Mongabay continued to see growth in readership in September, with traffic across our websites rising 25% over last September to 10.97 million pageviews. We’ve already surpassed 2019’s readership (110 million versus 101 million) with three months still left to go in 2020.
Note: the traffic data presented below is only for the month of September and therefore doesn’t include traffic in prior months for stories published earlier than September.
Fishing for change: Local management of Amazon’s largest fish also empowers women
(8/31/20) Written by Claudia Geib – 143,758 pageviews
- High market demand led to declining numbers and a ban on arapaima fishing in the late 1990s, though illegal poaching for the black market continued.
- According to a recent paper, the co-management system that has helped these fish recover also provides new opportunities for women in fishing communities.
- Women working in co-management have newly independent incomes and receive previously unknown respect for their roles, though further work is needed to cement these gains.
New paper highlights spread of organized crime from global fisheries
(9/4/20) Written by Basten Gokkon – 126,635 pageviews
- A recently published paper by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy highlights the extent of transnational organized crimes associated with the global fisheries sector.
- Besides illegal fishing, these crimes include fraud, money laundering, corruption, drug and human trafficking, and they occur globally throughout the entire fisheries value chain: onshore, at sea, in coastal regions, and online, the paper says.
- The paper calls for an intersectional, transboundary law enforcement by governments around the world to combat these “clandestine” crimes in the global fisheries industry.
In Brazil’s Bahia, peasant farmers and cowboys keep the Cerrado alive
(9/15/20) Written by Caio de Freitas Paes – 103,149 pageviews
- For over a century, communities in Brazil’s western Bahia have preserved the Cerrado grasslands through a form of communal land management that allows them to raise cattle, harvest native fruits and grow organic food crops sustainably.
- They sell their wide range of produce — from beans to flour — at farmers’ markets in nearby towns, but this activity has been curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Major soy, corn and cotton producers are also increasingly present in the area.
- Their massive plantations dry up the rivers used by the communities and contaminate the water with pesticides, threatening their sustainable way of life.
500 years of species loss: Humans drive defaunation across Neotropics
(9/15/20) Written by Elizabeth Claire Alberts – 74,762 pageviews
- A new study indicates that human activities, such as overhunting, habitat loss, and fires, have contributed to a more than 56% decline in species in mammal assemblages in the American tropics.
- The study drew on animal inventories at more than 1,000 Neotropical study sites, from studies published in the past 30 to 40 years, but with data going back to the time of European colonization of the American tropics.
- The Amazon and Pantanal wetland regions are considered to be relatively “faunally intact,” according to the study, but the current fires in these regions would be adversely affecting wildlife and their habitats.
- The researchers say they hope their findings can inform effective conservation policies, such as better management and policing of existing protected areas, and efforts to stop illegal hunting, deforestation and fires.
Fight rages on to save centuries-old giant Philippine rosewood tree
(8/27/20) Written by Bong S. Sarmiento – 69,838 pageviews
- Officials in the southern Philippines have decided to cut a centuries-old Philippine rosewood tree (Petersianthus quadrialatus) that’s believed to be the oldest and tallest of its species.
- The decision comes after assessments showed extensive fungal rot and termite damage in the trunk, presenting a risk of the 56-meter (184-foot) tree falling over onto a nearby highway.
- Experts, however, say there is still hope for the giant tree through a regimen of tree surgery, fungicide treatment and regular checkups, which they accuse officials of failing to do in the past.
Indonesian lobster exporters, advised by a smuggler, flout domestic requirements
(9/16/20) Written by Fathul Rakhman – 69,025 pageviews
- The resumption of Indonesia’s exports of wild-caught lobster larvae was supposed to be a golden opportunity for the country’s small fishers, who had been hit by an export ban imposed in 2016.
- Part of the requirements for lifting the ban was that exporting companies would partner with small fishers to set up lobster farms.
- However, this hasn’t happened, with exporters bypassing the requirement by buying directly from the fishers — in some cases not paying in full — and not investing in aquaculture farms.
- Many of the exporting companies are linked to politically influential figures, with at least one hiring a convicted lobster smuggler as a consultant.
Under cover of COVID-19, loggers plunder Cambodian wildlife sanctuary
(8/31/20) Written by Chris Humphrey – 61,545 pageviews
- Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia has lost almost a fifth of its forest cover since 2010, largely to agricultural expansion, illegal logging, and land grabbing.
- The sanctuary hosts some of the last known populations of threatened primates like the black-shanked douc langur and southern yellow-cheeked crested gibbon, and is also considered the ancestral home of the Bunong ethnic minority.
- Cambodia has laws in place to protect sanctuaries and crack down on violators, but environmental watchdogs say enforcement is lacking because the authorities are largely complicit in the plunder of natural resources.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem by locking out international conservation NGOs that would otherwise maintain a presence on the ground.
In bid to protect a Philippine pangolin stronghold, little talk of enforcement
(9/9/20) Written by Keith Anthony Fabro – 53,555 pageviews
- Provincial and municipal authorities on the Philippine island of Palawan are drawing up management plans aimed at boosting protection for the Victoria-Anepahan Mountain Range, a key habitat of the Philippine pangolin.
- The 165,000-hectare (408,000-acre) is not a formally protected area, and suffers from deforestation driven by illegal logging, as well as massive poaching and illegal trade of its wildlife, including pangolins.
- The critically endangered Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis), found only in Palawan, is one of the most trafficked animals on Earth, with its population declining by up to 95% between 1980 and 2018.
- Critics of the management plan say it will be a bureaucratic waste of resources without efforts to step up enforcement measures to curb the illegal trade of pangolins and other wildlife in the mountain range.
Biologists warn ‘extinction denial’ is the latest anti-science conspiracy theory
(9/14/20) Written by Mike Shanahan – 50,867 pageviews
- There’s a growing refusal by some groups to acknowledge the ongoing global extinction crisis being driven by human actions, conservation scientists say.
- These views are pushed by many of the same people who also downplay the impacts of climate change, and go against the actual evidence of widespread species population declines and recent extinctions.
- Scientists say this phenomenon will likely spike again this week, since a major Convention on Biological Diversity report is due to be released.
- The authors of a new report on extinction denial advise experts to proactively challenge its occurrence, and present the “cold hard scientific facts.”
Survival of Indigenous communities at risk as Amazon fire season advances
(9/2/20) Written by Shanna Hanbury – 50,535 pageviews
- The number of major Amazon fires this year has more than doubled since August 13, with most of those fires being illegal. 674 major fires were detected between May 28 and September 2, with a sharp increase inside Indigenous territories in the last two weeks, raising concerns among Indigenous leaders.
- Indigenous groups are being left to fight the fires on their own, without support from government institutions. IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency has been largely stripped of funds and lacks adequate equipment to fight the blazes, while the Army, sent to the Amazon in May, is reportedly failing to suppress most fires.
- Combined with COVID-19, smoke from fires poses a serious threat to Indigenous health. Native peoples have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and have weaker immune systems for respiratory disease. A recent study shows that Indigenous hospitalizations for respiratory disease coincide with deforestation rates year-by-year.
- Isolated Indigenous groups are especially under threat as fires put their food sources at risk. Experts say that isolated and uncontacted groups, to fend off hunger, are sighted more often roaming during Amazon fires, potentially risking exposure to Western diseases.
Can public lands unify divided Americans? An interview with John Leshy
(9/14/20) Written by Rhett A. Butler – 50,456 pageviews
- It might be hard to believe in the current political climate, but public lands were a unifying issue for Americans until quite recently. Most Americans have supported the idea of the government owning and managing large areas of land for public use, and that bipartisan consensus has culminated in the creation of vast network of national parks, forests and monuments which are collectively visited by tens of millions of people annually.
- Does that mean public lands could serve as an opportunity to bridge gaps in a polarized America? John Leshy, an emeritus professor of law at the University of California Hastings and general counsel at the U.S. Department of the Interior during the Clinton administration, thinks it’s possible.
- Leshy has spent much of the past five decades working on public lands issues. Leshy is now working on “Our Common Ground: A History of America’s Public Lands”, a forthcoming title from Yale University Press.
- During a September 2020 interview with Mongabay, Leshy spoke about how public lands could help a divided America find common ground and heal as it works to address the daunting new challenges posed by climate change.
Risking death and arrest, Madagascar fishers chase dwindling sea cucumbers
(7/15/20) Written by Chris Scarffe – 49,541 pageviews
- For centuries, Chinese people have sought sea cucumbers as an ingredient in traditional medicine or as a high-status food.
- In recent decades, skyrocketing demand and prices have led to a marine gold rush for sea cucumbers around the world.
- In Madagascar, as elsewhere, wild sea cucumbers are declining.
- Fishers are venturing further out to sea and into deeper waters to pursue them illegally using unsafe SCUBA gear.
How much rainforest is being destroyed?
(6/10/20) Written by Rhett A. Butler – 48,881 pageviews
- In December 2019, Mongabay published a review of decade in tropical forests. The analysis wasn’t fully complete because forest loss data for 2019 hadn’t yet been released.
- Last week, the University of Maryland (UMD) and World Resources Institute (WRI) published the 2019 data, which showed that 3.75 million hectares of primary forest were cleared during the year.
- That brings the total tropical primary forest loss since 2002 to 60 million hectares, an area larger than the combined land mass of the states of California and Missouri.
- However the 2019 numbers may not capture the full extent of loss due to the extent of deforestation that occurred in the Amazon during the later part of the year.
In Brazil’s Pantanal, a desperate struggle to save a hyacinth macaw refuge from fire
(9/17/20) Written by Jennifer Ann Thomas – 47,300 pageviews
- Firefighters are working around the clock to protect a forested ranch in Brazil’s Mato Grosso state that’s an important refuge of the threatened hyacinth macaw.
- The Pantanal wetlands in which the ranch is located are experiencing severe wildfires, sparked by human activity and exacerbated by drought and climate change.
- The São Francisco do Perigara ranch is home to around 1,000 hyacinth macaws — 15% of the total population of the species in the wild, and 20% of its population in the Pantanal.
Manila’s new white sand coast is a threat to marine life, groups say
(9/14/20) Written by Leilani Chavez – 47,001 pageviews
- The Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources has come under fire from green groups and government officials after dumping dolomite sand, typically used in construction, on the shores of Manila Bay as part of a beautification project.
- Critics say the 389 million peso ($8 million) project has overlooked public consultations and is missing environmental assessments and certificates, which means its true impact on Manila Bay’s marine life remains unclear.
- A fisherfolk group says the project is a land reclamation bid posing as rehabilitation, joining several other land reclamation projects along Manila Bay that have already been flagged for social and environmental impacts.
- Lawyers say the move violates numerous environmental laws and circumvents a Supreme Court ruling that mandates government agencies to rehabilitate, preserve, restore and maintain the waters of the bay.
Narwhals beware: Killer whales are on the rise in the Arctic
(7/23/20) Written by Elizabeth Claire Alberts – 46,314 pageviews
Study: Chinese ‘dark fleets’ illegally defying sanctions by fishing in North Korean waters
(7/23/20) Written by Ashoka Mukpo – 46,044 pageviews
- The study used a novel combination of satellite imagery to track more than 900 Chinese fishing vessels operating in North Korea in 2017, and an additional 700 in 2018.
- The vessels were harvesting Todarodes pacificus, also known as Pacific flying squid, a key staple food in the region.
- The U.N. Security Council passed sanctions on North Korea in late 2017, making any international fishing inside its borders a violation of international law.
- Unable to compete with the more technologically advanced Chinese vessels, local North Korean fishermen have been forced to make long, perilous journeys into Russian waters.
Birthday party on ship may have led to oil spill in Mauritius, Panama regulator says
(9/16/20) Written by Mongabay.com – 45,911 pageviews
- A Japanese ship that ran aground on a coral reef off Mauritius may have changed course to get a mobile data signal for a birthday celebration on board, according to investigators from Panama, the country under whose flag the vessel was sailing.
- The M.V. Wakashio crashed into the coral reef barrier on July 25 and leaked almost 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil into Mauritian waters.
- The vessel’s captain was taken into custody on Aug. 18 for endangering safe navigation as Mauritian authorities said the ship failed to respond to several calls from the Mauritian Coast Guard.
- Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), the Japanese company operating the ship, has pledged 1 billion yen ($9.5 million) for environmental preservation efforts and to shore up local fisheries.
Forest crimes persist in Peru following Indigenous leader’s murder
(8/3/20) Written by Yvette Sierra Praeli – 43,559 pageviews
- The leader of an Indigenous community in Peru’s Huánuco region was murdered when he went fishing earlier this year. Despite this, criminal groups have reportedly continued to operate in the area.
- The death of Arbildo Meléndez Grandes is one of a series of environmental crimes reported since the COVID-19 state of emergency began in Peru.
- Operations against illegal mining and logging have been carried out in the Madre de Dios, Loreto and Ucayali regions in recent months.
In search of the ‘forest ghost,’ South America’s cryptic giant armadillo
(9/8/20) Written by Suzana Camargo – 42,756 pageviews
- Since 2010, the Giant Armadillo Project has been dedicated to researching the world’s largest armadillo, an animal that, despite its size and range across almost every country in South America, is one of the world’s least recognized animals.
- The researchers have made key findings since then, among them: the burrows that the giant armadillo digs, which can be up to 5 meters (16 feet) long, serve as shelter from extreme temperatures for at least 70 other species, including birds, reptiles and mammals.
- The species is categorized as vulnerable, with the advance of agribusiness — and the attendant deforestation and road construction that come with it — the main threat to the giant armadillo.
Header image: Arapaima on a dock in the Amazon. Photo by Carlos Peres.