Brazil claims record shark fin bust: Nearly 29 tons from 10,000 sharks seized by Karla Mendes — June 29, 2023


– Brazilian authorities announced the seizure of almost 29 tons of shark fins, exposing the extent of what they described as illegal fishing in the country. The previous record for the largest seizure reportedly took place in Hong Kong in 2020, when authorities confiscated 28 tons of fins.
– The seized fins, reportedly destined for illegal export to Asia, came from an estimated 10,000 blue (Prionace glauca) and anequim or shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) sharks, according to Brazil’s federal environmental agency IBAMA. Shortfin makos recently joined the country’s list of endangered species.
– IBAMA is filing infraction notices and fines against two companies over the seized fins. Other firms remain under investigation for illegal shark fishing related to the seizure, according to the agency.
– Through detailed analyses of the origins of these fins, an IBAMA statement said the agency identified a wide range of irregularities, including the use of fishing authorizations for other species and the use of fishing gear to target sharks.

Meet the kipunji: A rare primate success story in Tanzania by Ruth Kamnitzer — July 5, 2023


– A recent census shows that the population of the kipunji monkey (Rungwecebus kipunji) in Tanzania’s Southern Highlands has increased by 65%, while signs of human impacts in its habitat decreased by 81%, over a 13-year period.
– The increase follows 20 years of intensive holistic conservation efforts by the Wildlife Conservation Society and Tanzanian government partners, including greater legal protection for forests and community engagement.
– The total population size of the kipunji is estimated at 1,966 individuals in two subpopulations, and the species is classified by the IUCN as endangered.
– The kipunji has been on the Primates in Peril list of 25 most endangered primates three times: in 2006-2008, 2008-2010, and 2018-2020, but was not on the most recent list.

With El Niño likely, Indonesia’s volunteer firefighters gear up — with new gear by Mongabay Haze Beat — July 4, 2023


– More than 11,000 community firefighters across Indonesia are readying for a likely El Niño year, better prepared than ever before.
– One community outfit of five volunteers in Sumatra’s province is monitoring the local peatland with the help of a drone procured from the village budget.
– Officials hope that a legal crackdown on farmers burning combined with improved community capacity can limit wildfires this year.

One seed at a time: Lebanese project promotes agroecology for farmer autonomy by Áine Donnellan — June 29, 2023


– Lebanese organic seed farm Buzuruna Juzuruna is on a mission, part of a growing network of agroecological efforts in the country, to change conventional farming through seed sharing and communal education.
– Despite its location in the Fertile Crescent, Lebanon today relies heavily on imports to feed its population due to economic collapse, conflicts and political upheaval.
– Buzuruna Juzuruna is using multiple efforts, including free classes, festivals and even circus performances to expose local farmers to older, more ecological methods of farming.
– In its work, Buzuruna Juzuruna emulates the ecosystems it treasures, by being open-source and horizontal in design.


Nearly 85% of Indonesian peatlands aren’t protected, study shows by Basten Gokkon — July 6, 2023
– A recently published study shows that less than 16% of Indonesia’s 6.7 million hectares (16.6 million acres) of peatlands are protected.
– It identifies 4.2 million hectares (10.4 million acres) of peatland as being in need of restoration interventions, which is much higher than the Indonesian government’s target of restoring 2.6 million hectares (6.4 million acres) by 2024.
– The study calls on the government to conduct a systematic and standardized prioritization of management of peatland restoration to both achieve its targets and meet its emissions reduction commitment.
– About 11% of global peatland areas are in the tropics, with an estimated 54% of those in Indonesia, concentrated in the regions of Sumatra, Borneo and Papua.

Fishing, dams and dredging close in on Peru’s river dolphins, study shows by Liz Kimbrough — July 5, 2023
– Amazon river dolphins in Peru are facing increasing threats from human activity, including fishing, proposed construction of dams, and dredging operations
– A study tracked the movements of dolphins in relation to fishing areas, dams and dredging sites, and found that 89% of their home range is subject to fishing activity.
– The research team observed that the dolphins in the study were, on average, located roughly 252 kilometers (157 miles) from the nearest proposed dam and 125 km (78 mi) from the closest proposed dredging site.
– The construction of the Amazon Waterway, aimed at improving navigability along waterways in Peru, involves dredging sites across four main rivers in the basin and could lead to ship collisions with dolphins, increased underwater noise, and habitat degradation.

Bill stripping Peru’s isolated Indigenous people of land and protections scrapped by Dimitri Selibas — July 5, 2023
– A bill proposing to strip lands and protections of Indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact was rejected by three congressional commissions at the end of June — permanently shelving it before it could reach Congress.
– The bill, which was proposed by a congressman from Peru’s oil-rich Loreto region and supported by the regional government and businessmen, aimed to shift responsibility for the creation of Indigenous reserves from the national government to the regional governments and re-evaluate whether to keep existing Indigenous reserves.
– Indigenous organizations, civil society and Peru’s Ministry of Culture, responsible for creating Indigenous reserves, say the proposed bill was illegal and would have endangered the lives of isolated communities.

Can Spain keep the rising sea from washing away a critical delta? by Nathan Siegel — July 5, 2023
– One of Europe’s most important deltas, a vital wildlife sanctuary and economic engine, is facing a myriad of threats stemming from climate change and water management.
– Rising sea levels and stronger storms are washing away the very sediment that constitutes the Ebro Delta and sending saltwater far inland.
– The government plan to bolster the delta relies heavily on trucking sediment to its exposed outer banks, but it’s a stop-gap measure until researchers can develop a more sustainable long-term solution.
– The question is: Can they find one in time?

Mongabay’s What-to-Watch list for July 2023 by Mongabay.com — July 5, 2023
– In June, Mongabay released videos showing the rodeo culture that’s developed in the Amazon, how wild jungle cat in India has adapted to an agricultural landscape, and why researchers are fitting the Amazon dolphins with radio transmitters.
– A video documentation from Madagascar shows how NGOs and communities are trying to restore a reforestation effort that was destroyed by wildfires. From India, watch how renewable energy projects are rising in a district once famous for illegal mining.
– Watch a video interview of a Munduruku Indigenous leader in Brazil at the “Free Land Camp” event, documented by a collective of young Munduruku people.
– Get a peek into the various segments of the environment across the globe. Add these videos to your watchlist for the month and watch them for free on YouTube.

S. Africa to purge bird-eating mice from key albatross breeding island by Leonie Joubert — July 5, 2023
– Non-native house mice arrived on Marion Island in the southern Indian Ocean two centuries ago, when the island was a stopping-off point for sealing ships.
– Their population has exploded recently, as temperatures warm and summers lengthen. With more mouths to feed, they’ve gutted their main food source — insects — and are now feeding on seabird chicks and adults.
– While mouse attacks on seabirds remain low and their impact on nesting or breeding success isn’t known yet, conservationists nevertheless see them as a serious and growing threat.
– Now the South African government is planning a rodent eradication program for mid-2025 that will be the largest of its kind on a sub-Antarctic island.

Effort to save rare Colombian monkey looks to crowdfund its conservation by Aimee Gabay — July 5, 2023
– The nonprofit Fundación Proyecto Tití has conserved some 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) of forest in Colombia, helping to reconnect forest fragments and secure more habitat for the critically endangered cotton-top tamarin.
– To combat deforestation and fragmentation, the project aims to buy an additional 386 hectares (954 acres) with the help of ReWorld, a fully volunteer-run organization that has committed to raising $1.2 million for Proyecto Tití.
– Researchers say restoration initiatives can help with the conservation and management of ecosystems by controlling fragmentation and the expansion of deforestation.

Jokowi focuses on El Niño as Indonesia’s dry season heats up by Mongabay Haze Beat — July 5, 2023
– Indonesian President Joko Widodo warned officials to anticipate risks from the first El Niño since the 2015 Southeast Asia wildfires crisis.
– Dry season conditions had emerged in 52% of Indonesian territory by early July, according to the country’s weather forecaster.
– Officials hope reforms enacted since the 2015 disaster will lessen the severity of wildfires as El Niño conditions become more pronounced.

A standing Amazon Rainforest could create an $8 billion bioeconomy: Study by Sarah Brown — July 4, 2023
– The Brazilian Amazon could create an $8 billion bioeconomy each year by preserving the rainforest, promoting sustainable agricultural practices and commercializing regional products, a new study has found.
– If current deforestation and emission trends continue, the Amazon faces irreversible degradation that will devastate Brazil and beyond, experts warn.
– Growing the bioeconomy depends on elevating Indigenous knowledge and providing local communities the tools to produce and sell hundreds of forest-grown products.
– It will take an investment of more than $500 billion by 2050 to implement a new economy, but the costs of not doing this “could be much higher,” say the study authors.

Deep-sea expedition reveals rare octo-nurseries off Costa Rica by Elizabeth Claire Alberts — July 4, 2023
– A scientific expedition in June found two new deep-sea octopus nurseries on two different low-temperature hydrothermal vent sites off the west coast of Costa Rica — two of only three known deep-sea octopus nurseries in the world.
– On a previous expedition in 2013, scientists had found a group of brooding octopuses at one of these vents, but didn’t detect any babies. But in June 2023, scientists did find octopus babies.
– Researchers theorize that the brooding octopus are attracted to the rocks, warmth, or microbes at these sites.

Birds and bats help Peruvian cacao farmers gain higher yields, study says by Liz Kimbrough — July 4, 2023
– Birds and bats accounted for 54% of total cacao tree productivity over two years in northern Peru’s agroforestry systems.
– The economic benefits of bird and bat contributions in the study area amount to approximately $959 per hectare per year for Peruvian cacao farmers who grow the Blanco de Piura variety of fine-flavor cacao.
– Experimentally excluding birds and bats increased pest damage and reduced cacao yields, emphasizing their valuable “pest predation service” that benefits farmers.
– The presence of nearby forests is crucial for maintaining high cacao yields, as they support bird diversity, which helps mitigate the negative effects of ants and other pests on cacao trees.

Report links paper giant RGE to Indonesia deforestation despite pledges by Hans Nicholas Jong — July 4, 2023
– A new investigative report alleges that the supply chain of one of the world’s largest producers of wood pulp and products, Royal Golden Eagle, is tainted with wood from deforestation in Indonesia.
– The allegation comes despite the company having adopted a no-deforestation policy since 2015.
– The report also reveals a chain of offshore shell companies pointing to RGE’s control of a new mega-scale pulp mill in Indonesia’s North Kalimantan province.
– This new mill threatens large-scale deforestation once it’s in operation, due to its huge demand for wood, the report says.

Tested by COVID and war, an Indigenous conservation system in Ethiopia prevails by Solomon Yimer — July 4, 2023
– For more than 400 years, communities in the Guassa grasslands of Ethiopia’s central highlands have practiced a sustainable system for managing the area’s natural resources.
– The system’s robustness was severely tested from 2020 with the one-two punch of COVID-19 and the Tigray war, but held strong.
– Threats to the grassland persist, however, from a growing population and road projects, which the community hopes to address through ecotourism initiatives as an alternative source of income.
– The Guassa Community Conservation Area is home to rare plant and wildlife species such as gelada baboons, Ethiopian wolves, and the versatile guassa grass that’s a central part of community life.

Bangladesh ramps up freshwater fish conservation in bid for food security by Farhana Parvin — July 4, 2023
– Bangladesh is reviving 39 native freshwater fish species through hatchery breeding, in an effort to secure stocks of commercially important fish.
– A quarter of the freshwater fish found in Bangladesh are threatened with extinction, according to a 2015 assessment, largely as a result of habitat loss, overfishing and pollution.
– In response to the decline, the Bangladesh government is breeding several species in captivity and distributing the fry for free to fish farmers.
– Bangladesh produces 4.6 million metric tons of fish a year, and is the No. 3 producer of freshwater fish globally.

Blue carbon deserves a green light for the climate fight (commentary) by Steve Trent — July 3, 2023
– Marine habitats like mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, salt marshes, and kelp forests cover just 0.2% of the ocean surface and provide shelter & food for myriad life forms while containing 50% of the carbon sequestered in marine sediments.
– Yet at a time when the world needs to keep carbon sequestered to mitigate the effects of climate change, about 35% of the world’s mangroves and 30% of all seagrass meadows have been lost or degraded.
– A new op-ed argues that the world should be moving to reverse these trends: “We are currently throwing away a golden opportunity to tackle the climate crisis, bolster sustainable fisheries and allow wildlife to thrive.”
– This article is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.

Climate emergency may channel millions in resources toward corn-based ethanol in the Amazon by Fábio Bispo/O Joio e o Trigo — July 3, 2023
– An agribusiness magnate from the U.S., who is already the biggest producer of corn-based ethanol in Brazil, plans to leverage “green” investments from governments and banks to meet negative carbon emissions using an unproven method.
– His company is trying to implement in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso a copy of his Midwest Carbon project, an initiative that plans to capture 12 million tons of carbon in ethanol plants and store them in North Dakota, below ground.
– Even though the company alleges that it is rigorously controlling the environmental practices of its corn suppliers in Brazil, an investigation found that the local executives are themselves connected to illegal deforestation in Mato Grosso.

Philippines research offers hope for conserving enigmatic Rafflesia plants by Mikael Francisco — July 3, 2023
– Rafflesia, flowering parasitic plants found only in Southeast Asian rainforests, are infamously difficult to study due to their rarity and small habitat ranges.
– With Rafflesia species edging closer to extinction due to habitat loss, botanists are working to better understand the genus and to develop methods that allow the plants to be propagated in labs and botanical gardens.
– Parallel research efforts from two teams led by Filipino scientists are yielding promising results in both understanding how Rafflesia function at the genetic level and in refining methods that will allow for ex situ cultivation.

Indonesia’s coal burning hits record high — and ‘green’ nickel is largely why by Hans Nicholas Jong — July 3, 2023
– Indonesia burned 33% more coal in 2022 than the year before, contributing to a 20% increase in the country’s carbon emissions from fossil fuels, an analysis of official data shows.
– This will likely catapult Indonesia to become the world’s sixth-highest fossil CO2 emitter, behind Japan, according to the analysis.
– This rise in coal burning aligns with efforts to boost economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, including the slate of new coal-fired power plants that recently came online as well as the expansion of the nickel industry.
– Industrial parks that are home to smelters processing nickel and other metals consume 15% of the country’s coal power output.

Fire imperils Madagascar’s baobabs: Q&A with park director Diamondra Andriambololona by Valisoa Rasolofomboahangy — July 3, 2023
– Kirindy Mite forest is a unique ecosystem that is home to three of Madagascar’s six endemic species of baobab trees.
– The forest is facing increasing anthropogenic pressure, especially from bushfires.
– Mongabay spoke with Diamondra Andriambololona, the director of Kirindy Mite National Park in southwestern Madagascar and the nearby Andranomena Special Reserve, about how the increase in fires is affecting the region’s unique forest and what is being done to reduce them.
– “The pressures on the forest will continue to increase as long as the people remain poor,” says Andriambololona.

Element Africa: Ghanaian communities challenge mining regulation and Shell spills more oil in the Niger Delta by Mongabay — July 1, 2023
– Anger rises as Shell pipeline contaminates river and farms in southeastern Nigeria.
– Activists call for new mining legislation to be scrapped as Ghana’s government grants license to mine gold in a forest reserve.
– Also in Ghana, residents march in protest against a community mining scheme.
– Element Africa is Mongabay’s bi-weekly bulletin of brief stories from the extractives industry in Africa.

Death of rare male gharial in Nepal highlights conservation crisis by Abhaya Raj Joshi — June 30, 2023
– A male gharial, a critically endangered crocodilian, was found dead in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, entangled in a fishing net and hook.
– Male gharials are vital for the survival of the species, which has a skewed sex ratio and faces threats from fishing, habitat loss, and poaching.
– Park officials are trying to boost the male population by incubating eggs at a certain temperature, but critics question the effectiveness and sustainability of this approach.

Study finds locally managed marine areas in Fiji yield mixed results by Elizabeth Claire Alberts — June 30, 2023
– A study found that Fijian communities engaged in the country’s locally managed marine areas network, known as FLMMA, exhibited strengths in the mechanisms believed to advance conservation efforts, such as community participation in decision-making and financial support.
– However, it also found that FLMMA villages didn’t necessarily experience improved economic well-being, wealth, food security or even better ecological outcomes for marine resources.
– The authors say they hope the results will encourage practitioners to reassess community-based marine management projects to understand how they can be modified for success.
– Fiji has one of the most extensive LMMA networks in the world, collectively covering more than 10,000 square kilometers across the country’s territory.

In Sri Lanka, humans mistakenly attempt to ‘rescue’ leopard cubs by Malaka Rodrigo — June 30, 2023
– Leopard mothers often hide their cubs when they are going out hunting or in the process of relocation, and in Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands, workers on tea estates often pick up these cubs, assuming they are either abandoned or lost.
– When baby leopards are fetched by humans, many people gather to watch what’s unfolding, forcing the leopard mom to retreat rather than approach the cub, making reunion efforts extra difficult for wildlife rangers.
– Other wild cats, specially fishing cats and rusty-spotted cats living close to human settlements are also picked up, sometimes by well-meaning people who assume these cubs, too, are lost or abandoned.
– As leopards partly share the same tea estate as humans, their territories often cross into fragmented forests where they take refuge in the absence of quality wildernesses, roaming closer to humans and increasing encounters which can escalate into conflicts.

Sounds of the soil: A new tool for conservation? by Shreya Dasgupta — June 30, 2023
– Researchers are discovering that listening to the soil can be a way to understand biodiversity belowground without having to overturn every bit of the land.
– Studies have shown that soils of restored forest areas have both more complex sounds and more critters than soils of degraded sites.
– Soils of intensively managed agricultural lands, also appear to be quieter, indicating that soil sounds could be a proxy for soil health.
– Some researchers are also using sounds to identify distinct species in the soil, which could open up lots of possibilities for both pest management and wildlife conservation.

Nepal’s rhinos are eating plastic waste, study finds by Abhaya Raj Joshi — June 30, 2023
– A study found plastic waste in the dung of one-horned rhinos in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, which could harm their health and survival.
– The plastic waste comes from the rivers that flood the park during monsoon season, as well as from visitors who litter the park.
– The study suggested that the government and its conservation partners should conduct clean-up programs and implement sustainable waste management plans to protect the rhinos, which are a vulnerable species.

The ‘Sloth Lady of Suriname’: Q&A with Monique Pool by Priscilla Misiekaba-Kia — June 30, 2023
– Monique Pool and the Green Heritage Fund Suriname (GHFS) have rescued and rehabilitated more than 600 sloths. The Xenarthra Shelter and Rehabilitation Center is a sanctuary for sloths and other Xenarthra species.
– Sloths in Suriname face threats from deforestation — including in and around the capital, Paramaribo — as well as urban expansion and development and attacks from people’s pets.
– Pool and the GHFS also raise awareness about dolphins and marine life, collaborating with veterinarians and scientists to study these species and preserve their habitats.
– The GHFS promotes sustainable development of natural resources and biodiversity in Suriname, providing information and education to create a better understanding of the country’s wildlife and ecosystems; Pool says she believes protecting and preserving sloths, dolphins and their habitats contributes to the overall health of the planet.

Tangled in marine debris, skate egg cases dry up and die on Peruvian beaches by Michelle Carrere — June 30, 2023
– A new study has found that shorttail fanskate populations may be being affected by plastic pollution.
– The skates mistake abandoned fishing nets and other debris for seaweed and attach their eggs to them, unaware that the debris could wash up on the shore where the eggs will dry out.
– Shorttail fanskates (Sympterygia brevicaudata) are considered near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Tigers cross borders but struggle to move safely within Nepal, study suggests by Abhaya Raj Joshi — June 29, 2023
– Tigers in Nepal are increasingly isolated in protected areas and facing difficulties moving within the country due to human activities and habitat fragmentation.
– Domestic corridors in the Siwalik hills could connect the tiger populations and increase their genetic diversity and viability.
– Conservationists recommend involving community forest user groups and implementing wildlife-friendly infrastructure guidelines to manage and protect the domestic corridors.

Orangutan ‘beatboxing’ offers clues about human language, study says by Liz Kimbrough — June 29, 2023
– Researchers have discovered that orangutans possess vocal abilities similar to beatboxing, where they can produce two different sounds simultaneously.
– The study suggests that these vocal abilities in orangutans may have existed in ancient, extinct relatives of humans and could have influenced the development of human speech.
– The vocal control and coordination abilities of wild great apes, including orangutans, have been underestimated compared to the focus on vocal abilities in birds.
– Further research is needed to understand how orangutans develop their beatboxing-like calls and to explore the connections between bird vocalizations, great ape vocalizations, and human speech.

What can the U.K. do to fight its dependence on soy? by Maxwell Radwin — June 29, 2023
– A new report from the Landworkers’ Alliance, Pasture for Life, Sustain and Hodmedod analyzes the different changes that could be made to the pig and poultry sectors in order to reduce soy consumption and thereby lower the U.K.’s overseas land-use footprint.
– The report modeled different scenarios in which the U.K. reduces its dependence on soy for animal feed, either through the use of food waste or by replacing it with alternative sources of protein like home-grown legumes.
– While the model analyzing the use of homegrown legumes revealed that it would require too much cropland, using waste as feed proved much more promising.

Indonesian architect presses vision for low-cost homes from nature by Moh Tahmini — June 29, 2023
– Architect Yu Sing is among a number of notable Indonesian architects prizing natural materials and traditional techniques as part of contemporary design.
– For more than a decade, Yu Sing’s Bandung-based Studio Akanoma has built projects great and small, from showpiece convention spaces to communal bamboo kitchens for women farmers.
– In 2009, Yu Sing published a book, Mimpi Rumah Murah, setting out his vision for affordable homes using locally available natural materials.

Colombian chef spearheads a food-based bioeconomy in the Colombian Amazon by Ocean Malandra — June 29, 2023
– Colombian chef Mauricio Velasco Castro, founder of Amazonico restaurant in Mocoa, Putumayo, has turned to the Amazon Rainforest for inspiration and identity; he hopes to help build a bioeconomy through food and sustainable ingredients and native medicinal and edible products.
– Amazonico gets its supplies from 22 small-scale producers from Putumayo, including from Indigenous communities and campesinos.
– The bioeconomy is an economic system based on renewable biological natural resources, and it is an integral part of Colombia’s new national plan created by President Gustavo Petro and approved by Congress in May; Petro has said the bioeconomy in Amazonia will be key to saving the rainforest and raising the region’s living standards.

The largest land set-aside in history by Timothy J. Killeen — June 29, 2023
– Mongabay is publishing a new edition of the book, “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon,” in short installments and in three languages: Spanish, English and Portuguese.
– Author Timothy J. Killeen is an academic and expert who, since the 1980s, has studied the rainforests of Brazil and Bolivia, where he lived for more than 35 years.
– Chronicling the efforts of nine Amazonian countries to curb deforestation, this edition provides an overview of the topics most relevant to the conservation of the region’s biodiversity, ecosystem services and Indigenous cultures, as well as a description of the conventional and sustainable development models that are vying for space within the regional economy.
– This is part of chapter 1 of “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon,” see the bottom of this page for links to all the excerpts.

Brazil nut harvesting proves a win-win for forest and community livelihood by Carolina Pinheiro — June 29, 2023
– In the Calha Norte region of Brazil’s Pará state, home to the broadest mosaic of conservation units and Indigenous territories on the planet, communal Brazil nut harvesting is proving to be a winning opportunity for the future of the Amazon Rainforest.
– Communities of nut gatherers living on the banks of the Paru River have practiced their traditional nut-gathering lifestyle for generations, grounded in the understanding that without an intact forest, there are no Brazil nuts.
– Some 300,000 people throughout the Brazilian Amazon depend on the Brazil nut production chain for their living.
– The nut market, however, has not yet recovered from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and a severe drought in 2016.



Why did the orangutan cross the toll road to Indonesia’s new capital city? by Hans Nicholas Jong — June 27, 2023
‘No future’: Iceland cancels whale hunt over animal welfare concerns by Elizabeth Claire Alberts — June 21, 2023
Big potential and immense challenges for great ape conservation in the Congo Basin, experts say by Mike DiGirolamo — June 28, 2023
Microbes play leading role in soil carbon capture, study shows by Liz Kimbrough — June 27, 2023





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