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News articles on africa
Mongabay.com news articles on africa in blog format. Updated regularly.
(12/21/2007) Genetic analysis that the world's tallest animal--the giraffe--may actually be several species, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Biology. Existing taxonomy recognizes only one species of giraffe.
Photo: African wild dog pup gets a health check up
(12/14/2007) African wild dogs are among the most threatened canines on the planet.
New theory on the evolution of pygmies
(12/10/2007) The small body size of forest-dwelling "pygmies" evolved as a life history consequence of early death, not as an adaptation to their environment or endurance against starvation, argues a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
World's largest spitting cobra discovered in Kenya
(12/09/2007) The world's largest spitting cobra has been discovered in Kenya, according to WildlifeDirect, a conservation group.
Pictures of new species discovered in West Africa
(12/06/2007) Scientists have discovered significant populations of new, rare and threatened species in one of the largest remaining blocks of tropical forest in West Africa, reports conservation International (CI). The findings underscore the need to conserve the area's high biological richness.
Tropical forests face huge threat from industrial agriculture
(12/05/2007) With forest conversion for large-scale agriculture rapidly emerging as a leading driver of tropical deforestation, a new report from the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) suggests the trend is likely to continue with Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Peru, and Colombia containing 75 percent of the world's forested land that is highly suitable for industrial agriculture expansion. Nevertheless the study identifies forests that may be best suited (low population density, unsuitable climate and soils) for "Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation" (REDD) initiatives which compensate countries for preserving forest lands in exchange for carbon credits.
Rare gorillas use weapons to attack forest-intruding humans
(12/05/2007) Following the first documented cases of the Cross River gorillas -- world's most endangered gorilla -- throwing sticks and clumps of grass when threatened by people, the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) has announced new research to better protect the species from poaching and encroachment.
Returns from carbon offsets could beat palm oil in Congo DRC
(12/04/2007) A proposal to pay the Democratic of Congo (DRC) for reducing deforestation could add 15-50 percent to the amount of international aid given to the warn-torn country, reports a new study published by scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC). The funds would help alleviate rural poverty while cutting emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting threatened biodiversity.
Coral reefs with seasonal temperatures may survive climate change
(11/29/2007) Scientists have revealed an important discovery that raises doubts concerning the viability of plans to fertilize the ocean to solve global warming, a projected $100 billion venture.
Ecomigration: global warming will increase environmental refugees
(11/28/2007) Climate change could spawn the largest-ever migration of environmental refugees due to intensifying droughts, storms and floods, according to a new study published in Human Ecology.
Biodiversity conservation will only work if local people benefit
(11/19/2007) Biodiversity loss is already having an economic impact in Africa according to a 7-year monitoring project underwritten by Europeans and African governments. The project, known as the Biodiversity Monitoring Transect Analysis in Africa (BIOTA), relies on a network of biodiversity observatories equipped with weather stations, sensors and a monitoring program that includes remote sensing, data on soil fertility and agricultural indicators. Dr. Nina Farwig, a scientist at the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz and a participating member of BIOTA-East Africa, says that conservation efforts in the tropics will only be effective if the local people benefit. Her work with BIOTA shows that even in the absence of extensive forest cover, a patchwork of agricultural landscapes can contribute to the biodiversity conservation.
Rainforest Reserve Established in DR Congo to save bonobo
(11/19/2007) The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has announced the creation of a 11,803-square mile rainforest reserve to protect the habitat of the endangered bonobo, the so-called "peaceful chimp". The reserve is located in the Sankuru region, an area that experienced extensive fighting during the long-running civil war in the Congo.
Missing link between humans and apes possibly discovered
(11/12/2007) A 10 million-year-old jawbone discovered in Kenya may represent a new species very close to the last common ancestor of gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans, report researchers writing in the current issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Climbing Africa's second highest mountain
(11/05/2007) Mount Kenya, Africa's second highest mountain, is said to be one of the continent's most beautiful hikes. Located less than three hours' drive from Nairobi, Mount Kenya is accessible and makes for a great add-on for fit travelers looking to do more than the standard safari in Kenya.
Central Africa's 'Most Beautiful Waterfall' to be destroyed
(11/04/2007) One of Africa's most dramatic waterfalls will be destroyed by a hydroelectric project in Gabon, according to reports from a Gabonese NGO and the Inter Press Service (IPS).
Madagascar fires mapped with Google Earth in real-time
(10/29/2007) Every year as much as one-third of Madagascar, one of the planet's most biodiverse islands, goes up in flames. Now a new tool gives scientists the ability to monitor and track Madagascar's fires in real-time through the Internet.
Parasites a key to the decline of red colobus monkeys in forest fragments
(10/25/2007) Forest fragmentation threatens biodiversity, often causing declines or local extinctions in a majority of species while enhancing the prospects of a few. A new study from the University of Illinois shows that parasites can play a pivotal role in the decline of species in fragmented forests. This is the first study to look at how forest fragmentation increases the burden of infectious parasites on animals already stressed by disturbances to their habitat.
Uganda cancels controversial rainforest logging plan
(10/18/2007) Uganda's government abandoned a controversial plan to grant protected rainforest land to a sugar company, reports Reuters.
Elephants use smell to distinguish hunters from farmers
(10/18/2007) Elephants can determine whether a human is a friend or foe by their scent, reports new research published in Current Biology.
Congo pygmies to meet World Bank President Zoellick over forest destruction
(10/17/2007) A delegation of 'Pygmies' from Democratic Republic of Congo are visiting Washington this week to discuss World Bank-sanctioned logging of their rainforest home. The 'Pygmies' are scheduled to meet with bank President Robert Zoellick, according to the Rainforest Foundation, a lobby group that sponsored the trip.
Dams can pose security risk to Africa
(10/04/2007) Floods are the most destructive, most frequent and most costly natural disasters on earth. And they are getting worse. In recent weeks, 14 African nations have seen their worst floods in decades. More than a million people have been affected, over 200 drowned, and countless others made homeless across the continent. At least some of this suffering was preventable.
Ebola outbreak in Congo kills 166
(09/12/2007) An Ebola outbreak has been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reported the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday.
Rebels invade Congo gorilla sanctuary, park rangers evacuated
(09/04/2007) Guerillas have invaded Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, causing park rangers to flee, and leaving critically endangered mountain gorillas at great risk, reports Wildlife Direct, a group that promotes wildlife protection through blogs by rangers and conservationists.
Climate change drove human evolution
(09/03/2007) Climate change appears to have been a significant driver of human evolution, report researchers writing in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).
Loss of livestock breeds put food supplies at risk in poor countries
(09/03/2007) A number of rare livestock breeds face extinction, a prospects the weakens genetic diversity and could be the food supply at risk in some parts of the world, warns a new report from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The group calls for the immediate establishment of genebanks to conserve reproductive material from the most threatened breeds.
Large mammals disappearing from Africa's parks
(08/31/2007) Large mammals are disappearing from Africa's national parks, warn researchers writing in the September 2007 issue of the African Journal of Ecology.
U.N. sends team to investigate gorilla killings
(08/10/2007) The U.N. said it will send a team of experts to probe the killings of critically endangered mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Four gorillas were shot "execution-style" last month, while three others have been killed so far this year. Rangers believe illegal charcoal harvesters from Goma are to blame.
New species discovered in "lost" African forest
(08/07/2007) Scientists have discovered several unknown species during an expedition to a forest that has been off-limits to researcher for nearly 50 years due to civil strife.
Sunspot activity linked to rainfall in Africa
(08/06/2007) A new study reveals correlations between plentiful sunspots and periods of heavy rain in East Africa. Intense rainfall in the region often leads to flooding and disease outbreaks.
Foreign fishing fleets deplete African fish stocks
(07/18/2007) Heavily subsidized foreign fishing fleets are depleting coastal fish stocks of poor Africa countries, reports The Wall Street Journal.
"Living fossil" fish captured in Zanzibar
(07/16/2007) Fishermen in Zanzibar have caught a coelacanth, reports Reuters.
African Flamingo population gravely threatened by industrial development
(07/16/2007) Tata Chemicals, a division of the biggest multinational industrial conglomerate in India, is planning to build a huge soda ash plant at Lake Natron, one of the most important lakes for waterbirds in Africa. The scale of the planned development is very likely to destroy the ecosystem of the lake and drive away the breeding flamingos.
NASA images show expansion of logging in Congo rainforest
(07/15/2007) New high resolution images of logging roads in the Congo region of Africa are helping researchers understand the expansion of industrial logging in Central Africa.
Agents of death for wildlife become jewelry in Zambia
(07/12/2007) Craftswomen in Zambia are turning snares formerly used to illegal kill wildlife into jewelry. Called "snareware", the handmade jewelry is part of a program that has grossed $350,000 for rural communities and helped protect endangered wildlife.
How long does it take reef fish to recover from overfishing?
(07/11/2007) Recovery of fish populations from overfishing can take decades, reports a new study based on 37 years of observations.
Poverty and corruption reduce effectiveness of rainforest parks
(07/09/2007) Poverty and corruption are linked to higher incidence of fire in tropical forest reserves, reports a new study published in the journal Ecological Applications. Poor, corrupt countries -- like Cambodia, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Sierra Leone -- have the least effective parks when measured in terms of the incidence of fire relative to surrounding "buffer" areas. The findings have significant implications for rainforest conservation efforts.
Metal workers recycle to escape poverty in Madagascascar
(07/06/2007) A ride across the Madagascar countryside can feel like stepping back in time on this tropical island off the east coast of Africa. There is no bustle of big cities. The Malagasy, as the people of Madagascar are known, live much like their forefathers in small communities where traditions are passed down through the generations. They live without any contemporary conveniences including running water, electricity, automobiles, televisions, or even shoes. They commute on foot, or with larger loads, in a wooden cart pulled by zebu, a type of large, bony oxen. Their houses are mostly constructed from available materials including sticks or bricks of dried mud collected from surrounding rice fields.
UNESCO lists rainforest parks of Madagascar as Heritage sites
(07/02/2007) UNESCO has listed six rainforest parks in Madagascar as World Heritage sites. The announcement comes as the Indian Ocean island nation has moved aggressively to protect its biologically-rich forests from further degradation.
Madagascar rainforests get World Heritage Listing
(06/27/2007) The World Heritage Committee has named the rainforests of Madagascar as one of three new UNESCO World Heritage List sites.
Rainforest trees colonized Africa from the Amazon
(06/24/2007) A giant rainforest tree is helping scientists understand similarities between African and South American rainforests, reports research published in the journal Molecular Ecology.
Time running out for world's rarest gorilla
(06/21/2007) Time is running out for the world's rarest subspecies of gorilla, the Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) from the mountainous border region between Cameroon and Nigeria. With less than 300 individuals remaining, conservationists have drawn up a new plan to save the great ape from extinction.
Dam protest leaves four dead in Sudan
(06/14/2007) Four people were killed and at least 10 wounded when police dispersed a group of protesters in Sudan, reports Sapa-AFP. The domestrators had gathered to protest a dam in the Kijbar region. Local press said that police fired on group as they tried to attack construction equipment being used to build the dam.
African elephants get 9-year reprieve
(06/14/2007) African countries have agreed to extend a ban on ivory exports for another nine years. In a deal reached Wednesday at the meeting of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in The Hague, four African countries will be allowed to sell their ivory stockpiles to raise funds for conservation and community development efforts. The ivory had been intercepted from black market transactions and the sale by Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe had been previously approved. The four countries say their elephant populations are increasing thanks to conservation and law enforcement efforts.
Massive wildlife population discovered in Southern Sudan
(06/12/2007) Aerial surveys by the New York-based Wildlife conservation Society found more than 1.3 million white-eared kob, tiang antelope and Mongalla gazelle in Southern Sudan, despite decades of civil war. The population, which includes more than 8,000 elephants, rivals that of the legendary Serengeti in Tanzania and suggests that the region is of critical importance for conservation efforts.
Chinese demand drives global deforestation
(06/10/2007) From outside, Cameroon's Ngambe-Tikar forest looks like a compact, tangled mass of healthy emerald green foliage. But tracks between the towering tropical hardwood trees open up into car park-sized clearings littered with logs as long as buses. Forestry officers say the reserve is under attack from unscrupulous commercial loggers who work outside authorized zones and do not respect size limits in their quest for maximum financial returns.
Logging roads rapidly expanding in Congo rainforest
(06/07/2007) Logging roads are rapidly expanding in the Congo rainforest, report researchers who have constructed the first satellite-based maps of road construction in Central Africa. The authors say the work will help conservation agencies, governments, and scientists better understand how the expansion of logging is impacting the forest, its inhabitants, and global climate.
Illegal elephant ivory reaches the U.S.
(06/05/2007) Illegally poached elephant ivory is reaching markets in the United States reports a conservation group presenting at the wildlife trade conference meeting in The Hague. Care for the Wild International found 23,741 ivory items in surveys of stores in 15 American cities. The group said half the ivory pieces for sale in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu were imported illegally, while less than 10 percent of such goods on the east coast were illicit.
Elephants respond to calls from friends, not strangers
(06/05/2007) Elephants can distinguish between friendly calls and those of strangers reports a new study covered in ScienceNOW Daily News. In 2004 Caitlin O'Connell-Rodwell of Stanford University discovered that elephants use low-frequency, partially infrasonic ground vibrations to communicate with each other from miles away. The pachyderms press their trunks against the ground to detect the calls.
Sale of elephant ivory to Japan approved
(06/03/2007) The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) approved the sale of 60 tons of elephant ivory to Japan prior to the start of a 12-day wildlife conference in The Hague, Netherlands. The agency, which oversees the trade in wildlife products, said that South Africa, Botswana and Namibia can ivory from stocks gathered from elephants that have died naturally. The proceeds will go to a conservation fund.
Does drought cause war?
(05/30/2007) A new study links drought to the outbreak of war, reports New Scientist Magazine.
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