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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 […]