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Environmental science and conservation news

Malaysia’s last female Sumatran rhino falls ill
By Mongabay.com [2017-12-17]
Iman, the last female Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) in the Malaysian state of Sabah, has fallen seriously ill over the past few days due to bleeding in her uterus, authorities there reported. The rhino, which experts believe to be fertile, had a tumor in her uterus, according to the Sabah Wildlife Department. It added that […]






‘A vicious cycle towards extinction:’ Hunting and trade can push even abundant wildlife populations to the brink
By Mike Gaworecki [2017-12-15]
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement in November that it was lifting a ban on the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia — an order President Donald Trump said in a tweet two days later that he had put on hold — was merely the latest flashpoint in a debate that has […]






Colombian community leader allegedly murdered for standing up to palm oil
By Taran Volckhausen [2017-12-15]
Colombian community leader Hernan Bedoya, who defended collective land rights for Afro-Colombian farmers as well as local biodiversity in the face of palm oil and industrial agriculture expansion, was allegedly assassinated by a neo-paramilitary group on Friday, Dec. 5. Part of a rise in targeted assassinations of social leaders across the country, Bedoya was the […]






Recognition of Mentawai tribes marks Indonesia’s latest piecemeal concession to indigenous groups
By Basten Gokkon [2017-12-15]
The indigenous inhabitants of Indonesia’s Mentawai district, a cluster of islands off the southwestern coast of Sumatra, are a step closer to reclaiming their ancestral rights to their land from the state, a development that has been years in the making. The Mentawai district legislature last month passed a regulation that recognizes the region’s indigenous […]






DNA analysis shows Sumatran rhinos peaked during last Ice Age, never recovered
By Basten Gokkon [2017-12-14]
The critically endangered Sumatran rhino has been on an arc toward extinction for nearly 12,000 years now, according to a new study based on genome sequencing that also found the species’ population peaked almost a million years ago. The study, published Thursday, Dec. 14, in the journal Current Biology, is based on analysis of genes […]






Top Argentine glacier scientist charged over cyanide mine spill
By Max Nathanson [2017-12-14]
Prominent government glacier researcher and four former Argentine environment secretaries charged with negligence in glacier studies that allegedly resulted in mine toxic spills.






Building a refuge where trawlers now ravage Cambodia’s marine life
By Matt Blomberg [2017-12-14]
Members of the Kep provincial government and Fisheries Administration set fire to a mound of banned fishing gear in July 2015. The gear had been confiscated over a period of months from Cambodian and Vietnamese vessels operating illegally in Kep Bay, and was burned in front of a village notorious for abusing the law and the sea. Photo courtesy of MCC.KEP ARCHIPELAGO, Cambodia – It’s not long before midnight and an outlaw trawler has been spotted. The captain — a weather-gnarled old fisherman wearing just boxer shorts — winces as flashlights illuminate his face. He takes a drag of a cigarette and grins as his crew hauls in their catch. “Here he is with all […]






Locals fear for their lives over planned dam in Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem
By Junaidi Hanafiah [2017-12-14]
ACEH TAMIANG, Indonesia — Maksum, a resident of Aceh Tamiang district in northern Sumatra, Indonesia, can still vividly recall when a flash flood hit the area 11 years ago this month. The 2006 disaster left a trail of destruction in its wake, claiming the lives of 28 people and forcing more than 200,000 from their […]






Land reclamation threatens extremely rare spoon-billed sandpipers in China
By Shreya Dasgupta [2017-12-14]
One of the world’s rarest birds — the tiny spoon-billed sandpiper — could soon lose a critical habitat to land reclamation projects, warns a new report by Greenpeace. Every year, the reddish-brown spoon-billed sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) makes a 5,000-mile long journey, flying from its breeding grounds in Arctic Russia to its wintering sites in places like southern […]






African Parks backs marine reserve brimming with wildlife in Mozambique
By Mongabay.com [2017-12-14]
A sliver of ocean on the Southern Africa coast is getting a new chance at success thanks to an agreement announced Dec. 6. The National Administration of Conservation Areas of Mozambique has enlisted the help of the conservation NGO African Parks, which manages more than a dozen protected areas in eight other countries on the […]






For Papuan villagers practicing conservation, a bid to formalize the familiar
By Christopel Paino [2017-12-14]
TAMBRAUW, Indonesia — It took more than two hours by boat, through a driving rain, to reach the village of Saubeba from the nearest large town of Sausapor in Indonesia’s West Papua province. There, locals had gathered to discuss a government-backed plan to designate Tambrauw district, of which Saubeba is a part, a conservation zone. […]






Bees for trees: testing a potential tool for reducing human-elephant conflict
By Sue Palminteri [2017-12-13]
Fish swim in a healthy seagrass meadow. The seagrass provides cover from currents and predators. Photo courtesy of MCC.When times are tough for elephants, knocking over a tree may be the best way to get at the food resources it offers. Trees with bees, however, may avoid damage by hungry elephants, even during a drought. A recent study in South Africa’s Kruger National Park has found that hanging beehives containing African honeybees from […]






How will Trump Admin policy rollbacks impact efforts to combat climate change?
By Mike Gaworecki [2017-12-13]
Given that Donald Trump tweeted in 2012 that he believes concern about global warming is the result of a ploy by China to make American manufacturing less competitive, and then in a 2014 tweet explicitly called global warming a “hoax,” it was no surprise when his administration moved aggressively to undo the climate actions taken […]






Mining concessions in Ecuador stalled over compliance with indigenous rights
By Kimberley Brown [2017-12-13]
QUITO, Ecuador – Indigenous communities in Ecuador celebrated this week after President Lenin Moreno announced Monday that the government would come down harder on oil and mining companies that don’t comply with the country’s social and environmental laws. New mining concessions are now stalled until the companies can prove they’ve complied with all regulations under […]






Brazil / UK push offshore oil pact, a potential climate change disaster
By Jenny Gonzales [2017-12-13]
As the world recommitted to Paris carbon cuts last month, Britain and Brazil have moved to tap 176 billion barrels of undersea oil, risking further climate destabilization.






Light pollution lures nighttime pollinators away from plants
By Annie Roth [2017-12-13]
Chrysops fly. Courtesy of PX Here.Populations of bees, bats, butterflies and other pollinators have been declining for decades due to habitat loss, disease, pesticides and climate change. Now, scientists have documented yet another threat to pollinators: nighttime light pollution. In a recent study in Nature, ecologists showed that plants growing near streetlights were pollinated far less often at night and […]






Companies still not doing enough to cut deforestation from commodities supply chains: report
By Mike Gaworecki [2017-12-12]
The latest “Forest 500” rankings are out today from the Global Canopy Programme (GCP), and the main takeaway is that the global companies with the most influence over forests still aren’t doing enough to cut tropical deforestation out of their supply chains. The annual Forest 500 report analyzes the 250 companies and 150 financial institutions […]






Latin America-Europe trade pact to include historic indigenous rights clause
By Lucy EJ Woods [2017-12-12]
A soon to be finalized Mercosur / European Union trade deal will contain indigenous human rights clauses that may be a last hope for indigenous groups under attack in Brazil.






Saving Sumatran orchids from deforestation, one plant at a time
By Sean Mowbray [2017-12-12]
When tropical forests are felled and converted into land for oil palm or rubber plantations, it’s easy to think of the orangutans or the tigers that may lose their lives or their habitat. But when trees begin to fall, hundreds of plant species can perish alongside them. Some conservationists on the Indonesian island of Sumatra […]






Audio: Amazon tribe’s traditional medicine encyclopedia gets an update, and conservation effectiveness in Madagascar examined
By Mike Gaworecki [2017-12-12]
On today’s episode, we’ll get an update on an ambitious effort to document traditional indigenous healing and medicinal practices in the Amazon and speak with the reporter behind Mongabay’s popular new series on conservation efforts in Madagascar. Our first guest on today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast is Christopher Herndon, a medical doctor who studied […]






Features

Conservation news

Environmental science and conservation news

Malaysia’s last female Sumatran rhino falls ill
By Mongabay.com [2017-12-17]
Iman, the last female Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) in the Malaysian state of Sabah, has fallen seriously ill over the past few days due to bleeding in her uterus, authorities there reported. The rhino, which experts believe to be fertile, had a tumor in her uterus, according to the Sabah Wildlife Department. It added that […]






‘A vicious cycle towards extinction:’ Hunting and trade can push even abundant wildlife populations to the brink
By Mike Gaworecki [2017-12-15]
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement in November that it was lifting a ban on the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia — an order President Donald Trump said in a tweet two days later that he had put on hold — was merely the latest flashpoint in a debate that has […]






Colombian community leader allegedly murdered for standing up to palm oil
By Taran Volckhausen [2017-12-15]
Colombian community leader Hernan Bedoya, who defended collective land rights for Afro-Colombian farmers as well as local biodiversity in the face of palm oil and industrial agriculture expansion, was allegedly assassinated by a neo-paramilitary group on Friday, Dec. 5. Part of a rise in targeted assassinations of social leaders across the country, Bedoya was the […]






Recognition of Mentawai tribes marks Indonesia’s latest piecemeal concession to indigenous groups
By Basten Gokkon [2017-12-15]
The indigenous inhabitants of Indonesia’s Mentawai district, a cluster of islands off the southwestern coast of Sumatra, are a step closer to reclaiming their ancestral rights to their land from the state, a development that has been years in the making. The Mentawai district legislature last month passed a regulation that recognizes the region’s indigenous […]






DNA analysis shows Sumatran rhinos peaked during last Ice Age, never recovered
By Basten Gokkon [2017-12-14]
The critically endangered Sumatran rhino has been on an arc toward extinction for nearly 12,000 years now, according to a new study based on genome sequencing that also found the species’ population peaked almost a million years ago. The study, published Thursday, Dec. 14, in the journal Current Biology, is based on analysis of genes […]






Top Argentine glacier scientist charged over cyanide mine spill
By Max Nathanson [2017-12-14]
Prominent government glacier researcher and four former Argentine environment secretaries charged with negligence in glacier studies that allegedly resulted in mine toxic spills.






Building a refuge where trawlers now ravage Cambodia’s marine life
By Matt Blomberg [2017-12-14]
Members of the Kep provincial government and Fisheries Administration set fire to a mound of banned fishing gear in July 2015. The gear had been confiscated over a period of months from Cambodian and Vietnamese vessels operating illegally in Kep Bay, and was burned in front of a village notorious for abusing the law and the sea. Photo courtesy of MCC.KEP ARCHIPELAGO, Cambodia – It’s not long before midnight and an outlaw trawler has been spotted. The captain — a weather-gnarled old fisherman wearing just boxer shorts — winces as flashlights illuminate his face. He takes a drag of a cigarette and grins as his crew hauls in their catch. “Here he is with all […]






Locals fear for their lives over planned dam in Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem
By Junaidi Hanafiah [2017-12-14]
ACEH TAMIANG, Indonesia — Maksum, a resident of Aceh Tamiang district in northern Sumatra, Indonesia, can still vividly recall when a flash flood hit the area 11 years ago this month. The 2006 disaster left a trail of destruction in its wake, claiming the lives of 28 people and forcing more than 200,000 from their […]






Land reclamation threatens extremely rare spoon-billed sandpipers in China
By Shreya Dasgupta [2017-12-14]
One of the world’s rarest birds — the tiny spoon-billed sandpiper — could soon lose a critical habitat to land reclamation projects, warns a new report by Greenpeace. Every year, the reddish-brown spoon-billed sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) makes a 5,000-mile long journey, flying from its breeding grounds in Arctic Russia to its wintering sites in places like southern […]






African Parks backs marine reserve brimming with wildlife in Mozambique
By Mongabay.com [2017-12-14]
A sliver of ocean on the Southern Africa coast is getting a new chance at success thanks to an agreement announced Dec. 6. The National Administration of Conservation Areas of Mozambique has enlisted the help of the conservation NGO African Parks, which manages more than a dozen protected areas in eight other countries on the […]






For Papuan villagers practicing conservation, a bid to formalize the familiar
By Christopel Paino [2017-12-14]
TAMBRAUW, Indonesia — It took more than two hours by boat, through a driving rain, to reach the village of Saubeba from the nearest large town of Sausapor in Indonesia’s West Papua province. There, locals had gathered to discuss a government-backed plan to designate Tambrauw district, of which Saubeba is a part, a conservation zone. […]






Bees for trees: testing a potential tool for reducing human-elephant conflict
By Sue Palminteri [2017-12-13]
Fish swim in a healthy seagrass meadow. The seagrass provides cover from currents and predators. Photo courtesy of MCC.When times are tough for elephants, knocking over a tree may be the best way to get at the food resources it offers. Trees with bees, however, may avoid damage by hungry elephants, even during a drought. A recent study in South Africa’s Kruger National Park has found that hanging beehives containing African honeybees from […]






How will Trump Admin policy rollbacks impact efforts to combat climate change?
By Mike Gaworecki [2017-12-13]
Given that Donald Trump tweeted in 2012 that he believes concern about global warming is the result of a ploy by China to make American manufacturing less competitive, and then in a 2014 tweet explicitly called global warming a “hoax,” it was no surprise when his administration moved aggressively to undo the climate actions taken […]






Mining concessions in Ecuador stalled over compliance with indigenous rights
By Kimberley Brown [2017-12-13]
QUITO, Ecuador – Indigenous communities in Ecuador celebrated this week after President Lenin Moreno announced Monday that the government would come down harder on oil and mining companies that don’t comply with the country’s social and environmental laws. New mining concessions are now stalled until the companies can prove they’ve complied with all regulations under […]






Brazil / UK push offshore oil pact, a potential climate change disaster
By Jenny Gonzales [2017-12-13]
As the world recommitted to Paris carbon cuts last month, Britain and Brazil have moved to tap 176 billion barrels of undersea oil, risking further climate destabilization.






Light pollution lures nighttime pollinators away from plants
By Annie Roth [2017-12-13]
Chrysops fly. Courtesy of PX Here.Populations of bees, bats, butterflies and other pollinators have been declining for decades due to habitat loss, disease, pesticides and climate change. Now, scientists have documented yet another threat to pollinators: nighttime light pollution. In a recent study in Nature, ecologists showed that plants growing near streetlights were pollinated far less often at night and […]






Companies still not doing enough to cut deforestation from commodities supply chains: report
By Mike Gaworecki [2017-12-12]
The latest “Forest 500” rankings are out today from the Global Canopy Programme (GCP), and the main takeaway is that the global companies with the most influence over forests still aren’t doing enough to cut tropical deforestation out of their supply chains. The annual Forest 500 report analyzes the 250 companies and 150 financial institutions […]






Latin America-Europe trade pact to include historic indigenous rights clause
By Lucy EJ Woods [2017-12-12]
A soon to be finalized Mercosur / European Union trade deal will contain indigenous human rights clauses that may be a last hope for indigenous groups under attack in Brazil.






Saving Sumatran orchids from deforestation, one plant at a time
By Sean Mowbray [2017-12-12]
When tropical forests are felled and converted into land for oil palm or rubber plantations, it’s easy to think of the orangutans or the tigers that may lose their lives or their habitat. But when trees begin to fall, hundreds of plant species can perish alongside them. Some conservationists on the Indonesian island of Sumatra […]






Audio: Amazon tribe’s traditional medicine encyclopedia gets an update, and conservation effectiveness in Madagascar examined
By Mike Gaworecki [2017-12-12]
On today’s episode, we’ll get an update on an ambitious effort to document traditional indigenous healing and medicinal practices in the Amazon and speak with the reporter behind Mongabay’s popular new series on conservation efforts in Madagascar. Our first guest on today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast is Christopher Herndon, a medical doctor who studied […]






Wildtech news

Wildtech

Technology for Conservation

Experts hack away at portable DNA barcode scanner to fight timber and wildlife trafficking
By Julia John [2016-09-08]
Survey responses to the Wildtech needs assessment—especially from field researchers—put portable DNA analysis near the top of the research and conservation technology wish-list. How could we harness DNA barcode technology in an adaptable, handheld device that frontline officials in developing countries could use to combat timber and wildlife trafficking? The DNA Barcode Scanner Hack that […]






Hot stuff: improving chili fence effectiveness (in protecting crops from elephants)
By Sue Palminteri [2016-09-07]
Some tips from a chili fence expert on how to make the most of a low-tech approach to reducing crop raiding and retaliatory killing of elephants






Solving Global Grand Challenges, One MOOC at a Time
By Taylor Robb-McCord [2016-08-12]
A new online course aims to address the complex challenges facing conservation and development.






Understanding the ghost of the mountain
By Julia John [2016-08-10]
The grayish-white form of the ghost of the mountain slinks through the snowcapped slopes of Central Asia. Its remote, harsh habitat, cryptic coat and elusive nature have impeded investigation and made monitoring the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) arduous, if not impossible. Technological advances, however, are changing that. New population estimates for the big cat, based […]






How to use the Bloomberg Terminal for advocacy work: advanced tools
By Dan Williams [2016-08-08]
An oil-palm plantation with a few remaining rainforest trees in Sarawak, Malaysia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.Other stories in Mongabay’s series on using the Bloomberg Terminal in advocacy work: Part 1: How to use the Bloomberg Terminal for advocacy work: the basics Part 2: Tracking assets for environmental advocacy work with Bloomberg  The previous two articles in this three-part series detailed some of the basic functions of the Bloomberg Terminal — […]






Identifying the drivers of Amazon deforestation through high-tech maps and stories
By Suzanne Palminteri [2016-08-05]
A new logging road stands out against an otherwise intact rainforestThe MAAP project integrates a range of satellite imagery and analysis tools to detect and disclose deforestation across the Peruvian Amazon.






DART-TOFMS: Finding the chemistry in wood
By Taylor Robb-McCord [2016-08-03]
Earlier this summer, members of the Forest Legality Alliance (FLA) gathered in Washington, DC for their Semi-Annual Membership Meeting. As a precursor to the upcoming CITES COP17 meeting in September, the FLA member meeting focused on issues pertaining to illegally traded CITES-listed timber species, proposals to add new timber species to the CITES list and […]






Chew on this new way to detect disease in primates
By Julia John [2016-07-28]
Preoccupied with snipping a saliva-soaked plant part with a scalpel and placing it in a little tube of viral transport media, veterinary epidemiologist Tierra Smiley Evans thought she was alone, backed up against a big bush. But someone was watching close by with beady eyes. Suddenly, a shaggy black arm darted under her armpit and […]






Piloting PALM Risk to detect palm oil-driven deforestation
By Julia John [2016-07-20]
What do lipstick, detergent and instant noodles have in common? They all contain palm oil. Half of every packaged product stocking supermarket shelves can be traced back to a ruthless army of oil palm trees rapidly occupying land that naturally supported rich tropical forests. Palm oil production razes and replaces biologically diverse ecosystems with monospecific […]






Wildlife Law Enforcement in Sub-Saharan African Protected Areas: A Review of Best Practices
By Taylor Robb-McCord [2016-07-15]
“Across Africa, illegal killing and trade in wildlife, especially of iconic species such as elephants and rhinos, has now reached crisis proportions. Illicit wildlife trafficking now comprises the fourth largest illegal trade internationally after arms and drugs trafficking, and trafficking in human beings. In recent years, tens of thousands of elephants have been killed every […]






New map of Malaysia’s limestone hills will help set conservation priorities
By Mike Gaworecki [2016-07-11]
Malaysia’s limestone hills, or karsts, have been described as “arks of biodiversity,” but they’re facing intense pressures from mining and other human activities. Limestone is a vital resource for the construction industry, meaning it is not likely that forest degradation and quarrying in a developing country like Malaysia, where 445 limestone hills have been recorded […]






GDELT: Mining and mapping global wildlife crime news
By Julia John [2016-07-07]
In the eighth grade, at an age most boys spend their time outside school watching sports and playing videogames, Kalev Leetaru was delving into large-scale web mining and founding his first web company. With his continued interest in investigating enormous amounts of data two decades since, he now heads the GDELT Project, a massive open-data platform that analyzes news media […]






Bringing Star Trek tricorder analysis to the 21st century
By Hina Alam [2016-07-04]
Handheld, palm-sized, lightweight DNA preparation and sequencing devices are coming your way soon.






Bridging the Gap between Land and Space
By Taylor Robb-McCord [2016-07-01]
The United Nations/Kenya Conference on Space Technology and Applications for Wildlife Management and Protecting Biodiversity aims to expand the use of space technology in conservation.






5 Tech Projects That Are Protecting Sharks
By Taylor Robb-McCord [2016-06-30]
Annually, approximately 100 million sharks are killed by commercial fisheries. Coupled with climate change and a decrease of food supply from overfishing, some shark populations are teetering on the edge of extinction. Bringing sharks into mainstream media, the brainchild of the Discovery Channel and the longest running cable TV program, Shark Week has aired every […]






A World of Tings
By Taylor Robb-McCord [2016-06-28]
The real-time wildlife sighting app, Latest Sightings, can help to link a global community of wildlife enthusiasts and promote conservation one “ting” at a time.






Combining high-tech and low-tech to turn satellite images into action
By [2016-06-24]
  Since its founding, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) has been on the forefront of conservation science, and in recent years the group has been applying remote sensing, mobile phone technologies, and cloud-based mapping tools to its forest and ape habitat conservation work. Today, JGI scientists use a suite of technologies to monitor chimpanzee habitat, […]






Drink beer, help the ocean?
By Julia John [2016-06-14]
Beer may have a bad rep among carb-fearing ab-chiseling fitness fans, but it could now be better for the environment than it was before. Well, at least the new kind packaged using edible six-pack rings from south Florida’s Saltwater Brewery. This Delray Beach microbrewery north of Miami, Florida, just launched the first ever 100% compostable […]






e-Eye of the tiger: Complex surveillance system extends watch over India’s wildlife sanctuaries
By Julia John [2016-06-10]
A new set of eyes is keeping watch over tiger reserves across India. They’re electronic, but they seem to have hawk-like observational faculties. And they may be related to how the country’s tiger population increased from 1,706 in 2010, one year before this digital monitoring system was first implemented, to 2,226 in 2014, the last […]






Tracking assets for environmental advocacy work with Bloomberg
By Dan Williams [2016-06-09]
Oil-palm estate in Sabah, Malaysia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.Other stories in Mongabay’s series on using the Bloomberg Terminal in advocacy work: Part 1: How to use the Bloomberg Terminal for advocacy work: the basics Part 3: How to use the Bloomberg Terminal for advocacy work: advanced tools The Bloomberg Terminal is Windows-based proprietary software that offers users real-time access to global news sources, financial […]