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Raise-and-release program keeping Nepal’s gharials alive can be improved, study says
(July 3, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/07/raise-and-release-program-keeping-nepals-gharials-alive-can-be-improved-study-says/
- A new study has recommended ways to improve the success rate of a program that releases captive-raised gharial crocodiles into the wild in Nepal.
- The study looked at the growth of gharials released under the program going back 10 years, and identified the first two years in the wild as the most critical for the animals’ chances at surviving.
- It recommended timing the releases with periods when fish are more abundant in rivers, allowing the crocodiles to pack on weight while minimizing their energy expenditure.
- The study authors also call for addressing threats to the critically endangered species from dams, riverbed mining and fishing, and for closer cross-border conservation efforts between Nepal and India, where some of the released gharials have ended up.
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Return of the king? Pakistan moves to bring gharials from Nepal to its rivers
(July 2, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/07/return-of-the-king-pakistan-moves-to-bring-gharials-from-nepal-to-its-rivers/
- Pakistani officials have requested the transfer of hundreds of gharial crocodiles from Nepal in an effort to reintroduce a species last seen in Pakistan in 1985.
- Wildlife conservation officials in Nepal have confirmed communications on the issue, but say a decision hasn’t been made yet.
- A key obstacle to any future transfer is the concern that Pakistan may not have done enough to change the conditions that led to the gharial’s local extinction there.
- The slender-snouted crocodile once ranged west from Pakistan to Bangladesh in the east, but is now almost entirely restricted to India and Nepal, both of which run captive-breeding programs to boost the species’ population.
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Disappointment and a few wins, Indigenous leaders react to Nairobi biodiversity talks
(July 1, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/07/disappointment-and-a-few-wins-indigenous-leaders-react-to-nairobi-biodiversity-talks/
- Negotiation talks in Nairobi, Kenya, for the new global agreement to preserve and protect nature ended last week, but parties have not yet come to an agreement over the final draft – including proposals laid out by the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB).
- Disappointed by the progress made at the latest biodiversity meeting after two years of talks, Indigenous leaders and civil society organizations are urging parties to secure land rights, include monitoring components and strengthen the text’s language around their role in meeting biodiversity goals.
- The inclusion of gender equality and environmental defenders in the text, and their access to justice, is seen as a win for Indigenous people, women and environmental defenders. Some proposals by the IIFB are still held within the draft, though several areas are in square brackets.
- The final agreement is set to be adopted in Montreal in December, but at least one more round of negotiations is expected to take place before then. Dates are yet to be determined.
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U.N. Ocean Conference ends with promises. Is a sea change coming?
(July 1, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/07/u-n-ocean-conference-ends-with-promises-is-a-sea-change-coming/
- The second United Nations Oceans Conference took place from June 27 to July 1 in Lisbon, focusing on the protection of life under water, as dictated by U.N. Sustainable Development Goal No. 14.
- The conference was originally meant to have taken place in 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- While nations, NGOs and other entities made hundreds of conservation commitments, including pledges to expand marine protected areas, end destructive fishing practices, and fund conservation efforts, experts say there is still a lot of work to be done to protect our oceans.
- Coalitions of small-scale fishers and Indigenous peoples also voiced their concerns about being excluded from important conservation dialogues.
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Exploring the deep wildlife photography legacy of Bruce Kekule (commentary)
(July 1, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/07/a-deep-wildlife-photography-legacy-left-by-bruce-kekule-commentary/
- The conservation world has lost a top wildlife photographer—Lawrence “Bruce” Kekule—an American who had lived in Thailand since 1964.
- Beside documenting the rare creatures of his adopted home, Bruce also traveled abroad to favorite destinations like India: wherever he went, he raised awareness about the plight of endangered species via photography.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
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Data from droppings: Researchers draw up a genetic ID map for chimps
(July 1, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/07/data-from-droppings-researchers-draw-up-a-genetic-id-map-for-chimps/
- As part of a broader project studying the cultural and genetic diversity of chimpanzees across Africa, researchers have used fecal samples from 48 sites across the continent to create a genetic identity data set of chimpanzees across the species’ range.
- The data set supports the division of chimpanzees into the four currently recognized subspecies, as well as shedding light on historic gene flow between subspecies and between chimpanzees and bonobos.
- The data set can help conservationists determine the genetic origin of chimpanzees confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade and identify poaching hotspots, researchers say.
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In Sri Lanka, a waterbird flips the parenting paradigm on its head
(July 1, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/07/in-sri-lanka-a-waterbird-flips-the-parenting-paradigm-on-its-head/
- Pheasant-tailed jacanas practice a system of polyandry that sees each female maintain a “harem” of males, each tasked with looking after a clutch of eggs.
- That’s led to unusual parenting roles that see the males incubate the eggs and care for the young, and the females play the leading role in defending against attacks by predators.
- These behaviors have been documented for the first time in a study that looked at jacanas in the Anawilundawa Sanctuary in Sri Lanka, one of six Ramsar wetlands in the country.
- Researchers posit that the species evolved this system of polyandry to maximize the number of chicks that grow into adulthood, given the high mortality rate from predation in the open habitat of the wetlands.
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World Bank approves $200 million IFC loan for industrial agriculture in Brazil’s Cerrado
(July 1, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/07/world-bank-approves-200-million-ifc-loan-for-industrial-agriculture-in-brazils-cerrado/
- A $200 million loan was granted to Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC), an industrial soy and corn producer, for monoculture work in Brazil’s Cerrado, a grassland biome that has lost nearly 80% of its habitat cover.
- The loan was granted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a sister organization of the World Bank that’s tasked with private sector finance in developing countries.
- Corn, soy and cattle ranching have been connected to a long list of human rights violations, as well as the acceleration of deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.
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Indonesia to issue quota-based fisheries policy in July, sparking concerns
(July 1, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/07/indonesia-to-issue-quota-based-fisheries-policy-in-july-sparking-concerns/
- The Indonesian government will issue a decree that manages the country’s marine fisheries based on capture quotas, prompting concerns from experts that the new strategy may threaten the sustainability of fish stocks.
- Several marine observers note that more than half of fishing zones in Indonesia are already “fully exploited.”
- They also take issue with the small portion of the quota reportedly being allocated for traditional and small-scale fishers, warning of a widening income gap and social conflicts as a result.
- Indonesia’s wild capture fisheries employ around 2.7 million workers; the majority of Indonesian fishers are small-scale operators, with vessels smaller than 10 gross tonnage.
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Indigenous advocates sense a legal landmark as a guardian’s killing heads to trial
(June 30, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/indigenous-advocates-sense-a-legal-landmark-as-a-guardians-killing-heads-to-trial/
- For the first time in Brazil, the killing of an Indigenous land defender is expected to be tried before a federal jury — escalated to that level because of what prosecutors say was an aggression against the entire Guajajara Indigenous community and Indigenous culture.
- Paulo Paulino Guajajara, 26, was killed in an alleged ambush by illegal loggers in the Arariboia Indigenous Territory in November 2019; two people have been indicted to stand trial in the case.
- The impending trial stands out amid a general culture of impunity that has allowed violence against Indigenous individuals and the theft of their land — including the killings of more than 50 Guajajara individuals in the past 20 years — to go unpunished.
- It could also set an important legal precedent for trying those responsible for the recent killings of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous rights defender Bruno Pereira.
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‘Beenome’ project aims to boost bee conservation with genetic mapping
(June 30, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/beenome-project-aims-to-boost-bee-conservation-with-genetic-mapping/
- Scientists have announced a plan to map the genomes of at least 100 bee species, representing each of the major bee taxonomic groups in the U.S., to help them determine which bees are more vulnerable to climate change and pesticides.
- A recent study found that of 46 U.S. bumblebee species on record, most had been negatively affected by temperature change over the past 120 years, more so than by precipitation and floral resources.
- A recent court ruling in California allows insects to be covered by the state endangered species act, protecting four native bumblebee species and setting a precedent for similar insect protections in other states.
- At the individual level, you can help bees by cultivating bee habitats, avoiding pesticide use, and planting pollinator-friendly plants in your own yard.
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A conservation failure in Sumatra serves a cautionary tale for PES schemes
(June 30, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/a-conservation-failure-in-sumatra-serves-a-cautionary-tale-for-pes-schemes/
- A World Bank-funded conservation project in Indonesia led to higher rates of deforestation after the project ended, a new study shows, serving as a cautionary tale about the risks of failing to sustain such initiatives over a long enough time period.
- The payment for ecosystem services project was supposed to reward villages for halting deforestation and taking up sustainable livelihoods from 1996-2001.
- In the years after the project ended, however, participating villages that had received the payments lost up to 26% more forest cover from 2000-2016 than non-participating villages, the study shows.
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Andean eagles have managed to adapt to fragmenting habitats — for now
(June 30, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/andean-eagles-have-managed-to-adapt-to-fragmenting-habitats-for-now/
- A new study looked at black-and-chestnut eagles’ (Spizaetus isidori) ability to survive in fragmented forests in the Andean regions of Colombia and Argentina.
- Researchers found that the eagles were able to fly between fragmented forests on different mountain ranges and survive better than terrestrial predators
- However, juvenile eagles had higher mortality rates than their adult counterparts, suggesting that conservation efforts should be focused on ensuring young eagles survive into adulthood.
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Amazon rainforest activist under threat in Brazil plans to flee his home
(June 30, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/amazon-rainforest-activist-under-threat-in-brazil-plans-to-flee-his-home/
- Erasmo Theofilo, an agroecologist, founded a farmers’ cooperative in one of the most hostile corners of the Amazon to defend landless and poor rural workers and promote sustainable farming practices.
- He has been the target of death threats, ambushes and attempts on his life for his work in the municipality of Anapu, in Pará state, where U.S.-born nun Dorothy Stang was killed for her activism in 2005.
- Since President Jair Bolsonaro took office at the start of 2019, land conflicts and deforestation in the Amazon have surged, with a recent report showing that Pará is the most dangerous for land rights defenders.
- Theofilo told Mongabay he believes he will never be safe in Anapu again, even if the land conflicts are resolved, and is planning to leave for good with his family.
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A year before deep-sea mining could begin, calls for a moratorium build
(June 30, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/a-year-before-deep-sea-mining-could-begin-calls-for-a-moratorium-build/
- At the U.N. Ocean Conference taking place this week in Lisbon, momentum has been building in support of a moratorium on deep-sea mining, an activity projected to have far-reaching consequences for marine ecosystems, biodiversity, and global fisheries.
- The Pacific island nation of Palau launched an alliance of countries that support a moratorium, which Fiji and Samoa subsequently joined.
- A global network of parliamentarians has also banded together to support a moratorium and to look for a legal way to enforce it.
- As things stand, deep-sea mining could begin a year from now, with the International Seabed Authority, the body tasked with regulating the activity, drawing up the rules that would allow mining to commence.
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‘Fitbit for whales’ and other tagging tech help reshape wildlife conservation
(June 30, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/fitbit-for-whales-and-other-tagging-tech-help-reshape-wildlife-conservation/
- Tagging technology has since the 1960s helped conservationists and researchers keep track of a wide range of wildlife species.
- But tags and collars can often be intrusive or invasive, acting as a source of stress to the animal and sometimes even undermining its survival.
- In recent years, researchers have developed new tag designs aimed at minimizing any impact their work might have on animals, while also providing a richer array of data.
- These solutions range from DIY radio collars made with cat collars, to bespoke tags for dolphins and whales that incorporate Apple Watch-like biometric sensors.
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Parrots of the Caribbean: Birding tourism offers hope for threatened species
(June 29, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/parrots-of-the-caribbean-birding-tourism-offers-hope-for-threatened-species/
- Four species of parrots endemic to Caribbean islands in the Lesser Antilles — St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Dominica — are clinging to existence amid a volley of hurricanes and volcanic eruptions that have decimated their populations and habitats.
- Efforts by state agencies, NGOs, volunteers and entrepreneurs are trying to ensure that none of them slips into extinction.
- Ecotourism is seen by most people directly involved as being the best route forward for the parrots’ protection and for sustainable community development.
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Bamboo mamas and bikes help with Indonesian diplomacy
(June 29, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/bamboo-mamas-and-bikes-help-with-indonesian-diplomacy/
- Indonesian President Joko Widodo recently gifted visiting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese a bamboo bicycle during the latter’s first trip abroad since taking office.
- The publicity from the diplomatic gesture has shone a spotlight on bamboo, a versatile material once commonly used throughout Indonesia, but now largely sidelined by plastic and metal.
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High tech early warning system could curb next South African locust swarms
(June 29, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/high-tech-early-warning-system-could-curb-next-south-african-locust-swarms/
- The worst locust swarms in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province in 25 years (occurring in May 2022) is in the past. But the millions of eggs laid by the insects could hatch this September, the beginning of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Grassy farmland in the vast region was only just beginning to recover from a devastating six year drought which struck between 2015 – 2021, when the locust swarms arrived earlier this year.
- Farmers are now pinning their hopes on new software that will track newborn locusts in real time, enabling them to target and exterminate the insect pests before they take to the skies and reproduce.
- The software has been used in seven countries in the Horn of Africa and East Africa and is seen as a vital part of minimizing the size of swarms, which can become an annual disaster if they aren’t targeted immediately after birth. South Africa favors chemical pesticides over non-toxic biopesticides for locust control.
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As Jakarta chokes on toxic air, Indonesian government stalls on taking action
(June 29, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/as-jakarta-chokes-on-toxic-air-indonesian-government-stalls-on-taking-action/
- Jakarta’s air pollution has been worsening recently, with the Indonesian capital routinely ranked top of the list of the world’s most polluted major cities.
- Much of the pollution is generated outside the city, in the industrial estates and coal-fired power plants in neighboring provinces, but there’s been no effort by the national government to coordinate action on this transboundary pollution.
- Activists say the national government hasn’t done much at all to address the problem, instead opting to appeal against a court ruling ordering it to tackle the air pollution.
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Room to roam: Biologists and communities create corridors for jaguars in Mexico
(June 29, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/room-to-roam-biologists-and-communities-create-corridors-for-jaguars-in-mexico/
- A group of biologists is working with communities to improve habitat for jaguars, pumas, jaguarundis, ocelots and margays in forested areas of Guerrero, in southern Mexico.
- Three communities in Costa Grande de Guerrero joined the project and created corridor for jaguar conservation.
- Now they want to strengthen this conservation area so that the cats can thrive and so that communities can create sustainable development projects.
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Indigenous communities in Colombia’s Amazon move closer to self-governance
(June 29, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/indigenous-communities-in-colombias-amazon-move-closer-to-self-governance/
- Indigenous peoples in Colombia’s Amazonian departments of Amazonas, Guainía and Vaupés are a step closer to establishing themselves as Indigenous territorial entities (ITEs), following a Constitutional Court ruling forcing the government to register the applications of 14 such territories.
- With Indigenous peoples considered the best guardians of the forest, the creation of ITEs could be an enormous boost for both conservation and Indigenous culture in these territories that together span more than 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of almost entirely intact native forest.
- The 14 proposed ITEs are made up of some of the most culturally diverse parts of Colombia, representing 43 Indigenous peoples speaking 40 languages.
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WTO ban on ‘harmful’ subsidies won’t impact small-scale fishers, Indonesia says
(June 29, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/wto-ban-on-harmful-subsidies-wont-impact-small-scale-fishers-indonesia-says/
- Indonesia will continue subsidizing its small-scale fishers in the wake of a recent deal struck by members of the World Trade Organization to end “harmful” subsidies.
- The legally binding agreement prohibits WTO member states from giving subsidies that support the fishing of already-overfished stocks and curbs those that contribute to illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing at sea.
- Indonesian subsidies to fishers — in the form of insurance, fishing gear and fuel subsidies, among others — amount to $92 per fisher annually, much less than in the U.S. ($4,956), Japan ($8,385) or Canada ($31,800).
- Indonesia is the second-biggest marine capture producer, after China, harvesting 84.4 million metric tons of seafood in 2018.
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African court rules in favor of Indigenous land titles, reparations from the Kenyan government
(June 28, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/african-court-rules-in-favor-of-indigenous-land-titles-reparations-from-the-kenyan-govt/
- The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights has ruled that the Kenyan government must pay reparations for repeatedly evicting Indigenous Ogiek people from ancestral lands in the Mau Forest in western Kenya, ending a 13-year court battle. The state must also grant collective land titles to the Ogiek.
- The reparation judgment follows a 2017 court finding that the state violated seven articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights due to its evictions.
- Daniel Kobei, the executive director of the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP), says the Ogiek community is hoping that the government will comply with the court’s ruling.
- Rights groups such as the Minority Rights Group International (MRG) and a lawyer representing the Ogiek in court remain apprehensive over the Kenyan government’s intention to follow through with the court’s ruling.
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Experts fear end of vaquitas after green light for export of captive-bred totoaba fish
(June 28, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/experts-fear-end-of-vaquitas-after-green-light-for-export-of-captive-bred-totoaba-fish/
- After a 40-year prohibition, international wildlife trade regulator CITES has authorized the export of captive-bred totoaba fish from Mexico.
- Conservationists say they fear this decision will stimulate the illegal fishing of wild totoabas and that this will intensify the threats facing the critically endangered vaquita porpoise.
- Only around eight individual vaquitas remain alive; they regularly drown in nets set illegally for totoabas in the Upper Gulf of California, where the two species overlap.
- The swim bladders of totoabas are sold in Asian markets at exorbitant prices because of their value as status symbols and their supposed medicinal properties.
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Podcast: How marine conservation benefits from combining Indigenous knowledge and Western science
(June 28, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/podcast-how-marine-conservation-benefits-from-combining-indigenous-knowledge-and-western-science/
- On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we take a look at two stories that show the effectiveness of combining traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge and Western science for conservation and restoration initiatives.
- Our first guest today is Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan, an ethnobotanist at the University of Arizona. He tells us about eelgrass, an ancestral food of the Comcaac people in the state of Sonora in Mexico. Nabhan tells us why eelgrass is making a big comeback as a sustainable source of food for the Comcaac community and gaining international attention in the process.
- We also speak with Dr. Sara Iverson, a professor of biology at Canada’s Dalhousie University, about a research project called Apoqnmatulti’k that aims to better understand the movements of lobster, eel, and tomcod in two important ecosystems on Canada’s Atlantic coast. Iverson tells us why those study species were chosen by the Mi’kmaq people and why it’s so important that the project combines different ways of knowing, including Western science and traditional Indigenous knowledge.
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As Nepal’s tigers thrive, Indigenous knowledge may be key in preventing attacks
(June 28, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/as-nepals-tigers-thrive-indigenous-knowledge-may-be-key-in-preventing-attacks/
- As Nepal looks to be on track to double its tiger population this year from a 2010 baseline, its conservation success has had a high cost on forest-dependent communities.
- Incidents of human-tiger conflict have increased in line with the growing populations of both the big cats and people, as more people venture into national parks and their buffer zones in search of firewood and food.
- Some conservationists make the case that grassland management and other techniques long practiced Indigenous communities to avoid tiger attacks have been lost with the establishment of these parks where human activity is banned.
- They suggest current conservation management makes attacks more likely, and call for conservation officials to share information on tiger movements with local communities to minimize the likelihood of encounters.
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Planned coal plants fizzle as Japan ends financing in Indonesia, Bangladesh
(June 28, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/planned-coal-plants-fizzle-as-japan-ends-financing-in-indonesia-bangladesh/
- Two planned coal-fired power plants, one in Indonesia and the other in Bangladesh, have had their funding withdrawn by the Japanese government, as part of Tokyo’s decision to no longer bankroll coal projects in either country.
- Officials in both countries have already confirmed that neither project — a new installation in Bangladesh and an expansion of an existing plant in Indonesia — will be going ahead.
- For Indonesia in particular, the move also means the loss of the top three foreign funders of coal plants in the country, after similar decisions by China and South Korea; the three East Asian countries account for 95% of foreign funding of coal plants in Indonesia since 2013.
- Activists have welcomed Japan’s announcement, including communities living near the existing plant in Indonesia, who have reported health problems and loss of livelihoods as a result of pollution from the plant.
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Cameroon’s Nigerian refugees who degraded their camp are now vanguards of reforestation
(June 28, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/cameroons-nigerian-refugees-who-degraded-their-camp-are-now-vanguards-of-reforestation/
- Nigerian refugees and Cameroonian villagers are taking part in efforts to reforest the area around the Minawao refugee camp near the border between the two countries.
- The influx of the refugees, driven from their homes by the advance of the Islamist group Boko Haram, led to a surge in logging for fuelwood and timber, and also sparked conflict with the locals.
- A reforestation program supported by the UNHCR, French development NGO ADES and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), and carried out by refugees and locals, has to date planted more than 400,000 trees across 100 hectares (250 acres).
- Initially, government experts chose the trees to be planted based on their ability to grow quickly and survive in arid places, but since 2017, community members have been brought into the decision-making process as the project’s managers realized that a participatory approach could generate better results.
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Mongabay’s new-look Reforestation.app makes finding the right tree-planting project easier
(June 28, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/mongabays-new-look-reforestation-app-makes-finding-the-right-tree-planting-project-easier/
- Mongabay has launched an upgrade to Reforestation.app, our global directory of tree-planting projects, aimed at improving transparency in the sector.
- Reforestation.app is a free online tool for people to support reforestation by providing a means to identify projects that align with their interests and motivations.
- The update features an improved project search functionality, a step-by-step guide for filtering projects, and the ability to update and add new projects. 
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Mennonite colony builds bridge, clears forest in Bolivian protected areas
(June 27, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/mennonite-colony-builds-bridge-clears-forest-in-bolivian-protected-areas/
- In 2018, a Mennonite colony purchased 14,400 hectares (35,500 acres) of land in the Bolivian department of Santa Cruz. Colonists have since built a bridge and developed a network of roads, and are in the process of clearing vast swaths of forest.
- The construction of the bridge appears to have been done without authorization from the government, and without an environmental impact assessment.
- Portions of the property lie within two protected areas: Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area, and the Bañados de Izozogy el río Parapetí wetland of international importance.
- Members of a local Indigenous community voiced support for the clearing activities, saying that the new roads and bridge will help connect them to medical facilities. However, scientists and conservationists are concerned about the impact of deforestation on water sources, wildlife and isolated Indigenous groups.
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Swiss pledge to stop illegal gold imports from Brazil Indigenous reserves
(June 27, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/swiss-pledge-to-stop-illegal-gold-imports-from-brazil-indigenous-reserves/
- Switzerland imported 24.5 tonnes of gold in 2021, at least a fifth of which came from Brazilian Amazon states. Evidence indicates most of it is mined illegally on Indigenous lands. Illicit mining operations have resulted in major Amazon deforestation, widespread mercury poisoning and soaring violence.
- With the Brazilian government of Jair Bolsonaro unresponsive to the escalating crisis, an independent delegation of Indigenous people along with others travelled to Switzerland in May to plead with major gold refiners to end the importation of illicit Brazilian gold.
- This week, the refiners published a statement pledging to remove illegal gold mined within Brazilian Indigenous reserves from their supply chains. If the initiative is fully followed, experts say it could be a game changer that could undermine the, until now, lucrative illegal gold trade.
- Canada, the world’s biggest importer of gold from the Brazilian Amazon, has made no such agreement.
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Twenty years since a massive ivory seizure, what lessons were learned? (commentary)
(June 27, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/twenty-years-since-a-massive-ivory-seizure-what-lessons-were-learned-commentary/
- In late June 2002, a container ship docked in Singapore with a massive shipment of ivory, which was seized.
- It was the largest seizure of its kind since an international ban on the ivory trade had come into force in 1989, and the lessons learned from it would change the way the illegal wildlife trade was investigated and tackled.
- But it’s unfortunate that some of the biggest lessons from that event still have not been put into practice, a new op-ed argues.
- This article is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.
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In Brazil, an Indigenous land defender’s unsolved killing is the deadly norm
(June 27, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/in-brazil-an-indigenous-land-defenders-unsolved-killing-is-the-deadly-norm/
- Two years after the death of Indigenous land defender Ari Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau in Brazil’s Amazonian state of Rondônia, questions about who killed him and why remain unanswered.
- Perpetrators of crimes against environmental activists are rarely brought to justice in the country, with a government report showing zero convictions for the 35 people killed in incidents of rural violence in 2021 — about a third of them in Rondônia.
- Indigenous groups and environmental activists in Rondônia say they fear for their lives as the criminal gangs that covet the Amazon’s rich resources act with impunity in threatening defenders and invading protected lands.
- Activists and experts point to a combination of the government’s anti-Indigenous rhetoric and the undermining of environmental agencies as helping incite the current surge of invasions and violence against land defenders in Rondônia and the wider Brazilian Amazon.
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Home away from home: Researchers trial artificial nests for Lilian’s lovebirds
(June 27, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/home-away-from-home-researchers-trial-artificial-nests-for-lilians-lovebirds/
- Researchers and conservationists are experimenting with artificial nest boxes to provide a home for a threatened lovebird in Malawi whose preferred nesting sites — mopane trees — are being lost to logging.
- Lilian’s lovebird prefers nesting in the cavities found in mature mopane trees, and a year-long trial shows it hasn’t taken to the nest boxes as alternative breeding and roosting sites.
- Experts say they’ll continue refining their experiment, including setting up camera traps to better understand the bird’s behavior.
- Artificial nest boxes have been used with some degree of success for other bird species facing a similar loss of their natural nesting sites, including hornbills elsewhere in Southern Africa and in Southeast Asia.
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We’re winning with climate activism, ‘just not fast enough,’ says Goldman Prize winner Julien Vincent (commentary)
(June 24, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/were-winning-with-climate-activism-just-not-fast-enough-says-goldman-prize-winner-julien-vincent-commentary/
- 2022 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Julien Vincent shares his thoughts on the power of people to make change, even against the most entrenched of forces like climate change denialism.
- “From my vantage point in such a wealthy and privileged part of the world, I get frustrated by in-activism…But I remind myself that it’s in the interests of our opponents to keep the public in a state of apathy, confusion and disempowerment.”
- “There is one thing I want to impart more than anything: the power people have to create change is mind-blowing, and that power is our greatest asset,” he writes in a new op-ed.
- This article is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.
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Pumpkin toadlets can’t jump: The frog that gave up balance for size
(June 24, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/pumpkin-toadlets-cant-jump-the-frog-that-gave-up-balance-for-size/
- Pumpkin toadlets are very bad at jumping, often losing balance mid-air and crash landing awkwardly.
- Researchers have determined that this is due to the size of their inner ear canals, the area of the body that regulates balance and orientation: their semicircular ear canals are the smallest recorded in vertebrates.
- The toadlets live in the leaf litter of Brazil’s Atlantic forest, where being small enough to burrow is an advantage.
- But the frogs are so small that the balancing mechanisms in their ears can’t respond to quick movements, resulting in some ungraceful antics.
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Building a farmer-friendly future: Q&A with CROWDE’s Yohanes Sugihtonugroho
(June 23, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/building-a-farmer-friendly-future-qa-with-crowdes-yohanes-sugihtonugroho/
- Yohanes Sugihtonugroho founded the digital platform CROWDE in 2018 as a way to connect farmers in Indonesia with investors.
- Agriculture plays a major role in Indonesia’s economy, but farmers remain among the least empowered groups in society, Yohanes says, subjected to unfair trading practices by a system controlled by predatory middlemen.
- CROWDE provides farmers, especially younger ones, with access to capital, financial advice, and education in harvesting, pest control and market access.
- CROWDE says it has distributed more than $3.5 million to more than 20,000 farmers, ranchers and fishers across the country, helping boost their income by as much as 150%.
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Study: Marine governance in Indonesia pursues exploitation over sustainability
(June 23, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/study-marine-governance-in-indonesia-pursues-exploitation-over-sustainability/
- Marine spatial planning in Indonesia over the past 300 years has historically and systematically supported profit-oriented activities at the cost of the ocean ecosystem and coastal communities, a recent paper says.
- Researchers found that little had changed despite decades of attempts to reform marine governance to support more sustainable uses of sea resources in Indonesia.
- They also found that coastal communities, traditional and small-scale fishers had lost much of their control and influence over marine areas, while ruling elites at the national level gradually gained more of it.
- The fisheries sector has long been important to the food security of Indonesia, with most of the country’s more than 270 million inhabitants living in coastal areas.
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For Brazil communities along a mining railway, impacts outweigh any benefits
(June 23, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/for-brazil-communities-along-a-mining-railway-impacts-outweigh-any-benefits/
- In Brazil’s Maranhão the state, which has the lowest household income in Brazil, communities face the impacts of a railroad built and operated around the clock by mining company Vale.
- The Carajás Railroad runs 892 kilometers (554 miles) from the world’s largest open-pit iron ore mine to the port of Ponta da Madeira on Brazil’s Atlantic coast, contributing to Vale’s record $24 billion profit in 2021.
- Residents living near the railroad report a long history of health problems, structural damage to their houses, people hit by trains, deaths, and lack of dialogue with the company.
- With their grievances going ignored and their freedom of movement curtailed, these impoverished communities say they don’t see the benefits from the mining money.
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Indonesian palm oil audit a chance to clean up ‘very dirty’ industry
(June 23, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/indonesian-palm-oil-audit-a-chance-to-clean-up-very-dirty-industry/
- The Indonesian government plans to audit all palm oil companies operating in the country, in a bid to tackle an ongoing shortage and high prices of cooking oil.
- Experts attribute the crisis to the fact that the country’s palm oil industry is dominated by a small number of big companies.
- These companies have large concessions, in excess of the limit imposed by the government, allowing them to wield outsized power to dictate prices, policies and supplies.
- Analysts say the audit should address this land ownership issue, as well as other problems that plague the industry, such as lack of clear data and transparency.
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Dig, dump, repeat, then watch the forest grow: Q&A with mangrove restorer Keila Vazquez
(June 23, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/dig-dump-repeat-then-watch-the-forest-grow-qa-with-mangrove-restorer-keila-vazquez/
- Las Chelemeras is a group of 18 women in the Mexican port town of Chelem who, since 2010, have worked to restore and protect their local mangrove forests on the northern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula.
- To date, they have contributed to the reforestation of approximately 50 hectares (124 acres) of mangroves, accounting for half of Chelem’s forest cover.
- “We have learned that our work is not only a job or a paycheck, but a collaboration with the environment, and that gives us satisfaction,” says Keila Vazquez, a founding member of the group.
- In an interview with Mongabay, Vazquez talks about her work with Las Chelemeras, the challenges ahead for her community, and how the reforestation of their environment has impacted younger generations.
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Study shines light, and raises alarm, over online trade of West African birds
(June 23, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/study-shines-light-and-raises-alarm-over-online-trade-of-west-african-birds/
- Researchers conducted a study on the online trade of West African wild birds in an effort to fill knowledge gaps about the trafficking of species from this part of the world.
- The study found that 83 species of wild birds from West Africa were being traded online, including three species protected under the highly prohibitive CITES Appendix I, and that many potential buyers originated from South Asia and the Middle East.
- In general, very little is known about wild birds in West Africa, so it’s difficult to assess whether the trade in certain species is sustainable, the researchers say.
- The authors have also raised concerns about the spread of disease upon viewing images of multiple species of birds confined together in small enclosures.
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Book Review: ‘Slaves for Peanuts’ gets to the troubling roots of a beloved snack
(June 23, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/book-review-slaves-for-peanuts-gets-to-the-troubling-roots-of-a-beloved-snack/
- Journalist Jori Lewis’s “Slaves for Peanuts: A Story of Conquest, Liberation, and a Crop That Changed History,” tells the stories of “people that history forgets and the present avoids.”
- The book sheds light on how the commercial trade in peanuts in Senegal was driven by European expansion and drew on unfree labor.
- The mutilation of Senegal’s lands resulting from peanut commerce foreshadows the damage that commercial monocultures continue to inflict today.
- “Slaves for Peanuts” is published by The New Press, a nonprofit, and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and bookshop.org.
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Climate change puts Bangladeshi farmers’ reliance on rice varieties to the test
(June 23, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/climate-change-puts-bangladeshi-farmers-reliance-on-rice-varieties-to-the-test/
- Bangladeshi farmers overwhelmingly cultivate rice using the BRRI-28 and BRRI-29 varieties developed by the government, despite the availability of more than 100 alternative varieties, some of them better suited to changing climatic patterns.
- Yields are declining for these two popular varieties as arable land becomes more saline, dry, or submerged due to extreme weather phenomena.
- Scientists behind the range of varieties blame the low popularity of the climate-resistant varieties on the failure by government agencies to produce and promote them to farmers.
- But officials refute this, saying they cater to what the farmers demand, which is the two dominant varieties.
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To win island-wide conservation, Indonesia’s Talaud bear cuscus needs to win hearts
(June 22, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/to-win-island-wide-conservation-indonesias-talaud-bear-cuscus-needs-to-win-hearts/
- The Talaud bear cuscus is a secretive species believed to inhabit only four islands in Indonesia.
- Listed as critically endangered, the animal has been driven to the brink of extinction by overhunting and habitat loss.
- Conservationists are working with local youths, traditional and religious leaders, and community members on Salibabu Island to change the perception of the species.
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In Costa Rica, unlicensed fishers and regulators unite over a common enemy
(June 22, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/in-costa-rica-unlicensed-fishers-and-regulators-unite-over-a-common-enemy/
- Artisanal fishers on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast have been operating in a legal gray area since 2005, when the government ordered a freeze on fishing licenses pending a study on fishing sustainability.
- Now, however, they’ve come back into favor, thanks to their efforts to tackle the explosive growth of an invasive species: the red lionfish.
- The lionfish has no natural predators in these waters, and its proliferation threatens commercially important species such as snapper, lobster and shrimp.
- Today, fishers’ associations are working with regulators on joint efforts to fight back the lionfish tide and compile fisheries data, in exchange for licenses.
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Kenyan hunter-gatherers forced to farm now face increased evictions from their forest
(June 22, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/kenyan-hunter-gatherers-forced-to-farm-now-face-eviction-from-their-forest/
- The Indigenous Sengwer people in Kenya’s Embobut Forest have gone through a drastic change in livelihood, from hunting-gathering to herding and commercial farming in the forest, leading to tensions with forestry officials.
- The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) says the practices are key drivers in the loss of 13,782 hectares (34,056 acres) of forest cover in the past 37 years, and has tightened its monitoring of the forest, leading to mass evictions and fines for those who choose to stay.
- The Embobut Forest is part of the Sengwer’s ancestral lands and was turned into a protected area in the 20th century, leading to a settlement ban; British colonial officials also forced hunting peoples to become farmers, giving the Sengwer little alternatives for land and livelihood, locals say.
- Other tribal groups and pastoralists are drawn to the forest by droughts elsewhere and commercial possibilities as the demand for meat grows.
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Nickel, Tesla and two decades of environmental activism: Q&A with leader Raphaël Mapou
(June 22, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/nickel-tesla-and-two-decades-of-environmental-activism-qa-with-leader-rapheal-mapou/
- Nickel mining in New Caledonia, a French overseas territory in the south Pacific, is receiving international attention after the electrical vehicle giant Tesla recently invested in its largest mine, Goro.
- The mine has been plagued by environmental and social issues for the last decade. It is related to five chemical spills and Indigenous Kanak struggles for sovereignty over its resources.
- Raphaël Mapou is a Kanak leader who established the environmental organization Rhéébù Nùù in 2002 as a means to address concerns about the effects of mining at Goro.
- In an interview with Mongabay, Mapou talks about the legacy of Rhéébù Nùù and if a change of ownership at Goro, combined with Tesla’s investment, can deliver positive outcomes for surrounding communities.
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All eyes on Tesla as it invests in a troubled nickel mine
(June 22, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/all-eyes-on-tesla-as-it-invests-in-a-troubled-nickel-mine/
- American manufacturing giant Tesla invested in New Caledonia’s Goro mine in 2021, raising local expectations that international scrutiny and the mine’s new owners could help the plant overcome past environmental mismanagement issues and social woes.
- Since 2010, there have been five recorded acid leaks at the Goro mine into nearby bays and reefs. The mine is also related to Indigenous Kanak struggles for sovereignty over its resources and violent protests in 2020.
- The mine was bought by Prony Resources, whose shares are largely owned by New Caledonian stakeholders, including local communities. Kanaks now see themselves as stakeholders and watchdogs in the mine’s production.
- Local organizations and researchers plan to keep a close eye on the environmental impacts of mining in New Caledonia, especially as Prony Resources proposes a new waste management process and China lays out its interests in the region.
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Winter sanctuary in Nepal proves a killing field for yellow-breasted buntings
(June 22, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/winter-sanctuary-in-nepal-proves-a-killing-field-for-yellow-breasted-buntings/
- Tens of thousands of yellow-breasted buntings are being killed and eaten in Nepal every winter, according to an ornithologist.
- The critically endangered species is already severely threatened in its range countries, where it’s also consumed as a delicacy, and now runs the same risks along its migratory route.
- The popularity of the bird’s meat stems from a myth that it warms the body in winter and has an aphrodisiac effect.
- Conservationists have called for a wide-scale community-based awareness campaign to dispel the myths related to the bird.
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Helping empower the next generation of environmental journalists at Nature’s frontline
(June 21, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/helping-empower-the-next-generation-of-environmental-journalists-at-natures-frontline/
- Mongabay is establishing a fellowship program for young and aspiring journalists from the world’s biodiversity hotspots.
- The Y. Eva Tan Conservation Reporting Fellowship Program will provide opportunities for journalists from tropical countries to report on critical environmental issues, gaining valuable training, experience, and credibility that will help them advance their careers in journalism and communications.
- We purposefully do not have any educational prerequisites to apply for the program. We believe that anyone has the potential to become a journalist and access to education should not be a barrier to opportunity.
- It is our hope that the fellowship will empower the next generation of environmental journalists to tell stories from Nature’s frontline.
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Mining company destroys Indigenous cemetery during expansion in Honduras
(June 21, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/mining-company-destroys-indigenous-cemetery-during-expansion-in-honduras/
- Indigenous residents living near the San Andres mine in western Honduras were devastated to learn that a centuries-old cemetery was dug up in the middle of the night, making it nearly impossible for some families to find their loved ones.
- The mass exhumations come after nearly a decade of community-level and legal battles between the Maya Chortí and Minerales de Occidente (Minosa), a subsidiary of Toronto-listed mining company Aura Minerals.
- The controversy highlights the fact that the national government hasn’t yet upheld its promise to close open-pit mining concessions.
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Beyond boundaries: Earth’s water cycle is being bent to breaking point
(June 21, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/beyond-boundaries-earths-water-cycle-is-being-bent-to-breaking-point/
- The hydrological cycle is a fundamental natural process for keeping Earth’s operating system intact. Humanity and civilization are intimately dependent on the water cycle, but we have manipulated it vastly and destructively, to suit our needs.
- We don’t yet know the full global implications of human modifications to the water cycle. We do know such changes could lead to huge shifts in Earth systems, threatening life as it exists. Researchers are asking where and how they can measure change to determine if the water cycle is being pushed to the breaking point.
- Recent research has indicated that modifications to aspects of the water cycle are now causing Earth system destabilization at a scale that modern civilization might not have ever faced. That is already playing out in extreme weather events and long-term slow-onset climate alterations, with repercussions we don’t yet understand.
- There are no easy or simple solutions. To increase our chances of remaining in a “safe living space,” we need to reverse damage to the global hydrological cycle with large-scale interventions, including reductions in water use, and reversals of deforestation, land degradation, soil erosion, air pollution and climate change.
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EU’s anti-deforestation bill leaves out critical ecosystems, study shows
(June 21, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/eus-anti-deforestation-bill-leaves-out-critical-ecosystems-study-shows/
- New regulation proposed by the European Commission aims to reduce the import of commodities that cause deforestation and forest degradation abroad.
- But according to a report commissioned by the EU Greens parliament members, the narrow definition of forest and deforestation in the revised legislation would not protect ecosystems in South America where EU demand for commodities such as soy and beef create high deforestation risk.
- Soy production is not only destroying native vegetation, but also threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of Indigenous peoples and traditional communities in the Cerrado and Chaco biomes, made of grasslands, savannas and dry forests stretching down the center of South America.
- Broadening the definition of forest to include other types of wooded land, or adopting a definition based on native vegetation rather than forest, would protect much more of the Cerrado and the Chaco, and be much more effective at tackling deforestation, the report says.
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In São Paulo, Indigenous Guarani unite over their reclaimed farming tradition
(June 21, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/in-sao-paulo-indigenous-guarani-unite-over-their-reclaimed-farming-tradition/
- At the southern end of the São Paulo city limits, a Guarani Indigenous community has reclaimed degraded land once used for eucalyptus monoculture.
- After collecting seeds from communities in other states and countries, the Guarani have more than 200 varieties of native plants, free of any genetic modification.
- The crops include nine types of corn, 15 types of sweet potato, four types of peanut, as well as fruits native to the Atlantic Rainforest.
- Guarani society is built around agriculture, and the recovery of these ancient planting traditions is bringing the community together in a way that wasn’t possible before.
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Giant stingray caught in Cambodia is world’s largest freshwater fish
(June 21, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/giant-stingray-caught-in-cambodia-is-worlds-largest-freshwater-fish/
- The largest freshwater fish ever recorded was captured last week in Cambodia’s stretch of the Mekong River: a giant freshwater stingray measuring 4 meters (13 feet) from snout to tail and weighing 300 kilograms (661 pounds).
- The discovery occurred in a stretch of the Mekong known for its diversity of freshwater habitats that support crucial fish-spawning grounds and migration corridors and provide refuges for other mega fish species and threatened species, such as Irrawaddy dolphins and giant softshell turtles.
- Local fishers collaborating with researchers to document the area’s underwater life alerted a monitoring team who measured the ray, fitted it with an acoustic tag to learn more about its behavior, and facilitated its release back into the wild.
- Experts say the find emphasizes what’s at stake in the Mekong, a river that’s facing a slew of development threats, including major hydropower dams that have altered the river’s natural flow. “It is a signal to us to protect our rivers and lakes,” they say.
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A tale of successes and new challenges in Senegal: Q&A with ICCA coordinator Salatou Sambou
(June 21, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/a-tales-of-successes-and-new-challenges-in-senegal-qa-with-icca-coordinator-salatou-sambou/
- The Kawawana conserved area (ICCA) was created by a group of Indigenous Jola fishers in Casamance. After almost ten years, they have succeeded in restoring an area where biodiversity had all but disappeared.
- Now that biodiversity and resources have recovered, life in the village has become more secure. The model’s success has also encouraged young people to return and to renew their commitment to its conservation.
- But the ICCA has also come up against many challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, state indifference to poachers and climate change, since Mongabay’s last reporting in 2018.
- Mongabay interviewed Salatou Sambou, ICCA coordinator involved in the Kawawana conserved area, about the recent successes and challenges the ICCA is facing.
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Indonesia’s Sangihe islanders score legal victory over mining company
(June 20, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/indonesias-sangihe-islanders-score-legal-victory-over-mining-company/
- Residents of Sangihe Island in Indonesia have won a lawsuit against a Canadian-backed company planning to mine gold on their island.
- In its ruling, the court in the city of Manado declared the environmental permit issued to miner PT Tambang Mas Sangihe (TMS) and ordered the local government to revoke it.
- The judges found that the permit was issued without following the proper procedures, and that the environmental impact analysis was inadequate.
- The victory comes a month after another court, in Jakarta, rejected a separate lawsuit by the villagers seeking to have TMS’s mining contract revoked; the court said the case was outside its jurisdiction.
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First gharial hatchlings spotted in nearly two decades in Nepal’s Karnali River
(June 20, 2022)
https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/first-gharial-hatchlings-spotted-in-nearly-two-decades-in-nepals-karnali-river/
- Twenty-eight gharial hatchlings have been spotted in a tributary of Nepal’s Karnali River, the first sign of successful nesting in this waterway in at least 16 years.
- The discovery by villagers living near Bardiya National Park came on June 15, two days before World Crocodile Day, and indicates the critically endangered species is on the road to recovery.
- Nepal is home to about 200 breeding gharials, and since 1978 has carried out conservation and breeding programs for the species.
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