Conservation news

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Emerald-faced reptile discovered in Ecuador

(05/23/2014) Researchers have discovered a colorful lizard species in the cloud forests of northwestern Ecuador.


Next big idea in forest conservation? Linking public health and environmental degradation

(05/22/2014) Dr. Christopher Golden is an explorer on a mission. As both an epidemiologist and ecologist, he is investigating and expanding the interface between human and ecosystem health. This year, Golden was appointed the Director of Wildlife Conservation Society's HEAL (Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages) Program.


Zero-deforestation commitments pose acute challenges for commercial giants in the palm oil industry

(05/22/2014) The path to zero-deforestation appears to be paved with good intentions, but how successful are these companies in staying on that path? A controversial proposal to construct a refinery in the wildlife-rich Balikpapan Bay in Indonesian Borneo highlights the challenges faced by both palm oil companies and conservationists in the face of zero-deforestation commitments.


DRC seeks $1B to save its rainforest

(05/22/2014) The Democratic Republic of Congo is seeking a billion dollars for a plan to protect up to 9 million hectares of rainforests, reports the Financial Times.


Olinguito, tinkerbell, and a dragon: meet the top 10 new species of 2013

(05/22/2014) Out of around 18,000 new species described and named last year, scientists have highlighted ten in an effort to raise awareness about the imperiled biodiversity around us. Each species—from a teddy-bear-like carnivore in the Andes to a microbe that survives clean rooms where spaceships are built—stands out from the crowd for one reason or another.


Happy Amazon: $215 million raised for world's largest protected area network

(05/21/2014) By all standards the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) program is gargantuan: the network includes over 90 parks, covers 51 million hectares, and comprises 15 percent of Brazil's Amazon. But protecting an area bigger than Spain isn't cheap or easy. Today, a broad coalition of government donors and private funders have announced $215 million to secure ARPA over the next 25 years.


Timber concessions in Sumatra have high conservation value, according to report

(05/21/2014) Five industrial plantation forest concessions that supply timber to PT Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) in South Sumatra – locally known as HTI concessions – are areas of high conservation value inhabited by endangered Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae) and other endemic wildlife, according to a report issued at the end of March.


Climate change's ominous secret

(05/21/2014) Climate change is happening and humans are causing it, primarily from the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide caused by burning fossil fuels. This much we know. The 'secret' comes from changes happening in the fast-warming Arctic: we may be surprisingly close to an Earth that supports far fewer humans than it does today.


Epidemic of elephant calf kidnapping hits Sri Lanka, say conservationists

(05/21/2014) In Sri Lanka, an underground wildlife racket has been simmering for a while. And a recent incident has brought it to a boil. On the night of May 1st, a gang attempted to kidnap a wild elephant calf out of the Uduwalawe National Park in Sri Lanka. But tipped off by alert villagers, police and wildlife officers foiled the abduction.


PepsiCo announces zero deforestation commitment for palm oil

(05/21/2014) The 450,000 tons of palm oil sourced annually by PepsiCo will be largely free of deforestation and peatlands conversion by 2016 under a policy announced last week by the food and drink giant. But some environmental activists are expressing reservations about the commitment, asserting that the safeguards are weaker than those set by other consumer products giants like Unilever and Nestle.


The matrix matters: scientists find surprising biodiversity between forests

(05/20/2014) In human-dominated countryside areas, forests are often fragmented and scattered among a matrix of developments such as plantations and pastures. Scientists have long overlooked the habitat value of these matrices. However, according to a recent study published in Nature, the biodiversity of altered countryside areas that exist between islands of fragmented forests can be significant and deserving of conservation attention.


Hope in the Heart of Darkness: huge population of chimpanzees discovered in the DRC

(05/20/2014) A recent study describes a new population of chimpanzees, which forms a continuous cultural group inhabiting an area of at least 50,000 square kilometers (19,000 square miles). The population, estimated to consist of many thousands of individuals, shares a unique set of learned skills that are passed on from generation to generation.


Chinese officials seize nearly a thousand dead pangolins

(05/20/2014) In one of the biggest pangolin trafficking cases yet recorded in China, officials confiscated 956 animals stuffed into 189 coolers this month. The dead pangolins were being carried overland in a truck, with the total haul weighing four tonnes. The traffickers were caught at the border of Guangdong Province. If convicted, they face up to ten years in jail.


Camera trap catches rare feline attempting to tackle armored prey (VIDEO)

(05/19/2014) One of the world's least known wild cats may have taken on more than it could handle in a recent video released by the Gashaka Biodiversity Project from Nigeria's biggest national park, Gashaka Gumti.


Dams be damned: study finds large dams are too expensive

(05/19/2014) Hydroelectric power, supplied mostly from dams, provides approximately 20 percent of the world's electricity, an amount of energy equivalent to 3.6 billion barrels of oil. However, a recent study by researchers at Oxford University has found that large dams cost so much money and take so long to build that they may not be economically viable.


The quiet zoo revolution

(05/19/2014) A quiet zoo revolution has also been occurring over the past twenty-five years. Rather than just stand by the sidelines as species vanish in the wild, many zoos have begun funding on-the-ground conservation efforts. This revolution signals a widening realization by zoos of the positive—and wholly unique—role they could play in combating global mass extinction. But are zoos doing enough?


Greenpeace: Timber laundering rampant in the Brazilian Amazon

(05/18/2014) A two-year investigation by Greenpeace has revealed the extent of timber laundering in two major Brazilian Amazon states: Pará and Mato Grosso. The report, published last week, suggests that fraud is widespread in the Brazilian timber industry. Loggers are using loopholes and outright deception to game regulations that aim to reduce the environmental impact of timber extraction.


Hong Kong begins destroying 131,000 pounds of elephant ivory

(05/17/2014) Hong Kong has begun destroying its 29.6-metric-ton stockpile of confiscated ivory. On Thursday authorities in the semi-autonomous Chinese city crushed and incinerated a ton of seized ivory in an action they hope will send a message to poachers and traffickers.


Indonesia's biological wonders are worth the fight

(05/17/2014) Environmentalists and conservation people, including myself, are a whining lot. It’s our professional affliction to complain about everything that is wrong about the world’s environments and the conservation of its species. Where most people would look at a landscape and see beautiful views, green trees, and big skies, we see ecological devastation in the making, the wrong birds in those trees, and the signs of changing climate.


Rainforest Alliance eco-certified coffee hits 1 billion pounds

(05/17/2014) Coffee produced under the Rainforest Alliance's certification system topped a billion pounds (455,000 million tons) for the first time in 2013.


Publishing industry dramatically reduces reliance on rainforest fiber

(05/17/2014) The world's largest publishing companies have adopted policies that significantly curtail use of paper sourced from rainforest destruction and social conflict, finds a new assessment published by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN). The report looks at sourcing policies for the ten biggest publishing houses and compares them with the state of the industry in 2010.


Lemur expert becomes first woman to win top conservation prize

(05/17/2014) Lemur expert Patricia C. Wright has become the first woman to win the prestigious Indianapolis Prize, an award granted every two years for achievement in wildlife conservation. Wright was chosen for her contributions to wildlife conservation in Madagascar, where she's worked with lemurs for nearly 30 years.


Dancing frogs: scientists discover 14 new species in India (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

(05/16/2014) Scientists have discovered 14 new species of frogs in the mountainous tropical forests of India’s Western Ghats, all of which are described in a recent study published in the Ceylon Journal of Science. The new species are all from a single genus, and are collectively referred to as “dancing frogs” due to the unusual courtship behavior of the males.


Connecting forests, saving species: conservation group plans extensive wildlife corridor in Panama

(05/16/2014) With the cooperation of hundreds of ranchers and researchers, Azuero Earth Project aims to replant a swath of tropical dry forest, connecting the dry tropical forest on the coast to cloud forest further inland. The trees along the 140-kilometer (80-mile) wildlife corridor will create a continuous habitat for the Critically Endangered Azuero spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi azuerensis) and improve the soil for people who farm and ranch along the way.


53 indigenous activists on trial for police-protester massacre in Peru

(05/15/2014) In the summer of 2009, on a highway in Peru known as Devil's Curve: everything went wrong. For months, indigenous groups had protested new laws by then President Alan Garcia opening up the Amazon to deregulated logging, fossil fuels, and other extractive industries as a part of free trade agreements with the U.S.


Scientists discover giant sperm fossilized in bat feces (PHOTOS)

(05/15/2014) In a cave in Australia, researchers from the University of New South Wales discovered giant fossilized sperm. The sperm were produced 17 million years ago by a group of tiny, shelled crustaceans called ostracods, making them the oldest fossilized sperm ever found. The results were published recently in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


Former Miss South Pacific steps into new conservation role

(05/15/2014) Alisi Rabukawaqa, an articulate, vibrant, 26-year-old Fijian known in Oceania as Miss South Pacific 2011, has set her sights on a novel conservation program in Fiji. The Conservation Officer program, created in 2013, supports natural resource management within villages in Fiji and links them with the government arm overseeing the needs of indigenous Fijians. Mongabay.org Special Reporting Initiative Fellow Amy West sits down for an interview.


Chinese poachers caught with 555 marine turtles, most dead (PHOTOS)

(05/15/2014) On Friday, eleven Chinese fishermen were caught by Filipino police with 555 marine turtles, 378 of which were dead. Officials in the Philippines have since released the 177 living turtles. But the incident has sparked an international standoff between the Philippines and China as the Chinese nationals were arrested in disputed waters in the South China Sea.


Vazaha is Malagasy for 'gringo': Conservation, national identity, and conflicting interest in Madagascar

(05/15/2014) In the fight for conservation Madagascar is without a doubt on the front lines. Not only are most of its forests already destroyed—with a mere 10% of intact forest remaining at best—but there's still much to lose in what remains. Madagascar is listed as having the third highest primate diversity in the world, with all primate species being lemurs.


New report reveals human rights abuses by corporations, governments in the Amazon

(05/14/2014) Regnskogfondet (the Rainforest Foundation of Norway) recently released a 52-page report that gives an in-depth account of the conflicts activists and indigenous peoples (IPs) are having with corporations and governmental agencies. It relays a situation that does not look good.


Tipping point already reached? West Antarctica in slow-motion, unstoppable melt

(05/14/2014) Two hundred years from now, the planet could look very different. This week two landmark studies revealed that West Antarctica's ice sheet is in a state of seemingly inevitable collapse linked to climate change. The slow-motion collapse would by itself eventually lead to a rise in global levels of 3.6-4.5 meters (12-15 feet).


Scientists uncover new marine mammal genus, represented by single endangered species

(05/14/2014) This is the story of three seals: the Caribbean, the Hawaiian, and the Mediterranean monk seals. Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, the Caribbean monk seal was a hugely abundant marine mammal found across the Caribbean, and even recorded by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage, whose men killed several for food.


NASA data: 1997 all over again for Indonesia?

(05/14/2014) The latest data from NASA shows that conditions developing in the tropical Pacific are eerily similar to those in 1997, when El Niño wreaked havoc across Indonesia, spurring a severe drought that exacerbated massive peatland and forest fires which spread choking haze across much of South and Southeast Asia.


'Simmering conflict': the delicate balancing act of protecting India's wilderness

(05/13/2014) The Western Ghats of southern India, one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, is a 1600-kilometer (1000-mile) mountain chain that runs parallel to the western coast of the Indian subcontinent. It traverses six states and is home to as many as 250 million people. In an interview with mongabay.com, M.D. Madhusudan of the Nature Conservation Foundation discusses the importance and challenges of establishing protected areas in India.


Ag giant ADM boosts greener palm oil

(05/13/2014) Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) will join a growing list of companies committing to stricter standards for palm oil production as part of an effort to reduce environmental damage and social conflict associated with the crop.


Featured video: John Oliver skewers media 'balance' on climate science in viral video

(05/13/2014) Sometimes you need comedians to tell the truth. On his new show, Last Week Tonight, comedian John Oliver took on the poor state of media reporting on climate science.


Uncovering the impact of big banks on the Amazon

(05/13/2014) Mongabay.org announces up to $30,000 environmental reporting grant: The Brazilian Development Bank & The Amazon. In recent years the Brazilian Development Bank BNDES as emerged as a goliath financier of large-scale energy and infrastructure development in the Amazon and elsewhere in South America. But as projects have mushroomed across the continent, so have the social and environmental impacts.


Scientists release odd-looking, Critically Endangered crocodiles back into the wild (PHOTOS)

(05/13/2014) Among the largest and most endangered crocodilians in the world, the gharial is on the verge of extinction today. This harmless fish-eating crocodile has fewer than 200 adult breeding individuals in the wild, their numbers having plummeted rapidly over the past few decades. But among this gloom and doom, conservationists have been working tirelessly to reinstate the wild populations.


Leonardo DiCaprio donates $1M toward ending elephant poaching crisis

(05/12/2014) Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has stepped up with a $1 million donation to the Elephant Crisis Fund, an initiative that aims to stop the ivory poaching crisis.


Chinese luxury furniture linked to murder, near extinction

(05/12/2014) Intricately carved, meticulously designed, and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars: this is "hongmu," or Chinese luxury furniture reflecting the elite styles of the Ming and Qing dynasties. But while the red-colored furniture may be aesthetically beautiful, it comes with a blood price.


India, not China, has the world's worst urban air pollution

(05/12/2014) Breathing in urban India is hard: of the world's top twenty cities with the worst air, 13 of them are found in India, according to a new analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO). Despite the attention recently given to Chinese cities for atrocious air pollution, many of India's cities are actually worse when comparing annual averages of fine airborne particulates.


After 89-year absence a wolf returns to Iowa...and is shot dead

(05/12/2014) DNA testing has confirmed that an animal shot in February in Iowa's Buchanan County was in fact a wolf, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. This is the first confirmed gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the U.S. state since 1925.


Borneo bests Amazon in terms of giant tree growth rates

(05/11/2014) Trees in the rainforests of Borneo have faster growth rates than those in the Amazon, finds a study published in the Journal of Ecology.


Environmentalists lament light sentence in Tripa peatland destruction case

(05/10/2014) Environmental groups blasted a 'lenient' sentence imposed on the director of a palm oil company that illegally destroyed an area of endangered peat forest in Indonesia's Aceh Province.


Obama: palm oil destroying Malaysia's rainforests

(05/09/2014) President Obama elevated the issue of destruction of rainforests for palm oil production during his brief visit to Malaysia last week.


Coral could prevent HIV: newly discovered protein blocks infection

(05/09/2014) In the waters off the coast of northern Australia lives a species of feathery coral. Years ago, bits of it were collected by the Australian Institute of Marine Science and stored at the National Cancer Institute’s extract repository, along with 200,000 other samples. Researchers retrieved and tested this coral sample, and recently reported that it was very effective at blocking HIV infection of host cells.


Loss of wildlife and deforestation can increase human disease

(05/08/2014) Deforestation is wiping out habitat for plants and animals around the world. It is linked to reductions in air and water quality, hastening climate change, and is contributing to increased rates of drought and fire. Now, for the first time, researchers have found that deforestation may also lead to a heightened risk of human disease


Special Report: Lake Toba indigenous people fight for their frankincense forest

(05/08/2014) It was a cool and foggy day in Dolok Ginjang forest, but that did not stop villagers of Pandumaan and Sipituhuta in North Sumatra from heading to work to extract frankincense from the trunks of its tall trees. Frankincense, an aromatic tree resin used in perfumes and incense, is the primary source of income for local people in the area. However, that routine has been disrupted for the past few years as land conflict has erupted between villagers and wood pulp producer PT Toba Pulp Lestari over the forest area.


Elephants in the midst: warning system prevents human-elephant conflicts in India, saves lives

(05/08/2014) Indian elephants once freely roamed the rich mid-elevation evergreen forests of the Valparai plateau in the Western Ghats, one of the world’s mega biodiversity regions, but they can’t move the way they used to. Ever-increasing commercial plantations and settlements have become obstacles to the daily and seasonal movements of elephants, creating more chances for often-deadly encounters between humans and elephants.


China pledges $10 million to combat poaching in Africa

(05/08/2014) The Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, has pledged $100 million to combat poaching in Africa during a visit to the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.


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