- Mongabay continued to see strong readership during April. Our Global English, India, and Latam bureaus all experienced unprecedented levels of traffic as our direct site-wide readership reached 16.9 million pageviews, a 33% increase over last month's record.
- 46 of the 165 stories published on news.mongabay.com in April focused on the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on conservation, the environment, or indigenous and local communities.
- Below are the 20 news.mongabay.com stories that attracted the most traffic during April 2020.
- This list does not include stories from our Indonesia, Latam, India, or Brazil bureaus. It also excludes traffic from our mobile app.
Mongabay continued to see strong readership during April. Our Global English, India, and Latam bureaus all experienced unprecedented levels of traffic as our direct site-wide readership reached 16.9 million pageviews, a 33% increase over last month’s record. Widespread stay-at-home guidance may be a factor in the sharp rise in traffic the past two months.
While COVID-19 stories continued to do well in terms of readership, Indonesia-related stories — only two of which were tied to the effects of the pandemic — took six of the 11 spots. 46 of the 165 stories published on news.mongabay.com in April focused on the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on conservation, the environment, or indigenous and local communities.
Below are the 20 news.mongabay.com stories that had the most pageviews during April 2020.
Sinking feeling for Indonesian fishers as COVID-19 hits seafood sales
(4/7/20) Written by Falahi Mubaro and M Ambari – 699,446 pageviews.
- Indonesia is taking measures to prop up declining sales of fish amid a slump in demand caused by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Restaurants and shopping malls have been shut down in most large cities across the country as part of social distancing measures, leading to the decline in demand for seafood.
- Fish exports have also slowed as Indonesia, like many other countries, has restricted its trade with other affected countries.
- Indonesia had nearly 2,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of April 6, mostly in Java, with 209 deaths.
Indonesian activists denounce a road being built illegally in leopard habitat
(3/21/20) Written by Basten Gokkon – 381,082 pageviews.
- Environmental activists and residents have demanded a road project in Indonesia’s West Java province be scrapped because it lacks the required permits and could exacerbate floods and landslides.
- The road will cut through a protected forest on Mount Cikuray, home to Javan leopards and other threatened wildlife.
- District authorities have admitted they began clearing forest for the project before obtaining the necessary permits from the central government.
- The national parliament and the environment ministry have also weighed in on the issue, with the latter saying it will investigate and may order the project stopped.
Indigenous Papuans initiate own lockdowns in face of COVID-19
(4/6/20) Written by Basten Gokkon – 258,551 pageviews.
- The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has prompted authorities and indigenous peoples in Indonesia’s Papua region to shut down air and sea traffic and lock down villages.
- There are fears that a COVID-19 outbreak here, particularly among the more than 300 indigenous tribes, could have a disastrous impact.
- While experts have praised local officials’ decisions, the national government in Jakarta has criticized it, citing dire economic impacts.
- Papuan authorities insist that their initiatives are legally valid and justified to protect public health in a region twice the size of Great Britain but with just five referral hospitals for COVID-19.
From vegetable plots in a Sri Lankan swamp, a forgotten eel emerges
(3/24/20) Written by Dilrukshi Handunnetti – 223,336 pageviews.
- New specimens of Sri Lanka’s only endemic swamp eel, locally known as vel anda (Monopterus desilvai), from vegetable plots in the island’s west highlight the need for further study of the coastal floodplains.
- The endemic brown eel is able to breathe air, which it stores in a pair of primitive lung-like pouches, live in oxygen-poor environments and survive outside of water, as long as its skin remains moist.
- Researchers have called for the urgent conservation of the species’ habitat and identified landfilling as the main threat to its conservation.
Why did Ecuador’s tallest waterfall suddenly disappear?
(3/18/20) Written by Antonio Jose Paz Cardona – 203,220 pageviews.
- The iconic San Rafael waterfall near the Chinese-built Coca Codo Sinclair dam stopped flowing on February 2, what happened?
- Experts hypothesize that the hydroelectric plant located upstream is indirectly related to the waterfall’s demise.
- The plant was constructed by Sinohydro and financed by China EximBank, and has had problems with cost overruns, worker strikes, and accidents such as the 2014 collapse of a pressure well that claimed the lives of 14 workers.
- The discussion about what happened with this celebrated waterfall on February 2 promises to occupy scientists for a long time.
Using satellites to alert an Amazonian indigenous community of coca encroachment (insider)
(4/13/20) Written by Rhett A. Butler – 192,413 pageviews.
- In early March 2020, Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler visited the tri-border area of Peru, Colombia and Brazil and used the opportunity to explore a cluster of potential deforestation hotspots detected by Global Forest Watch’s GLAD alert system.
- According to Global Forest Watch, the patches were small and dispersed. Therefore Butler expected to find small-scale clearing for subsistence or local agriculture. But he was in for a bit of a surprise: forest within an indigenous reserve was being cleared for coca, unbeknown to the local community.
- Given the sensitivity and the potential security implications of the issue, Mongabay won’t be disclosing the name of the community or the location of the coca fields.
- This post is insider content, which is available to paying subscribers.
Audio: The links between COVID-19, wildlife trade, and destruction of nature with John Vidal
(3/31/20) Written by Mike Gaworecki – 162,301 pageviews.
- On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we speak with acclaimed environmental journalist John Vidal about the coronavirus pandemics’ links to the wildlife trade and the destruction of nature.
- As the current coronavirus pandemic spread across the world, Vidal penned an article co-published by The Guardian and non-profit media outlet Ensia that looks at how scientists are beginning to understand the ways that environmental destruction makes zoonotic disease epidemics more likely.
- We speak with Vidal about what we know about the origins of COVID-19, what he’s learned while reporting from disease outbreak epicenters in the past, how the destruction of nature creates the perfect conditions for diseases like COVID-19 to emerge, and what we can do to prevent future zoonotic disease outbreaks.
Madagascar off pace to meet Aichi targets, which is bad news for the world
(3/18/20) Written by Malavika Vyawahare – 140,511 pageviews.
- The unique biodiversity of the world’s oldest island, including its 110 lemur species, remains as imperiled as ever.
- Though the country has tripled the terrestrial area under protection since 2003, the quality of the protection is inadequate.
- Madagascar is lagging in the creation of marine protected areas with less than 1% of its total marine area of 1.2 million km2 (433,000 mi2) currently safeguarded under national law.
- Tourism could boost conservation efforts in important biodiversity areas, but it calls for greater investment from the government and private players.
Road project in economically deprived Indonesian region threatens wildlife habitat
(4/1/20) Written by Junaidi Hanafiah – 130,416 pageviews.
- A road project at the northwestern tip of Sumatra poses the threats of deforestation and habitat fragmentation for a lowland forest that is home to critically endangered tigers, elephants and orangutans.
- Officials say the project is necessary to boost connectivity and local livelihoods in this remote part of Indonesia’s Aceh province.
- But conservationists say they fear the project will carve up important wildlife habitat and lead to greater human encroachment into this wilderness area.
- They have called on the government to review the project in light of the potential for environmental damage.
How land grabbers co-opt indigenous ritual traditions in Papua: Q&A with anthropologist Sophie Chao
(3/28/19) Written by Mongabay and The Gecko Project – 129,332 pageviews.
- Industrial-scale agriculture poses considerable risk to the indigenous peoples of
Papua, whose culture and livelihoods are closely linked to the region’s extensive
- Last November, Mongabay and The Gecko Project published an investigative article exposing the murky dealings underpinning a mega-plantation project in Papua, as part of our series Indonesia for Sale.
- Anthropologist Sophie Chao has studied the often fraught relationship between Papuans and plantation firms, and the mechanisms through which indigenous people are compelled to give up their land.
New player starts clearing rainforest in world’s biggest oil palm project
(3/24/20) Written by Mongabay and The Gecko Project – 127,101 pageviews.
- A company owned by a politically connected Indonesian family and an investor from New Zealand has begun clearing rainforest within an area slated to become the world’s largest oil palm plantation.
- The project will push industrial agriculture deep into the primary rainforests of southern Papua, but has been plagued by allegations of illegality.
- While the new investors represent a break from those allegations, the government’s failure to investigate them has ongoing consequences.
First possible COVID-19 indigenous cases detected near key Amazon reserve
(3/25/20) Written by Sue Branford and Thais Borges – 125,896 pageviews.
- It is widely suspected that Brazil’s indigenous people will be very vulnerable to COVID-19, as they have shown little resistance to Western respiratory illnesses in the past. Isolated indigenous groups, lacking all healthcare support, would be particularly defenseless.
- UPDATE: After this story was first published, the city of Atalaia do Norte claimed that an indigenous Marubo man, suspected of coronavirus infection, tested negative for COVID-19. However, a journalist double-checking the facts found that no test was ever analyzed; when confronted, the city claimed a “communication mistake.”
- On 13 March, FUNAI potentially opened a new route for disease spread as it weakened its “no contact” isolated indigenous group rule, broadening sole decision-making power for contact from its central authority to 39 regional coordinators. Outcry quickly caused FUNAI to reverse itself, reinstating the “no contact” policy.
- Experts are very concerned about the indigenous harm coronavirus could cause, especially due to Jair Bolsonaro’s weakening of the rural public health service. Some analysts worry the health and social chaos COVID-19 would bring could cause ruralists and land grabbers to exploit the situation, seizing indigenous lands.
Idea that electric cars might produce as much emissions as fossil-fueled vehicles ‘essentially a myth’
(3/26/20) Written by Mongabay.com – 124,341 pageviews.
- A team led by researchers at the Netherlands’ Radboud University looked at the emissions of electric versus petrol-fueled vehicles and found that driving an electric car produces lower overall emissions in about 95% of the world.
- In countries like Sweden and France, where electricity is generated mostly through nuclear and renewable energy sources, average lifetime emissions from electric cars are as much as 70% lower than gas-powered cars.
- It’s only in a few places where electricity generation is still heavily dependent on coal, such as Poland, that electric cars do not confer any climate benefits, the researchers found.
New snake discovery in Sri Lanka is latest twist in slow-burning mystery
(3/31/20) Written by Dilrukshi Handunnetti – 117,877 pageviews.
- Sri Lanka’s southwestern mountains have yielded a new snake species, Dryocalamus chithrasekerai, based on specimens collected in 2009 and 2017.
- Chithrasekara’s bridle snake, named in honor of local conservationist Nagamulla Hewage Chithrasekara, is the latest species in its genus, which researchers say should be kept taxonomically distinct from another genus of very similar snakes, Lycodon.
- The researchers also make the case that a previously recorded Dryocalamus species, D. gracilis, was identified incorrectly and doesn’t actually occur in Sri Lanka.
A wave-powered ferry aims to forge a new path for shipping in the Philippines
(4/8/20) Written by Mongabay.com – 113,238 pageviews.
- A Filipino marine engineer is building a hybrid trimaran, powered by both a traditional motor and wave energy, as an alternative to the decades-old shipping vessels that ply transnational routes in the Visayas region in the Philippines.
- The Philippines’ transport sector is the second-biggest contributor to the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, thanks to a large fleet of aging ships burning dirty fuel.
- The multi-hull boat now being built is expected to move more efficiently on the sea, cut average travel times by half, and have a lower carbon footprint.
New evidence suggests Ivorian timber merits tougher EUTR due diligence (commentary)
(3/24/20) Written by Brad Mulley – 111,267 pageviews.
- Limited resources for EUTR due diligence need to be allocated strategically to ensure that enforcement has maximum impact. This means that imports from countries with relatively low production volumes like Ivory Coast may be subject to less stringent due diligence compared to imports from high-volume countries.
- However, a simple low-cost document-based evaluation in Ivory Coast reveals several risk factors, some of which could have been easily detected through cursory risk assessment.
- We recommend that EUTR actors work more closely with independent forestry sector monitors (IFMs) to develop more cost-effective techniques to help ensure broad geographic coverage of stringent due diligence.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
To save Cross River gorillas, EU-funded program aims to empower communities
(3/20/20) Written by Linus Unah – 110,732 pageviews.
- The Cross River gorilla, which lives in the mountainous border area of Nigeria and Cameroon, is Africa’s most threatened ape, with a population estimated at fewer than 300 individuals.
- The European Union will provide 2 million euros ($2.19 million) over four years to help support programs aimed at protecting Cross River gorillas by supporting sustainable livelihoods for people living near gorilla habitat.
- The funding will support work led by the Wildlife Conservation Society and Nigeria National Park Service.
- It will allow existing WCS livelihood programs in Cross River state to be expanded to more areas and communities, aimed at preventing locals from deforesting the area in search of a livelihood.
Candid Animal Cam YouTube show Episode 4: Coatis
(3/24/20) Written by Mongabay.com – 105,845 pageviews.
- Every Tuesday, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our new show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.
Camera traps in trees reveal a richness of species in Rwandan park
(3/27/20) Written by Liz Kimbrough – 104,469 pageviews.
- Camera traps set high up in trees in Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park captured 35 different mammal species over a 30-day period, including a rare Central African oyan (Poiana richardsonii), a small catlike mammal that has not previously been seen in the park.
- Arboreal camera traps are a viable method for conducting mammal surveys, especially when partnered with ground cameras.
- Understanding what animals are present in an area is a first step toward protecting them.
Standoff over Philippines’ Didipio mines escalates despite COVID-19 lockdown
(4/6/20) Written by Mongabay.com – 103,800 pageviews.
- Since July last year, local communities in the province of Nueva Vizcaya have blocked the entry of fuel tankers and service vehicles to the Didipio gold and copper site.
- But President Rodrigo Duterte’s office issued a letter authorizing OceanaGold Philippines Inc (OGPI), the company that handles the mining operation, to be allowed to truck in 63,000 liters (16,600 gallons) of fuel for generators to run water pumps in the underground mines.
- A hundred police personnel assisted the entry of the vehicles to the mining site on April 6, even as the region remains locked down by the COVID-19 pandemic, with all domestic land, sea and air travel banned.