- November was the second straight month where regular multi-day suspensions of Mongabay’s Facebook accounts significantly reduced traffic to the site. Despite these repeated bans, which were consistently reversed on appeal for human review, Mongabay’s traffic in November was 3% higher than a year ago, amounting to 8.9 million pageviews.
- The most popular story of the month was a write up on rare camera trap footage of a the Amazon’s short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis).
- Below are the 20 articles with the most traffic on news.mongabay.com during the month of November.
November was the second straight month where regular multi-day suspensions of Mongabay’s Facebook accounts significantly reduced traffic to the site. Facebook banned Mongabay’s account for stories on sea turtle poaching, an interview with the CEO of The GEF, a mining disaster in Brazil, research into links between industrial pig farming and virus outbreaks, and a controversial road project in Indonesia’s Papua, among others. Despite these repeated suspensions, which were consistently reversed on appeal for human review, Mongabay’s traffic in November was 3% higher than a year ago.
The most popular story of the month was a write up on rare camera trap footage of a the Amazon’s short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis). The story, which was accompanied by a video, had more than 105,000 pageviews during the month.
Below are the 20 articles with the most traffic during the month of November.
The Amazon’s short-eared dog was thought to be a scavenger. Now there’s video
(11/17/20) Written by Elizabeth Claire Alberts – 105,156 pageviews
- After installing a camera trap near a dead armadillo, a biologist unexpectedly recorded video of the elusive short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis) scavenging on the carcass, and subsequently published a field report about the incident.
- While there was previous anecdotal evidence that short-eared dogs scavenge, this field report provides the first published documentation of this behavior, according to its author.
- In general, very little is known about the short-eared dog, including information about the species’ biology and ecology, although researchers are working to fill these gaps.
Despite COVID, political divides, conservation can advance: Hansjörg Wyss
(10/26/20) Written by Rhett A. Butler – 88,649 pageviews
- 2020 was supposed to be the year that the world assessed progress on a decade’s worth of effort to stave off the sixth mass extinction and set ambitious new targets for conservation. But the COVID-19 pandemic intervened, leading to postponement of key high-level meetings.
- Nonetheless, conservationists have continued to press forward with initiatives aiming to preserve habitat for wildlife, including the “30×30” target, which aims to conserve 30% of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030.
- One of the biggest champions for the 30×30 goal is the Wyss Campaign for Nature, which launched two years ago thanks to a billion dollar commitment from Hansjörg Wyss, a medical device entrepreneur and philanthropist. Since its inception, the Wyss Campaign for Nature has put more that $350 million into projects that have protected nearly 18 million acres of land and over 160,000 square kilometers of the ocean.
- Wyss talked about the campaign, the impact of COVID on biodiversity conservation goals, and broad public support for wild places and wildlife during an October 2020 interview with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler.
The murky process of licensing Amazonian meat plants
(10/8/20) Written by Diálogo Chino and Flávia Milhorance – 83,333 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.
Philanthropist Wendy Schmidt: ‘Solutions are always local’
(10/29/20) Written by Rhett A. Butler – 80,748 pageviews
- Coming from respective backgrounds of design and technology, Wendy Schmidt and her husband, Eric, are the driving force behind some of the charitable organizations and investment vehicles working to address the challenges of climate change, clean energy, ocean health, and more.
- Wendy Schmidt says they bring a systems-thinking approach to these challenges, to allow stakeholders to see connections that may not be obvious on the surface and work toward more resilient solutions.
- “Humans need to develop new systems that work in harmony with the natural world, that are resilient in the face of a changing planet,” she says.
- In this interview with Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett A. Butler, Schmidt advocates for the role of technology, but also explains why the idea that technology can be “scaled” to meet any challenge is problematic.
Where to patrol next: ‘Netflix’ of ranger AI serves up poaching predictions
(11/5/20) Written by Claudia Geib – 75,690 pageviews
- The PAWS AI system, developed out of Harvard University, uses data about past poaching and game theory to predict where rangers are most likely to find poaching activity next.
- PAWS has been field tested in Cambodia and Uganda, and will soon roll out worldwide, available with the next update of a global data tool called SMART.
- Subsequent versions of the system will also feature a tool that recommends the best route for rangers to travel in their patrols.
Conservationists replant legal palm oil plantation with forest in Borneo
(11/9/20) Written by Jeremy Hance – 71,613 pageviews
- A small project in Malaysian Borneo aims to create a forest corridor between two large protected areas.
- The reforested land comprises an old, legal oil palm plantation, which the Rhino and Forest Fund (RFF) is working to replant with native tree species.
- The corridor is expected to help threatened species move between the Tabin and Kulamba wildlife reserves, including Bornean elephants and banteng, a type of wild cattle.
- RFF says it hopes the project will serve as a blueprint for large-scale oil palm restoration and encourage the “urgently needed restoration of many crucial areas for biodiversity conservation and climate protection.”
With a drastic decline in tropical fruit, Gabon’s rainforest mega-gardeners go hungry
(10/29/20) Written by Ingrid Gercama and Nathalie Bertrams – 66,622 pageviews
- Climate change appears to be disrupting the yield of fruit trees, a critical food source for many large mammals in Central Africa.
- A new study warns that endangered forest elephants and other keystone species in Lopé National Park in central Gabon — such as western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, and mandrills — could be facing famine.
- “The changes are drastic,” says Emma Bush, co-lead author of the study. “The massive collapse in fruiting may be due to missing the environmental cue to bear fruit.”
- Some tropical trees depend on a drop in temperature to trigger flowering, but since the 1980s, the region recorded less rainfall and a temperature increase of 1°C.
Amazon deforestation shoots higher in October, reversing 3-month trend
(11/14/20) Written by Mongabay.com – 64,812 pageviews
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rose 50 percent in October, ending a streak where the deforestation rate had declined for three straight months, according to data released Friday by the national space research institute INPE.
- The news came days after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro appeared to threaten the use of military force against the United States should it attempt to impose sanctions on the South American country for its failure to slow rising deforestation.
- Bolsonaro is known for making contentious statements, including blaming environmentalists, Indigenous peoples, and the actor Leonardo DiCaprio for deforestation in the Amazon.
- Bolsonaro has presided over a sharp increase in deforestation since he took office in January 2019.
Colombia, ethnobotany, and America’s decline: An interview with Wade Davis
(10/21/20) Written by Rhett A. Butler – 62,699 pageviews
- Wade Davis is a celebrated anthropologist, ethnobotanist, photographer, and author who has written thought-provoking accounts of indigenous cultures around the world. Through his writing, Davis has documented the disappearance of indigenous languages and cultures, the loss of which is outpacing the destruction of the world’s rainforests.
- Davis’s newest book, Magdalena: River of Dreams: A Story of Colombia, traces the path of the Magdalena River as a vehicle to tell the story of Colombia, including the nation’s tumultuous recent past, the tenuous peace of its present, and its future promise. Colombia holds a special place for Davis: it trails only Brazil in terms of biodiversity, is geographically and culturally diverse, and has gone to great lengths to recognize indigenous rights and protect its forests.
- Davis’s research into Colombia, indigenous cultures, and other societies has given him an unusually broad perspective with which to evaluate recent developments in the United States, which he compared to a collapsing empire in a commentary he authored in August for Rolling Stone.
- Davis talked about his career path, his new book, and the decline of America in an October 2020 interview with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler.
Brazil’s Bem Querer dam: An impending Amazon disaster (commentary)
(11/16/20) Written by Philip M. Fearnside – 55,897 pageviews
- Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has announced his administration’s priorities for Amazon dams, including the planned Bem Querer dam on the Rio Branco in the far-northern state of Roraima.
- Bem Querer is primarily intended to increase the energy supply to industries in locations outside of Amazonia, rather than for residents of Roraima.
- Probable environmental impacts include blocking fish migrations and flooding a riparian forest that possesses extraordinary bird diversity. Downstream flow alteration would impact protected areas, including two Ramsar wetland biodiversity sites. Riverside dwellers would also be impacted.
- Sediment flow blockage would impact fisheries and the unique Anavilhanas Archipelago, a spectacular Brazilian national park. These adverse impacts need to be fully evaluated before a decision to build is made. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Bug bites: Edible insect production ramps up quickly in Madagascar
(11/19/20) Written by Emilie Filou – 55,356 pageviews
- In the last two years, two insect farming projects have taken off in Madagascar as a way to provide precious protein while alleviating pressure on lemurs and other wild animals hunted for bushmeat.
- One program, which promotes itself with a deck of playing cards, encourages rainforest residents in the northeast to farm a bacon-flavored native planthopper called sakondry.
- Another program focuses on indoor production of crickets in the capital city, Antananarivo.
- Both projects are on the cusp of expanding to other parts of the country.
Technology innovations look to change the cacao landscape in Colombia
(11/10/20) Written by Aurora Solá – 54,802 pageviews
- Cacao holds promise as a “peace crop” in Colombia, providing smallholders with a viable alternative to coca.
- Two projects — EcoProMIS, led by Agricompas, and COLCO, led by Satellite Applications Catapult — are developing technology applications to build on cacao’s potential in Colombia and ensure transparency and traceability.
- A combination of apps, smart devices and data analytics could help farmers produce more per hectare, refine their post-harvest process, and fetch fairer prices, all while improving transparency and traceability.
- Boosting yields per hectare is an important goal for Colombia given that it has committed to ensuring zero deforestation in the cacao supply chain.
Report: Soy, cattle industries trail palm oil, timber on deforestation risk
(11/3/20) Written by Ashoka Mukpo – 52,604 pageviews
- The report says the soybean and cattle industries lack certification bodies like the RSPO that were created after consumer pressure.
- Among soybean and cattle producers, Glencore Agriculture, JBS and Minerva scored worst on indicators for forest risk.
- The two industries have a significant role in the deforestation of the Amazon and Brazil’s Cerrado biome.
Brazil’s Amazon dam plans: Ominous warnings of future destruction (commentary)
(10/22/20) Written by Philip M. Fearnside – 52,434 pageviews
- Brazil’s current 10-year Energy Expansion Plan calls for three more large dams in Amazonia by 2029, and Brazil’s 2050 National Energy Plan lists many more.
- Both plans contain ominous passages explaining that the list of dams could expand if “uncertainty” is resolved regarding current regulations protecting Indigenous peoples and protected areas for biodiversity.
- Brazil’s National Congress is considering bills to eliminate environmental licensing; a bill submitted by President Jair Bolsonaro would allow dams on Indigenous lands. Brazil’s dam-building plans to satisfy 2050 energy demand extend to neighboring Amazonian nations, including Peru and Bolivia.
- The 2050 plan essentially admits that dams on Indigenous lands and within other protected areas are not necessary because the electricity could be generated by offshore wind power. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Ambitious and holistic goals key to saving Earth’s biodiversity, study says
(10/26/20) Written by Liz Kimbrough – 40,416 pageviews
- A recently published study in the journal Science gives recommendations for decision-makers preparing to set new biodiversity goals at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2021.
- The researchers urge CBD negotiators and policymakers to consider three critical points as they create the new biodiversity goals: the goals must be multifaceted, developed holistically, and highly ambitious.
- “No net loss” of diversity is an example of a highly ambitious goal. Its targets include increasing natural ecosystem area, saving culturally important species, and conserving 90% of Earth’s genetic diversity.
- To turn the tide, the new biodiversity goals must be both highly ambitious and unified, and address ecosystems, species, genetic diversity, and nature’s contributions to people.
Surrounded by intruders, the last of Brazil’s Piripkura hold out in the Amazon
(11/13/20) Written by Maurício Angelo – 39,545 pageviews
- The Piripkura Indigenous Territory in Brazil’s Mato Grosso state is home to two of the last three members of this once isolated tribe.
- The territory has long been the target of land grabbers and loggers, with the deforestation rate increasing in recent years on the back of policies that effectively whitewash illegal land grabs.
- The ordinance that designates the Piripkura Indigenous Territory as a protected area expires in September 2021, and its renewal beyond that date depends on the fate of the two Indigenous people still living there.
- Experts say the federal agency for Indigenous affairs, Funai, has not only failed to formalize and protect the territory, but even encouraged its illegal occupation and destruction.
Brazil sees record number of bids to mine illegally on Indigenous lands
(11/13/20) Written by Eduardo Goulart de Andrade, Hyury Potter, Naira Hofmeister, and Pedro Papini – 38,254 pageviews
- An exclusive investigation shows Brazil’s mining regulator continues to entertain requests to mine in Indigenous territories, which is prohibited under the country’s Constitution.
- There have been 145 such applications filed this year, the highest number in 24 years, spurred by President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-Indigenous rhetoric and a bill now before Congress that would permit mining on Indigenous lands.
- Prosecutors and judges say that by maintaining these unconstitutional mining applications on file and not immediately rejecting them, the mining regulator is granting them a semblance of legitimacy.
- Mining represents a real threat to the Brazilian Amazon, where the protected status of Indigenous territories is the main reason the forests they contain remain standing.
Planned road projects threaten Sumatran rhino habitat, experts say
(10/26/20) Written by Junaidi Hanafiah – 36,001 pageviews
- Authorities in the Indonesian province of Aceh are planning 12 road-building projects through 2022, some of which will cut through the habitat of critically endangered Sumatran rhinos.
- The species is already under threat from forest fragmentation, which has isolated rhino subpopulations and led to the biggest threat to the animal: the inability to find other rhinos to mate with.
- Conservationists have called for full protection of the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh to safeguard the rhinos’ habitat from the road projects.
- But even in a protected part of the ecosystem, Gunung Leuser National Park, deforestation is already taking place on the fringes.
2020 fires endangering uncontacted Amazon Indigenous groups
(10/28/20) Written by Liz Kimbrough – 35,409 pageviews
- Amazon fires this year are seriously threatening Indigenous territories in which isolated uncontacted Indigenous groups make their homes. Brazil has an estimated 100+ isolated Indigenous groups living within its borders, more than any other Amazonian nation.
- Particularly threatened by fires in 2020 are the isolated Ãwa people who live on Bananal Island in Tocantins state; the uncontacted Awá inhabiting the Arariboia Indigenous Reserve in Maranhão state; and uncontacted groups in the Uru Eu Wau Wau Indigenous territory in Rondônia and Ituna Itatá Indigenous territory in Pará, the Brazilian state with the highest deforestation and land conflicts rates.
- All of these Indigenous territories are under intense pressure from land grabbers, illegal loggers and ranchers, with many of this year’s fires thought to have been set intentionally as a means of converting protected rainforest to pasture and cropland.
- Meanwhile, the Jair Bolsonaro government has hobbled IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency, defunding it and preventing it from fighting fires, causing one critic to accuse the administration of having “waged war against Indigenous peoples” and of “an ongoing genocide.”
Podcast: New Latin American treaty could help protect women conservation leaders — and all environment defenders
(10/28/20) Written by Mike Gaworecki – 35,211 pageviews
- On this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we once again highlight the work of women leaders in Amazon conservation, and look at an international agreement that could help protect environmental defenders in Latin America — one of the most dangerous places in the world to be an environmental activist, especially as a woman.
- We speak with Osprey Orielle Lake, founder and executive director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, or WECAN International, who tells us about some of the most inspiring women she’s worked with who are fighting to protect their communities and their forests in the Amazon, and discusses the groundbreaking Escazu Agreement, which would help protect defenders of the environment across Latin America.
- We also speak with Nicolas Bustamante Hernandez, a contributor to Mongabay who recently profiled an ornithologist and activist in Colombia named Yehimi Fajardo. Bustamente Hernandez tells us how, via the Alas Association she helped establish, Fajardo’s work has led hundreds of Indigenous children in Colombia’s Putumayo department to become avid birders, able to recognize the songs of birds in the region and to more fully appreciate the important role birds play in the local ecosystem.
Philippine resort owner hit with environmental charges as Boracay cleans up
(11/10/20) Written by Jun N. Aguirre – 32,458 pageviews
- The owner of two resorts on the Philippine holiday island of Boracay has been arrested for alleged violations of the country’s environmental laws.
- The owner was previously given leeway to self-demolish establishments encroaching on the easement zone along the shore, but failed to do so, leading to the arrest, the National Bureau of Investigation said.
- Boracay has been under a massive rehabilitation effort since 2018, when President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the island shut. It has since been reopened for limited numbers of tourists, while rehabilitation is ongoing.
- Twenty-one other resorts charged with similar violations will be subjected to the same action should they refuse to follow environmental laws, the investigations bureau said.
Building a road to recovery for subtle racism in conservation (commentary)
(11/19/20) Written by Resson Kantai Duff – 32,367 pageviews
- The following stories are based on firsthand experiences, personal observations, and eyewitness accounts related to race and privilege in the conservation space in Africa.
- More than 20 African women from nearly a dozen countries, each conservation leaders in their own right, contributed to these stories.
- They came together with a desire not to pulverize the conservation space, but rather to heal it. The goal is to offer a chance for self-reflection and open conversation in a world where too many things go unsaid.
- This article is a commentary, the views expressed are not necessarily those of Mongabay.
Header image: A short-eared dog pauses before a camera trap in the Amazon rainforest. Camera traps, which trigger remotely, have provided an unprecedented new look into this elusive canine. Image by Mark Abrahams.