhabited by mosses and diatoms; insects such as beetles and midges crawled among sparse ferns and various crustaceans lived amid the lake's calm waters. This tundra-like landscape was the last stand of life in Antarctica, and it existed up to 14 million years ago before suddenly vanishing.


Reduced impact logging can save 160 m tons of carbon emissions per year

(08/06/2008) Improving inefficient logging practices could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from forest degradation, argues a new study published in the open-access journal PLoS.


Brazil may ban new sugar cane cultivation in the Pantanal

(08/06/2008) Brazil would restrict sugar cane cultivation in the world's largest tropical wetland under a proposed plan to protect the Pantanal, reports Reuters.


New mapping system shows how detailed climate changes will affect species

(08/06/2008) A new computer simulation from the Nature Conservancy shows greater detail than ever before on how climate change will affect the world's biodiversity, according to an article in New Scientist. In worst case scenarios—using the example of Bengal tigers in Sundarbans mangrove forest—the article's author, Peter Aldhous, writes that some species will be forced into a "condemned cell", literally having no-where to go while their region becomes inhabitable.


1.2 million ha of Congo rainforest certified for sustainable forestry

(08/06/2008) More than one million hectares of Congo Basin forests have been certified under a sustainable forestry scheme, reports WWF, an environmental group that has supported the initiative.


NASA study shows global warming will diminish rainfall in East Africa, worsening hunger

(08/06/2008) A new NASA-backed study has found a link between a warming Indian Ocean and reduced rainfall in eastern and southern Africa. The results suggest that rising sea temperatures could exacerbate food problems in some of the continent's most famine-prone regions.


Dell becomes carbon neutral by saving endangered lemurs

(08/06/2008) Dell, the world's largest computer maker, announced it has become the first major technology company to achieve carbon neutrality.


Human-testing for animal medications?

(08/06/2008) Medical advances for humans have largely been dependent on other species: deriving chemical compounds from plants, employing molds for vaccines, or testing drugs on mammals. However, in an intriguing twist the Wildlife Conservation Society has adapted a test used on humans for primates in the Bronx Zoo.


Australia's forests contain three times the expected carbon

(08/06/2008) Australia's natural eucalypt forests store three times the carbon conventionally believed, reports a new study by scientists at the Australian National University.


Australia declares its largest tropical rainforest park

(08/06/2008) Autralia will protect its most pristine rainforest a nearly twenty year battle between conservationists and land owners, according to a statement from the government of Queensland.


Private equity firm to sell biodiversity offsets from rainforest conservation

(08/06/2008) An investment firm has launched the first tropical biodiversity credits scheme. New Forests, an Australia-based company, has established the Malua Wildlife Habitat Conservation Bank in an attempt to monetize rainforest conservation. The "Malua BioBank" will use an investment from a private equity fund to restore and protect 34,000 hectares (80,000 acres) of formerly logged forest that serves as a buffer between biologically-rich forest reserve and a sea of oil palm plantations.


Shift from poverty-driven to industry-driven deforestation may help conservation

(08/06/2008) A shift from poverty-driven deforestation to industry-driven deforestation in the tropics may offer new opportunities for forest conservation, argues a new paper published in the journal Trends in Evolution & Ecology.


48% of primates threatened with extinction

(08/05/2008) 48 percent of the world's primate species are at risk of extinction, according to the first comprehensive review of the world's primates since 2003. The results were released as an update to the IUCN Red List at the 22nd International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland.


Massive gorilla population discovered in the Congo

(08/05/2008) The world's known population of critically endangered western lowland gorillas has more than doubled following a new census that revealed some 125,000 in the Republic of Congo.


Often overlooked, small wild cats are important and in trouble

(08/05/2008) While often over-shadowed by their larger and better-known relatives like lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars, small cats are important indicators of the health of an ecosystem, says a leading small cat expert who uses camera traps extensively to document and monitor mammals in the wild. Dr Jim Sanderson, a scientist with the Small Cat Conservation Alliance and Conservation International, is working to save some of the world's rarest cats, including the Andean cat and Guigna of South America and the bay, flat-headed, and marbled cats of Southeast Asia. In the process Sanderson has captured on film some of the planet's least seen animals, including some species that have never before been photographed. He has also found that despite widespread criticism, some corporate entities are effectively protecting remote wilderness areas.


Corporations become prime driver of deforestation, providing clear target for environmentalists

(08/05/2008) The major drivers of tropical deforestation have changed in recent decades. According to a forthcoming article, deforestation has shifted from poverty-driven subsistence farming to major corporations razing forests for large-scale projects in mining, logging, oil and gas development, and agriculture. While this change makes many scientists and conservationists uneasy, it may allow for more effective action against deforestation. Rhett A. Butler of Mongabay.com, a leading environmental science website focusing on tropical forests, and William F. Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama believe that the shift to deforestation by large corporations gives environmentalists and concerned governments a clear, identifiable target that may prove more responsive to environmental concerns.


Developing the world's most sophisticated program for mapping endangered species

(08/04/2008) It was big news in April when a comprehensive map of Madagascar's rich and unique biodiversity was unveiled. The project managed to map ranges of 2,315 species across an island larger than France. Such detailed mapping could not have happened without the aid of Steve Phillips. A researcher at AT&T, Phillips developed the software that made such detailed and expansive mapping possible.


New Costa Rica guide offers insight on responsible tourism

(08/04/2008) Costa Rica is the world's most popular destination for rainforest tourism thanks to its spectacular biodiversity, relative ease-of-access and safety, and many natural attractions. In 2007 nearly 2 million tourists visited the country, generating almost 2 billion in revenue -- more than the combined income from bananas and coffee.


Scientists discover world's smallest snake species

(08/03/2008) If one wanted to overcome their fear of snakes, they may want to start with the newly discovered Leptotyphlops carlae. Measuring less than four inches long, even stretched out this new species of threadsnake can't compete with the average pen or pencil.


Brazil asks rich countries to fund Amazon conservation

(08/02/2008) Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva officially unveiled plans to raise a $21 billion fund for protecting the Amazon rainforest. The plan, which was originally announced several months ago, aims to be funded by foreign donations. Contributors will not be eligible for carbon credits that may be generated by reductions in deforestation.


African elephants being poached at record rate

(08/01/2008) African elephants are being killed for their ivory at a record pace, reports a University of Washington conservation biologist.


Photos of surgery on an injured red-tailed hawk

(08/01/2008) Dr. Paul Calle, Director of Wildlife Health Center at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo headquarters, and Cornell University resident Dr. Maren Connolly examine a red-tailed hawk found unable to fly by a park ranger in Rockland County.


Critically endangered fruit bat born in New York City

(08/01/2008) A critically endangered fruit bat was born earlier this month at the Bronx Zoo.


Future threats to the Amazon rainforest

(07/31/2008) Between June 2000 and June 2008, more than 150,000 square kilometers of rainforest were cleared in the Brazilian Amazon. While deforestation rates have slowed since 2004, forest loss is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. This is a look at past, current and potential future drivers of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.


Rock star or marine biologist? Hans Walters chose both

(07/31/2008) There aren't many who swim with sharks by day and rock out on a stage at night, but Hans Walters does just that! A man with two distinctly different passions, music and marine biology, Walters is a supervisor for the animals at the New York Aquarium, and then after hours, grabs a microphone as lead singer (playing just enough guitar to be dangerous) for the New York-based hard rock band, 61/49.


Ontario to preserve area of forest the size of Uganda

(07/31/2008) The government of Ontario has announced it will preserve 56 million acres of boreal forest from all types of development. The reasons for such a large conservation plan are numerous: preservation of the forest will benefit the world as a massive carbon storehouse; the area is a major source of freshwater; and home to over 200 species, many of which are threatened, such as polar bears, wolverines, and caribou. The area will be open to eco-tourism, but will be closed to mining, logging, and gas exploration.


U.N. raises thermostats to cut emissions, save money

(07/31/2008) In a bid lead by example on climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon unveiled "Cool UN," an initiative which seeks to limit the use of air conditioning, slash greenhouse gas emissions and save money.


Chevron lobbies Bush Administration for bail out on lawsuit by Amazon tribes

(07/31/2008) Lobbyists for big oil are working feverishly to persuade the Bush Administration and Congress to let Chevron off the hook for a potential $16 billion liability in an environmental lawsuit.


Bush Administration moves to weaken endangered speices protection

(07/31/2008) The Bush administration's handling of the Endangered Species Act has put the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl in danger of extinction, according to the Centre for Biological Diversity. Even though less than 30 individuals exist in the United States—all in Arizona—the species was removed from the Endangered Species Act in 2006, after nine years of protection.


Photo: World's oldest Fly River Turtle turns 50

(07/31/2008) Last Saturday "Freddy", a Fly River Turtle, turned 50. He is the oldest known individual of his species.


Logging company Danzer accused of tax fraud in the Congo

(07/31/2008) A major European logging company is using an elaborate profit-laundering system to smuggle timber revenue out of Africa and avoid paying taxes to the governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of the Congo, alleges a new report published by Greenpeace.


Cane toads are killing crocodiles in Australia

(07/30/2008) The cane toad has been a scourge to Australian wildlife for decades. An invasive species, the cane toad competes with local endemic frog species and due to its high toxicity kills any predator who preys on it, including snakes, raptors, lizards, and the carnivorous marsupial, northern quoll. New research has uncovered another victim of the toad. The freshwater crocodile has suffered massive population declines due to consuming the irascible toad.


Conservation groups could augment poverty alleviation in some remote areas

(07/30/2008) Conservation groups are well-positioned to assist in poverty alleviation efforts in some of the world's poorest and most remote places where they have otherwise been neglected by governments and aid organizations, argues a report published in the journal Oryx.


Ocean acidification may hurt reproduction in marine life

(07/30/2008) Ocean acidification due to rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may be putting the reproductive capabilities of some marine species at risk, reports a new study published in Current Biology by Swedish and Australian scientists.


Deepest-ever lake dive searches for new energy sources

(07/29/2008) Russian scientists have reached the bottom of Lake Baikal, the world's deepest lake, to take samples of gas hydrate deposits. Russia hopes the methane-rich deposits could someday be exploited as an energy source.


Researchers discover "artistic" moth in Panama

(07/29/2008) Researchers have discovered a new species of Bagworm Moth that wraps its eggs individually in "beautiful cases" fashioned from its golden abdominal hairs, according to a new paper published in the Annals of the Entomology Society of America. The behavior is unique among insects.


Adaptation to climate change will be difficult for Madagascar

(07/29/2008) Madagascar's high levels of endemism coupled with its extensive loss and degradation of ecosystems leave its species particularly vulnerable to climate change. A new paper evaluates these risks and sets forth conservation priorities to best maintain the ecological resilience of the island nation.


Island biogeography theory doesn't explain biodiversity changes in forest fragments

(07/28/2008) Island biogeography theory, the idea that fragmented ecosystems have lower species richness per unit of area compared with contiguous habitats, has served as a useful conceptual model to understand the effects of habitat fragmentation but fails to explain the complexities of change in isolated forest fragments, according to a synthesis published last month in the journal Biological Conservation.


An interview a shaman in the Amazon rainforest

(07/28/2008) Deep in the Suriname rainforest, an innovative conservation group is working with indigenous tribes to protect their forest home and culture using traditional knowledge combined with cutting-edge technology. The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) is partnering with the Trio, an Amerindian group that lives in the remote Suriname-Brazil border area of South America, to develop programs to protect their forest home from illegal gold miners and encroachment, improve village health, and strengthen cultural ties between indigenous youths and elders at a time when such cultures are disappearing even faster than rainforests. In June 2008 mongabay.com visited the community of Kwamalasamutu in Suriname to see ACT's programs in action. During the visit, Amasina, a Trio shaman who works with ACT, answered some questions about his role as a traditional healer in the village.


Newly discovered monkey is critically endangered by logging, poaching

(07/28/2008) A newly discovered species of monkey may already be threatened with extinction, according to a study published in the journal Oryx.


Climate change will increase the erosion of coral reefs

(07/28/2008) Coral reefs are particularly susceptible to climate change. Warming waters have been shown to bleach coral, killing off symbiotic algae that provide them with sustenance, and often leading to the death of the coral itself. Much attention has been placed on bleaching coral, but now scientists have discovered an additional danger to coral reefs in a warming world: erosion.


Unlike humans, tree shrews don't get drunk

(07/28/2008) The pentailed treeshrew, sporting a mouse-like body and feathery tail, seems an unlikely drinker. Yet, new research shows that this one-and-half ounce creature's main food source, the nectar of the bertam palm, is highly fermented. The nectar can contain a peak alcohol concentration of 3.8 percent. This is a little less than a Bud Light.


The end of migrations: wildlife's greatest spectacle is critically endangered

(07/28/2008) If we could turn back the clock about 200 years, one could watch as millions of whales swam along their migration routes. Around 150 years ago, one could witness bison filling the vast America prairie or a billion passenger pigeons blotting out the sky for days. Only a few decades back and a million saiga antelope could be seen crossing the plains of Asia.


Monster manta ray species discovered

(07/25/2008) Researchers have discovered a previously unknown species of manta ray. Previously there was believed to be only a single species of ray but genetic analysis now shows there are at least two, and possibly three, species.


Facing criticism, biofuels industry forms new lobby group to influence lawmakers

(07/25/2008) Under attack by politicians, aid groups, and environmentalists for driving up food prices and fueling destruction of ecologically sensitive habitats, some of the world's largest agroindustrial firms have formed a lobby group to influence consumers and lawmakers to support continued subsidies for biofuel production, reports Reuters.


Loggers, palm oil firms eye remote rainforests of Papua for development

(07/25/2008) Commodity producers are eyeing one of the world's last relatively untouched tracts of rainforest for development, reports the Wall Street Journal.


14 countries win REDD funding to protect tropical forests

(07/24/2008) Fourteen countries have been selected by the World Bank to receive funds for conserving their tropical forests under an innovative carbon finance scheme.


Rainforest conservation could offset 500m tons of CO2 emissions at $2/ton

(07/24/2008) Industrialized nations could collectively offset 500 million tons carbon of dioxide emissions at roughly $2 per ton by protecting tropical rainforests, according to estimates published in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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