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News articles on biodiversity
Mongabay.com news articles on biodiversity in blog format. Updated regularly.
(10/08/2008) 52 percent of the amphibians, 35 percent of birds and 71 percent of reef-building coral are "particularly susceptible" to climate change, warns an IUCN report.
Proposal to make animal logos pay for wildlife programs
(10/08/2008) They are everywhere: images of animals and nature to market large corporations’ products. There is the simply-sketched penguin on every Penguin Book; the leaping silver jaguar from the car company of the same name; the jumping helmet-wearing dolphin of the Miami Dolphins’ football team; and the ubiquitous talking gecko used in Geico auto insurance commercials. Such logos have always been free; however a new campaign, Save Your Logo, will encourage corporations with animal or nature logos to support endangered species and their dwindling habitats.
Rare Amur leopard photographed for the first time with kill
(10/08/2008) With just over thirty individuals left, every photograph of an Amur leopard in the wild is news. But recently released photos are the first to show an Amur leopard at a livestock kill, making them even more important. According to an article from Wildlife Alliance, on September 8th a staff member of the Gamov sika deer farm contacted Eugene Stoma with news about an Amur leopard that had entered the farm and killed three deer. Stoma is the leader of an anti-poaching squad that protects the remaining leopards. After locating the leopard’s kill, Stoma and his team placed camera traps around the kill, hoping the leopard would return. The leopard did return yielding three photos from various angles.
Forest corridors key to maintaining biodiversity in fragmented landscape
(10/07/2008) Alta Floresta, a region in the Brazilian Amazon state of Mato Grosso, has experienced one of the highest deforestation rates on the planet since the mid-1980s due to the influx of colonists and ranchers who converted nearly half the region's forest land to pasture and agricultural plots. The change has had significant ecological impacts, including reducing the availability of water, increasing the incidence of forest fires, fragmenting remaining forest cover, and diminishing the quality of habitat for wildlife.
U.S. to ban oil drilling in new Arctic reserves for polar bears
(10/07/2008) The U.S. Department of the Interior will designate two Arctic reserves in areas considered critical habitat for polar bears as part of a legal settlement with environmental groups, reports Reuters. The reserves will be off-limits of oil development and must be established by June 30, 2010.
Climate change may trigger spread of disease from animals to people
(10/07/2008) Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) experts have released a report warning of 12 "zoonotic" or animal-linked diseases that are likely to spread due to climate change. Released today at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona the report, entitled "The Deadly Dozen: Wildlife Diseases in the Age of Climate Change", argues for preliminary action and research to keep ahead of spreading disease.
One quarter to one third of mammals threatened with extinction
(10/06/2008) One in four of the world's land mammal species and one in three marine mammal species is threatened with extinction, according to an update of the IUCN Red List, the gold standard for the conservation status of global biodiversity.
An interview with ringtailed lemur expert Alison Jolly
(10/06/2008) Madagascar has more than 100 types of lemurs, but the most famous species is the ringtailed lemur, a primate found widely in the southern part of the Indian Ocean island. The world's leading expert on ringtailed lemurs is Alison Jolly, presently a Visiting Scientist at the University of Sussex in the UK. Since arriving on the Indian Ocean island in 1963, Jolly has documented the behavior and population dynamics of ringtailed lemurs in Berenty, a small private reserve of gallery forest amid a sea of desert-like spiny forest in southern Madagascar.
Half of the world's mammal species in decline (update)
(10/06/2008) Half of the world's mammal species are in decline, according to a new assessment of the planet's 5,487 mammals.
Zoos: Why a Revolution is Necessary to Justify Them
(10/05/2008) Watching a Siberian tiger kill a grey squirrel for a half-hour proved to be one of my most enlightening experiences at a zoo. It was a weekday; I was alone, not even an employee passed by. The tiger pounced on the squirrel, flipped it into the air like a juggler's ball, pinned it and rolled it. A short reprieve from this unlikely encounter and the bloodied, half-crushed squirrel attempted an escape, dragging itself across the grass; the tiger watched curiously, let it go a few feet then pounced again. My whole self suffered over the squirrel's pain and torture while marveling in the same instance at the tiger's power, the ease with which it knocked the rodent along the ground. Here in an institution where nature is faked was a relatively truthful half-hour: nature's brutality, grace, ugliness, awe, beauty, and tragedy were reveled. I never could conclude whether the Asian terror was just playing or if it simply lacked the knowledge (as has been proven with many captive cats) to finish off the squirrel. Either way, it took a long time for the rodent to die.
First captive black rhinos released into the wild in 25 years
(10/03/2008) Fifteen critically-endangered black rhinos have been released at an undisclosed location in Kenya with hopes that this pioneer group will breed naturally, repopulating an area they once roamed abundantly. The release is the first time in 25 years that captive rhinos have been returned to the wild.
20 waterbirds added to threatened list
(10/02/2008) The U.N. has added 20 species of migratory waterbird to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) giving them greater international protection in Africa, Europe, and Asia.
Cheetah population stabilizes in Namibia with support from farmers
(10/02/2008) Viewing the world's fastest land animal as a threat to their livestock, in the 1980s farmers killed half of Namibia's cheetah population. The trend continued into the early 1990s, when the population was diminished again by nearly half, leaving less than 2,500 cheetah in the southern African country. Today cheetah populations have stabilized due, in large part, to the efforts of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, an organization founded by Dr. Laurie Marker.
Good news for amphibians: three new species and one "extinct" frog discovered
(10/01/2008) Amphibians have received a lot of bleak news recently. Last week a report from the Zoological Society of London and EDGE stated that 50 percent of Europe’s amphibians will go extinct by 2050 unless more is done for their conservation. Meanwhile a report published in August found that one in three amphibians worldwide are threatened with extinction, while 200 species have already been lost since the 1980s. Therefore the discovery of three new frog species and the rediscovery of one thought to be extinct provide a little respite from such bad tidings.
Wildlife experts descend on San Francisco
(09/30/2008) Wildlife experts from around the world are arriving in San Francisco ahead of a conservation expo that gives the public the opportunity to meet, in person, the people who are saving endangered wildlife. The event — put on by the Wildlife Conservation Network, an innovative group that uses a "venture capital" model to support promising conservation projects — will showcase the efforts of 18 conservationists on Saturday, October 4th from 10 am to 6 pm at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco.
Cheetah population declines 90% in 100 years
(09/30/2008) The planet's fastest land animal is falling behind in its race for survival against habitat encroachment, loss of prey, the illegal wildlife trade, and disease. Once found widely across the African continent to Kazakhstan in the north to Burma in the East, the cheetah has seen a dramatic reduction of its range and numbers in recent centuries as livestock holders have relentlessly killed off the cat as a threat to their livelihoods. Today the cheetah clings to strongholds in only a few African nations. Among these is the southern African country of Botswana, which harbors large expanses of prime cheetah habitat. Still even in Bostwana, the cheetah faces challenges.
More than half of Europe's amphibians face extinction by 2050
(09/28/2008) Researchers with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) said over half of European amphibians face extinction in less than fifty years due to a perfect storm of threats: climate change, habitat loss, and disease. The announcement came at an event titled ‘Amphibians in a climate of change' hosted by Sir. David Attenborough, one of the world's most well-known wildlife enthusiasts due to his long career making nature documentaries.
'Snow leopard' of the Andes is one of the world's most endangered cats
(09/28/2008) One of the world's rarest cats is also one of its least known. The Andean mountain cat, sometimes called the "snow leopard" of the Andes, is an elusive species found only at high elevations of the Andean region in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. Little is known about its ecology and behavior. While the species is known to be rare, no one knows how many individuals survive in the wild. Mauro Lucherini and his colleagues at the Andean Cat Alliance(AGA) are working to change this.
Painted Dog population falls 99%, but community efforts could save species
(09/28/2008) The painted dog, or African wild dog, was once found widely across Africa but relentless persecution by humans, coupled with habitat loss and spread of disease from domestic dogs, has driven the population down from 500,000 to less than 5,000 over the past century. The species is now listed as endangered by the IUCN. While the outlook is not good in many countries, there are emerging signs of hope, particularly in Zimbabwe where the efforts of a community-based conservation project has nearly doubled the population of the dog to 700 individuals.
"Punk-rock" monkey and handbags made from recycled trash inspire conservation in Colombia
(09/25/2008) A small, but charismatic primate has become the symbol for conservation efforts in an area of threatened forest in northwestern Colombia, says a conservationist who helped pioneer a successful community development program that turns trash into attractive handbags. Rosamira Guillen, Executive Director of the Fundación Proyecto Tití, is working with local communities to protect the endangered Cotton-top tamarin and its tropical dry forest habitat in northwestern Colombia. The effort relies heavily on creating alternative livelihoods for local people who would otherwise collect the squirrel-sized primate for the pet trade or raze its habitat for agriculture. In the process, Fundación Proyecto Tití has created a thriving business that converts plastic bags — a source or mortality among cotton-top tamarins — into fashionable "eco-mochilas" that are now sent all over the world.
Logging, wildlife trade drive sun bears toward extinction
(09/25/2008) Industrial logging, large-scale forest conversion for oil palm plantations, and the illegal wildlife trade have left sun bears the rarest species of bear on the planet. Recognizing their dire status, Siew Te Wong, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Montana, is working in Malaysia to save the species from extinction. Known as "Sun Bear Man" in some circles, Siew Te Wong is setting up the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sabah, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. The project aims to save sun bears, which have largely overlooked by conservationists, through research, education, rehabilitation, and habitat conservation.
Bushmeat trade "most significant" threat to Africa's wildlife says Richard Leakey
(09/24/2008) Maverick conservationist, Richard Leakey, writes that "commercial bushmeat hunting has become the most significant immediate threat to the future of wildlife in Africa and around the world" in an article on Wildlife Direct. Founded by Leakey, Wildlife Direct is a nonprofit allowing researchers and wildlife organizations in Africa and Asia to connect directly with supporters through blogs.
12 fish species go extinct in lake near Istanbul
(09/24/2008) Turkey has lost twelve species of fish to pollution in Lake Sapanca. Lake Sapanca used to be one of Turkey's most bio-diverse lakes. A decade ago the lake's water was pristine enough to be pumped directly to Istanbul for citizen use, but due to rising pollution it no longer serves as a source for the city water.
100 new species of sharks and rays discovered in Australia
(09/19/2008) Scientists have described 100 new species of sharks and rays in the seas around Australia.
Unknown but critically endangered iguana species discovered in Fiji
(09/19/2008) Researchers have discovered a third species of iguana in the Fiji. It is believed to be critically endangered, with a population of a "few hundred".
Scientists discover 120 million year-old ant in the Amazon rainforest
(09/17/2008) Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of ant in the Amazon that may shed light on the evolution of ants. The species is believed to be the oldest-known ant at around 120 million years old. The discovery is presented this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Group takes "venture capital" approach to conservation
(09/16/2008) An innovative group is using a venture capital model to save some of the world's most endangered species, while at the same time working to ensure that local communities benefit from conservation efforts. The Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN), an organization based in Los Altos, California, works to protect threatened species by focusing on what it terms "conservation entrepreneurs" -- people who are passionate about saving wildlife and have creative ideas for dong so. After a rigorous review process to identify and select projects that will have the greatest impact on conservation in developing countries, WCN provides the conservationist with fund-raising and back-office support, technology, and access to its network of people and resources.
11 species of monkeys discovered in West African biodiversity hotspot
(09/15/2008) Urgent conservation measures are needed to protect some of the world's most endangered primates from the hunting, logging, and oil palm development in a region that has only recently emerged from a period of civil strife, report researchers writing in the open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science.
New rainforest sanctuary in Cameroon already at risk from plantations, hunting
(09/15/2008) The forests of southern Cameroon bordering Gabon are biodiversity-rich and harbor important populations of gorillas, chimpanzees, and elephants. In 1998 the government of Cameroon established the Mengamé Gorilla Sanctuary and in 2002, working in close partnership with the government of Cameroon, the Jane Goodall Institute launched a project to protect habitat and biodiversity in the reserve while creating a connection between conservation and socio-economic improvement in communities bordering the sanctuary. The sanctuary now plays an important role in emerging trans-boundary protected area initiatives.
Migratory waterbird populations in decline in Europe
(09/15/2008) 41 percent of 522 migratory waterbird populations on the routes across Africa and Eurasia show decreasing trends, reports a new study released at the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement meeting in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Rwanda and Burundi agree to protect rare forest area
(09/15/2008) Rwanda and Burundi have agreed to protect a large tract of tropical mountain forest that is home to chimpanzees, rare owl-faced monkeys, and other wildlife.
Commercial bushmeat trade is devastating wildlife
(09/15/2008) Commercial killing of rainforest wildlife is putting biodiversity at risk and reducing sources of protein for rural populations, warns a new report from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB).
Malaysian palm oil industry accused of child slavery by the Indonesian government
(09/15/2008) Indonesia's Commission for Child Protection has accused Malaysia's oil palm planters of enslaving migrant workers and their children at plantations in the state of Sabah on the island of Borneo, reports The Jakarta Post. Arist Merdeka Sirait, secretary general of the commission, told the newspaper that a fact-finding team sent to Sabah discovered "tens of thousands of Indonesian migrant workers and their children had been 'systematically enslaved,'" by Malaysian plantation owners.
Rainforest conversion to oil palm causes 83% of wildlife to disappear
(09/15/2008) Conversion of primary rainforest to an oil palm plantation results in a loss of more than 80 percent of species, reports a new comprehensive review of the impacts of growing palm oil production. The research is published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
Thought-to-be-extinct frog rediscovered in Australia
(09/11/2008) Scientists have rediscovered a thought-to-be-extinct species of frog in a creek in Northern Australia. The find offers hope that some species have survived a fungal epidemic that has devastated the amphibians of Queensland.
Rare okapi photographed for the first time in Congo park
(09/10/2008) A camera trap has captured the first-ever photo of an okapi in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park. The picture shows that the elusive forest giraffe has managed to survive more than a decade of war in and around the park.
Moose Mission in New York's Adirondacks
(09/05/2008) Bushwhacking our way through nearly impenetrable bogs and blow down in the central woods of the Adirondacks in northern New York, I am wondering…how can a MOOSE move through this stuff? Weighing nearly 1400 pounds and standing six to seven feet tall, moose favor the dense mixed forests that surround the lakes and ponds of the Adirondacks, the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States. About 6 million acres of boreal forests, mountains, and lakes in northern New York are within the boundaries of the Adirondacks, half of which are public lands, the other half are private. The relatively cool climate and available plants on the many riparian banks of the area make for a moose mecca.
Cameroon and Nigeria to protect world's rarest gorilla
(09/05/2008) Cameroon and Nigeria have agreed to protect the the Cross River gorilla, world's most endangered gorilla, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society, which helped broker the deal.
Camera traps capture photos of predators in Myanmar
(09/04/2008) Myanmar's dense northern wild lands, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society have painstakingly gathered a bank of valuable data on the country's populations of tigers and other smaller, lesser known carnivores (see photo attachments). These findings will help in the formulation of conservation strategies for the country's wildlife.
Photo: commonly-kept gecko was thought to be extinct in the wild
(09/04/2008) The Crested Gecko is endemic to South Province, New Caledonia in the South Pacific. While the species is widely kept in the pet trade, the species was long believed extinct in the wild until it was rediscovered in 1994. It is now known to have three distinct populations and its conservation status is currently being evaluated by the IUCN. Trade in wild-caught individuals is presently banned.
For Australian beetles bigger is better; while American beetles don't care about size
(09/03/2008) Researchers have discovered a dung beetle that may be evolving into separate species in a few decades rather than thousands or millions of years. Separated geographically, sub-populations of the species show large differences in the size of their genitalia and horns. Such distinctions could create new species in a short time, because beetles with largely different genitalia cannot successfully mate.
Independent of climate, forest cover in southern Amazon may fall to 20% by 2016
(09/03/2008) Forest cover in the "Arc of Deforestation" of southern Amazonia will decline to around 20 percent 2016 due to continued logging and conversion of forests for cattle pasture and soy farms, report researchers writing in the journal Environmental Conservation. Analyzing high resolution satellite data from 1984 through 2004 for the Alta Floresta region in northern Mato Grosso, Fernanda Michalski, Carlos Peres and Iain Lake of the University of East Anglia found that forest cover declined from from 91.1 percent to 41.7 percent between 1984 and 2004. They note that while the deforestation rate has slowed to around 2 percent per year since peaking at more than 8 percent annually in late 1980s to mid-1990s, renewed expansion of road networks will enable loggers to increasingly exploit remaining forests, leading to degradation and likely eventual conversion for agricultural use. Overall Michalski and colleagues forecast that forest cover in Alta Floresta will fall to 21 percent by 2016, a decline of 77 percent since 1984.
Indonesian raids on tiger traffickers yielding arrests in Sumatra
(09/02/2008) A raid on illegal tiger traders in Indonesia resulted in four arrests in Sumatra, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The arrests come under a new crack-down by Indonesian authorities on the sales of tiger parts. 10 traffickers have been arrested in the past 3 months.
Researchers devise new comparison of mass extinction events
(09/02/2008) Researchers have created a new way to compare historical mass extinction events. The scoring system, presented in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, works by multiplying the number of taxa — species, genera, and families — that went extinct by the inverse of the time it took to produce a measure dubbed "greatness", which represents the magnitude of the event. Using the system, Celal Sengor and colleagues from Istanbul Teknik Universitesi of Turkey rank the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) event — when the dinosaurs were extinguished in a flash by an asteroid strike or mass oceanic poisoning by a spasm of volcanic activity — as the greatest mass extinction in history. The Permian, which featured a greater loss of species (90-95 percent of marine species and 70 percent of land species) but played out over a longer period to time some 250 million years ago, ranks third after the Silurian, which occurred around 440 million years ago.
Carbon market may fund dam in Panama that threatens natural reserve
(09/01/2008) The UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) — a scheme that provides funds to projects that reduce emissions in developing nations — may be used to finance a hydroelectric dam in Panama which, according to environmentalists, threatens a biologically rich World Heritage site and an indigenous tribe, the Ngobe.
Pre-Colombian Amazonians lived in sustainable 'urban' society
(08/28/2008) Researchers have uncovered new evidence to support the controversial theory that parts of the Amazon were home to dense "urban" settlements prior to the arrival of Europeans in the 15th century. The study is published this Friday in the journal Science. Conducting archeological excavations and aerial imagery across a number of sites in the Upper Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon, a team of researchers led by Michael Heckenberger found evidence of a grid-like pattern of 150-acre towns and smaller villages, connected by complex road networks and arranged around large plazas where public rituals would take place. The authors argue that the discoveries indicate parts of the Amazon supported "urban" societies based around agriculture, forest management, and fish farming.
Saving oceans from acidification requires addressing climate policy
(08/27/2008) Ocean acidification driven by rising carbon dioxide emissions is a great threat to marine ecosystems and needs be addressed through climate policy and conservation measures, said top marine scientists meeting in Hawaii.
Scientists condemn Bush plan for endangered species
(08/27/2008) The Ecological Society of America has come down handily against the Bush Administration's proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The changes would eliminate the requirement for independent scientific review of federal projects, such as roads, dams, and mines, instead allowing federal agencies to conduct internal evaluations and then proceed as they see fit.
Biofuels 200 times more expensive than forest conservation for global warming mitigation
(08/27/2008) The British government should end subsidies for biofuels and instead use the funds to slow destruction of rainforests and tropical peatlands argues a new report issued by a U.K.-based think tank. The study, titled "The Root of the Matter" and published by Policy Exchange, says that "avoided deforestation" would be a more cost-effective way to address climate change, since land use change generates more emissions than the entire global transport sector and offers ancillary benefits including important ecosystem services.
Baltic cod are shrinking due to overfishing
(08/26/2008) By comparing Neolithic cod with contemporary cod, researchers have discovered that the species has evolved over a relatively short period due to overexploitation by humans. According to a paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, contemporary cod attain adulthood earlier and are generally smaller than their ancestors.
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