Proposed Trump policy threatens Critically Endangered Grauer’s gorilla

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Animals, Apes, Biodiversity, Bushmeat, Community Forestry, Community-based Conservation, Conflict, Conservation, Corporate Environmental Transgressors, Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Role In Conservation, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corruption, Drivers Of Deforestation, Ecology, Endangered Species, Environment, Environmental Crime, Environmental Law, Featured, Forests, Global Trade, Gold Mining, Gorillas, Great Apes, Illegal Mining, International Trade, Law, Law Enforcement, Mammals, Mining, Pet Trade, Primates, Protected Areas, Rainforest Mining, Rainforest People, Rainforests, Traditional Medicine, Tropical Forests, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.Chimanuka, a silverback Grauer’s gorilla, Kahuzi Biega National Park, highland sector. Photo by Stuart NixonMany people don’t realize when they boot up that the consumer electronics supply chain can stretch all the way to the Congo where violence is regularly being committed against human and wildlife communities by militias mining for conflict minerals. Photo courtesy of GRACE The largest great ape, Grauer’s gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) has nearly disappeared in the past two decades. Numbers have plummeted by 77 percent; perhaps 3,800 remain. This animal, dubbed “the forgotten gorilla” because it was so little studied and was absent from most zoos, is in serious danger of extinction.Their slaughter was precipitated by the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s bloody civil war and by mining for coltan and tin ore, “conflict minerals” used in cell phones, laptops and other electronics. Gorillas are heavily poached by armed militias, miners, and less often, by refugees: the animals are being eaten nearly to extinction.The gorillas could suffer greater harm from warlords and miners if President Trump signs a proposed presidential memorandum leaked to Reuters. It would allow US companies to buy conflict minerals freely without public disclosure, likely increasing mining in the Congo basin — and poaching.Trump’s plan would nullify the current US Conflict Mineral Rule, passed with bipartisan support in 2010 and enacted as part of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Dodd Frank Act. Meanwhile, conservationists are hopeful that the Grauer’s gorilla can be saved — but only with a DRC and planet-wide response. A recent study found that only about 3,800 Grauer’s gorillas remain, which led directly to the IUCN re-listing the subspecies as Critically Endangered at the end of 2016. Photo courtesy of GRACEFor weeks, the primatologists had followed a group of Grauer’s gorillas over rugged terrain — hacking through dense rainforest; following knife-edged ravines; and crossing a nearly impenetrable mountainous landscape in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).Stuart Nixon, Chryso Kaghoma and their Congolese field team tracked Gorilla beringei graueri using GPS. They collected data on where the animals nested each night, what they ate, and other habits. But the researchers kept their distance, trailing a day behind the primate family, so as not to influence the group’s behavior or normalize them to people.Or so the scientists thought. One day, while sitting quietly in the forest, Nixon heard the bushes move some 10 feet away. He looked up and into the blue-black face of a big silverback male. They made eye contact for a few very long seconds before the gorilla turned and ran off with the rest of his family back into the dense undergrowth.An orphan gorilla at the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center. the world’s only sanctuary for orphaned Grauer’s gorillas. Photo courtesy of GRACEIt was a rare sighting of a great ape that was once dubbed “the forgotten gorilla” because it was so little studied and was absent from most of the world’s zoos.In two decades — just one generation — numbers of Grauer’s gorillas have plummeted by 77 percent. Only about 3,800 remain in the wild, according to a major study published in 2016.The reasons: civil war and mining for “conflict minerals” including tin ore and coltan, both used in cell phones, laptops and other consumer electronics. The gorillas are heavily poached by armed militias, miners, and to a lesser degree, refugees, and they are being eaten to near-extinction.“Illegal hunting for bushmeat is the biggest threat,” says Liz Williamson, a researcher at Scotland’s University of Stirling and a member of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group.Proposed Trump policy threatens great apeBoth Grauer’s gorillas and local communities could be placed in even greater danger from warlords, militias and miners if President Donald Trump signs a draft presidential memorandum leaked to Reuters in early February.A female Grauer’s gorilla protecting her infant. Photo by Damien Caillaud/Dian Fossey Gorilla FundThe new policy would allow US companies to buy conflict minerals freely — including gold, tin, tantalum, coltan and tungsten — without public disclosure. It would likely increase mining activities in the Congo basin, bringing in more workers that will hunt bushmeat to survive.Trump’s memorandum would nullify the Conflict Mineral Rule for two years. The rule was passed with bipartisan support from Congress in 2010 as part of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Dodd Frank Act. At the time, it was opposed by business interests, while human rights groups and environmentalists supported it.The regulation as it currently exists requires companies to disclose conflict minerals that come from the DRC or an adjoining country. When it was passed, then-SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro said, “In adopting this statute, Congress expressed its hope that the reporting requirements of the securities laws will help to curb the violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.”The Trump memorandum’s reasoning for the proposed rule suspension is that it has led to “some job loss” in the past. The administration did not respond to requests for comment from Mongabay.African nations, however, immediately expressed concern: “This might ultimately lead to a generalized proliferation of terrorist groups, trans-boundary money laundering and illicit financial flows in the region,” the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) told Reuters. The ICGLR includes 12 African member states.Counting Grauer’s gorillasIn the 2016 survey — the largest ever conducted for Grauer’s gorillas — park staff, local people and scientists led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Fauna & Flora International combed 7,450 square kilometers (nearly 3,000 square miles) to count the animals in the eastern part of the Congo, the only place they live. Researchers then used statistical analysis and computer modeling to estimate population size.Their finding sparked international news coverage and a triage reaction from the conservation community.An orphaned graueri confiscated by the DRC government in the Maiko region in 2014. It died before it could be sent to the GRACE gorilla sanctuary. Photo by Stuart NixonWithin months, Grauer’s status was changed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to the red-alert last stage before extinction in the wild: Critically Endangered.Grauer’s joined three other gorilla subspecies on the IUCN list: the western lowland (G. g. gorilla) and Cross River gorillas (G. g. diehli), along with the other and far more famous eastern gorilla subspecies, the mountain gorilla (G. b. beringei), which attracts tourists from around the globe who come to see them in the Virunga Mountains.All gorillas are now Critically Endangered.“Most people have never heard of [Grauer’s gorillas], and [yet] they might be the first great ape to go extinct,” says Sonya Kahlenberg, who directs the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE), the world’s only sanctuary for orphaned Grauer’s gorillas.Catastrophic declineBack in 1994 when the Wildlife Conservation Society surveyed Grauer’s gorillas (in what was then Zaire), researchers estimated a population of 17,000.But then in April of 1994, the Hutu ethnic majority in neighboring Rwanda launched a murderous campaign against the Tutsi minority, a genocide that pushed some two million refugees across the border into Zaire and Uganda. Many took refuge in national parks and forests, and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and other militias set up operations there. Many survived on bushmeat, sparking what has become an ongoing gorilla “ecocide.”The DRC government distributed arms to local communities to fight back. Many people fled. Forests became a major casualty — illegally logged both for fuel and the timber market. Hunting was rampant because of a deadly combination of hungry people and readily-available guns. Rangers and other law enforcement were forced to abandon national parks and other protected lands. The forests turned into slaughter grounds.Tropical forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — the only country where Grauer’s gorillas live, and a nation with very large conflict mineral deposits. Photo courtesy of GRACEThe stocky Grauer’s gorilla became a popular target. They are easy to track, moving on the ground in groups, and the animals provides lots of meat per bullet: they’re the world’s largest primate, with an average male weighing in at about 400 pounds. The largest tower six-feet three inches and weigh 600 pounds.Conflict minerals stir the potBy the time the war was declared over in 2003, some 5.4 million people were dead. But conflict still reigns in the eastern DRC — the Grauer’s homeland — fueled by a quest for the region’s abundant minerals.Although the country has the world’s second lowest GDP, it’s considered to be the richest in natural resources, with mineral deposits worth at least $24 trillion, according to the nonprofit World Without Genocide. That includes an estimated $28 billion worth of gold and a vast supply of columbite-tantalite, or coltan, coveted for its use in electronics.Thousands of miners working in the eastern DRC dig for “conflict minerals” — coltan, tin ore, gold and other valuable minerals. They also are hunting Grauer’s gorillas to near-extinction. Here, Magloire Vyalengerera from Fauna and Flora International stands with artisanal gold miners in the Lubutu region. Photo by Stuart NixonMore than 1,000 mines operate in the DRC — most of them illegal. This is the entrance to an artisanal coltan mine in Oso, Maniema province. Photo by Stuart NixonExploitation of these riches has attracted hoards of artisanal miners, unscrupulous corporations, the military and corrupt government officials. Insecurity has flourished. But the greatest threat comes from more than 70 heavily armed militias, says Damien Caillaud, who is research director for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Grauer’s gorilla program in DRC and a professor at the University of California, Davis.Many of the militias control “conflict mineral” mines that have become the equivalent of fiefdoms, existing beyond government control, sometimes employing slave labor, and using profits to buy weapons and to support ongoing armed struggle.Miners now operate deep within DRC national parks as well as in unprotected forests — the places where some gorilla groups managed to survive the civil war, and some of the last areas where Grauer’s gorillas live. The Belgium-based International Peace Information Service has documented more than 1,000 mines in the region, nearly all of them illegal.The rogue miners present the greatest threat to Grauer’s ultimate survival.It is illegal under national and international law to kill, capture or trade in either live gorillas or their parts and products. But armed groups and miners are hunting the apes at an astonishing rate, and at the same time, laying waste to the land, reducing lush rainforest to polluted, muddy moonscapes.People, in close proximity to the great apes, also pose a pathogenic threat: gorillas are so closely related to homo sapiens that they are susceptible to human respiratory infections and other illnesses. The common cold can kill a gorilla.Illegal hunting for bushmeat is the greatest threat to the Grauer’s gorilla’s long-term survival. This bushmeat seller is en-route to market south of Kisangani with an endemic owl-faced guenon (Cercopithecus hamlyni), an endangered species. Photo by Stuart NixonGorillas snaredA US-based organization, Gorilla Doctors provides care, when possible, for gorillas stuck in snares. One hopeful note amidst the carnage: more Congolese veterinary students are training in great ape medicine than ever, a discipline requiring a specialized skill set nearly as complex as caring for a human.Killing one gorilla can have large collateral damage, ultimately causing the deaths of four or five others, says Caillaud, who explains why. Ninety percent of Grauer’s gorillas live in groups dominated by just one male, the silverback leader. Hunters generally target him, both because he’s the biggest, with the most meat, and because he’ll attack to protect his family. If he’s killed, the group disbands. No babies will be born until females find a new group to join. For those that already have a baby, it might not survive: a silverback may kill another male’s offspring, as lions do.Rescuing orphansThere was no place to care for young Grauer’s gorilla orphans that were seized by wildlife authorities until 2010. That’s when the GRACE sanctuary was founded in the DRC with the goal of raising orphaned gorillas and teaching them the skills they need to survive in the forest as a new family. The first four gorillas were airlifted to GRACE on a helicopter operated by the United Nations peacekeeping force in the DRC.Orphans require significant care and often suffer from a variety of psychological and physical trauma. In 2011, for example, a 17 month-old male was discovered in a village where he had been illegally offered for sale. He was too young to be weaned, but had been given no milk and was fed only cassava for months — which is not gorilla food. When “Lubutu” arrived at GRACE, he was severely malnourished, had lost much of his hair, and was weak and dehydrated. But he’s one of the lucky ones; he survived and is thriving.Veterinarians from Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Detroit Zoo help GRACE staff examine an orphaned gorilla. Photo courtesy of GRACEAt the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center, the goal is to reintroduce at least some of the gorillas back into the wild. Photo courtesy of GRACEToday, GRACE cares for 14 Grauer’s gorillas, ranging from a two year-old toddler to a 16 year-old adult. The apes live in forest habitat in a surrogate family group where the older gorillas take on mothering roles, carrying and protecting newcomers. Human contact is kept at a minimum.“Gorillas are social animals and we see orphans turn around quickly once they are reconnected with gorillas. They need each other as much as they need emergency care,” says Kahlenberg.One reason GRACE is so successful at saving orphans, she explains, is that the facility partners with some of the world’s best zoos, whose gorilla experts train and advise the all-Congolese sanctuary staff. Zoos are consulted via frequent Skype calls, and experts have made 63 separate trips to GRACE since 2010.Schoolchildren volunteer at the gorilla food farm as part of the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center. Photo courtesy of GRACEA key Fossey Gorilla Fund community project teaches small-scale farming to local families, helping them to grow crops that can provide protein and replace bushmeat. Photo by Urbain Ngobobo/Dian Fossey Gorilla FundThe region suffered some of the worst atrocities during the war, and almost everyone on the GRACE staff lost a family member during the conflict or after.But the local community wants to move forward and is strongly committed to conservation. GRACE recently started a farm to grow food for the gorillas, says Kahlenberg, and every week about 40 kids show up after school to help weed and care for the crops. “I get so much hope from the people here!” she says.With fewer gorillas now left in the wild, the sanctuary arrival rate is dropping. Last year, it received just one. The goal is to eventually reintroduce at least some gorillas to the wild, aiding isolated forest populations. GRACE has pinpointed one potential release site. But this is uncharted territory: nobody has ever sent captive Grauer’s gorillas back into the wild.Wild gorillas do accept changes to their family groupings, reveals Kahlenberg, “but we don’t know how much is group-learned. We don’t know how the [sanctuary-raised animals] will react around a wild silverback. There are so many question marks.”When “Lubutu” arrived at GRACE in 2011, he was severely malnourished, had lost much of his hair, and was weak and dehydrated. Photo by S. DemianLubutu, present day. Photo by A. Bernard/GRACEProtection and research: a risky businessDefending wildlife in the DRC is an extremely dangerous business. Access to these remote areas by law enforcement agencies, including national park service rangers or environment ministry personnel, is very difficult and risky. More than 200 park guards have been murdered over the last 20 years defending wildlife. The two most recent victims are Oscar Mianziro and Munganga Nzonga Jacques, who were ambushed in separate incidents by armed militias in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in 2016.Many of those who have lost their lives fighting to conserve gorillas, elephants and other animals, had large families of their own, with eight, nine, ten kids, says Stuart Nixon (who works now as the Africa Field program coordinator for the Chester Zoo, UK). Those murders not only impact the families, but also the tight knit village communities where the men lived. “It’s quite humbling,” says Nixon. “You don’t often see that kind of dedication in the West, let alone in the developing world.”Lawlessness and violence in the DRC has made it nearly impossible to study Grauer’s gorillas. As a result, much of what scientists “know” has been extrapolated from a half-century of research on mountain gorillas living in the nearby Virunga Mountains within the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.Bushmeat hunters with a locally fabricated shotgun, as seen in the Lubutu region of the DRC. Photo by Stuart NixonAn artisanal cassiterite mining site in the heart of the Congo rainforest. Photo by Urbain Ngobobo/Dian Fossey Gorilla FundG. b. graueri was named for Rudolf Grauer, an Austrian zoologist who worked in Africa at the turn of the 20th century. He was the first to recognize this great ape as a distinct subspecies. While these animals resemble their mountain gorilla relatives, their limbs are longer, they have shorter hair, and they live at lower altitudes, from 1,900 feet to 9,500 feet above sea level.This last distinction is important, notes Caillaud, because habitat significantly shapes behavior. That means that mountain gorilla research isn’t 100 percent relatable: the size and use of habitat, for example, can differ between lowland and upland gorilla subspecies. So does diet — researchers know that Grauer’s rely more heavily on fruits than their high-mountain dwelling cousins. These differences can sharply impact great ape social systems and habits.Despite the constant risk of violence, researchers including Andy Plumptre (a biologist with WCS), Williamson, Nixon and others have continued working in the DRC rainforests for years.Rare camera trap image of a low-altitude Grauer’s gorilla group. This group is protected by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund teams. Photo by Escobar Binyinyi/Dian Fossey Gorilla FundNixon contacted eminent field biologist George Schaller before a major trip to ask him about his research, field work that dated to 1959 — the first on-the-ground study of Grauer’s gorillas. Using the maps Schaller shared with him, Nixon located about 15 groups that were living in the exact same locations they’d been in more than a half-century before. “They were surrounded by thousands of square miles of forest, but they hadn’t expanded their range,” says Nixon. “We don’t know why.”Nixon’s 2005 study produced some disturbing results: “We were starting to realize that there were big areas where [Grauer’s had been] in the 1960s — and they were gone,” he says. New sub-populations that his team discovered that year were hunted out by 2010. “We had a feeling that the decline was catastrophic. But you have to think about what’s left,” he says.Those working to conserve Grauer’s gorillas — government officials, park guards, conservationists and local community members — came together in 2012 to draw up a Conservation Action Plan. It identified cooperative strategies to build sustainable community livelihoods, and defined roles and collaborations for constituents, including the underfunded Ministry of Environment and Congolese Wildlife Authority, tasked with protecting DRC wildlife.A Grauer’s gorilla silverback male and his three-year old son. Photo by Damien Caillaud/Dian Fossey Gorilla FundThe consortium realized the need to quantify the severity of the Grauer’s decline with a broad survey. From 2013 to 2015, huge teams, often numbering 10-15 people, roamed the rainforest on physically challenging expeditions. Many surviving gorilla groups live in nearly inaccessible places, some as much as 30 miles from the nearest village or drivable road. All gear and rations had to be carried in on people’s backs, and security was a constant concern.That exhaustive survey confirmed the continued, drastic decline of Grauer’s gorilla and led directly to the IUCN’s reclassification of the subspecies as Critically Endangered.Points of light “It’s possible that this terrible period is slowly coming to an end,” says Liz Williamson with surprising optimism. “In some places [national] park guards have regained control.”She points to one relative success in an area key to the gorillas’ survival: the highland sector of Kahuzi-Biega National Park, site of the first-ever gorilla tourism in the 1970s. Before the civil war, this area was home to about 270 Grauer’s, a population that was halved by the slaughter.Mukisi, a captive Grauer’s gorilla at the Chester Zoo UK, circa 1983. In the last two decades — just one generation — numbers of Grauer’s gorillas have plummeted by 77 percent. Photographer unknown, courtesy of Chester Zoo archiveAreas of the park that are now relatively stable have been secured through dedicated, cooperative efforts between the Congolese government; the country’s parks authority (ICCN); Fauna & Flora International, WCS and other nonprofits; park guards (working beside the military); along with local communities. Kahuzi-Biega has seen some level of protection since 2003, says Nixon. Today the population of G. b. graueri in one part of the park is back up to about 200 individuals.There is also hope for gorillas in remote regions such as Usala forest, at the heart of the eastern Congo’s 30,000 square kilometer (11,600 square mile) Maiko-Tayna region. Nixon’s team investigated anecdotal reports from Schaller and confirmed the Grauer’s presence in 2007. Since the area is very far from roads or settlements, there is a chance the great apes could survive here over the long term.“Despite all the pressure, this proves that with focus and targeted resources, these successes are possible,” Nixon says.The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has run a field station in the isolated heart of Grauer’s territory since 2012, in unprotected forest that lies between reserves. The facility’s Congolese staff patrols and collects gorilla data, and works closely with eight families who own vast tracts of land. Together, they are conserving gorillas and other wildlife. The families are poor villagers, not rich property owners, but they have chosen to control and reduce human activities on their land. As a result, wildlife is slowly increasing. “In just a few years, protection has had a detectable impact,” reports Caillaud.About 25 percent of Grauer’s gorilla habitat first mapped by George Schaller had been razed by 2008. But today, even though some populations are isolated, there is still plenty of rainforest left. Though conservationists note that with growing human population, that won’t be the case forever.So efforts are underway to protect key forest areas, with 2016 bringing a big success on that front. A new multiple-use protected area was created that benefits both wildlife and people — the Itombwe Natural Reserve, which stretches from lowlands to mountains and is one of the most biodiverse in Africa.Staff from GRACE and Gorilla Doctors, plus advisors from Disney’s Animal Kingdom transfer an anesthetized gorilla orphan to GRACE. Photo courtesy of GRACEPlant leaves and stems constitute the main food of Grauer’s gorillas. Hunting by humans for bushmeat is their gravest threat. Photo by Damien Caillaud/Dian Fossey Gorilla FundAn orphan gorilla at the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center. When hunters kill a mother gorilla, they often grab her infant, too, hoping to sell it to illegal wildlife traffickers. Few of the animals survive the trade. Photo courtesy of GRACEConsumer choices can help save gorillasFew people realize when they buy electronics that the supply chain for those items can stretch deep into African rainforests. Parts for these products may come from mines that are run by ruthless militias and can contain “blood coltan.”The insatiable international hunger for Playstations, laptops and cell phones — if not adequately regulated — contributes to insecurity, threatens the safety of local people and is killing gorillas and other animals. If the Trump administration’s presidential memorandum again allows US companies to buy conflict minerals freely, without public disclosure, the gorillas — and many communities — will face even greater danger as mines expand.“I’d hope this makes people think about the supply chain for this equipment,” says Williamson, commenting on the real cost of conflict minerals. It comes down to consumer choices: if people care about African communities and great apes, “they should pressure the manufacturers and find out if they’re getting materials from credible, legitimate sources, which is difficult in DRC.” Even when mining operations are legal, supply chains may rely on militia that act as middlemen, she warns.Conservationists note that consumers can help by upgrading electronics less frequently.The stakes are high: Few Grauer’s gorillas exist in captivity, Kahlenberg concludes. And if this great ape becomes extinct in the wild, it will be effectively lost forever. Article published by Glenn Schererlast_img read more

SpongeBob SquarePants and the ‘last frontier’ of the Philippines

first_imgArticle published by Isabel Esterman Activism, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Hotspots, Coral Reefs, Ecotourism, Environment, Islands, Marine Animals, Marine Conservation, Oceans, Tourism, Wildlife The 100-hectare resort, announced last month, is to be part of the Coral World Park, which bills itself as the ‘largest Marine Reserve and Coral Reef Conservation program in Asia.’Local environment activists say they have never heard of Coral World Park, or of conservation programs funded by its parent organization, the Dr. AB Moñozca Foundation.Palawan, a globally significant biodiversity hotspot, is already grappling with the social and environmental impacts of a rapidly growing tourism industry. Palawan, a slender archipelagic province whose furthest reaches lie more than 500 miles southwest of Manila, is famed as the “last frontier” of the Philippines. A hotspot of endemism and biodiversity in an extraordinarily biologically rich country, Palawan hosts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites and some of the Philippines’ last primary forests.Palawan and its outlying islands are also famed for their extraordinary beauty. Turquoise and emerald water laps against white, palm-fringed beaches, while dramatic limestone cliffs and craggy foothills cascade up to a lush and rugged interior. In recent years, these natural bounties have won Palawan accolades as the world’s “best” or “most beautiful” island from the likes of Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler magazines.Given Palawan’s ecological significance and its growing global fame, it should perhaps come as little surprise that the January announcement of plans to build a “Nickelodeon undersea attraction and resort” on Palawan’s Coron Island was met with both shock and outrage.Viacom, Nickelodeon’s parent company, announced it would be collaborating with Coral World Park Undersea Resorts Inc., “Asia’s first underwater resort developer,”  to build a 100-hectare (247-acre) undersea attraction and resort. Slated to open in 2020, the resort “will be inspired by some of Nickelodeon’s most iconic properties like SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Dora the Explorer,” the company said.The resort, it added, would advocate for ocean protection, while also featuring underwater restaurants and lounges and visits to a cluster of white-sand islands “[five] to 20 minutes apart by speedboat.”Within days, an online petition against the project gathered more than 200,000 signatures.  “For a channel that targets children, Nickelodeon is setting a terrible example to the younger generation by taking away their right to enjoy our natural resources. We don’t need an underwater theme park — our underwater life is fascinating, entertaining, and educational on its own,” the petition read.Limestone rock formations in Busuanga Island, Palawan, the Philippines. Photo by Matt Kieffer/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0Who is behind the project?For activists in Palawan and elsewhere in the Philippines — including petition-launcher Anna Oposa, co-founder of the NGO Save Philippine Seas — the Jan. 9 press release from Viacom was the first they heard of the project.Even officials said they were caught by surprise. Environment minister Gina Lopez told reporters she only heard about the project through the media. “I never officially got anything,” she said in a television interview. Meanwhile, in the days following the announcement, Palawan’s governor, and the mayor and tourism officer of Coron denied having been contacted by the developers.In the face of growing public outcry, the resort’s local developer Coral World Park (CWP) stepped in to clarify some of the details, and filed an official letter of intent on January 25.CWP also clarified that, contrary to activists’ worst fears, the underwater structures would not be built directly on coral reefs. Instead, CWP Marketing Director Susan Lee said the restaurants and lounges would be floating, “just like a glass bottom boat.” Nor would the park feature roller-coasters: it would be an underwater-themed park, not a theme park.A healthy reef with full of hard and colorful coral in Coron, Palawan. Photo by Steve De Neef/Greenpeace.However, the developers left numerous key questions unanswered. A master-plan for the Coral World Park – the larger, 400-hectare (988-acre) development in which the Nickelodeon resort will be situated – has not been released. On Jan. 27, Lee told Mongabay the master-plan would be published in “another two months.” The other companies involved in the project will be revealed “at the right time,” she said, adding that, for now, details about CWP’s collaboration with Viacom cannot be released due to “the confidentiality of the agreement.”Questions also remain about the Dr. AB Moñozca Foundation, which, according to promotional materials, founded CWP “to address the conservation of coral reefs and its marine life.” The foundation bills itself as “a European … based foundation and trust entity which supports various philanthropic initiatives.” Its Coral World Park initiative is described as “the largest Marine Reserve and Coral Reef Conservation program in Asia.”The foundation’s website provides little additional information about its marine-related philanthropy, nor are there media accounts detailing the foundation’s conservation programs. The Moñozca Foundation’s known projects include a proposed American Basketball Association-themed park and resort,  and an ill-fated trip to America by Filipino race-car drivers that eventually became known as “NASCAM.”A school of juvenile bigeye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus ) swims in the shallows of Dimakya Island, Palawan, Philippines. Photo by Steve De Neef/Greenpeace.“They claim to be the largest coral conservation organization in Asia, but no local organizations have heard of them,” said Oposa of Save Philippine Seas.The Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI), a coalition of 22 organizations working in the province, is also not familiar with the Moñozca Foundation’s conservation work. “Our network (PNNI) sits in the [Palawan Council for Sustainable Development], the highest policy-making and regulatory body for environment issues, and we have not heard of this project nor these conservationist,” PNNI head Bobby Chan said in an email.“With due respect to their claim, they have no known track record on marine conservation,” said Grizelda Mayo-Anda, the Palawan-based executive director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center. “For the last decade, we haven’t heard about them, so what marine conservation project are they talking about?”According to CWP’s Susan Lee, the company is “bound by confidentiality,” not to provide details about the Moñozca Foundation’s conservation programs in the Philippines or elsewhere. When asked about partner organizations or consulting scientists, Lee said they “will be announced soon.” On Feb. 21, Lee notified Mongabay that “our executives are overseas collaborating with a Florida based lab on Coral Reef Conservation initiatives,” but did not provide further details.Lee also stated that the foundation has acquired 16 islands under a “‘no development – coral reef conservation only’ program,” and has committed to supporting 18 marine park sites in Coron.  She provided a list of 10 existing Marine Protected Areas in Coron, (image) saying CWP is supporting them in coordination with the local government, but did not provide additional documentation.“I hope Nickelodeon and Viacom do due diligence,” Oposa said.When contacted about the project, Viacom’s press office referred queries to CWP.The entrance to the Puerto Princesa Underground River. The first 2.7 miles of the subterranean river are navigable by boat. Photo by Mike Gonzalez/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0Islands in transitionIn defense of the project, Lee notes that Coron Island, the proposed location for the resort, is situated firmly on the beaten path. “Contrary to some media reports, our area is already buzzing with tourism and not in pristine islands,” she said.Although this argument may somewhat undermine the CWP’s sales pitch — it promises a chance to experience “the most private place on earth” — it is no doubt true. The growing fame of Palawan and its outlying islands has brought with it an influx of domestic and international tourists. Visitor arrivals to the province skyrocketed from 14,249 in 1992 to more than 1 million in 2013. When the finally tally is in for 2016, visitor numbers are expected to reach 2.3 million.“The emergence of Palawan as a regional and global ecotourism destination has been a long time in the works,” said the University of Melbourne’s Wolfram Dressler, an expert on the politics of conservation and development. “Now, however, it’s just taken off and been catalyzed by a range of high-profile events.”Dressler pointed, in particular, to the increasing prominence of the Puerto Princesa Underground River, a five-mile-long stretch of the Cabayugan River that runs underground through a limestone cave. The river, and the park around it, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. In 2012, the park was also designated one of the “New7Wonders of Nature.”A young boy and his grandmother sit in their house in Relocation Golden Valley in Barangay Pagkakaisa outside of Puerto Princesa, Palawan in the Philippines. Despite the booming tourist economy, roughly 20 percent Palawan’s families live in poverty, according to government figures. Photo by Sanjit Das/Greenpeace.Initially, Dressler said, efforts to promote such sites were connected to conservation initiatives. When it became clear to local businesses and officials how quickly investment flowed into the sector, motivations shifted. “Nature was no longer drawing money for conservation purposes, but was being exploited for mass tourism development,” he said.This shift coincided with broader changes Philippine society throughout the 1990s. “The middle class in the Philippines, particularly in certain sections of urban areas, was also expanding,” he said. “With certain sections having more disposable income, and becoming increasingly aware that they could spend this on different experiences in nature, they, of course, were increasingly enticed to go to more exotic locales and spend their money there. And of course Palawan Island was one of the main hotspots.”As domestic tourism mushroomed, word trickled out regionally and eventually globally. Palawan, Dressler said, managed to tap into a modern, urban desire to experience nature as simultaneously exotic, pristine and easily accessed.This tourism explosion has brought enormous wealth to some sectors of Palawan – particularly people who already had access to land or capital that could be used to launch tourism projects — while others have been left behind.“Resort developers would apply for legal instruments covering forest land, while poor communities would not be able to compete,” said Mayo-Anda. This, she said, has created “competition, conflict between local communities and tourism proponents.” Although both Dressler and Mayo-Anda point to successful examples small, community-based eco-tourism projects, such efforts are overwhelmed by the surge of mass tourism and the projects that have sprung up to cater to it. “The usual players are the ones who are dominating the scene,” Mayo-Anda said.Dugong, pictured here in the Red Sea, are one of the many species whose habitats are threatened by the rapid development of coastal tourism in Palawan. Photo by Julien Willem/Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0Inevitably, the growth in tourism has brought with it a host of environmental problems. “The resorts are being built along the coast, so there will be impact on mangroves,” said Mayo-Anda. Palawan also faces a growing waste-management problem. “More people, more tourists, more waste,” she said.These problems are already threatening some of Palawan’s most celebrated species. “Most coastal areas and small islands are turtle nesting sites and dugong sea grasses areas. These are also the nesting sites of our Tabon bird, whose egg is bigger than the bird,” said Bobby Chan of PNNI.Even if CWP is sincerely committed to conserving Palawan’s marine environment, environmental advocates are skeptical about the utility of a large-scale coastal development project aimed at protecting the ocean. “You can commune with the wildlife just by going swimming,” says Mayo-Anda. “You don’t have to build a hotel room. It’s really out of place in a unique, rustic and biodiversity rich province and country. It doesn’t make sense.”FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Hong Kong Ivory traders encouraging buyers to smuggle ivory: TRAFFIC

first_imgExporting ivory bought in Hong Kong to mainland China would involve crossing an international border, which is illegal and in violation of CITES regulations.But 27 of the 74 traders that TRAFFIC surveyed encouraged buyers to take ivory out of Hong Kong without obtaining CITES permits.While some shopkeepers suggested hiding small ivory trinkets in bags and luggage, others offered more detailed strategies to conceal purchased ivory. Several licensed ivory dealers in Hong Kong are offering strategies for buyers to take ivory out of the city illegally, according to a new report by wildlife trade and monitoring group TRAFFIC.Members of TRAFFIC teams, posing as tourists, surveyed 131 legal ivory dealers in Hong Kong in August and December 2015. Most of these shops — which included antique galleries, gift and souvenir shops, and jewellery and specialty stores — are concentrated in areas that tend to attract tourists and antique buyers.Ivory jewelry. Photo by USFWS Mountain-Prairie, licensed under CC BY 2.0/Flickr.The team found that of the 74 (or 56 percent) licensed shops selling ivory, only 23 shops (or 31 percent) had their licenses displayed during the surveys. This is in violation of Hong Kong regulations, according to which all licensed ivory dealers must display their license in a conspicuous position on their premises.Moreover, when the team asked the shopkeepers if the ivory on display could be taken to mainland China, more than one-third of the traders (27 of the 74 traders) encouraged the buyers to smuggle ivory out of Hong Kong without obtaining the necessary permits. Exporting ivory bought in Hong Kong to mainland China would involve crossing an international border, which is illegal and in violation of CITES regulations. (CITES is short for Convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora, under which, international trade in elephant ivory is banned.)Some shopkeepers told the teams, for example, that small ivory trinkets for personal use could be easily hidden in bags and luggage. Others suggested more detailed strategies to conceal purchased ivory, such as offering to deliver the ivory products to Shenzhen in mainland China for a fee of HKD 10,000 (~$1,285).“Insufficient compliance by the city’s licensed traders highlights major shortcomings with Hong Kong’s current regulation of the local ivory trade,” Wilson Lau, a Programme Officer with TRAFFIC and a co-author of the report, said in a statement. “Clearly, the regulatory framework together with law enforcement efforts are proving insufficient deterrents, judging by how many ivory traders openly violate the rules.”African elephants in Kruger Park, South Africa. Photo by Rhett Butler.Hong Kong is one of the world’s major ivory trade hubs. Following the CITES ban on global ivory trade, Hong Kong prohibited the import and export of ivory, but allowed domestic trade in pre-1990 (or pre-ban) ivory to continue. However, advocacy groups have suggested that many traders use loopholes within Hong Kong’s laws to re-stock their “legal” ivory stockpiles with illegal ivory from recently poached elephants.In March this year, for example, a Hong Court convicted two men for illegally possessing and selling elephant ivory at their licensed outlet. Forensic analysis showed that the ivory in their market had been acquired after 1990. The men, however, received minimal fines of HKD 6,000 ($770) and HKD 8,000 ($1000) respectively, according to TRAFFIC.“Heavier penalties, which would raise the deterrence against would-be offenders and discourage criminal syndicates from using the city as a favoured smuggling channel, is urgently needed,” Cheryl Lo, Senior Wildlife Crime Officer, WWF Hong Kong, said in the statement. “The proposal to increase maximum penalties to 10 years’ imprisonment is significant and reasonable, and should be supported by legislators together with the local ivory trade ban.In December 2016, Hong Kong announced its three-step plan to phase out domestic ivory trade by the end of 2021. This includes banning the possession and sale of all ivory obtained before 1990. However, for the ban to be effective, monitoring and law enforcement activities need to be stepped up, the report says.“Experience teaches us that bans with commensurate investment and dedication to their effective implementation would deliver the best outcome,” said Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC’s Elephant and Rhino Program Leader.Worked ivory on display in Hong Kong. Photo by Warren R.M. Stuart / CC 2.0 Generic License. Animals, Conservation, Elephants, Environment, Environmental Crime, Ivory, Ivory Trade, Mammals, Trade, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Article published by Shreya Dasguptalast_img read more

New lichen database takes big picture approach to forest monitoring

first_imgArticle published by Rebecca Kessler Parmotrema perforatum. Photo by Jason Hollinger. Hypotrachyna virginica. Photo by Jason Hollinger. Studying lichens is one way that scientists track air pollution in forests.A new database from the U.S. Forest Service will gather existing lichen information into a powerful centralized tool that is freely available.Scientists will be able to use the database to study lichen biodiversity, air quality, pollution, and forest health. Cladonia transcendens. Photo by Jim Riley.The United States Forest Service is about to release a huge new database chronicling the abundance and diversity of lichens across the country.Why lichens? Because these amalgamations of fungi and algae or cyanobacteria — often found crusting over rocks and tree trunks or garlanding branches — are super sensitive indicators of air quality and climate change.Lichen tissues absorb air pollution like a sponge. Delicate lichens are among the first forest denizens to die as pollutants like excess nitrogen and sulfur blow into forests from agricultural fertilizers, burning coal, and other industrial sources. And lichens are also sensitive to small changes in temperature and water availability that are associated with global warming. They do for forests what canaries do for coalmines.“Lichens are such an easy thing to study and observe, and yet they can tell you what’s going on with the air,” Andrea Pipp, a botanist for the Montana Natural Heritage Program who helped collect the lichen data but is no longer affiliated with the project, told Mongabay. “And they can tell you before it kills the trees and before it hurts us.”Forest Service field crews surveyed lichen diversity and abundance at more than 6,000 sites between 1989 and 2012. Researchers have already analyzed chunks of the lichen data. They’ve used it to document nitrogen pollution in Yosemite and Sequoia national parks, for example. But nobody’s had access to all of the information at once.That will change when the whole dataset is released this summer as the National Forest Service Lichen Database. With a national dataset, researchers can look for broader trends and changes in the U.S. lichen community over time. Alectoria sarmentosa, aka witch’s hair lichen. Photo by Jason Hollinger. Sphaerophorus tuckermanii. Photo by Jason Hollinger. Ramalina menziesii aka lace lichen is California’s official state lichen. Photo by Jason Hollinger. Peltigera membranacea. Photo by Jim Riley. A map of all 6,156 lichen survey sites that will be included in the U.S. Forest Service’s forthcoming database and atlas. The gap in the middle represents areas that the Forest Service was not funded to survey, largely places with no forest. Map courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service. Coccocarpia palmicola. Photo by Jason Hollinger. Physcia stellaris. Photo by Jason Hollinger.center_img A map from the U.S. Forest Service’s forthcoming lichen atlas shows the range of one lichen species, Lobaria pulmonaria aka lungwort, across the United States. Map courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service. Platismatia stenophylla. Photo by Jason Hollinger. 123456789101112131415 read more

Plastic in the ocean smells like junk food to hungry anchovies

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Rhett Butler Environment, Fish, Microplastics, Oceans, Plastic, UCSC center_img Researchers created blends of algae- and bacteria-coated plastic, clean plastic, and plain seawater to test whether anchovies are drawn to the scent of plastic debris in the ocean.The odors of plastic pieces coated in algae or bacteria sparked vigorous feeding behavior in the fish.By eating plastics, anchovies and other baitfish could become toxic to the animals and people who rely on them for food. As plastic debris drifts through the ocean, it accumulates a coating of algae and bacteria. That coating smells delectable — that is, if you’re a fish.Northern anchovies (Engraulis mordax) find the scent of “biofouled” plastic irresistible, according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The silvery schooling fish detect the scent that marine algae and bacteria transfer onto bits of plastic, and launch into a flashing, darting feeding frenzy.Anchovies are an ecologically and economically important species of baitfish in temperate waters worldwide. In the northern Pacific Ocean, they are food for whales, tuna and humans, among many other species. But if anchovies fill up with plastic, their consumers may have to contend with a new kind of junk in their food.More than 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year and become part of marine food webs. Photo by Matthew Savoca.The paper’s lead author, Matthew Savoca, is a fellow at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Monterey, California, researching the effects of pollution and litter on the ocean and its resources. His study is one of the first to demonstrate the importance of scent to fish like anchovies. And it reveals one reason that marine animals might be drawn to plastic in the first place.“People try to make hypotheses about the color, shape and size of plastic pieces, but to me this [odor] hypothesis seems like one that was really important to test,” said ecologist Chelsea Rochman, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, who was not involved in this study.To determine if anchovies responded to plastics by smell, Savoca and his team created a strange collection of marine teas. They created different scented liquids by steeping biofouled plastic, clean plastic and krill. They released their brews, along with control samples of clean water, into schools of hundreds of anchovies, set up in tanks at the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco.When the anchovies smelled either their favorite food — small swarming crustaceans called krill — or Savoca’s smelly plastic tea, they responded dramatically. “They darted and dashed in various directions, which is indicative of the foraging behavior of these animals,” Savoca said in an interview. “These fish are just going bananas for the food and the plastic, really.” But when the fish smelled the clean plastic and plain water, they just kept swimming in their usual circles.Savoca realized this behavior might historically have been helpful to the fish. “When animals eat plastic, they’re not actually making a dumb decision,” he pointed out. “It might smell like food, look like food, taste like food. It will be really hard for them to learn to reject this stuff as ‘not food.’”One estimate from a 2015 study suggested that the rate of plastic entering the oceans worldwide in 2010 was roughly one dump truck load per minute. That added an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic to the ocean that year alone. Despite some efforts, plastic production and pollution isn’t slowing down.Northern anchovies are small silvery fish that swim in enormous schools in temperate waters and feed mainly on plankton, like krill. Photo by Matthew Savoca.Savoca and other researchers are starting to examine the effects on fish fooled into eating biofouled plastic — and the possible consequences for their predators, such as whales.Billions of people worldwide rely on seafood as their main protein source, Rochman noted, and their diet may be getting riskier. Plastics contain myriad harmful chemicals (with acronyms such as BPA and DEHP) that potentially move more easily into the bodies of fish through a coating of algae and bacteria. Humans, said Rochman, could start to find evidence of plastic-polluted water in their fillets and fish sticks.“We have to act now when we’re seeing relatively small amounts of plastic in the animals we’re eating,” said Savoca. “This could become a problem of human health concerns and not just animal health concerns.”CITATIONSavoca MS, Tyson CW, McGill M, Slager CJ. (2017) Odours from marine plastic debris induce food search behaviours in a forage fish. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 284: 20171000. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1000Vicky Stein (@AgentRedSquirrl) is a graduate student in the Science Communication Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Other Mongabay stories by UCSC students can be found here. last_img read more

Colombian investors push Pacific port project, threatening biodiversity hotspot

first_imgCoastal Ecosystems, Conflict, Economics, Environmental Politics, Infrastructure, International Trade, Mangroves Colombian President Iván Duque has pushed the construction of Tribugá Port in the Pacific department of Chocó as an economic priority for the country’s coffee-growing heartland, to increase exports to international markets.But the plan to build the port has provoked a fierce outcry from environmental and human rights activists, as well as local tourism operators, pushing 70 organizations to sign a declaration against its construction.Endangered species such as hammerhead sharks, nesting sea turtles and humpback whales visit the area on an annual basis to mate, raise their young, and migrate through. Emboldened by a right-wing president and congressional approval, a Colombian public-private partnership is working through a licensing process to build a deepwater “megaport” on the country’s northern Pacific coast.Arquimedes S.A., the shareholder group behind the project, aims to build the country’s second major port on the Pacific coast to accommodate supertankers, an industrial park and a free-trade zone near the Darién Gap, an undeveloped, roadless region encompassing one of the world’s 24 biodiversity hotspots, breeding grounds for humpback whales, and collective Afro-Colombian and indigenous territories.Since assuming office in 2018, President Iván Duque has pushed the construction of Tribugá Port in the Chocó department as an economic priority for the country’s central coffee-growing region, to increase exports to international markets. Duque’s 2018-2022 National Development Plan, approved by Congress, gave the green light for the construction of the deepwater port and connecting transportation infrastructure between the inland town of Las Ánimas and the coastal municipality of Nuquí, the site of the planned port.“The Tribugá Port is one of my obsessions when it comes to infrastructure matters,” Duque said at a town hall meeting in Chocó’s capital, Quibdó, two months after his August 2018 inauguration. “I believe that we must continue advancing, the port is viable as long as the Ánimas-Nuquí transportation corridor is improved … These two projects are decisive for the entire Coffee Region.”Construction of the megaport, estimated to cost more than $300 million, will not be paid for with public funds but rather through private investments permitted by government concession for “up to 40 years,” according to statements by the minister of transportation, Ángela María Orozco. The roadways, on the other hand, are scheduled for construction with public resources as part of a wider government initiative to connect the department of Arauca, on the border with Venezuela, to the northern Pacific coast.Aerial view of the Gulf of Tribugá. Image courtesy of MarVivaThe port project, however, still needs to be granted a permit by the National Authority of Environmental Licenses (ANLA) and a concession agreement by the National Infrastructure Agency (ANI); both regulatory agencies fall under the government’s executive branch.The Arquimedes shareholder group emerged in 2006 during the government of right-wing former president Álvaro Uribe. The group represents governors’ offices and chambers of commerce in Chocó and the departments that make up the coffee region, as well as private construction companies. The coffee region, known as Eje Cafetero, straddles the departments of Caldas, Quindío, and Risaralda, and is the country’s fourth-largest industrial and commercial center as well as a center of power for Uribe’s right-wing political party, Centro Democrático.Iván Marulanda, a senator from the opposition Green Alliance, representing the coffee-growing department of Risaralda, told Mongabay that discussions about Tribugá Port first arose decades ago, but regional political players are pressing Duque to realize the project.“I’ve known this Arquimedes group for many years. This is an old pitch that appeared decades ago, maybe 30 or 40 years ago,” Marulanda said. “Even though things have changed and there is a greater level of environmental consciousness than there was before, they still haven’t let go of the idea.”Marulanda said the deepwater port project did not make economic sense for the coffee region because the existing port in the city of Buenaventura, about 200 kilometers (120 miles) to the south, could be dredged to accommodate larger ships without causing nearly the same level of environmental impact as building a new port and roads through rainforest in the northern Pacific.Arquimedes S.A. did not respond to request by email for comment on the proposed Tribugá Port.Collective communities and foreign capitalChocó department is largely inhabited by collective indigenous territories and Afro-Colombian communities, who, under the country’s 1991 Constitution, have been granted the right to autonomy in land management, political governance and cultural self-determination.The department was one of several held by guerrillas during Colombia’s decades-long civil war, and today suffers the country’s highest rates of poverty and infant mortality. The construction of the new port therefore presents an opportunity for progress, says Carlos Felipe Mejía, a Centro Democrático senator from the neighboring department of Caldas.According to Arquimedes president William Naranjo, the shareholder group has courted foreign investment, particularly from China and the United States. There was reported interest from Chinese port-building company China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd., and a U.S. investor, but no confirmed foreign investment in the project yet.Threat of environmental, social impactsThe plan to build Tribugá Port in the heart of Chocó has provoked a fierce outcry from environmental and human rights activists, as well as local tourism operators, pushing 70 organizations to sign a declaration against its construction. The activists and community leaders say the port would cause irreparable destruction to coastal mangroves, tropical rainforest and marine ecosystems that serve as breeding grounds for humpback whales and sea turtles.The Costa Rican environmental nonprofit MarViva works with the Afro-Colombian communities in the Gulf of Tribugá and other parts of Nuquí municipality to build sustainable local economies in protected mangrove areas. In December 2014, Chocó’s environmental agency, Codechocó, declared 2,408 hectares (5,950 acres) of mangrove forest in the gulf as a regionally protected area with sustainable use.Artisanal fishermen cast nets near mangrove forest in Nuquí municipality. Image courtesy of MarViva.But Codechocó’s director, Teófilo Cuesta Costa, has signaled support for the port project, as well as the construction of access roads. “I think the project is viable, even though it is located in a regional protected area,” he told local media Semana Sostenible.Daniela Durán, MarViva’s local governance coordinator, said 900 hectares (2,220 acres) of Nuquí’s largest mangrove forests would be destroyed if Tribugá Port is built. She said the mangrove forests are important because they act as “natural barriers that help control natural disasters, prevent soil erosion, improve water quality, and sequester carbon that causes global warming.”“There is also a key economic component to mangrove forests. They serve as sanctuaries where commercial marine species are able to reproduce,” Durán said.Within the Gulf of Tribugá, MarViva identified 15 artisanal fishing grounds that local families rely on for food security. In addition, Durán pointed to the piangueras, typically women who provide sustenance for their families by collecting clams grown in the mangroves.Waterside village in Nuquí municipality. Image courtesy of MarViva.Local media outlet RCN Radio reported Arquimedes president Naranjo as saying the company is engaged in environmental studies, with a report expected to be filed with the environmental agency, ANLA, between March and May of next year.Colombia’s inspector general has called on ANLA to exercise the precautionary principle when considering the environmental impacts posed by the port project, including taking account of the endangered species — hammerhead sharks, nesting sea turtles and humpback whales — that use the area to mate, raise their young, or migrate through.The proposed port would occupy private and municipal land belonging to parties promoting the Arquimedes project. But its impact would be felt in nearby collective Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities: connecting the port to Colombia’s road network would require repairs and construction on five sections of roads, the majority crossing their territories.At a public forum in Bogotá to debate the proposed port, Harry Samir Mosquera, president of the Afro-Colombian community council at Los Riscales, said Tribugá Port would violate the local community’s right to autonomy. With the country’s long-running armed conflict finally over, he said, his fears of multinationals and private companies flooding into the territory are becoming a reality.About the reporter: Taran Volckhausen is Colorado-based freelance journalist who regularly reports on environmental issues in Colombia. You can find him on Twitter at @tvolckhausen. FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Willie Shubertcenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Snow leopard population overestimated in Nepal? DNA study suggests it may be

first_imgResearchers conducted a large-scale survey of potential snow leopard habitat in Nepal to re-estimate the species’ population density using the non-invasive technique of collecting environmental DNA from scat samples combined with standard genetic analyses.This method enabled the researchers to sample a larger, more representative, area than many previous studies, often conducted in prime leopard habitats; they also found that they could obtain reliable DNA from scat samples.Previous studies on which conservation policies have been based may have over-estimated the big cat’s population. The researchers say similar studies are needed to more accurately estimate the population of snow leopards in Nepal and 11 other range countries. In September 2014, Nepali zoologist Madhu Chetri asked his professor Morten Odden a strange question during their fieldwork. “Are you tired?” he asked Odden as the duo from the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences trekked the Annapurna region of Nepal, collecting scats of the elusive snow leopard for a DNA study. “Prof Odden asked me why I’d asked him such as question,” said Chetri, who recently completed his PhD. “I told him that there’s a rock in front of us, if you look behind it, you’ll find snow leopard scat.”Snow leopard at ease in its high-mountain habitat. Image credit: Madhu Chetri.Snow leopards (Panthera unica) are shy cats ‘believed to be’ (a phrase used to describe almost anything related to the animal) living at extreme altitudes in the steep mountainous areas of 12 countries in central and South Asia. Until recently, less than 2 percent of the animal’s geographic distribution has been sampled systematically, primarily in small survey areas.“I worked in an area known as an important snow leopard habitat for over a decade, but I saw the animal with my own eyes only three times,” Chetri told Mongabay. He had a hunch that because only a tiny fraction of the species’ range, often areas considered to be prime leopard habitat, has been sampled so far, the population of these cats may have been overestimated.The global snow leopard population is estimated to be between 4,678 and 8,745 individuals with an average density of 0.9–1.8 leopards per 100 square kilometers (2.3–4.7 per 100 square miles). In the case of Nepal, snow leopard densities estimated in different parts of the country using sign (scats and scrape marks) and radio telemetry data show higher densities than the global average.A 1989 study in Langu Valley, Dolpa reported a density of 5–10 snow leopards per 100 square kilometers (13–26 per 100 square miles), following a 1997 study in Manang, Annapurna Conservation Area that reported 4.8–6.7 snow leopards per 100 square kilometers (12.4–17.3 per 100 square miles). “These studies conducted on small areas have formed the bedrock of all future estimates of snow leopards and policies to conserve them,” Chetri said.Chetri wanted to buck this trend. In 2013, he was awarded a scholarship to carry out his PhD research on snow leopards at the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences. His aim was to conduct a large-scale survey of a potential snow leopard habitat in Nepal and to re-estimate their densities using the DNA found in the animal’s scat. Due to constraints of time and resources, he chose the ‘central block’ (4,393 square kilometers, or 1,696 square miles) of the snow leopard habitat in Nepal so that other researchers could build on his work and do the same for the eastern and western blocks.Researcher in the field at Manang within Annapurna Conservation Area at 4,000 meters elevation preparing a genetic sample of snow leopard DNA from a scat. Scat samples are tough to find, so the research team collected all carnivore scat samples (nearly 600) that could potentially belong to snow leopards during 490 kilometers (305 miles) of transect surveys. 182 of the samples in this study came from snow leopards. The team had the samples processed at an established laboratory. Image by Madhu Chetri.“I decided to use the DNA method mainly because of weather conditions in high altitude areas,” said Chetri, lead author of a recent paper in the Journal Global Ecology and Conservation. “Camera traps are hard to install at higher altitudes, as the batteries don’t function well in the cold,” he added. “Similarly, getting camera traps for a large-scale survey is costly.”Leopard scats can provide robust environmental DNAHigh-altitude areas tend to be dry, and this means that snow leopard scats remain preserved for a longer period of time. Also, having worked in the area for over a decade, Chetri knew where to go look for snow leopard scats.The study area he and his colleagues chose was the Annapurna-Manaslu landscape, the northern part of which adjoins the vast Tibetan Plateau. Most of the area falls within these two conservation areas. The team defined the study area borders by delineating a minimum convex polygon around all scat sampling transects except in the northern section, where they used the Nepal-China boundary.However, as the habitat of snow leopards lies above the tree line at elevations ranging from 3,000 to 6000 meters (9,843 to 19,685 feet), the researchers removed from the initial polygon areas considered too far above or below this elevation range, resulting in a survey area of 4,393 square kilometers, or 1,696 square miles.Part of the study area. The Annapurna range from above the city of Pokhara, Nepal. Phewa lake (below) and the peaks of Machapucharé, Annapurna III, Annapurna IV, Annapurna II and Lamjung Himal (from left to right) on the horizon. Snow leopards generally range above treeline (3,000-6,000 meters elevation). Image by Jean-Marie Hullot, via Wikimedia Commons. CC-BY-SA 3.0.The team collected 573 scats from 490 kilometers, or 305 miles, of transects within twenty-six 5 × 5-kilometer (3.1 x 3.1-mile) sized sampling grid cells of the survey area with 5–10 kilometers (3–6 miles) between grid cells. This, according to Chetri, covered about 15 percent of the total study area.“However, due to financial constraints, we used only 347 scat samples for our analysis,” he said. “We also collected scats on trails connecting the cells and along some trails that were beyond grid cell borders. We avoided placing grids on areas that were inaccessible due to high elevation or ruggedness.” They also avoided areas falling in and around large settlements and those with cultural restrictions.Big cats such as leopards and tigers use their scats to mark their territory, and the team did not want to alter the natural environment for their study. So they only took half of the scat as sample and left the other half where they found it.A typical snow leopard scat. This one must have eaten well. Snow leopards and other big cats mark territory with scat and urine, so the research team left at least half of each sample in place. Image by Madhu Chetri.A population overestimation?In September 2017, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)‘down-listed’ the snow leopard’s extinction risk categorization.“Thanks to new available data, the Snow Leopard has moved from the Endangered to Vulnerable category,” the IUCN reported before warning that “its population continues to decline and it still faces a high risk of extinction through habitat loss and degradation, declines in prey, competition with livestock, persecution, and poaching for illegal wildlife trade.” The change was prompted by new estimates that more than 4,000 wild snow leopards, and possibly more, existed across Asia, with as many as 2,000 possible in China.“The talk of this ‘down-listing’ had been going on for several years, and it was seen as inevitable,” said Chetri, who was further motivated by the development to finish his PhD research and determine whether surveying a large area would produce a more accurate population estimate than those based on surveys of known smaller areas of “prime habitat”.Processing the DNA in the 347 scat samples using six microsatellite markers specifically designed for snow leopard confirmed that 182 samples were from snow leopards. Eighty-one of these gave sufficiently reliable high-quality results to show they belonged to 34 distinct individuals.Chetri and his colleagues used maximum likelihood-based spatial capture-recapture analysis to develop models from the DNA analysis results to test the effects of various covariates on density and detection of scats on transects. They found that snow leopard density increased with elevation until a certain point, then began to decline. Detection of scat varied primarily with topography, and it was highest in dry river beds and ridge trails.The analysis showed that the average density estimate of snow leopards for the central block within Nepal was around 0.95 animals per 100 square kilometers (2.46 per 100 square miles), with predicted densities varying between 0.1 and 1.9 animals in different parts—this was much lower than the 5-10 individuals per 100 square kilometers (13 to 26 per 100 square miles) density suggested by previous studies.A curious and possibly suspicious female snow leopard approaches lead researcher Madhu Chetri and his camera. Their large home ranges are in inhospitable terrain, so snow leopards see few people. Image by Madhu Chetri.“Data from previous studies was extrapolated to say that that Nepal was home to around 300-400 individuals,” Chetri said. “But if my data from the central zone is to be extrapolated in a similar way, it would suggest that only 48 individuals roam the centre block, and only 140 animals live in the 12,815 square kilometers (4,948 square miles) of potential snow leopard habitat in Nepal.”“But we should not extrapolate in such a manner, as snow leopard densities are not same even within the centre block, let alone the whole distribution range in Nepal. That is why need similar studies for the two remaining blocks,” he added.He and his co-authors write that the results highlight the need for similar large-scale studies of the species in its 12 range countries. As range country governments prepare for PAWS (Population Assessment of the World’s Snow Leopards), which aims to produce a robust estimate of the threatened cat’s population status within the next four years, Chetri hopes that his findings will provide input for those involved in the count.Zoologist Hem Sagar Baral, who was part of the technical team that prepared the Nepal Snow Leopard Action Plan (2017-21) said Chetri’s study shines new light on the ecologically important species. “The study’s inputs will definitely help policy makers incorporate the new findings when they sit for a mid-term review of the action plan soon,” Baral added.Snow leopard passes a camera trap at Marjhong in Upper Mustang in 2014. Image by Madhu Chetri.After Chetri completed his PhD defense, it was Prof Oden’s turn to ask Chetri a strange question. “How did you know that day that there were two snow leopard scats lying next to the rock?” Chetri recollected quoting the professor.“I told him, ‘I worked in the field for a decade and this was the most crucial factor in the research,’” he said. “On the surface, this study looks like a year-long effort, but this was a result of a decade-long work I did on snow leopards.”CitationChetri, M., Odden, M., Sharma, K., Flagstad, Ø., &Wegge, P. (2019). Estimating snow leopard density using fecal DNA in a large landscape in north-central Nepal. Global Ecology and Conservation, 17, e00548.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Sue Palminteri Big Cats, Carnivores, DNA, Endangered Species, Genetics, Leopards, Monitoring, Mountains, Population, Protected Areas, Research, Snow Leopards, surveys, Technology, Wildtech center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

[BGL Ligue] US Mondorf : Arno Bonvini remplace Paulo Gomes

first_img Partager Paulo Gomes a annoncé mercredi soir sur les réseaux sociaux son départ de l’US Mondorf. Il est remplacé par un ancien de la maison, Arno Bonvini.Petit coup de tonnerre à Mondorf : confronté au fait que son comité ne souhaitait apparemment pas lui confier de nouveau les rênes de l’équipe pour la saison prochaine, le technicien Paulo Gomes a pris les devants et décidé de mettre de lui-même un terme à son contrat, rendant son tablier et en l’annonçant sur les réseaux sociaux. C’est Arno Bonvini qui reprend l’équipe, a fait savoir le club via un communiqué. Arno Bonvini a déjà dirigé l’US Mondorf d’avril 2013 à juin 2018 pour un total de 145 matches. Sous ses ordres, l’US Mondorf est montée en BGL Ligue en 2014 et a atteint la finale de la Coupe en 2016.LQlast_img read more

Le gardien du FC Porto Iker Casillas victime d’un infarctus

first_img Partager Selon la presse portugaise, Casillas a été opéré, avec la pose d’un cathéter, et cette intervention cardiaque met un terme anticipé à sa saison, alors que le FC Porto est actuellement deuxième du championnat du Portugal derrière Benfica et doit également disputer la finale de la Coupe du Portugal le 25 mai face au Sporting.Sportif de haut niveau à la belle longévité, l’ex-capitaine emblématique de l’équipe d’Espagne championne du monde en 2010 a récemment prolongé son contrat avec Porto jusqu’en 2020 avec une année supplémentaire en option, alors qu’il doit fêter ses 38 ans le 20 mai.L’ancien portier du Real Madrid, vainqueur de trois Ligues des champions avec son club formateur (2000, 2002, 2014), a récemment déclaré que le FC Porto lui avait fait part de sa volonté de le garder jusqu’à ses 40 ans.En couple avec la journaliste Sara Carbonero, Casillas est le père de deux garçons, Martin (5 ans) et Lucas (2 ans).Casillas a rejoint Porto en 2015 après 25 années passées au Real. Vainqueur du championnat du Portugal en 2018, il a récemment dépassé les 150 rencontres disputées avec les “Dragons”.Au cours de sa carrière, Casillas a notamment remporté la Coupe du monde en 2010 et a été sacré champion d’Europe à deux reprises (2008, 2012) avec la sélection espagnole.AFP L’ancien gardien du Real Madrid et de l’équipe d’Espagne Iker Casillas (37 ans), a été hospitalisé d’urgence après un infarctus survenu à l’entraînement mercredi mais son état est “stable” et le “problème cardiaque a été résolu”, a annoncé son club, le FC Porto.Iker Casillas, qui “a souffert d’un infarctus aigu pendant la séance d’entraînement” de mercredi matin, est actuellement hospitalisé, a écrit le club du nord du Portugal dans un communiqué.“Casillas va bien”, son état de santé est “stable” et “son problème cardiaque a été résolu”, peut-on lire, sans plus de précisions.last_img read more

[BGL Ligue] Le FCD03, aussi, décide de tout changer

first_imgMoyennement surprenant puisque le FCD03 s’était déjà posé la question, sur certains mercatos mais que l’arrivée d’Andrea Amodio en provenance de Pétange (ainsi que la signature d’un contrat de 3 ans pour Erkan Agovic, l’autre portier) donne corps à ce début de renouvellement qui ne s’arrêtera pas là.Dès cette fin de semaine, le comité devrait rencontrer certains «habitués», pour leur laisser la porte ouverte. Si l’on mesure cette volonté de changement au temps de jeu, il n’est pas exclu que des garçons formés au club comme André Rodrigues ou Pedro Ribeiro puissent obtenir un bon de sortie.“La vie continue”En soi, ce serait un sacré bouleversement pour un club qui a vécu de sa continuité depuis se remontée parmi l’élite. Sur ce point, le président Bei a fait taire ses sentiments : «Il faut un nouveau visage. On veut refaire ce qu’on a fait il y a tant d’années et pourquoi pas repartir sur un autre cycle de dix ans. Certains garçons sont avec nous depuis des années. Aujourd’hui, des chemins vont se séparer. C’est comme ça. Cela m’attriste, mais la vie continue. On va constituer un effectif bien ciblé, bien cadré, sans garder 25 joueurs non plus…»Le FCD03 a déjà signé Kevin D’Anzico (Käerjeng), mais aussi l’Ettelbruckois Edin Osmanovic… à l’essai à Francfort et qui pourrait encore lui échapper s’il convainc en Allemagne. Reste que quatre transferts supplémentaires devraient survenir, mais qu’à l’heure actuelle, le club s’attache surtout à faire de la place. Halili, arrivé cet hiver pour apporter son soutien au secteur offensif, ne sera pas prolongé, Oukache aussi sera libéré tandis que Couto Pinto et Muratovic seront rendus au F91 sans que le club cherche plus que cela à les retenir.Le dossier le plus épineux sera sans doute celui de Mickaël Garos. Differdange aimerait prolonger le prêt de son milieu de terrain, dans le cadre de la convention qu’il avait signée avec Dudelange. Le récupérateur français n’a pas encore donné sa réponse quant à ses intentions mais il semblerait que la tendance soit plutôt, chez lui, à vouloir s’offrir un nouveau projet. Cela sent quand même le changement de très très grande ampleur, au Parc des sports d’Oberkorn.Julien Mollereau Alors que le Fola a ouvert en grand les portes pour se débarrasser de ses plus hauts salaires, Differdange, un autre cador de DN, veut lui aussi tout rénover de fond en comble.La déception est encore là. Differdange, cinquième de DN, médaille en chocolat autour de cou, n’en a pas moins décidé de lancer la suite de sa reconstruction. Et autant la saison passée, le club avait respecté ce qui faisait son assise depuis une bonne décennie, c’est-à-dire une fidélité avérée à un vaste noyau dur de vieux fidèles, autant Fabrizio Bei et son staff s’apprêtent, cette saison, à ouvrir en grand les fenêtres, pour un monumental courant d’air.Jeudi, c’est ainsi Julien Weber, gardien de toutes les campagnes européennes marquantes du club, depuis dix ans, qui a appris, à 33 ans, que le club le libérait de sa dernière année de contrat. Partagerlast_img read more