- Last month Mongabay’s readership was up 16% over a year earlier. Year-to-date traffic amounts of 121 million pageviews. The following are the most popular articles on news.mongabay.com during October 2020.
- Note: the traffic data presented below is only for the month of October and therefore doesn’t include traffic in prior months for stories published earlier than October.
Mongabay’s most read post during the month of October on our global English news site was a commentary from David Wilkie, Susan Lieberman, and James Watson from the Wildlife Conservation Society on the importance of protecting Indigenous Peoples’ traditional land rights to achieve conservation outcomes. Published at the end of September, the piece had more than 145,000 pageviews during the month.
Overall, traffic across all of Mongabay’s bureaus amounted to 10.8 million pageviews, a 16% increase over a year ago, bringing total on-site readership for 2020 to 121 million pageviews so far.
Below are the 20 articles with the most traffic during the month of October.
Protect Indigenous People’s rights to avoid a sixth extinction (commentary)
(9/29/20) Written by and James Watson, Susan Lieberman, and David Wilkie – 145,766 pageviews
- In this commentary, David Wilkie, Susan Lieberman, and James Watson from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) argue that protecting Indigenous Peoples’ traditional land rights is one of the most effective strategies for preventing the Sixth Mass Extinction.
- “Most of humanity have been grossly negligent in our use of the Earth,” they write. “Wise stewardship of natural resources by Indigenous Peoples within their traditional territories has had a profoundly positive impact on the conservation of plant and animal species on land and in rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.”
- “The decisions Indigenous Peoples have made over generations have done more to protect the planet’s species and ecological systems than all the protected areas established and managed by individual countries combined. The majority of our planet’s last wild, ecologically intact places on land exist because Indigenous Peoples rely on them for their wellbeing and cultural sense of self.”
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
New paper highlights spread of organized crime from global fisheries
(9/4/20) Written by Basten Gokkon – 138,505 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.
The murky process of licensing Amazonian meat plants
(10/8/20) Written by Diálogo Chino and Flávia Milhorance – 123,997 pageviews
- Decades of growth in cattle ranching have meant that Pará is now the state with the largest herd nationwide. At 20.6 million heads, it has 2.5 cattle for every human inhabitant.
- 14 of the 22 Brazilian meat plants approved to export to China since 2019 are in the Amazon.
Indonesian lobster exporters, advised by a smuggler, flout domestic requirements
(9/16/20) Written by Fathul Rakhman – 90,965 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.
At-risk Cerrado mammals need fully-protected parks to survive: Researchers
(10/20/20) Written by Sharon Guynup – 77,360 pageviews
- A newly published camera trap study tracked 21 species of large mammal in Brazil’s Cerrado savanna biome from 2012-2017.
- The cameras were deployed in both fully protected state and federal parks and less protected mixed-use areas known as APAs where humans live, farm and ranch.
- The probability of finding large, threatened species in true reserves was 5 to 10 times higher than in the APAs for pumas, tapirs, giant anteaters, maned wolves, white-lipped and collared peccaries, and other Neotropical mammals.
- With half the Cerrado biome’s two million square kilometers of native vegetation already converted to cattle ranches, soy plantations and other croplands, conserving remaining habitat is urgent if large mammals are to survive there. The new study will help land managers better preserve biodiversity.
In search of the ‘forest ghost,’ South America’s cryptic giant armadillo
(9/8/20) Written by Suzana Camargo – 69,213 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.
Rangers on the run: Half-marathon aims to raise funding for front-liners
(9/25/20) Written by Elizabeth Claire Alberts – 67,370 pageviews
- Wildlife ranger groups across Africa are struggling to maintain operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic drying up funding sources, which has resulted in ranger redundancies and salary reductions.
- Tusk, a U.K. nonprofit, is spearheading the Wildlife Ranger Challenge, a race and fundraiser that aims to help keep wildlife rangers employed.
- $2 million has already been distributed as emergency funding to several wildlife ranger groups.
In Brazil’s Bahia, peasant farmers and cowboys keep the Cerrado alive
(9/15/20) Written by Caio de Freitas Paes – 67,003 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.
Exploring the history of the Amazon and its peoples: an interview with John Hemming
(9/27/20) Written by Rhett A. Butler – 64,997 pageviews
- Dr. John Hemming is a legendary author and historian who has spent the past six decades documenting the history of Indigenous cultures and exploration in the Amazon.
- Hemming has traveled in the remotest parts of the Amazon, visiting 45 tribes and being present with Brazilian ethnographers at the time of four first contacts. Of the course of his career Hemming has authored more than two dozen books from the definitive history of the Spanish conquistadors’ conquest of Peru to a 2,100-page, three-volume chronicle of 500 years of Indigenous peoples and exploration in the Amazon.
- Hemming’s latest book, People of the Rainforest: The Villas Boas Brothers, Explorers and Humanitarians of the Amazon, tells the remarkable story of the Villas Boas brothers, middle-class Brazilians from São Paulo who would go on to become arguably the largest driving force for the conservation of the Amazon rainforest and recognition of the rights of its Indigenous peoples.
- Hemming spoke about his work and the legacy of the Villas Boas brothers in a September 2020 interview with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler.
The Muriqui: Brazil’s critically endangered “hippie monkey” hangs tough
(10/12/15) Written by Elizabeth Devitt – 60,186 pageviews
- Less than 2,000 northern and southern muriqui live on in the remaining fragments of Brazil’s Atlantic forest.
- Karen Strier and other researchers — many of them her former students — have taken up the cause of protecting these unique primates, with a good deal of success.
- For $150,000 US, “the equivalent of a few SCUD missiles, we could save the largest population of northern muriquis for posterity,” says Strier. Another $300,000 would protect critical habitat for the southern species.
Land grab, logging, mining threaten biodiversity haven of Woodlark Island
(10/1/20) Written by Gianluca Cerullo – 59,475 pageviews
- Woodlark Island lies off the coast of Papua New Guinea and is home to dozens of unique species and a more than 2,000-year-old human culture.
- A recent court ruling has seen the land rights granted to Woodlark islanders in 2016 revoked and returned to an agricultural company that in 2007 planned to transform 70% of the island into oil palm plantations.
- Meanwhile, the status of an application submitted to the PNG Forest Authority by a logging company to clear 40% of the island under the guise of an agricultural project remains unknown, despite an ongoing petition signed by more than 184,00 people.
- A mining company has also started expanding infrastructure and clearing forest in preparation for a long-planned open-pit gold mine, but has faced backlash from villagers unhappy with the replacement housing offered as part of a relocation project to make way for the mine. The company also intends to dispose of mining waste via a controversial pipeline into a nearby bay.
In Brazil’s Pantanal, a desperate struggle to save a hyacinth macaw refuge from fire
(9/17/20) Written by Jennifer Ann Thomas – 56,780 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.
Spots of hope: Some good news for South Africa’s cheetahs
(9/28/20) Written by Tony Carnie – 54,678 pageviews
- Cheetahs have vanished from 90% of their historical range in Africa.
- A metapopulation project in South Africa has almost doubled the population of cheetahs in this project in less than nine years.
- The program works by nurturing several populations of the cat in mostly private game reserves, and swapping cheetahs between these sites to boost the gene pool.
- South Africa is now the only country in the world with a significantly increasing population of wild cheetahs, and has begun translocating the cats beyond its borders.
Flip-flops, fishing gear pile up at Aldabra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
(9/23/20) Written by Malavika Vyawahare – 53,054 pageviews
- More than 370,000 flip-flops from all over the world are piling up on the Aldabra coral atoll In Seychelles, one of the remotest corners of the planet and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, according to a new study.
- The second-largest atoll in the world, with a vast lagoon enclosed by raised coral atolls, Aldabra is home to the India Ocean’s last giant tortoises and only flightless bird species, among other rare and threatened wildlife.
- The authors of the new paper estimate that plastic garbage from fishing vessels accounts for more than 80% of the trash on the atoll by weight.
- They calculate that recovering the plastic trash on Aldabra could cost as much as $7.3 million, a large price to pay for a small island nation like Seychelles.
‘We are all ecstatic’: Rescued wild pangolin gives birth to healthy pup
(9/21/20) Written by Mongabay.com – 51,829 pageviews
- In April 2020, conservation authorities in South Africa rescued a pregnant Temminck’s pangolin from the wildlife trade, and placed her in the African Pangolin Working Group’s release program after an extensive rehabilitation process.
- There is a paucity of information about pangolin reproduction biology, so it was difficult for veterinary staff to ascertain when the rescued pangolin would eventually give birth.
- In August 2020, camera trap footage revealed that the rescued pangolin had given birth to a healthy pup.
Madagascar shuts down ‘illegal’ gold mine but activists remain in legal limbo
(10/21/20) Written by Edward Carver – 49,837 pageviews
- Earlier this month, Madagascar’s government suspended a controversial gold-mining operation in Vohilava commune in the country’s southeast.
- The project, a dredging operation in the Isaka River that allegedly uses mercury to separate gold from ore, has caused notable damage to the river, local economy, and public health, prompting near-unanimous local opposition.
- A demonstration in September against the mine prompted a visit by officials that led to the mine’s suspension.
- However, prosecutors are investigating six people for involvement in the demonstration, including one who was previously jailed as a result of his opposition to the mining project.
Podcast: A radio program is helping save critically endangered gorillas in Nigeria
(10/14/20) Written by Mike Gaworecki – 49,251 pageviews
- Community-based conservation measures are key to protecting the Cross River gorilla, and a radio program that reaches as many as 4 million listeners in Nigeria is encouraging local community members to become active participants in conservation.
- On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we speak with Hillary Chukwuemeka, host of the radio program, which is called “My Gorilla My Community.” Chukwuemeka talks about why radio is an effective medium for community engagement in Nigeria and the impacts he’s seen from time spent in local communities on the front lines of conservation.
- We’re also joined by Inaoyom Imong, program director for the Cross River landscape with Wildlife Conservation Society Nigeria and a member of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group, who discusses the major threats to Cross River gorillas, the main barriers to their conservation, and why community-based conservation measures are so important in this context.
Landed by the thousands: Overfished Congo waters put endangered sharks at risk
(9/23/20) Written by Sharon Guynup – 49,000 pageviews
- More than 100 commercial trawlers and about 700 smaller boats of the Republic of Congo’s artisanal fleet are putting intense pressure on 42 shark and ray species, according to a new survey by TRAFFIC, an NGO that tracks the global wildlife trade. All are on the IUCN red list.
- The 150-mile Congo coast makes up a tiny part of Africa’s shoreline, but overfishing is taking a heavy toll. One example: Ten thousand metric tons of hammerheads were reported caught in Congo from 2007 through 2017 — the equivalent weight of 10,000 small cars.
- Republic of Congo is a signatory of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), but not one CITES-listed shark species is on the country’s endangered species list. A new law aimed at meeting international commitments has been in the works since 2018, but has not been ratified by the Parliament.
- A new international market incentivized shark fishing around 2000, with the arrival of Chinese companies in Congo. The fins are exported illegally to Asia for shark fin soup, but authorities say they have no idea how the shark fins are being smuggled out of the country. Without knowledge of export routes, little can be done to prevent the illegal trade.
New tool alerts ships when whales are near. But will they slow down?
(9/23/20) Written by Claudia Geib – 47,069 pageviews
- In 2018 and 2019 there were a record 27 documented whale-ship collisions off the coast of California, although the actual number is likely to be much higher.
- To reduce the number of deadly collisions, the Benioff Ocean Initiative launched Whale Safe on Sept. 17.
- The new mapping and analysis tool alerts mariners when whales are likely present in the busy Santa Barbara Channel near Los Angeles, drawing on data from an acoustic monitoring buoy, on-the-water sighting reports, and computer modeling.
- If whales are likely nearby, the developers hope large vessels will slow to speeds that are less harmful to whales in a collision. Their decision whether to do so remains voluntary.
Bolivia’s jaguar seizures down as suspicions rise over new mafia
(9/15/20) Written by Vanessa Romo – 46,926 pageviews
- Since January 2019 there have been no seizures of jaguar parts in Bolivia. What could be behind the trend and how is the country responding?
Header image: Nasrullah, a fisherman from Lombok island, shows one of the lobsters raised in his aquafarm. Image by Fathul Rakhman/Mongabay-Indonesia.