The rhino reckoning by Jeremy Hance [10/02/2018]
– The Sumatran rhino captive-breeding program caught 40 rhinos from 1984 to 1995. To date, the program has produced five calves.
– Some view these figures as evidence of a colossal failure. Others point to the births achieved as proof of the program’s eventual success.
– Momentum has been growing to relaunch efforts to capture wild rhinos. The most significant step yet was the September announcement of a new initiative dubbed the Sumatran Rhino Rescue.
Cerrado towns terrorized to provide toilet paper for the world, say critics by Anna Sophie Gross [10/02/2018]
– A Mongabay investigation has found that global consumers who buy brand name toilet paper and tissues may unwittingly be fuelling land conflicts, environmental crimes and the loss of native vegetation in Brazil.
– Residents of Forquilha, a traditional community in Maranhão state, allege that an agricultural entrepreneur used armed gunmen to try and force them out in 2014. The businessman took land claimed by the community and converted it to eucalyptus plantations, intending to sell the trees to Suzano, Brazil’s biggest pulp provider.
– Kimberly-Clark confirmed to Mongabay that it sources a significant amount of eucalyptus in Brazil from Suzano and Fibria, with pulp used to make “tissue and towel products like Scott, Cottonelle, Kleenex and Andrex.” Critics dispute industry claims that most pulp used is properly certified to prevent deforestation and protect local communities.
– This year, Suzano moved to buy competitor Fibria. If the deal goes through, Suzano will become the world’s biggest pulp provider. Suzano runs large-scale eucalyptus plantations, and buys trees from suppliers’ plantations, and according to NGOs, has displaced traditional populations, driven land conflicts and cleared large swathes of forest.
Purus-Madeira: journey to the Amazon’s newest deforestation frontier by Gustavo FaleirosMarcio Isensee e Sá [10/01/2018]
– In August, Mongabay contributor Gustavo Faleiros and filmmaker Marcio Isensee e Sá visited the unique biodiverse Amazon forests located on the divide between the Purus and Madeira river basins, where a decades-delayed plan to improve the BR-319 highway is gaining momentum, bringing environmental transformation.
– The introductory video and story presented here, along with a series of feature articles to follow in coming weeks, shows how federal road improvements are bringing outsiders, entrepreneurs and outlaws to the region — all eager to profit by reducing the forest via logging operations, cattle production and other businesses.
– In this first dispatch, we profile Realidade, a small village in the Brazilian Amazon where loggers, businessmen and land grabbers are still in the early stages of occupation.
– Although deforestation here isn’t yet as fast or serious, as in Pará, Mato Grosso and other states, business growth rates are among Brazil’s highest. With scientists warning that further Amazon deforestation could worsen climate change, bringing extreme drought and a shift from rainforest to savanna in the region, analysts urge that the vast Purus-Madeira moist forest ecoregion be conserved.
The great rhino U-turn by Jeremy Hance [09/28/2018]
– As the 20th century drew to a close the Sumatran rhino captive breeding program, launched in 1984, had yet to produce a single calf.
– Home to the last two Sumatran rhinos in the United States, the Cincinnati Zoo made several key discoveries about the species’ reproductive behavior, including the fact that females only ovulate when they have contact with males.
– Andalas, the first Sumatran rhino bred in captivity in more than a century, was born in Cincinnati in 2001. This success, and the subsequent birth of four other calves, has led to a re-evaluation of the program as a whole.
– Now, attention is turned to breeding centers in the rhinos’ original habitat as the future of captive breeding efforts.
Scientists urge greater protection of Brazil’s secondary forests by Morgan Erickson-Davis [10/04/2018]
– New research indicates that even after 40 years of recovery, fast-growing tropical forests in Brazil house far fewer species and sequester less carbon than their primary counterparts.
– The study finds the most-recovered secondary forests surveyed had around 80 percent the biodiversity and carbon of nearby primary forests.
– To allow greater recovery of secondary forests and the wildlife and carbon they house, the researchers say policies should be put in place to better protect these forests and give them the time they need to mature properly.
– However, they caution that enacting policy is only one part of the solution, and urge more funding and attention be given to monitoring and enforcement of forest protection regulations.
Young right whale dies, likely from entanglement in fishing gear by Mongabay.com [10/03/2018]
– A young North Atlantic right whale died off the coast of Massachusetts in August, probably as the result of entanglement in fishing gear.
– After centuries of hunting, the right whale population in the North Atlantic has failed to recover, in large part because they’re prone to getting entangled in fishing gear.
– Only about 450 of the animals remain, after 17 died between late 2016 and 2017, and no new calves were observed last winter.
Identifying Zika-transmitting mosquito fast, cheaply, and on the go by David Klinges [10/03/2018]
– A team at University of Texas Austin has developed a new method for identifying whether a mosquito is of the Aedes aegypti species, which is responsible for transmitting Zika, dengue and other deadly diseases.
– The method can easily be conducted while out in the field and does not need much more than a cell phone, a 3D-printed box and a few chemical solutions.
– This toolkit can also determine whether a mosquito has been exposed to the Wolbachia bacteria, which infects mosquitoes and prevents them from transmitting dangerous pathogens.
– Although portable tools and “biopesticides” such as Wolbachia are currently effective, adaptive dengue and Zika viruses will likely evolve past these tactics just as they have for countless other methods. Constant attention and funding is needed to stay ahead of such pathogens in this ever-lasting battle.
New tree species from Cameroon is possibly already extinct by Mongabay.com [10/03/2018]
– Nearly 70 years ago, Edwin Ujor of the Nigerian Forestry Service collected a specimen of a tree from a forest high up in the Bamenda highlands in Cameroon.
– Now, in a new study, researchers have formally described the Ujor specimen as a new species named Vepris bali.
– The researchers believe the species is either critically endangered or already possibly extinct, mainly because it has been found in only one location, and because the higher-altitude regions from which the Ujor specimen was collected have mostly been cleared for agriculture.
Audio: How an African bat might help us prevent future Ebola outbreaks by Mike Gaworecki [10/02/2018]
– On this episode, we look at research into an African bat that might be the key to controlling future Ebola outbreaks.
– Our guest is Sarah Olson, an Associate Director of Wildlife Health for the Wildlife Conservation Society. With Ebola very much in the news lately due to a recent outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Olson is here to tell us how research into hammer-headed fruit bats might help us figure out how Ebola is transmitted from animals to humans — and potentially control or prevent future outbreaks of the viral disease.
– The bats don’t contract the disease, but there is evidence that they carry the virus. Olson is part of a study in the Republic of the Congo that seeks to understand how the Ebola virus is transmitted from carriers like hammer-headed fruit bats to other wildlife and humans.
‘Guardians of the forest:’ Indigenous peoples come together to assert role in climate stability by Justin Catanoso [10/02/2018]
– A half mile from the din of the Global Climate Action Summit and its 4,000 attendees in San Francisco, indigenous peoples from around the world came together in a small space for a kind of summit of their own.
– They spoke different languages. They wore unique clothing. But the tenor of their voices and the expressions on their faces conveyed a similar message: They are the “guardians of the forests,” not their national governments. As such, they have a vital role to play in the battle against climate change.
– NGOs and human rights organizations, including the United Nations, have advocated better treatment of indigenous peoples the world over as a matter of social justice. They have recently seized on a new angle to achieve the same goals: if tropical countries are to meet their carbon-reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement, indigenous peoples can contribute significantly. But they must be better protected and given title and tenure to the lands where they have lived for centuries.
Ape sanctuaries in the DRC brace themselves as Ebola hits the country by Tina Deines [10/02/2018]
– The Democratic Republic of Congo’s most recent Ebola outbreak, which has already claimed 105 human lives, is making great-ape conservation more challenging in an already volatile region.
– The disease can be transmitted between humans and apes, so conservation groups in the country need to take extra precautions to keep the animals in their sanctuaries safe.
– Most at risk is the GRACE gorilla sanctuary, situated four and a half hours from a city where Ebola has been confirmed.
– Researchers say the outbreak is not currently a significant threat to wild ape populations.
Jakarta cancels permits for controversial bay reclamation project by Basten Gokkon [10/02/2018]
– The Jakarta administration has revoked permits to develop 13 of 17 artificial islands that are part of a $40 billion land reclamation project off the coast of the Indonesian capital.
– The project aimed to slow the high rate of land subsidence in Jakarta, but its critics, including the current governor, say it harms the environment and threatens the livelihoods of local fishing communities.
– An NGO leading the opposition to the project has called for permanent measures to halt the project, given that earlier suspensions to the same effect were eventually lifted.
– Four of the affected islands have already been completed; the city administration says it will put these to use in the public interest.
Managing the data deluge: Twitter as a tool for ecological research by Marianne Messina [10/01/2018]
– Access to constant streams of observational data from 60 or 70 million Twitter users is a potential trove for scientists, but extracting the target data is a challenge.
– A big advantage of social media data mining is the ability to turn data into usable information on a short timetable. The question is, how does quick, retrospective data compare to data from painstakingly prepared collection processes?
– A recent study compared the results from three published citizen science studies to data sets mined retrospectively from Twitter for the same time periods. It confirmed that mining Twitter could yield reliable baseline data (when, where). As for testing causal relationships or hypotheses involving dependent variables, the jury is still out.
– Twitter shows promise for ecological study, particularly studies around seasonal phenomena such as the annual emergence of flying ants. But filtering out the noise of random human observation is a still-evolving science.
Kenya’s Mijikenda people revive sacred homesteads to protect the forest by Sophie Mbugua [10/01/2018]
– Kenya’s Mijikenda indigenous people have long revered and protected the forests surrounding their ancestral homesteads, known as kayas, which dot the country’s southeastern coast.
– Today, the 45 kayas and their surrounding forests face many threats. Illegal logging, mining, agricultural encroachment, land grabbing, and a spate of murders targeting the very elders who protect them have all worn away at the kayas’ biological and cultural integrity.
– In response, the Mijikenda, with the help of outside NGOs, have launched new efforts to protect the kaya forests, starting with an effort to revitalize their traditional culture among the younger generation.
Largely banned industrial chemicals could wipe out killer whales, study warns by Mongabay.com [10/01/2018]
– New research shows that despite countries phasing out polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) more than 40 years ago, the chemicals remain a major threat to killer whales around the world, and could wipe out most populations in just 30 to 50 years.
– Killer whale populations that occur in least PCB-polluted parts of the ocean, such as those around the poles, Norway and Iceland, still have a large number of individuals and are at low risk.
– However, populations occurring in waters that have had historically high concentrations of PCBs, such as those around Japan, Brazil, the northeast Pacific, the Strait of Gibraltar, and the U.K., are all tending toward complete collapse in the next few decades, according to the study’s modeled scenarios.
Ahead of election, deforestation continues to climb in the Brazilian Amazon by Mongabay.com [09/30/2018]
– Newly released analysis of satellite data by Imazon, a Brazilian NGO, shows that deforestation in the Amazon is continuing to climb.
– Imazon’s deforestation alert system detected 545 square kilometers of forest clearing in August, a tripling of the area deforested the same month a year ago
– The Brazilian government’s own deforestation detection system, run by the national space research institute INPE, also shows a recent rise in deforestation, albeit a substantially less dramatic increase relative to Imazon.
– The apparent rise in deforestation this year in Brazil is not unexpected due to current political and economic trends.
Scientists urge world leaders to scale up ambitions to protect global biodiversity by Mongabay.com [09/28/2018]
– Research has shown that a sixth mass extinction event is underway and largely driven by human activities. With the global population set to balloon to 10 billion people by 2050, which will more than double the current demand for food and water, scientists are increasingly calling for mankind to set aside sufficient amounts of ecosystems on land and at sea to ensure the survival of the many species with which we share planet Earth.
– Yet, according to Jonathan Baillie, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientist of the National Geographic Society, and Ya-Ping Zhang, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, “Current levels of protection do not even come close to the required levels.”
– To preserve global biodiversity and safeguard the provision of critical ecosystem services, ambitions must be ratcheted up in 2020, when the world’s governments will meet at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Beijing, China to set biodiversity targets for the future, Baillie and Zhang argue.
Massive loss of mammal species in Atlantic Forest since the 1500s by John C. Cannon [09/28/2018]
– A new study examined the loss of mammal species in the Atlantic Forest, which is currently only about 13 percent of its historical size.
– Forest clearing for agriculture, along with hunting, has cut the number of species living at specific sites throughout the forest by an average of more than 70 percent.
– The researchers call for increased restoration efforts in the Atlantic Forest to provide habitat and allow the recovery of these species.
In other news: Environmental stories from around the web, September 28, 2018 by Mongabay.com [09/28/2018]
– There are many important conservation and environmental stories Mongabay isn’t able to cover.
– Here’s a digest of some of the significant developments from the week.
– If you think we’ve missed something, feel free to add it in the comments.
‘Predatory agribusiness’ likely to gain more power in Brazil election: report by Ana Magalhães for Repórter Brasil [09/28/2018]
– 248 candidates, about two-thirds of federal deputies seeking re-election to the Brazilian congress this October either introduced, or voted for bills harmful to the environment, indigenous peoples, and rural workers, according to a survey conducted by Repórter Brasil.
– The survey compiled the voting records of Brazilian deputies up for re-election, a record then assessed for negative or positive impacts by eight socio-environmental organizations. The results are presented online as the Ruralometer.
– Out of the 248 candidates running for re-election, 138 (or 55 percent) are part of the Parliamentary Agricultural and Livestock Front – the bancada ruralista agribusiness caucus, well known for its strongly negative socio-environmental agenda.
– Analysts say that the current Congress is the most conservative since the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship in 1985, but they expect it will move further right after the 7 October election. Experts blame the conservative makeup of Congress on the wealth and influence of ruralists and agribusiness, and on campaign finance laws.
In an Indonesian village, compressor diving for fish is a dangerous business by Fathul Rakhman [09/27/2018]
– At least 11 men from Indonesia’s Seriwe village, on the island of Lombok, have died in compressor diving accidents. Others have suffered varying degrees of paralysis.
– The accidents are made more likely because the divers use cheap, makeshift rigs that tend not to include pressure gauges.
– When their husbands suffer an injury and are unable to work, responsibility for providing for the family falls on the divers’ wives.
Tiny tags and a broad research network help track small animal movements by Jason Gregg [09/27/2018]
– Despite great advances in radio-telemetry technology, tracking small animals still presents challenges due to the weight of tracking equipment.
– The Motus Wildlife Tracking System uses nano-tags as light as 0.2 grams to track even small birds and insects.
– Based on a collaborative deployment of automated telemetry receivers, Motus can track animals over a broad geographical region to help answer fundamental questions about animal movements, leading to insights that can help protect migratory species as they traverse the landscape.
Latam Eco Review: Shark ceviche, bat-friendly tequila, and protein-rich worms by Mongabay.com [09/27/2018]
Recent top stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay-Latam, revealed Peruvians’ hidden shark diet, new species in Colombia’s Chiribiquete National Park, dire predictions from Mexico’s “Batman,” and more. Peruvians are eating shark and don’t know it Three out of four Peruvians recently surveyed were found to have eaten shark meat without knowing it. The problem stems […]
The tropics are widening rapidly, but humans may not be entirely to blame — yet by Mongabay.com [09/27/2018]
– An uptick in tropical expansion the past few decades would seem to suggest that some unknown factor, perhaps as a result of human activities, is driving the widening of the tropics. But a study led by Paul Staten, an atmospheric sciences professor and researcher at Indiana University Bloomington in the United States, finds that that is not necessarily the case.
– Staten and his colleagues determined that the tropics have been widening at an average rate of about 17 miles, or 0.2 degrees latitude, per decade in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, which is not outside of what climate models predict.
– Staten and team state in the study that no hidden forcing is required in order to explain the tropical expansion we’ve already observed — our current models, which take into account natural variation and manmade global warming, can account for the 0.2 degree-per-decade expansion rate they established.
Traditional Kyrgyz walnut-apple forests provide map for sustainable future by Cholpon Uzakbaeva [09/27/2018]
Deforestation-linked palm oil still finding its way into top consumer brands: report by Hans Nicholas Jong [09/25/2018]
A herd of dead rhinos by Jeremy Hance [09/24/2018]
Chilling images of illegal mining operations in Peru by Yvette Sierra Praeli [09/24/2018]