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July in review: lizards, alligator-eating pythons, toads, and an Arctic heatwave

Many web sites typically experience a lull during summer months and this year is no exception for mongabay.

Slower traffic can produce some unusual distortions how articles in rank in popularity. Accordingly, three stories about herps topped the most popular list for July: a study on the unexpected intelligence of lizards, a 2005 post about a python that exploded after eating an alligator that was a bit too large, and the discovery of a “long-lost” toad in Borneo.

In more serious news, scientists reported that a heatwave in the Arctic is decimating sea ice. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) predicted sea ice extent could hit a new summertime low this September.

But high temperatures weren’t limited to the Arctic: a number of areas in the United States — especially the south and east coast — experienced record heat.

The debate over the Amazon forest code continued in Brazil’s Senate, but satellite data showed signs that deforestation in the region is slowing after an alarming jump earlier this year. In other happy news, a “biocultural conservation corridor” initiative led by the Amazon Conservation Team moved ahead after winning $1.6 million in support from the Skoll Foundation. The project aims to prevent deforestation across 46 million ha (114 million acres) in the northeastern and southwestern sections of Brazilian Amazon by bolstering indigenous land management.

WWF — arguably the world’s best known environmental group — had a less happy month, finding itself the target of a critical report from Global Witness over its relationship with logging companies. Global Witness said WWF’s sustainable timber scheme, the Global Forest and Trade Network, lacks transparency and oversight, allowing loggers to greenwash their image. WWF disagreed, arguing that the program helps companies improve logging practices, thereby reducing the environmental impact of timber extraction.

Finally Lego, the Danish maker of toy building blocks, announced a new paper sourcing policy that will exclude packaging materials produced through the destruction of rainforests.

Most popular news articles – July 2011

  1. Brainy lizards rival birds in intelligence [13105]
  2. Python explodes after swallowing 6-foot alligator in Florida Everglades [11133]
  3. First ever picture of long lost rainbow toad [8542]
  4. Brazilian senator: Forest Code reform necessary to grow farm sector [5871]
  5. ‘Heatwave’ in Arctic decimating sea ice [4175]
  6. Lego banishes Asia Pulp & Paper due to deforestation link [3129]
  7. Oil company hires indigenous people to clean up its Amazon spill with rags and buckets [2341]
  8. WWF partnering with companies that destroy rainforests, threaten endangered species [2184]
  9. Amazon tribes win support to protect 46 million ha of Amazon forest [2182]
  10. World deforestation rates and forest cover statistics, 2000-2005 [2178]
  11. Scientists urge Papua New Guinea to declare moratorium on massive forest clearing [1986]
  12. Video: Tiger trapped in Asia Pulp and Paper logging concession dies a gruesome death [1632]
  13. Forest Code bill could undermine sustainable growth in the Amazon [1621]
  14. Richard Leakey: ‘selfish’ critics choose wrong fight in Serengeti road [1557]
  15. NASA image shows it snowing in driest place on earth [1543]
  16. Global forests offset 16% of fossil fuel emissions [1325]
  17. Ecosystems in the Philippines bounce back from the brink [1320]
  18. Decline in top predators and megafauna ‘humankind’s most pervasive influence on nature’ [1210]
  19. How to Save the Tiger [1201]
  20. How do we save Africa’s forests? [1190]
  21. Endangered species trafficking: What did Gibson Guitar know? [1184]
  22. Global warming could doom the walrus [1180]
  23. REDD calculator and mapping tool for Indonesia launched [1178]
  24. Ranchers using Agent Orange to deforest the Amazon [1163]
  25. Hundreds of Critically Endangered apes found in remote Vietnam [1152]
  26. Brazilian government: Amazon deforestation rising [1132]
  27. Pictures: Turquoise ‘dragon’ among 1,000 new species discovered in New Guinea [1129]
  28. Environmental protection agency chief: Brazil will do the same to indigenous as ‘Australians did to the Aborigines’ [1127]
  29. Europe to require listing of palm oil on product labels [1063]
  30. Indonesia to recognize rights of forest communities, indigenous peoples [1051]
  31. Eating rhino horn sends woman to hospital [1049]
  32. US House Republicans propose to eliminate migratory bird conservation act [1044]
  33. Forgotten species: the rebellious spotted handfish [1034]
  34. Newest country boasts one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles, but protection needed [1013]
  35. Blue iguana back from the dead [988]
  36. Unpaved road through Serengeti to progress [983]
  37. Fish use tools [978]
  38. Indonesia’s new forest moratorium map improved, say experts [974]
  39. Could palm oil help save the Amazon? [970]
  40. World’s only pure blue lizard at risk of extinction [960]
  41. Future threats to the Amazon rainforest [953]
  42. New rosewood scandal in Madagascar [948]
  43. Community control, rather than govt control, helps forests recover, says study [943]
  44. Trophy’ cell phone pictures lead to arrests of tiger poachers [941]
  45. Viable population of snow leopards still roam Afghanistan (pictures) [937]
  46. Proposed changes to Brazil’s Forest Code could hurt economy [934]
  47. Cargill adopts ‘greener’ palm oil policy [928]
  48. Why is oil palm replacing tropical rainforests [906]
  49. Indonesia reduces area of forest protected under moratorium [902]
  50. How to fight organized wildlife crime in East Asia [901]

Italicized titles represent news articles posted during the month

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