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

  • In August, Mongabay explored sounds in Nature, the importance of homegardens, conservation of rhinos, sustainable solutions for overfishing and invasive plants, protecting forests around the world, and more.
  • Researchers have found that growing biodiverse gardens at our houses is comparable with natural forested regions in the area, and that poking into rhino poop can help determine crucial information about the critically endangered animal.
  • Add these videos to your watchlist for the month — you don’t need a Netflix, Prime or Disney+ subscription; watch these for free on YouTube.

Overfishing, the various practices of fishing, and factors like ocean warming and pollution have contributed to the slow decimation of coral reefs, crucial for the balance in marine ecology. Through coral transplantation projects carried out in Goa and the Andaman and Nicobar islands, Mongabay-India explored how coral transplantation can help reefs recover. In Indonesia, fishers near Makassar have realized the importance of coral reefs and have understood overfishing affects the reefs.

Researchers have been exploring how recording the calls of birds, frogs and other forest sounds can help conservation projects. Some other researchers in Kerala, India, have found that homegardens, especially biodiverse ones, in highly populated regions play an important role in mitigating climate change.

In Indonesia, the critically endangered Sumatran rhino’s population is speculated to be only around 80. While scientists are digging into the rhino’s dung to determine the accurate number of individuals left in the species, we can see in a 3-part video series how conservationists from across the world are working towards the Sumatran rhino’s conservation.

We also had ground reports from Kenya and Spain about how farmers are tackling local environmental issues sustainably. While Kenyan livestock farmers near Lake Victoria turned to converting harmful invasive plants to bioenergy, farmers in northwestern Spain have started to tackle forest fires with agroforestry and sheep.

The importance of old-growth forests was reiterated through stories about the Olympic National Park in the U.S. and the Mangar Bani forest in India. Watch how individuals are fighting hard fights to save these forests from logging and development projects.

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:

Using bioacoustics to improve conservation

Recording and analyzing sounds in nature is a new practice that is helping researchers monitor biodiversity. In remote places, such as tropical rainforests, bioacoustics can identify areas where wildlife numbers have declined and logging and hunting have intensified, among other threats.

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Photographer of the Yanomami: Claudia Andujar documents Amazon’s Indigenous people

Claudia Andujar’s photographs brought the Yanomami Indigenous people, threatened by deforestation and mining activity by the end of the XX’s century, to the world’s attention.

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Read more: Exhibition showcases Claudia Andujar’s half-century fight for the Yanomami

Homegardens: our natural ally against climate change

Homegardens in Kerala are a traditional natural solution that will help in climate change mitigation. A study on the biodiversity of 75 homegardens in Kerala, revealed that the biodiversity of homegardens studied was comparable with natural forested regions in the area. The species density of a land-use system can determine the carbon sequestration potential of the system. Homegardens with high species density are found to have better soil organic carbon stock, making them a key ally in our efforts to reduce carbon in the atmosphere.

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Read more: Kerala’s homegardens are a natural solution for climate change mitigation

Coral transplantation can help reefs recover. But cannot be a singular solution to save them.

Coral reef restoration, a relatively novel approach, can be used as part of a broader management strategy to combat declines in coral health globally. Coral reefs in all waters of the world are under threat today due to marine pollution, coral over mining, bottom trawling, blast fishing and coastal infrastructural activity. The larger threat is climate change and the continuously rising sea surface temperatures, especially in the Indian Ocean.

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Read more: Coral transplantation helps, but not the only solution


Digging through Sumatran rhino dung may help researchers solve some mysteries about remaining rhinos

Sumatran rhino poop could help researchers solve a decades-long mystery of how many Sumatran rhinos are left in the wild. Estimates suggest there are fewer than 80 of this critically endangered rhino species left, which means that there isn’t much genetic diversity left within the remaining population. This can have consequences for the successful and healthy breeding of future generations. But researchers hope that they can find clearer answers about how many Sumatran rhinos are left by digging through their droppings for DNA.

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Read more: To count Sumatran rhinos in the wild, look for their poop, study says

Saving Sumatran Rhinos: Updates from Way Kambas, Indonesia

This video is part 1 of the 3 part series.

Sumatran rhinos are a critically endangered rhino species. Estimates suggest fewer than 80 individuals remain, but it’s hard to know the exact numbers. Conservationists from around the world are working on ways to try and prevent the species from going extinct. In this 3 part series, Mongabay explores the breeding programs that aim to save Sumatran rhinos in three locations where the species is still found.

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Saving Sumatran Rhinos: Updates from Kalimantan, Indonesia

This video is part 2 of the 3 part series.

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Saving Sumatran Rhinos: Updates from the Leuser Ecosystem in Indonesia

This video is part 3 of the 3 part series.

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Fishers in Indonesia are preserving octopus habitats for sustainable fisheries

Overfishing can hurt fisheries because marine life are plucked out of the water before they chance to breed. Fishers near Makassar in Indonesia are trying to change that. They’ve developed a system where they’ve split their water into various zones and they schedule when fishing is allowed in each zone to allow fisheries to recover in between. This allows octopus populations — their primary catch — to replenish and stay sustainable.

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Making bioenergy from invasive hyacinth and prickly pear

Kenyans are innovating to find ways to reduce water hyacinth by finding practical uses for the invader. In 2018, a program was launched to turn the exotic species into biogas which is then offered to economically vulnerable households to use as a biofuel for cooking. One proposal being considered: a scaled up industrial biogas plant that would use water hyacinth as a primary source of raw material. Efforts are also underway to convert another invasive plant, prickly pear into biogas used for cooking. A biocontrol insect is also proving effective, though slow, in dealing with prickly pear.

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Read more: Turning Kenya’s problematic invasive plants into useful bioenergy

Spanish farmers reduce fire risk through sustainable agroforestry practices

In Galicia, the European area with the highest density of fires, there are still some farmers and ranchers who practice traditional methods of agroforestry and livestock farming. According to experts, these practices are more sustainable than monoculture and extensive livestock farming. They provide benefits for soil health, carbon sequestration and fire prevention by mixing crops, trees and grazing animals on the same land.

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Read more: Spanish farmers fight forest fires with agroforestry (and many sheep)


Did you know that the wild boar is tolerant of snakebites?

The wild boar or common wild pig is the most widespread of all pig species and one of the widest-ranging mammals in the world. It is native to Eurasia and North Africa and has been introduced to the Americas and Oceania.

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What sets crab-eating raccoons apart from other carnivores?

The crab-eating raccoon, also known as the South American raccoon, is native to Central and South America.

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Protecting old-growth coastal temperate rainforests

Mongabay joins a noted forest ecologist in Olympic National Park to experience its magnificence and significance as a bastion of biodiversity and a carbon storehouse; protection of old-growth coastal temperate rainforests in the U.S. and Canadian ecosystems is vital, say scientists.

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Read more: Old-growth forests of Pacific Northwest could be key to climate action

Mangar Bani: A forest protected for generations

Not far from India’s Capital New Delhi, a community has protected a sacred forest, Mangar Bani, for generations. It hasn’t been easy, the area has faced threats from mining and real estate interests. And its protection under India’s Forest Conservation Act is in limbo. But the community continues to fight to save their small grove.

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Read more: Next to India’s capital, a village looks to the past for its forest’s future

Banner image of a Sumatran rhino by Willem v Strien via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

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