Newsletter 2018-01-11


Critically endangered monkeys found in Ghana forest slated for mining by Morgan Erickson-Davis [01/11/2018]

– Researchers were surprised to discover white-naped mangabeys (Cercocebus lunulatus) while reviewing camera trap footage captured in Ghana’s Atewa mountain range.
– The white-naped mangabey has declined by more than 50 percent in less than three decades and is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Habitat loss and hunting are its major threats. The camera trap footage is the first record of the species in eastern Ghana.
– threatened by bauxite mining. Deposits of bauxite, from which aluminum is produced, underlie Atewa’s forests. The Ghanaian government is reportedly gearing up to develop mining operations and associated infrastructure for bauxite extraction, refinement and export.
– Conservation organizations and other stakeholders are urging the government to cease its plans for mining and more effectively protect Atewa by turning the region into a national park.

Chocó at epicenter of Colombia’s social, environmental conflicts by Maximo Anderson [01/10/2018]

– Rebel fighters of ELN largely aim to disrupt their country’s conservative political system and implement agrarian reform.
– The ELN, the last armed insurgency on the continent, has been negotiating with the government, but a recent attack has put peace talks in jeopardy.
– Locals in Chocó who have suffered the brunt of the civil war, are now coping with crop eradication and effects of climate change.

Bangladeshi forests stripped bare as Rohingya refugees battle to survive by Kaamil Ahmed [01/09/2018]

– Their panicked dash from burning villages involved stumbling through forests or battling monsoon-charged waters in search of safety.
– Along the way and in makeshift shelters and now camps, refugees have needed a massive supply of firewood and shelter for survival.
– The rapid decimation of the forest is also possibly contaminating groundwater supplies.

Brazil 2018: Amazon under attack, resistance grows, courts to act, elections by Sue Branford and Maurício Torres [01/09/2018]

– While forecasts are always difficult, it seems likely that Brazilian President Michel Temer will remain in power for the last year of his term, despite on-going corruption investigations.
– Elections for president, the house of deputies, and most of the senate are scheduled for October. Former President Lula has led the presidential polls, though right wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro has grown strong. Lula’s environmental record is mixed; Bolsonaro would almost certainly be bad news for the environment, indigenous groups and the Amazon.
– During 2018, Temer, Congress and the bancada ruralista (a lobby representing agribusiness, cattle ranchers, land thieves and other wealthy rural elites) will likely seek to undermine environmental laws and indigenous land rights further. Potential paving of the BR 319 in the heart of the Amazon is considered one of the biggest threats.
– However, grassroots environmental and indigenous resistance continues to grow, and important Brazilian Supreme Court decisions are expected in the weeks and months ahead, which could undo some of the major gains made by the ruralists under Temer.

IUCN, UN, global NGOs, likely to see major budget cuts under Trump by Sean Mowbray [01/08/2018]

– President Donald Trump has proposed cutting foreign aid funding to nations and inter-governmental organizations by 32 percent, about $19 billion – cuts the U.S. Congress has yet to vote on. Voting has been delayed since September, and is next scheduled for 19 January, though another delay may occur.
– One inter-governmental organization on Trump’s cutting block is the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) best known for its global Red List, the go-to resource for the status of endangered species planet-wide. Over the past four years the U.S. contributed between 5 and 9 percent of the IUCN’s total framework funding, and 4 to 7 percent of its programmatic funding.
– Currently it remains unclear just how much, or even if, the IUCN budget will be slashed by Congress, leaving the organization in limbo. Another organization potentially looking at major cuts under Trump is TRAFFIC, the international wildlife trade monitoring network.
– Also under Trump’s axe are the UN Population Fund ($79 million), the Green Climate Fund ($2 billion, which no nation has stepped up to replace), and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ($1.96 million annually, funding already replaced by other nations for 2018).

U.S. zoos learn how to keep captive pangolins alive, helping wild ones by Linda Lombardi [01/05/2018]

– The Pangolin Consortium, a partnership between six U.S. zoos and Pangolin Conservation, an NGO, launched a project in 2014 which today houses fifty White-bellied tree pangolins (Phataginus tricuspis).
– Common knowledge says that pangolins are almost impossible to keep alive in captivity, but the consortium has done basic research to boost survival rates, traveling to Africa and working with a company, EnviroFlight, to develop a natural nutritious insect-derived diet for pangolins in captivity.
– While some conservationists are critical of the project, actions by the Pangolin Consortium have resulted in high captive survival rates, and even in the successful breeding of pangolins in captivity.
– The Pangolin Consortium is able to conduct basic research under controlled conditions at zoos on pangolin behavior and health ¬– research that can’t be done in the wild. Zoos can also present pangolins to the public, educating about their endangered status, improving conservation funding.


There’s a new member of the lemur family by Mike Gaworecki [01/11/2018]

– Grove’s Dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus grovesi) was discovered in two of Madagascar’s national parks, Ranomafana and Andringitra, both of which are part of the Rainforests of Atsinanana UNESCO World Heritage Site.
– The new lemur is a nocturnal primate that is smaller than a squirrel. The fur on its back, limbs, and head are a reddish-brown in color, and there are brownish-black rings around its large eyes.
– The species was named for British-Australian biological anthropologist and primate taxonomist Colin Groves, who passed away last year.

Poachers blamed as body of Sumatran elephant, missing tusks, found in protected forest by Taufik Wijaya [01/11/2018]

– Farmers in southern Sumatra found the body of a young male elephant inside a protected forest and missing its tusks.
– No external injuries were found that could point to a cause of death, leading wildlife activists to suspect it was killed by poisoning, a common tactic used by poachers.
– The discovery comes less than a month after a pregnant elephant was found poisoned to death in northern Sumatra — although in that case the tuskless female appeared more likely to have been killed for encroaching on farms than by poachers.

Wars kill wildlife in Africa’s protected areas, study finds by [01/11/2018]

– Researchers have found that wars and armed conflict have led to severe declines in large mammal populations in Africa’s protected areas.
– Even low-grade, infrequent conflicts were enough to reduce large mammal numbers, the study found.
– Despite devastation, wild animal populations can recover if efforts are made to conserve them, the researchers conclude.

Lions deal blow to giraffe numbers by targeting young, study finds by [01/11/2018]

– New research demonstrates that lions can diminish the number of young giraffes in a population by more than 80 percent.
– The giraffe species was recently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, after its numbers dropped by nearly 40 percent in just three decades.
– A 2015 estimate puts numbers at 97,500, down from 157,000 in 1985.
– The findings could prompt the rethinking of conservation strategies aimed at protecting giraffes.

Efforts to save island wildlife from extinction get a boost from new database by Mike Gaworecki [01/10/2018]

– Though the approximately 465,000 islands on planet Earth represent just over five percent of total global land area, they are disproportionately rich in threatened biodiversity — and researchers have now identified which are the most important to protect from invasive species, a major driver of species extinction on islands.
– Researchers found that there are 1,189 “highly threatened” vertebrate species — 319 amphibians, 296 birds, 292 mammals, and 282 reptiles listed as Critically Endangered or Endangered on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species — that breed on 1,288 of the world’s islands.
– Conservation interventions like prevention, control, and eradication of invasive vertebrates could benefit 41 percent of the world’s highly threatened terrestrial vertebrates that are largely confined to islands, the researchers determined.

Study: Amazon dams are disrupting ecologically vital flood pulses by Claire Salisbury [01/10/2018]

– Flood pulses are critical to the way the Amazon, its tributaries and other tropical rivers function – and these seasonal flood pulses are a huge driver of ecological productivity and diversity.
– Floodplain forests depend upon annual flood pulses to bring nutrients and sediment from river channels out into the surrounding terrestrial habitat.
– Reductions to flood pulses, brought by Amazon dams both large and small, could lead to shifts in tree species diversity and composition, with implications for carbon storage and emissions.
– Unreliable flood regimes, as created by dams of all sizes, significantly impact Amazon river systems and species’ life cycles, population dynamics, food sources, and habitats above and below the water line.

Indonesian ex-soldier among three jailed for illegal trade in Sumatran rhino, tiger parts by Ayat S. Karokaro [01/10/2018]

– A court in Indonesia has jailed three men for the illegal trade in endangered Sumatran rhino and tiger parts.
– An ex-Army captain and a middleman were sentenced to two years for trying to trade in a rhino horn, while a similar sentence was handed down to a man convicted of trapping and killing a tiger and trying to sell it
– While both the Sumatran rhino and Sumatran tiger are deemed critically endangered, or just a step away from being extinct in the wild, conservationists say enforcement of local laws meant to protect them remains lax.

Audio: Lessons from indigenous peoples about coping with climate change, plus the call of the night parrot by Mike Gaworecki [01/09/2018]

– Happy new year to all our listeners out there! On our first episode of 2018, we speak with the author of a book about the resilience of indigenous peoples in the face of climate change, and we’ll hear some recordings of the elusive night parrot in Australia!
– Our first guest today is Gleb Raygorodetsky, the author of The Archipelago of Hope: Wisdom and Resilience from the Edge of Climate Change, which details the author’s experiences with a number of Indigenous cultures and the ways their lives on their traditional territories are being reshaped by the impacts of global warming.
– Our second guest is Nick Leseberg, a PhD student at the University of Queensland in Australia whose work focuses solely on the night parrot, a species endemic to Australia that scientists have only recently been able to study. Just four years ago, nobody knew what a night parrot sounded like — but now Leseberg is here to play us some of the calls he’s recorded in this Field Notes segment.

Illegal Burmese wood used in British boats, says organization by Lauren Crothers [01/09/2018]

– The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) says decking on luxury yachts made in the UK have illegal wood on them.
– EU rules dictate that point of origin in the chain of sale must be legally-sourced teak from Myanmar.
– Princess Yachts International and Sunseeker International, both singled out by the EIA in their statement, will be at the London Boat Show this week.

2017 was third-hottest year on record in U.S. and costliest in terms of extreme weather and climate disasters by [01/09/2018]

– According to data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association yesterday, 2017 was the third-hottest year on record in the United States.
– Based on a preliminary analysis of the data, NOAA scientists determined that the average annual temperature for the 48 contiguous U.S. states was 54.6 degrees Fahrenheit last year, about 2.6 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 20th century average.
– The country also experienced 16 weather and climate disasters that inflicted damages of $1 billion or more, which collectively cost a total of approximately $306 billion in losses – a new annual record for the U.S., NOAA reported.

Reliance on natural healing cultivates respect for nature in Indonesian village by Wahyu Chandra [01/09/2018]

– A small village in the Indonesia island of Sulawesi is keeping alive a tradition of healing based on remedies derived from locally grown herbs and other plants.
– The importance of traditional medicine to the community means the villagers have long been diligent about protecting the forest in which the plants grow.
– This has translated into hefty fines for unregulated logging or poaching of local wildlife, including the maleo, a bird found only in Sulawesi.

Global warming, pollution supersize the oceans’ oxygen-depleted dead zones by Basten Gokkon [01/09/2018]

– Large areas of the world’s oceans are rapidly losing oxygen as a result of global warming and pollution, threatening marine ecosystems and the hundreds of millions of people who depend on them, according to a new study.
– The scientists expect deoxygenation to increase well beyond these so-called dead zones as long as human-driven global warming continues.
– Despite the grim outlook for the oceans, the researchers suggest that cutting fossil fuel use and protecting vulnerable marine life could tackle the problem.

‘AudioMoth’ device aims to deliver low-cost, power-efficient monitoring of remote landscapes by Mike Gaworecki [01/08/2018]

– UK-based researchers who have developed a low-power, open-source acoustic monitoring device say it shows promise for monitoring wildlife and illicit incursions by mankind into remote habitats.
– The researchers say that the device, which is about the size of a matchbox, can be made for as little as $43 per unit — a price-point that could be key to ensuring coverage across large landscapes, where numerous monitoring devices are required.
– The AudioMoth can be programmed to monitor wildlife populations by recording the calls of specific target species while at the same time serving as an alert system when the sounds of human exploitation, such as the blast of a shotgun or the roar of a chainsaw, are detected.

Rhino DNA database helps officials nab poachers and traffickers by [01/08/2018]

– A DNA-based system is helping authorities prosecute and convict poachers and rhino horn traffickers in Africa.
– RhODIS, as the system is called, is built on a foundational database with genetic information from nearly 4,000 individual rhinos.
– By comparing the frequencies of alleles in confiscated horn and horn products with those in tissue from a poached animal, investigators can then come up with a probable match for where that horn came from.
– So far, RhODIS has been instrumental in nine convictions in East and Southern Africa.

Study on economic loss from Indonesia’s peat policies criticized by Hans Nicholas Jong [01/08/2018]

– A recent study estimates that Indonesia’s various peat-protection policies could lead to $5.7 billion in economic losses.
– Those losses arise mainly from the pulp and palm oil industries, which are now obliged to conserve and restore peatlands that fall within their concessions.
– Researchers and officials have criticized the study, saying it fails to make a holistic accounting of the environmental, social, health and climate costs from the continued destruction of carbon-rich peat areas.
– They warn the study’s findings could be used to undermine policies aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2015 fires that cost Indonesia an estimated $16 billion from economic disruption.

Trump Admin officially proposes opening vast areas of U.S. coastal waters to oil and gas drilling by Mike Gaworecki [01/05/2018]

– The Trump Administration has unveiled its plan to open nearly all of the United States’ coastal waters to oil and gas drilling.
– U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024 yesterday, which includes a proposal to open up more than 90 percent of the country’s continental shelf waters to future exploitation by oil and gas companies. The draft five-year plan also proposes the largest number of offshore oil and gas lease sales in U.S. history.
– Democrat and Republican elected officials, environmentalists, fisheries management agencies, coastal communities, business owners, and fishing families have all come out against the plan.

Florida’s iguanas falling from trees in cold snap by Genevieve Belmaker [01/05/2018]

– Green iguanas are not native to southern Florida, but typically do well in the region’s mild temperatures.
– During the recent cold snap, stunned iguanas have been losing their grip on their tree perches and falling to the ground, semi-frozen.
– Some sea animals are also showing signs of stress from the cold, including sea turtles and manatees.

Meet Indonesia’s new honeyeater species from Rote Island by Basten Gokkon [01/05/2018]

– A new bird species from Indonesia has been described by a group of scientists after it was first observed in 1990, a paper said.
– The bird, which belongs to the honeyeater family, has been named after Indonesia’s first lady, Iriana Joko Widodo, as a way to promote the protection of the species.
– The researchers said the newly described species’ population was primarily threatened by deforestation to clear land for residential and agricultural use.


Rainforests: the year in review 2017 by Rhett A. Butler [01/04/2018]

Brazil announces end to Amazon mega-dam building policy by Sue Branford [01/03/2018]

Reefscape: A global reef survey to build better satellites for coral conservation by Greg Asner and Clare LeDuff [01/02/2018]

Top 20 forest stories of 2017 by Mongabay [12/29/2017]