Nature news stories from Mongabay


Indigenous peoples in Colombia play crucial role in the fight against climate change by Bart Crezee [03/30/2017]
- Research shows that the rights of the numerous indigenous groups in the Amazon are crucial to help curb global warming.
- Trading in CO2 emissions prevented by protecting forests instead of cutting them down has been possible since 2008 under a UN mechanism called REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries), but there are complications.
- Marked by lackluster regulation for years, since the CO2 market under REDD+ (or its predecessor REDD) was introduced, “carbon cowboys” have popped up in the remotest corners of the tropics, trying to profit from the growing trade in CO2 emissions.


Almost 1M hectares ‘missing’ from land holdings of major palm oil companies by Benji Jones [03/29/2017]
- Palm oil is a major driver of tropical deforestation. The report was produced by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which looked at information publicly disclosed by 50 of the most major palm oil production companies.
- Its findings indicate that while most companies disclose the area of planted land they manage, many fail to reveal the size, location, and use of many other areas in their portfolio, defying corporate accountability and concealing potential social and environmental risks.
- A supply chain expert says failures to disclose information don't necessarily signal ill will on the part of the companies. Instead, it may be the result of unclear expectations, definitions, and protocols for reporting.
- The Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the world's leading palm oil certification body, is reportedly working to improve the reporting process of its member companies.


Watch a leatherback sea turtle return to the ocean after nesting on a Costa Rica beach by Mike Gaworecki [03/29/2017]
- While leatherback sea turtles typically do their nesting at night, a prospective mother turtle is sometimes up so late laying her eggs that she is still on the beach at sunrise.
- It’s a rare sight, but those who are lucky enough to witness it get to watch the endangered turtle slowly make her way back to the ocean before gliding off into the open water.
- Jenell Black, field manager for US- and Costa Rica-based NGO The Leatherback Trust, was conducting a morning survey on Playa Grande, the largest beach in Las Baulas National Park on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, when she was fortunate enough to observe just such a sight. And fortunately for the rest of us, she had a drone with her at the time.


Thousands of anti-coal activists march in Jakarta, deliver complaints to anti-graft agency by Zamzami [03/29/2017]
- Around 2,000 people, including convoys from communities affected by coal mining and coal-fired power plants, marched in Jakarta on March 23.
- A delegation from the protest was received by Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), where they presented reports on cases of alleged corruption.
- Demonstrators also rallied in solidarity with farmers from Kendeng, West Java, who have encased their feet in cement and are staging a sit-in to protest the construction of a cement factory in the Kendeng karst mountain area.


The orangutan who escaped Indonesia’s blackmarket pet trade by Philip Jacobson [03/29/2017]
- Wildlife traffickers are chipping away at the dwindling populations of Sumatran and Bornean orangutans. Deforestation lends poachers an assist, rendering the primates homeless and easier to catch.
- Keeping an orangutan pet is illegal in Indonesia, but not once has a citizen been prosecuted for it. The owners tend to be influential figures -- police officers, soldiers, politicians.
- Krismon was separated from his mother as an infant in the late 1990s. Only last year was he finally recovered from the military family he was living with.
- The ape will spend the rest of his life behind metal bars — unless a plan to construct an orangutan haven comes to fruition in North Sumatra.


In Tanzania, a surge in sesame farming poses threat to natural forest by Sophie TremblayWilly Lowry [03/29/2017]
- Trees in Tanzania’s southeast region are being burned down, sometimes illegally, to make way for sesame farms.
- In one small village with a thriving community-owned forest project, sesame cultivation has become the leading cause of deforestation.
- The particularly destructive cultivation of sesame often involves cultivators burning huge swaths of forests to create farmland that is only used for two or three seasons.


New study provides a blueprint for engaging indigenous peoples in REDD+ forest monitoring by Mike Gaworecki [03/28/2017]
- According to the authors of the study, using well-trained indigenous technicians is more cost-effective, takes less time, and, of course, helps meet the requirement for full and effective participation by indigenous peoples in REDD+ programs.
- For the study, a team of thirty indigenous technicians performed a forest inventory in order to measure the forest carbon sequestered in five Emberá and Wounaan territories in Darién, Panama.
- The researchers then compared the tree height and diameter data gathered by expert technicians and trained indigenous technicians and found no significant differences.
- Meanwhile, access to Darién's forests was only possible because the study was managed by the Organización de Jóvenes Emberá y Wounaan de Panamá (OJEWP) in coordination with traditional indigenous authorities, in accordance with the principle of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.


Communities conserving local forest in El Salvador vote to ban mining by Sandra Cuffe [03/28/2017]
- El Salvador is considered the most-deforested country in Central America, but national efforts to protect remaining forest appear to be on the upswing in the tiny country.
- Cinquera, a municipality in northern El Salvador, has created its own forest preserve and attracted the attention of the national government.
- In February, residents voted to ban metallic mining in the region.
- On March 22, legislator Guillermo Mata announced that the legislative assembly’s multi-partisan environmental committee had approved the text of a law banning metallic mining. The bill is set to go to the floor for a vote this week, according to Mata.


Paying for healthcare with trees: win-win for orangutans and communities by Claire Salisbury [03/28/2017]
- In 2016, the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) was declared Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Orangutan habitat is fast disappearing due to deforestation caused by industrial agriculture, forest fires, slash and burn agriculture, and logging.
- One of the most important remaining P. pygmaeus populations, with roughly 2,000 individuals, is in Indonesia’s Gunung Palung National Park. Alam Sehat Lestari (Healthy Nature Everlasting, or ASRI) is partnering with U.S. NGO Health in Harmony and effectively reducing illegal logging in the park via a unique healthcare offering.
- When communities were asked what was driving them to log conserved forest, the people answered: affordable healthcare and organic farming. Expensive medical costs were forcing people to log to pay medical bills, while unsustainable agricultural practices depleted the soil, necessitating the use of costly fertilizers.
- The two NGOs opened an affordable health clinic, and later a hospital, offering discounted medical service to communities that stop logging. Forest guardians, recruited in every village, encourage people to curb deforestation. They also monitor illegal activity and reforestation, while offering training in organic farming methods. And the program works!


Survey of previously inaccessible region of Myanmar reveals many endangered species by Shreya Dasgupta [03/28/2017]
- 17 of the 31 species are threatened, including tigers, Asian elephants, Phayre’s langurs, and dholes.
- The camera traps also detected images of the indochinese leopard across all survey sites, suggesting that Karen State could be supporting one of the most significant leopard populations remaining in South-east Asia.
- A major concern in the region is poaching of high value species like tiger and elephant for the international illegal wildlife trade, the researchers say.


Extinct mammoths and rhinos portend a grim future in a warming climate by John C. Cannon [03/28/2017]
- The new analysis shows that, while hunting caused problems for cold-dwelling rhinos and mammoths, and in some cases drove them from certain areas completely, the changing climate ultimately led to their extinction.
- Hunting pressure also eradicated some species of horses, but others, such as wild horses (E. przewalskii) and donkeys (E. asinus), were able to survive.
- Along with deer, these mammals probably survived because of their smaller sizes, increased mobility and higher reproductive rates than either mammoths or rhinos.
- With just a 1-degree Celsius rise in Earth's temperature per century, we could see the same rise in temperatures over the next 500-1,000 years that took 10,000-15,000 years at the end of the last ice age.


World’s second breeding population of Indochinese tigers discovered in Thailand’s forests by Demelza Stokes [03/28/2017]
- The world’s second known breeding population of Indochinese tigers (Panthera tigris corbetti) confirmed in Eastern Thailand’s Dong-Phayayen Khao Yai Forest Complex - a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Remarkable discovery now makes Thailand home to two breeding populations of this tiger subspecies, a significant step toward ensuring their long-term survival in the wild.
- Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) and conservation groups Freeland and Panthera have conducted a scientific survey on the tiger population using the ‘photographic capture-recapture’ method, indicating a density of 0.63 tigers per 100 square kilometers.
- While conservationists welcome these exciting new findings, they warn of the continued decline of tigers elsewhere in Thailand and across their global range.


A Sumatran king’s 1,400-year-old vision for sustainable landscape planning by Taufik Wijaya [03/28/2017]
- Indonesia's South Sumatra is an epicenter of the annual peat fires that ravage the archipelago country.
- The province has become a staging ground for projects like KELOLA Sendang, which is intended to promote sustainable landscape management in an important tiger habitat.
- More than a millennium ago, the ruler of the Srivijaya kingdom put forth his own vision for sustainable prosperity — one of which today's policymakers could take heed.


Two new clown tree frogs discovered in the Amazon by Mike Gaworecki [03/27/2017]
- Clown frogs are widespread throughout the Amazon region and get their name from their unique, bright coloration.
- The two newly discovered clown frogs were previously considered to belong to other species, but researchers were able to show that they are their own distinct species after analyzing their DNA and the calls they make.
- According to the international team of researchers who made the discovery, the conservation status of both clown frogs has yet to be determined — but it is likely that the species could already be considered threatened, especially given that both are reported to have particularly small distribution areas that are endangered by habitat destruction.


Villagers vote to ban ‘La Colosa’ gold mining project in Colombia by Bram Ebus [03/27/2017]
- The vote was almost 98 percent against the establishment of La Colosa under the auspices of the world’s third-largest gold producer, AngloGold Ashanti.
- The popular vote functions as a protective measure if collective rights are considered endangered, including long-term impacts caused by mining and energy projects.
- The popular vote could now give way to a legal battle between AngloGold Ashanti and Colombia, as the company already stated its intention to try to continue the project while it studies the consequences of the vote.


Cattle ranching threatens core of Biosphere Reserve of Southeast Nicaragua by Wilder Pérez R. [03/27/2017]
- In the last five years (2011-2016) more than 54,000 hectares of forests were converted to grasslands in the core area of ​​the Biosphere Reserve of Southeast Nicaragua, which represents 19.4 percent of its size.
- According to data published by the Nicaraguan Export Processing Centre, last January, beef was Nicaragua's main export product with more than $43.9 million in sales.
- Livestock production in Nicaragua typically consists of allocating one block (0.7 hectares) for each head of cattle, which explains, in part, why the development of this industry threatens sites such as the reserve.
- The sale of land for agricultural production in southeastern Nicaragua has not only displaced human populations into the depths of the forest, it also makes them migrate to the cities of Nueva Guinea and Bluefields, or Costa Rica, in search of better incomes.


Amazon land speculators poised to gain control of vast public lands by Sue Branford and Maurício Torres [03/27/2017]
- In the Brazilian Amazon, the paving of highways makes adjacent forests far more attractive to land thieves, resulting in major deforestation. The Sustainable BR-163 Plan of 2006 created vast swathes of protected land — eight new conservation units — to prevent land theft and deforestation from happening near the vulnerable BR-163 highway in Pará state.
- From the start, land speculators wanted to get their hands on one of those units, the National Forest of Jamanxim, known as “Flona Jamaxim.” They’ve occupied large areas of the Flona, making it one of Brazil’s conservation units with the most serious illegal forest clearing. Illicit activities there helped turn the region into a very violent place.
- The rise of the agribusiness-friendly Temer administration in August 2016 emboldened the land speculators. Working with the bancada ruralista, the agribusiness lobby, they got Temer to pass interim measures in December 2016, dismembering Flona Jamanxim, reclassifying 305,000 hectares, and allowing land thieves to keep the land they had seized.
- Other conservation units are being targeted: in January 2017, the government announced plans to slash conservation units in Amazonas state — dismembering the Biological Reserve of Manicoré, National Park of Acari, and National Forests of Aripuanã and Urupadi, and more. If approved, one million hectares will lose environmental protection.


Ecuadorian province protects 90% of its land area by Joaquín Ortiz [03/27/2017]
- The Pastaza Ecological Area of Sustainable Development aims to regulate the use of natural resources, conserve the tropical humid forest, and the flora and fauna of the area.
- Seven indigenous nationalities live inside the area: Shuar, Achuar, Kichwa, Sapara, Andoa, Shiwiar and Waorani.
- The area also focuses on improving the development of communities and indigenous nationalities that live within the territory. A zoning process next year will define the actual conservation areas that will comprise most of the Pastaza conservation area.


Colombia’s cane industry efficient but potentially damaging by Kimberley Brown [03/27/2017]
- About 80 percent of all sugar cane in Colombia is concentrated in the Pacific coastal state of Valle del Cauca, and cane represents 50 percent of all local agricultural production.
- The Afro-Colombian population in the area surrounding the state’s capital city of Cali has seen a heavy impact on their traditional farming practices and the local environment.
- The monoculture production of cane has led to deforestation, impacting the health of local flora and fauna, according to research.


Sand mining ban lifted on beach in Suriname, causing public backlash by Rachel Fritts [03/27/2017]
- Sand mining could decrease the ability of Braamspunt beach to protect Suriname’s capital city from rising sea levels and storms surges.
- Conservationists also fear for sea turtles nesting on the beach, which may be disturbed by the bright lights and loud noises of the industrial activity.
- Sand mining in coastal environments has become a global industry, threatening biodiversity and natural defenses against climate change.


Yellow fever is killing howler monkeys in Brazil by Shreya Dasgupta [03/27/2017]
- Brown howler monkeys are extremely susceptible to yellow fever, and an outbreak can cause local extinctions.
- Hundreds of brown howler monkeys are estimated to have died at the RPPN-FMA reserve due to yellow fever.
- Fortunately, the critically endangerd muriquis (also found in the reserve) seem less susceptible to yellow fever than the howler monkeys.


Military base-building destroys coral reefs in the South China Sea by Greg Asner [03/26/2017]
Military base-building destroys coral reefs in the South China Sea Greg Asner, a global ecologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, writes about his recent field survey in the Spratly Islands.

Damage to Raja Ampat 12 times higher than previously thought by Basten Gokkon [03/25/2017]
- Raja Ampat is home to one of the most spectacular coral reefs in the world.
- The cruise ship that hit the reef on March 4 damaged 18,882 square meters of coral reef, the Indonesian government said this week.
- A preliminary estimate had identified only 1,600 square meters of damaged reef.


As Thailand ramps up its palm oil sector, peat forests feel the pressure by Demelza Stokes [03/24/2017]
- Thailand is currently the world's third-largest producer of palm oil. As of 2015, around 70 percent of land used for oil palm cultivation was managed by small-scale farmers.
- Most of Thailand's palm oil is grown in the southern part of the country. In one protected area, called Pru Kaching, the government is trying to reclaim land from palm oil growers. But complicating factors have mired the effort.
- In order to grow crops like oil palm in peatlands, the swampy peat must be drained – which releases carbon into the atmosphere and makes the forests that overlay them more susceptible to fire.


Panama’s Barro Blanco dam to begin operation, indigenous pleas refused by Camilo Mejia Giraldo [03/24/2017]
- For nearly a decade, Panama’s Barro Blanco dam has met with strong opposition from indigenous Ngäbe communities. It has also generated violent suppression from government forces, and attracted criticism from international organizations.
- An agreement on the dam’s completion, reached by the government and the community’s now-ousted leader, was voted down by the Ngäbe-Bugle General Congress in September 2016. The dam’s surprise deregistration from the UN Clean Development Mechanism in October 2016 did nothing to stop the project.
- Now, the General Administrator of Panama’s National Authority for Public Services has declared that the Ngäbe-Bugle General Congress never presented a formal rejection document to the government, meaning dam operations can begin.
- Panama’s Supreme Court has ruled against the last two legal actions by indigenous communities impacted by Barro Blanco. The Supreme Court decisions cannot be appealed, so the communities have now exhausted all legal avenues within the country, leaving only international processes.


Will Madagascar lose its most iconic primate? by Matt Reed [03/24/2017]
- Ring-tailed lemurs have suffered a drastic population decline in the last 15 years due to habitat destruction, hunting and live capture for the pet trade.
- The ring-tailed lemur is a ‘canary in the coal mine’ for Madagascar’s other lemur species, providing an urgent need for increased conservation capacity on the island.
- Ring-tailed lemurs could recover quickly if threats were removed, given their well-known adaptability.


A Czech zoo is dehorning its rhinos by Shreya Dasgupta [03/24/2017]
- The dehorning is in response to an incident in Paris earlier this month, in which poachers broke into a zoo near the city, shot dead a 4-year-old male white rhino, and hacked off one of its horns.
- The Dvůr Králove Zoo, home to 21 rhinos, sawed the horns off its first rhino on March 20.
- The authorities said that the horns will be stored in a "safe place" outside the zoo.


New cave catfish threatened by deforestation, mining, pollution by Morgan Erickson-Davis [03/23/2017]
- The new catfish, Aspidoras mephisto, is the first completely cave-dependent member of the Callichthyidae family found in South America.
- The species has adaptations to living underground, including a lack of pigment and reduced eyes. Researchers think it may use tree roots for shelter and food.
- Surveys indicate A. mephisto is restricted to two caves in an area devoid of official protection. Deforestation and mining activities threaten the vegetation around the caves, and sewage from a nearby town may be polluting their water sources.


Downstream from a coal mine, villages in Indonesian Borneo suffer from water pollution by Mongabay.comYustinus S. Hardjanto [03/23/2017]
- East Kalimantan, in Indonesian Borneo, hosts rare expanses of biologically rich tropical rainforest. It also has rich deposits of coal — according to Greenpeace data, around 75 percent of the province has been assigned for coal mining.
- PT Indominco Mandiri, a subsidiary of Thai conglomerate Banpu, operates a 25,000-hectare (~62,000-acre) mining concession in East Kalimantan.
- Activists and residents say this mining operation has rendered the water of the Santan River unusable for drinking, irrigation or aquaculture.


Jokowi reiterates commitment to indigenous rights by Philip Jacobson [03/23/2017]
- Instead of attending the fifth congress of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago last week in Sumatra as planned, Jokowi invited representatives of the organization to meet in Jakarta on Wednesday.
- He told them he would push parliament to pass a law on indigenous rights and said he would form a task force to support the movement.
- The administration is planning to recognize the rights of 18 more communities to the forests they call home, an area spanning a total of 590,000 hectares, the president said.


World Bank exits controversial Angostura goldmine project in Colombian moorland by Bram Ebus [03/23/2017]
- The IFC (International Finance Corporation) is the lending arm of the World Bank and had long backed the Eco Oro project in the Santurbán moorlands.
- Colombia has 34 moorlands, including Santurbán, that provide the vast majority of freshwater to the country’s residents.
- A new Colombian law that prohibits mining in moorlands, followed by an independent audit, led to the IFC’s divestment.


Marine protected areas suffer from lack of funds, staff by Shreya Dasgupta [03/22/2017]
- About 65 percent of the 433 surveyed MPAs reportedly suffered from inadequate budget for the management of the protected areas.
- Nearly 91 percent of MPAs lacked sufficient staff to carry out critical management activities.
- The findings suggest that effective biodiversity conservation is not just dependent on environmental conditions or MPA features (such as MPA size, fishing regulations), but is also heavily dependent on available capacity.


Plans to mine coal in South African protected area trigger conservation battle by Kim Harrisberg [03/22/2017]
- In 2016, Indian company Atha-Africa Ventures was given permission to mine coal within the Mabola Protected Environment
- The deal required signatures from South Africa's mineral resources and environmental affairs ministers. News that both officials had granted their approval was only revealed last month after public information requests by activists.
- Mabola is classified as a Strategic Water Source Area, and conservationists fear underground mining there could pollute or dry up vital fresh water.


Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach? by Neha Jain [03/22/2017]
- Researchers interviewed 173 self-admitted rural poachers living in the margins of Ruaha National Park in Tanzania to understand why they harvest bushmeat.
- While poverty was a major factor, not all poachers were destitute; a sizeable proportion say they poach to supplement their income.
- How the villagers view their financial status compared to others reflected their poaching activities.
- Conservation strategies should adopt a multidimensional approach to target those who are well-off in addition to the poor, according to the researchers.


Aggressive forest protection needed to meet US climate goals by Mike Gaworecki [03/21/2017]
- Despite how critical forest protection is to meeting climate goals, it is not currently seen as a climate priority in the U.S.
- In fact, the report notes, some government and forestry industry actors even promote increased logging as a solution to climate change, which has led to the forests of the coastal Southern United States becoming the largest source of wood pellet exports to Europe in recent years.
- Forest disturbance from logging in the Southern U.S. occurs at four times the rate that it does in the rainforests of South America, the authors of the report discovered, which is reducing the ability of the country’s forests to act as carbon sinks by at least 35 percent.


In defining plantations as forest, FAO attracts criticism by Benji Jones [03/21/2017]
- The FAO lumps non-oil palm tree plantations into its definition of forest cover when conducting its Global Forest Resource Assessments. The assessments analyze land cover change in countries around the world using largely self-reported data.
- Nearly 200 organizations have signed an open letter authored by the NGO World Rainforest Movement to change how they define forest.
- Remote sensing technology currently doesn't provide the ability to differentiate the canopies of forests and tree plantations. But researchers say that within a decade, technological advances will make this a reality.
- A representative of FAO said the organization is unlikely to change its definition since it is already well established and accepted by governments and other stakeholders.


Audio: Paul Simon on his new tour in support of E.O. Wilson’s Half-Earth initiative by Mike Gaworecki [03/21/2017]
- The 12-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter recently announced on Mongabay.com that he is embarking on a 17-date US concert tour, with all proceeds benefitting Half-Earth, an initiative of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation.
- Mongabay contributor Justin Catanoso interviewed Paul Simon about his long-time friendship with E.O. Wilson and why Dr. Wilson’s Half-Earth idea inspired him to get involved in this environmental cause.
- We also feature another Field Notes segment, this time with Zuzana Burivalova, a conservation scientist at Princeton University who has recorded the soundscapes of over 100 sites in the Indonesian part of Borneo.


New ‘stone’ frog discovered in Vietnam by Shreya Dasgupta [03/21/2017]
- Researchers first collected specimens of the frog in 2013 while surveying forests covering limestone hills in Vietnam's Lai Chau and Tuyen Quang Provinces.
- After analyzing and comparing this frog's appearance, call, as well as DNA with that of closely related frogs, the team confirmed that it was indeed a new species.
- Unfortunately, the researchers suspect that the new species is already threatened with extinction and recommend listing it as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.


The people of DRC’s forests by Etienne Maury [03/21/2017]
- DRC's unstable political situation, security risks, poverty, and weak governance contribute to putting the country's forests at risk.
- Africa's most popular fuel - charcoal - is largely unregulated in DRC and comes at the expense of vast tracts of primary forest.
- Some DRC residents have a lifelong connection to the forests and rely on it for their livelihood.


Seeing in the dark and more: Facts and FAQs about thermal imaging by Sanjiv Fernando [03/20/2017]
- In this first of a new Wildtech series on “What is that technology?” we explore thermal imaging and its applications for wildlife.
- Thermography, or thermal imaging, detects infrared radiation to help see objects in the dark.
- Thermal cameras distinguish the relative temperature of objects around us to help us see warmer objects – like people and animals – against cooler backdrops, even at night.
- Thermal imaging has multiple applications for wildlife conservation, including helping with anti-poaching efforts, wildlife veterinary diagnoses, studying animal behavior, and nighttime filming for wildlife documentaries.


First woman to lead world’s largest indigenous peoples alliance by Philip Jacobson [03/20/2017]
- Rukka Sombolinggi's selection as next secretary general of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago brought to a close the organization's fifth congress on Sunday.
- Sombolinggi is a Torajan woman from Sulawesi island with a long history in the indigenous rights movement.
- AMAN's next congress will be held in Papua in 2022.


“Endangered species to declare?” Europe’s understudied bushmeat trade by Sean Mowbray [03/20/2017]
- Bushmeat can be purchased in Europe’s capital cities, with the meat of endangered species such as primates and pangolins available. But the scale of the problem is not fully understood as few studies have been undertaken at airports and other points of entry to determine its scope.
- In a Paris airport study, 134 passengers arriving from Africa were searched over a period of 17 days; nine were found to be carrying a total of 188 kilograms (414 pounds) of bushmeat. A more recent study of bushmeat arriving from Africa at two Swiss airports found that one third of meat seized was from threatened CITES species including pangolins, small carnivores and primates.
- Based on what evidence there is of the trade, some appears to be organized for profit, with traffickers transporting suitcases full of bushmeat to sell on the black market. Africans who reside in Europe also sometimes bring back bushmeat from Africa as a “taste of home,” potentially contributing to the risk of spreading diseases that may be found in the meat.
- Researchers are urging that DNA analysis tools be used more widely to learn what species are being transported as bushmeat into Europe, and to bring about more prosecutions of bushmeat traffickers who are dealing in endangered species. But with customs officials already stretched, and bushmeat a low priority, the technology is rarely utilized at present.


Catching up to the Ruby Seadragon: new species raises new questions by Jacqueline Hernandez [03/20/2017]
- The ruby seadragon (Phyllopteryx dewysea) avoided scientific detection for so long due to its deepwater habitat and the fact that bodies changed color after they perished.
- The discovery has raised new questions about the evolution of seadragons.
- Researchers don’t know how threatened the ruby seadragon is, but have petitioned the government for proactive protections.


Denmark prohibits companies from selling Myanmar teak on European Union markets by Mike Gaworecki [03/20/2017]
- The ruling comes after evidence that Danish timber company Keflico had violated the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) was brought to light by the Environmental Investigation Agency, a London-based NGO.
- According to a statement issued by Denmark’s Environmental Protection Agency, audits were carried out at seven Danish companies that had imported teak from Myanmar in the last four years.
- The results of the audits showed that authorities in Myanmar had not provided adequate documentation of where the timber for any given purchase came from and whether or not it was legally harvested, thereby making it virtually impossible for Danish companies to avoid importing illegal wood.


World’s biggest indigenous peoples alliance to choose new leader today in Indonesia by Philip Jacobson [03/19/2017]
- The main candidates to replace Abdon Nababan appear to be his three deputies: Rukka Sombolinggi, Mina Susana Setra and Arifin "Monang" Saleh.
- The alliance's national council has yet to release an official list of the candidates.
- The proceedings could stretch late into the night.


Indonesia’s indigenous peoples will have to keep waiting for a promised task force on their rights by Philip Jacobson [03/18/2017]
- President Joko Widodo's administration announced some new initiatives at this week's indigenous peoples congress in Sumatra, but not the task force on their rights participants had been hoping for.
- The president's chief of staff said it was more efficient for the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to address the matter directly.
- Attention now turns to who will be selected to lead the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago for the next five years. A decision will be made on Sunday.


Saving orphaned baby rhinos in India by Shreya Dasgupta [03/17/2017]
- The Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation, near Kaziranga National Park in Assam State, is currently home to nine greater one-horned rhino calves, including eight orphaned in monsoon floods last year.
- Carers at the center hand raise these young rhinos with the aim of reintroducing them to the wild when they are old enough to fend for themselves.
- Since 2002, the center has raised and released 14 rhino calves, along with young from other species including elephants and wild buffalo.
- Raising these vulnerable animals requires years of painstaking effort.


Climate change key suspect in the case of India’s vanishing groundwater by Kayla Walsh [03/17/2017]
- Since the Green Revolution, Indian farmers have depended on groundwater to grow enough crops to feed the country’s 1.3 billion people, but groundwater is vanishing in many parts of the country.
- The combination of overpumping and climate change – resulting in weaker monsoons – has resulted in social disruption in many parts of India, including violent protests and suicides.
- India won’t be able to solve the problem with just water legislation: the country also needs to take a look at climate change as well.


Stepping on their paws: study explores recreation’s unfun impacts on wildlife by Maxine Chen [03/17/2017]
- In a meta study of 274 papers, researchers found that 59% of the time impacts on wildlife were negative.
- Reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates appear especially vulnerable to tourist impacts.
- More research is needed, especially in the developing world.


Despite population growth and management challenges, hope for forests in Ethiopia by Elias Meseret [03/17/2017]
- The country’s capital city of Addis Ababa, already home to about 3.4 million people, is expanding outward and impacting forestland in its periphery.
- A legacy of poor forest management has long plagued Ethiopia’s efforts to protect and manage indigenous tree species and the habitat in which they grow.
- Poverty is driving the exploitation of woodland resources such as eucalyptus, as the need for charcoal and firewood increases along with population growth.




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