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Mongabay’s What-To-Watch list for August 2021

  • In the last month, Mongabay has published videos looking at the impacts of climate change on the Arctic, flamingos and beyond.
  • We also covered stories around community initiatives and the history of Indigenous people in Latin America.
  • You don’t need a Netflix, Prime or Disney+ subscription to watch these videos, just check out our YouTube channel.

Last month, Mongabay covered stories from Latin America, North America, Africa and beyond.

We start off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where Indigenous people are fighting for recognition in the second most populous city of the country. Many of the people Mongabay interviewed shared that they face constant stereotypes, and that many non-Indigenous Brazilians don’t believe that Indigenous people live in cities. But cities across Brazil were built on Indigenous land. Some of Rio’s most iconic sites were built on Tupinambá land. And the census shows there are Indigenous people from over 40 ethnicities living in the city. In this video, we explored Rio de Janeiro’s Indigenous history through the eyes of the people living there.

Next up, we have a story from Guatemala, where there’s a controversy over a community-owned forest concession. As part of the concession, the local community decides which areas can be logged and manages how much logging is allowed. The idea behind this project was to develop sustainable logging practices that benefit everyone in the community. But some say they haven’t received any of the proposed benefits. In this video, we explored the complexity of developing projects like these in the face of outside logging pressures and interests.

These videos were followed by a story from Kenya, where the world-famous flamingos of Lakes Nakuru and Baringo are flying to sewage treatment plants in search of food. Most of the world’s flamingos are spread across Kenya’s alkaline lakes because that’s where they find food. But increased rainfall in the last few years has reduced lake alkalinity, making it harder for flamingos — especially lesser flamingos — to feed. The rising lake-levels have also led to a rise in flamingo deaths as these large birds are pushed into thorny plants and fences. This video looked at the impact of the rapidly-changing Rift Valley landscape on these birds.

As part of our ongoing Mongabay explains series, we took a deep look at the roots of zoonotic diseases and the complex factors behind the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to make sure you never miss a video, and in the meantime here are all the videos to add to your watchlist:

Mapping grasslands for community rights and to tackle climate change

This video from India documents the lives of nomadic pastoral communities who graze their livestock in the grasslands of the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Classification of these habitats as ‘wastelands’ and poor documentation of community lands have helped convert them into farmlands, real estate, and tree plantations. But as grasslands get sidelined, their role in tackling climate change gets underestimated and ignored. Accurate maps of grasslands can help in carbon storage valuation, guide conservation, and restoration work besides helping address community rights and use of grazing lands.

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The Indigenous past and present of Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro

Parts of Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro were built on Indigenous Tupinambá land. Today, Indigenous people from over 40 different groups call the city home. Mongabay spoke to members of these communities about their experiences with discrimination in urban spaces.

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Read about it here.

Can a logging concession in Guatemala help fight illegal deforestation?

In the northeastern region of Petén, Guatemala, a 25-year-old experiment in conservation is playing out in the rainforest amid ancient ruins and cocaine-trafficking airstrips. Uaxactun is one of 12 forestry concessions with the right to manage large tracts of forest that have achieved remarkably low rates of deforestation and have a high prevalence of wildlife.

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Read more about it here.

Kenya’s flamingos head to sewage treatment plants as lake levels rise

The majority of the world’s flamingos are scattered across a series of alkaline lakes in Kenya. But in the last few years, lake levels have been rising, and that’s changed the ecosystem these large birds have depended on. Lakes like Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria are becoming less alkaline, resulting in less alkaline-loving algae that lesser flamingos eat. So thousands of flamingos are flocking to other areas, like sewage treatment plants in search for food.

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Rare behavior: male tiger cares for cubs after mother’s death

A rare behavior was observed in a male tiger in central India’s Panna Tiger Reserve. In tigers, it is usually the mother that provides parental care, teaching cubs to hunt, mark territories and survive. The male tiger, named P243, was found to deliberately leave kills in cubs’ territory so that the four young ones had something to feed on.

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What is the origin of zoonotic diseases?

Although the origin of the new coronavirus is not yet certain, some scientists suggest that SARS-Cov-2 originated in bats. COVID-19 is most likely a zoonotic disease, as it was transmitted from an animal to a human. It is not the only zoonotic disease humans have faced. Others have emerged before and will continue to do so as long as we allow certain human practices on our planet, experts warn.

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Why climate change is so bad for Arctic sea ice

Climate change in the Arctic appears to have passed a “tipping point,” a threshold at which it becomes suddenly precipitous and possibly irreversible. Temperatures are warming at up to four times the global rate. Ice extent is at an all-time low. Policymakers are already drafting plans for a time when Arctic life as we know it is squeezed into a thin remnant of ice clinging to the fringes of Canada’s northern archipelago. That scenario was once predicted to be 70 years out. More recent estimates put it at 20.

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Read about it here.


The spectacled bear is the only species of bear in South America

The spectacled bear lives in only 3% of South America between Bolivia and Venezuela but shares habitat with at least 76% of mammal species in the subcontinent. That is why it is considered an umbrella species for the conservation of biodiversity.

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How many kittens can a Geoffroy’s cat have?

Geoffroy’s cats are one of the most abundant felids of South America. They live in the Pampas, Andes, and Gran Chaco areas in the southern part of the subcontinent.

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Researchers use autonomous vessels to spot upcoming fish kill conditions in Biscayne Bay, Florida

In August 2020, dead fish, rays and other marine life turned up dead on the Miami coastline due to critically low dissolved oxygen levels caused by several factors including heavy rainfall, higher temperatures, salinity imbalances, nutrient pollution and seagrass die-off. Researchers at Florida International University are testing autonomous vessels to collect data on the bay’s conditions and prevent tragedies like the August 2020 fish kill.

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Read about it here.

Landscape rehydration project brings wildlife back to Miami’s Biscayne Bay

In South Florida, projects to restore historic freshwater flow from the Everglades to Biscayne Bay have helped biodiversity, such as the Cutler Slough Rehydration Project, also called the Deering Estate Flow-way in Miami. This project was completed in 2012, consisting of pumps that manually push freshwater from canals through underground limestone rock and wetland habitat out to Biscayne bay. Researchers say they’ve observed wildlife returning to the landscape since the project began.

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Read about it here.

Banner image of a Geoffroy’s cat by Cloudtail the Snow Leopard via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

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