- Mongabay’s site-wide traffic in December 2020 amounted to 12.3 million pageviews, a 55% increase over December 2019.
- Aggregate time on the site in December set a new all-time high, surpassing the previous peak from the initial pandemic lockdown period form April-June 2020.
- For the year Mongabay attracted 142 million pageviews, a 40% increase over 2019.
- Below is a list of the 25 most popular articles for December 2020. Traffic totals are for the month of December only.
Mongabay’s site-wide traffic in December 2020 amounted to 12.3 million pageviews, a 55% increase over December 2019. Aggregate time on the site in December set a new all-time high, surpassing the previous peak from the initial pandemic lockdown period form April-June 2020.
For the year Mongabay attracted 142 million pageviews, a 40% increase over 2019.
Below is a list of the 25 most popular articles for December 2020. Traffic totals are for the month of December only.
(12/3/20) Written by Stephanie Melchor – 107,052 pageviews
- Animals consumed by people in Vietnam are increasingly likely to carry coronavirus as they move from the wild to markets to restaurants, a new study shows.
- The animals with the highest rates of infection are most likely to come into contact with humans.
- When animals are confined in crowded and stressful conditions, it makes it even easier for the virus to spread.
(12/1/20) Written by Mongabay.com – 81,007 pageviews
- Every Tuesday, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.
(12/1/20) Written by Freda Kreier – 78,911 pageviews
- DNA analysis of three wild dogs living at high altitude on New Guinea reveals that they are part of the same population as captive New Guinea singing dogs.
- These findings confirm that New Guinea singing dogs are not extinct in the wild as previously thought.
- New conservation methods are now being considered to protect what some consider to be the world’s rarest wild dog.
(11/9/20) Written by Jeremy Hance – 57,950 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.”
(11/5/20) Written by Claudia Geib – 55,524 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.
(11/17/20) Written by Ana Ionova – 49,606 pageviews
- On November 5, 2015, the Fundão iron mine tailings dam failed, pouring 50 million tons of mud and toxic waste into Brazil’s Rio Doce, killing 19 people, polluting the river, contaminating croplands, devastating fish and wildlife, and polluting drinking water with toxic sludge along 650 kilometers (400 miles) of the waterway.
- Five years on, the industry cleanup has failed to restore the river and watershed, according to residents, with fisheries and fields still poisoned and less productive. Access to clean water also remains difficult, while unexplained health problems have arisen, though some cleanup and livelihood projects are yielding hope.
- Rio Doce valley inhabitants remain frustrated by what they see as a slow response to the environmental disaster by the dam’s owner, Samarco, a joint venture of Vale and BHP Billiton, two of the world’s biggest mining companies, and also by the Brazilian government. Roughly 1.6 million people were originally impacted by the disaster.
- The count of those still affected is unknown, with alleged heavy metal-related health risks cited: Maria de Jesus Arcanjo Peixoto tells of her young grandson, sickened by a mysterious illness: ”We’re left in doubt… But he was three months old when the dam burst. And all the food, the milk, the feed for the cows — it all came from the mud.”
(11/19/20) Written by Emilie Filou – 46,388 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.
(11/16/20) Written by Philip M. Fearnside – 43,042 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.
(12/9/20) Written by Mongabay.com – 42,556 pageviews
- 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.
(12/7/20) Written by Antonio José Paz Cardona – 42,392 pageviews
- Historically, this is a zone of armed conflict in the Amazon with frequent issues related to deforestation and land grabbing.
- Parra was coordinator of the Corporation for the Sustainable Development of the La Macarena Special Management Area (Cormacarena). He was a 20-year veteran of the environmental authority.
- Between January 1 and December 6, 2020, a jaw-dropping 284 environmental leaders and defenders have been assassinated in Colombia.
(11/20/20) Written by Hans Nicholas Jong – 41,291 pageviews
- Indonesia’s environment ministry has issued a new regulation allowing protected forest areas to be cleared for a “food estate” program.
- The program is aimed at boosting domestic crop supplies, but critics say it prioritizes the interests of agribusiness at the expense of small farmers and the environment.
- Indonesia degazetted 26 million hectares (64 million acres) of its forest over the past 20 years, primarily for large-scale agriculture, and today has 29.7 million hectares (73.4 million acres) of protected forest, an area the size of Italy.
- Observers say the food estate program, if it goes ahead, should prioritize agroforestry systems that maintain a higher level of biodiversity than monocrops like oil palms or rice.
(12/11/20) Written by Malaka Rodrigo – 40,939 pageviews
- The Sri Lankan government earlier this year transferred the administration of non-protected forests, known as “other state forests” (OSF), to regional authorities, with a view to releasing them for agriculture and development.
- The move is part of government efforts to boost domestic food production, but has been blasted by environmental activists who say many of these forests are rich in biodiversity and serve important ecosystem functions.
- Many of the highland OSF serve as the watershed for rivers, while lowland OSF harbor newly described species found nowhere else on Earth.
- Seventy percent of Sri Lanka’s elephants live outside protected areas, which means that allowing OSF to be cleared for agriculture would exacerbate what’s already one of the world’s worst problems of human-elephant conflict.
(12/21/20) Written by Milan Sime Martinic – 40,646 pageviews
- A sighting of one of the rarest mammals in the world, the elusive Chacoan fairy armadillo, was recently documented by a team of Bolivian biologists.
- Seldom seen, the animal–which lives among the Gran Chaco dry forests of Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay–has a population that is considered ‘data deficient’ by the IUCN, and is likely quite small.
- The species uses its huge claws and strong front legs to ‘swim’ into the Chaco’s sandy soils: its armor and tail are similarly adapted to facilitate their subterranean lifestyle.
- “This was a dream come true to see this animal,” one expert told Mongabay, since such sightings top the wishlists of mammal enthusiasts around the world.
(12/10/20) Written by Elizabeth Claire Alberts – 40,456 pageviews
- A group of about 580 savanna elephants recently returned to Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after crossing over from Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.
- The reappearance of the elephants brings hope to a park that’s been beset with civil unrest, violence, and poaching for decades.
- In May, Virunga National Park closed due to the spread of COVID-19, which caused serious financial damage to the park.
(11/30/20) Written by Carolina Cuellar Colmenares – 38,625 pageviews
- Genetic analysis of the remnants of 14 woolly rhinos shows that a warming climate, not hunting, probably killed them off 14,000 years ago.
- The numbers of woolly rhinos remained constant until close to their extinction, and far after humans had migrated to their territory in Siberia.
- Genetic mutations suggest that the rhinos were so adapted to living in cold conditions that they could not survive when the climate rapidly warmed.
(12/4/20) Written by Vincent Ricci – 37,104 pageviews
- Through partnerships with different forest-rich countries, Norway has doubled the price it pays for cuts in carbon dioxide emissions through avoided deforestation.
- Recent successes have come from Gabon and Indonesia, but more action is necessary as a 2020 report suggests rainforests are losing their ability to naturally absorb carbon dioxide emissions.
- Other countries are following Norway’s example: through the Central African Forest Initiative, President Emmanuel Macron of France and President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo signed a letter of intent for $65 million to protect Congo’s forests.
- In the U.S., president-elect Joe Biden has named former secretary of state John Kerry as his climate czar, in a sign of the incoming administration’s recommitment to and seriousness about climate action, following a four-year leadership vacuum under Donald Trump.
- 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.
- Indonesia’s interim fisheries minister has indicated a controversial program to export lobster larvae could likely resume, despite being at the heart of an ongoing corruption investigation that has ensnared his predecessor.
- The former minister, Edhy Prabowo, was arrested Nov. 25 on allegations of bribery related to the issuance of permits for the export of lobster larvae.
- Resuming exports was itself a controversial move, reversing a ban imposed by Edhy’s predecessor, Susi Pudjiastuti, to allow Indonesia’s wild lobster populations to replenish after decades of overfishing.
- But Luhut Pandjaitan, the coordinating minister for maritime affairs, who has taken over as interim fisheries minister, says there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the program and that it could soon continue, following an evaluation.
- The Conserv initiative, created by nonprofit organizations in Brazil and the U.S., is paying farmers and ranchers in the Amazon to preserve more native vegetation on their land than required by law.
- There are still more than 20 million hectares (49 million acres) of forest inside the Brazilian Amazon that can legally be cut.
- The initiative, led by the Brazil-based Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), aims to preserve 20,000 to 30,000 hectares (49,000 to 74,000 acres) of vegetation in its first phase, at a cost of $4.5 million.
- 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.
- After the December 2019 outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese researchers surveyed the Chinese public on their opinions of wildlife consumption and trade.
- An overwhelming majority supported stricter policies and legislation to protect wildlife.
- NGOs based in China report parallel findings that public awareness and support of wildlife conservation has increased dramatically. They see the pandemic as a promising opportunity to make substantial changes
- The maned wolf has been spotted 22 times in the Amazon over the past 25 years, 10 of those times in areas where it had never been seen before.
- Scientists posit that South America’s largest canine is spreading north as human-driven deforestation and climate change eat away at the fringes of the Amazon, turning the rainforest into the dry shrubland that the maned wolf is accustomed to.
- In its traditional range across the Cerrado savanna, the maned wolf is being squeezed into increasingly fragmented spaces and pushed into human areas.
- This puts it at risk of being hit by vehicles, catching disease from domestic pets, and being killed by farmers.
- 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.
- The ecosystems of East Kalimantan province in Indonesian Borneo face increasing pressure due to mining, logging, industrial agriculture, infrastructure projects, and a plan to establish a new administrative capital city.
- One of the species imperiled by this rapid transformation is the Irrawaddy dolphin.
- Estuarine populations of the species already face severely negative impacts from increasing shipping traffic and coastal development in Balikpapan Bay.
- A critically endangered population of freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins living in the middle reaches of the Mahakam River are also under increasing pressure due to climate change, oil palm cultivation, coal mining and transport.
- 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.
- Sri Lanka has sent back the first batch of 21 containers out of a total of 263 containers of waste imported from the U.K. in 2019.
- The waste was labeled for recycling, but a customs inspection uncovered suspected medical waste, which constitutes a violation of the Basel Convention that regulates the global movement of hazardous waste.
- A growing number of countries in the Global South have begun refusing to accept waste from the West and sending it back because of violations of regulations on hazardous and electronic waste.
- Experts say Sri Lanka still has to upgrade its domestic waste-processing industry, given that much of the country’s industrial waste is incinerated.
(11/17/20) Written by Elizabeth Claire Alberts – 35,752 pageviews
(11/30/20) Written by Basten Gokkon – 35,465 pageviews
(11/24/20) Written by Sibélia Zanon – 34,880 pageviews
(11/10/20) Written by Aurora Solá – 34,631 pageviews
(12/9/20) Written by Emily Harwitz – 32,169 pageviews
(12/2/20) Written by Sibélia Zanon – 32,094 pageviews
(10/29/20) Written by Ingrid GercamaNathalie Bertrams – 30,830 pageviews
(12/2/20) Written by Carolyn Cowan – 30,421 pageviews
(11/14/20) Written by Mongabay.com – 30,010 pageviews
(12/9/20) Written by Malaka Rodrigo – 26,973 pageviews
Header image: Camera trap of Bornean banteng. The landscape in question is home to the largest surviving population of Bornean banteng. Photo by: P.Kretzschmar.