Conservation news

Our 10 most popular conservation stories in May 2021

The pilot whales in Madura. Image courtesy of the Bali marine resources agency.

  • Mongabay published nearly 400 stories across its various bureaus during the month of May.
  • Here are the ten most read stories on the global English news site.

Most published nearly 400 stories across its various bureaus during the month of May. Here are the ten most read stories on the global English news site.

A story about an Indonesian government analysis on the cause of a mass-stranding of pilot whales on Madura Island was the most read story on Mongabay news story during the month of May. The article, adapted by Basten Gokkon from a story originally published by Luh De Suriyani on Mongabay-Indonesia, reported that wildlife experts blamed the stranding on inflammation in the alpha whale’s echolocation organ, which may have contributed to her disorientation that led the pod into dangerously shallow waters. The story attracted more than 100,000 pageviews during the month of May.

The buttresses of this great ancient rainforest tree, which have kept it standing for uncounted years, are no match for the industrial strength of a chainsaw powered by fossil fuels. Image by Fábio Nascimento.

Ecologist Philip M. Fearnside’s commentary on Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s pledge to achieve “zero illegal deforestation by 2030” ranked second in popularity during the month. Fearnside argued that the target is effectively a “distortion” because his administration is effectively legalizing deforestation through policy and the laws it is trying to push through congress. Fearnside writes: “There are two ways that ‘zero illegal deforestation’ can be achieved: by truly stopping deforestation and by simply declaring as ‘legal’ the deforestation that is taking place. But the area of forest that is actually cut down — and the sequestered carbon it releases to the atmosphere — is all that matters for Earth’s climate, not the legality of the deforestation.” The commentary received nearly 50,000 pageviews.

Malavika Vyawahare’s news brief about a Science paper that estimated up to a fifth of wells worldwide are at risk of running dry was the third most popular post in May. The analysis, which looked at data for about 39 million wells, found that falling groundwater levels could greatly reduce water availability via wells, a development that would disproportionately affect the world’s poorest communities. The piece got 37,000 pageviews.

Rhett A. Butler’s interview with Indonesian environmental activist Bustar Maitar was the fourth most popular post in April. Maitar, who while at Greenpeace led a forest conservation campaign that pressured major corporations like Nestlé and Unilever to commit to zero deforestation in their supply chains, today runs the EcoNusa Foundation, which focuses on empowering local communities in Indonesian Papua. The interview had over 36,000 pageviews during the month.

Activist Chhoeun Daravy was arrested August, 2020. Image courtesy of LICADHO (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Gerald Flynn’s story about Cambodia’s arrest of five activists from the environmental group Mother Nature Cambodia was the fifth most read story in May. The activists — Long Kunthea, Phuon Keoraksmey, Thun Ratha, Chea Kunthin and Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson — were convicted of intending to cause “social chaos” by planning a protest of the government-sanctioned destruction of Phnom Penh’s lakes, which are being filled in for development. The planned one-person march never actually took place. The story got 36,000 pageviews.

Liz Kimbrough’s post about a newly described species of krait from the monsoon forests in southwestern China and northern Myanmar was the sixth most popular for the month. The venomous Suzhen’s krait is named after Bai Su Zhen, a snake goddess from the popular traditional Chinese myth Legend of White Snake, “in honor of her courage to true love and kindness to people.” It received 34,000 pageviews.

Bong S. Sarmiento’s reporting on efforts to protect Mount Busa on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao ranked seventh in popularity. “A growing number of species sighted and surveys conducted in recent years have led to a deluge of new species being described from the mountain, prompting the local government to declare its massif, the principal mountain mass, a local conservation area in March 2020,” writes Sarmiento. “However, the designation still falls short of stopping the growing pressure the mountain faces from mining, logging, hunting and poaching.” The post received 34,000 pageviews.

A news brief by Elizabeth Alberts about the sighting of a giant otter in Argentina’s Impenetrable National Park was the eighth most popular article. The species hasn’t been seen in the country for about 40 years and gave a boost to conservationists hoping to restore animals that have been extirpated locally. It got 31,000 pageviews.

An in-depth feature by Mike Gaworecki on what science tells us about tree-planting was the ninth most read post in May. It had 31,000 pageviews.

Rounding out the ten most popular for the month was a story by Hans Nicholas Jong about the arrest of an Indigenous Dayak man after a palm oil company alleged he stole palm fruit from a company’s plantation in Indonesia’s North Kalimantan province. The company is embroiled in a long-running conflict with five Dayak communities in the area as its concession overlaps with their ancestral lands. It attracted 31,000 pageviews.

Header image: Beached pilot whales in Madura. Image courtesy of the Bali marine resources agency.