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Raise-and-release program keeping Nepal’s gharials alive can be improved, study says (July 3, 2022)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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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