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25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
48 files
Australia's Extinction Plan
5 Oct 2022 12:00 am
26 files
The Australian government has recently released the details of a ten-year plan to halt wildlife extinctions and protect critical habitats by setting “the strongest targets we’ve ever seen” according to the environment and water minister, Tanya Plibersek.The country has one of the highest rates of extinction in the world and a unique biodiversity that is at risk from many threats.~~Objectives include reducing the risk of extinction for priority species, preventing new extinctions of plants and animals and to have at least 30% of Australia's land mass in a protected and conserved status by 2032. The plan is structured around targets focusing on specific issues such as habitat protection, species recovery, invasive species and climate change. Unfortunately, the dedicated budget of $224.5 million falls short of the annual $1.69 billion researchers have estimated necessary for the recovery of Australia's threatened species.~~For your viewing pleasure we are showcasing a gallery with some of the 110 'priority species' on the recovery list.
Bad News for Birds
6 Jan 2021 12:00 am
42 files
The Trump administration on Tuesday finalised changes that weaken the government’s enforcement powers under a century-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act. If industry actions (or inactions) result in unintentional bird deaths there will be no enforcement.~~Federal wildlife officials have acknowledged the move could result in more deaths of birds that land in oil pits or collide with power lines or other structures. Industry sources kill an estimated 450 million to 1.1 billion birds annually, out of an overall 7.2 billion birds in North America, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and recent studies. Many companies have sought to reduce bird deaths in recent decades by working in cooperation with wildlife officials, but the incentive to participate in such efforts drops absent the threat of criminal liability.~~Many of the 1,027 species of birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act are experiencing population declines due to increased threats across the landscape. Of those 1,027 species, 92 bird species are listed as either threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. An additional 274 species are listed as Birds of Conservation Concern.
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
49 files
Captive Breeding
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
50 files
Cheetah Conservation Fund
11 Sep 2020 11:53 am
37 files
At the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia Laurie Marker is making a difference. Founded in 1990 to help rehabilitate orphaned or injured cheetahs, the site hosts thousands of visitors every year who learn about conservation. In addition, the organization has created a successful anti-poaching program where guard dogs are donated to local farmers. CCF’s renowned Livestock Guarding Dog Program has been highly effective at reducing predation rates and thereby reducing the inclination by farmers to trap or shoot cheetahs.
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
50 files
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
48 files
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
50 files
Earth Day
21 Apr 2021 12:00 am
9 files
Earth Day comes upon us each year and on the 22nd of April we recommit to positive change to support the environment and reduce our carbon footprint. With the dismal state of our planet, it's daunting to figure out where to start. A few of our resolutions include planting a bee-friendly garden and to keep the cat indoors to protect local songbirds. It's better to do something small than nothing at all and today is a good day to start, perhaps with sustainably-farmed, shade-grown morning brew and to reduce, reuse and recycle!
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
48 files
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
48 files
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
48 files
Flightless Parrot Back From the Brink
10 Mar 2021 12:00 am
55 files
They are the heaviest parrot in the world, the only ones who cannot fly and they have been pulled back from the brink of extinction! New Zealand's emerald green, nocturnal, critically endangered Kakapo parrots are increasing in numbers thanks to years of conservation efforts. With an average life expectancy of 90 years you would think there would be large population but their fertility rates could not keep up with introduced predators and habitat loss.~~With the work of scientists and dedicated volunteers from the New Zealand Department of Conservation the birds are increasing. Creating DNA profiles to prevent inbreeding, daily monitoring and feeding of chicks, radio transmitter monitoring of individuals and supplying supplementary nutrition has paid off. Since the birds breed infrequently an artificial insemination program has been established as well. In 1995 only 51 animals were alive. Currently, there are 208 Kakapo, a record-breaking number since the conservation work began over two decades ago.
Galapagos Debt-for-Nature Swap
10 May 2023 12:00 am
24 files
This week Ecuador announced a debt-for-nature swap with Credit Suisse, which will see the bank convert $1.6 billion in debt into a $656 million dollar 'Galapagos Bond' which will run until 2041. This bond will generate an estimated $323 million over 18 years for marine protection and conservation in the Galapagos Islands.~~The deal is a sign of the growing recognition of the value of nature. In recent years, there has been a growing movement to invest in nature-based solutions to address climate change and other environmental challenges. Belize, Barbados and Seychelles have similar swaps but Ecuador's is the largest to date.~This is seen as a win-win for both Ecuador and the environment. For Ecuador, the deal will reduce its debt burden and free up resources to invest in conservation. For the environment, the deal will help protect the Galapagos Islands, which are home to a unique and diverse array of wildlife. The Galapagos Islands are facing a number of threats, including climate change, overfishing, and pollution. The debt-for-nature swap will help Ecuador to address these threats and protect the islands for future generations.
Global Warming
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
47 files
Glowing Fish Invade Brazilian Streams
15 Mar 2022 12:00 am
5 files
A recent study published in the February 'Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment' reveals that fluorescent genetically engineered fish have escaped captivity and are now populating Brazil's waterways in direct competition with native species.~~"Fish genetically engineered to glow blue, green, or red under blacklight have been a big hit among aquarium lovers for years. But the fluorescent pet is not restricted to glass displays anymore. The red- and green-glowing versions, more vivid than normal zebrafish even in natural light, have escaped fish farms in southeastern Brazil and are multiplying in creeks in the Atlantic Forest, a new study shows. It is a rare example of a transgenic animal accidentally becoming established in nature, and a concern for biologists, who worry the exotic fish could threaten the local fauna in one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet.~~“This is serious,” says ecologist Jean Vitule at the Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba. Vitule, who was not part of the research, says the ecological impacts are unpredictable. He worries, for example, that the fluorescence-endowing genes from the escapees could end up being introduced in native fish with detrimental effects, perhaps making them more visible to predators. “It’s like a shot in the dark,” he says.~~The unwelcome visitors are well known to scientists who have used zebrafish (Danio rerio) for developmental and genetic studies for decades. Native to Southeast Asia, the match-size freshwater fish were engineered to glow for research purposes in the late 1990s by endowing them with genes from fluorescent jellyfish (for blue and green colors) and coral (for red)."- Science Magazine
Grey Wolves Protected
16 Feb 2022 12:00 am
35 files
On February 10th, 2022 a federal judge reversed a decision that removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list in the continental United States.~~In late 2020, the Trump administration removed gray wolves from the endangered list and stripped their legal protections, citing “the successful recovery of the gray wolf.” The decision was reversed by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White, who ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "failed to adequately analyze and consider the impacts of partial delisting and of historical range loss on the already-listed species.”~~When these protections were removed in 2020 wolf hunting spiked including in Montana. Hunters killed 24 Yellowstone gray wolves that roamed outside of their protected habitat inside the National Park, where 90 individuals remain. Wisconsin had to end its wolf hunting season early in Spring 2021 after 218 wolves were killed by hunters with dogs in less than 60 hours, far surpassing the state’s quota of 119.~~With the restoration of their protected status wolf populations should be able to continue their recovery.
Habitat Loss
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
50 files
Help for America's Endangered Species
28 Jun 2023 01:41 pm
15 files
In June of 2023 the Biden administration proposed new rules that would make it easier to protect wildlife from climate disruptions and other threats. The rules would make it harder to remove a species from the endangered list, restore protections for threatened species and eliminate a Trump-era policy that would have allowed regulators to factor in economic assessments when deciding whether a species warrants protection.~~The proposed rules are a reversal of Trump's policies, which weakened the Endangered Species Act. The Biden administration has said that it is committed to protecting wildlife and that these new provisions will help to ensure that the Endangered Species Act is effective in the face of climate change and other threats. The proposals are still in the early stages, and it is not yet clear when they will be finalized. However, they represent a significant step forward in the Biden administration's efforts to protect wildlife.
Horseshoe Crab Harvest
9 Nov 2022 01:02 pm
19 files
Today, November 10th, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will vote about lifting a ban on the harvest of female Horseshoe Crabs to be used as bait primarily for eels and whelks in Delaware Bay. Since this protection was established in 2013 the population of the Bay's female crabs has rebounded from an estimated 6 million to 11.2 million. With this increase in crab numbers there is a corresponding and important increase in crab eggs which are a vital food source for migrating shore birds including the endangered Red Knot.~~The crab spawning season coincides with the annual shorebird migration. These birds' long-distance migration which may begin in southern Argentina and end in their breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic is possible due to the crab eggs which enables them to regain weight en route. With Red Knot numbers at just 30% of their baseline rate the proposed take of 150,000 female crabs which lay 90,000 or more eggs per spawning season could impact their survival. Without enough eggs conservationists say that many of the birds will die on their way to the breeding grounds or if they make it will not have enough energy to breed.~~As outlined in a recent study the horseshoe crab harvest management has stabilized populations but progress to recovery is limited by impacts from fishing bycatch, collection and release of crabs for the biomedical industry where a 15% mortality rate is estimated and other issues such has habitat destruction.
Invasive Species
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
51 files
Over 200 new invasive species are recorded each year and it is estimated that all invasives carry a global cost of almost half a trillion dollars according to a new report published by IPBES.~~Invasive species - plants and animals introduced into a habitat where they thrive to the point of crowding out native species or decimating their populations by hunting the locals. Climate change is aiding in the expansion by these aliens along with global trade.~~Red Imported Fire Ants introduced from South America have painful bites that injure field workers, kill young birds and displace local wildlife. Cane toads that were first introduced to Florida in 1936 to control sugar cane pests now prey on native amphibians and are poisonous. Lionfish, supposedly aquarium escapees, alter the ecosystems they move into. Studies indicate that a single lionfish residing on a coral reef can reduce recruitment of native reef fish by 79%. Water Hyacinth outcompetes local plants while robbing water sources of critical oxygen.
Mega Marine Protection
10 Nov 2021 12:00 am
20 files
On November 2nd, 2021 at the UN Climate Change Summit (COP26), Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, and Costa Rica inaugurated a new environmental protection zone spanning the maritime territories of each country. According to its members, the Eastern Tropical Pacific Maritime Corridor (CMAR) will create fishing-free zones covering 500,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean in one of the world’s most important migratory routes for sea turtles, whales, sharks and rays.~~The expansion creates a “safe swimway” connecting Ecuadorian with Costa Rican waters where industrial fishing is banned in waters where important endangered migratory species, such as sharks, whales, turtles and manta rays travel. President Guillermo Lasso of Ecuador highlighted the increase in industrial fishing as an important catalyst for the agreement, noting the threat that overfishing poses to marine ecosystems
Mezcal's Popularity not Good for Bats
15 Oct 2020 12:00 am
7 files
Mezcal's popularity is trending upwards and this is bad news for Mexico's bats. This strong alcohol is made by distilling the sugars of the spiky desert Agave plant. The lesser long-nosed bat in particular depends upon the night-blooming plant's nectar as a food source. In turn, the plant depends upon the bat to pollinate the flowers. ~~With more and more agaves being harvested the gains made in rebuilding these endangered bat populations may be lost. Fortunately, organization such as Colectivo Sonora Silvestre are working on sustainability measures that will help both the bats and the mezcal industry to survive.~~Selective harvesting of the agaves where some mature flowering plants remain untouched is a promising plan. Even leaving 5% of a crop unharvested makes a difference to the feeding bats and in turn the mezcal producers earn the right to call their product bat-friendly with an accompanying label. We say cheers to the solution!
Orcas Protected
4 Aug 2021 12:00 am
14 files
Killer whales are not whales at all but are the largest dolphin species in the world. On Monday Orcas off of our California coast received some help from the federal government with the expansion their protected habitat to include the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. This endangered southern population has been hit by over-fishing of salmon which is 90% of their diet, ocean pollution and entanglement in discarded nets.
Our Plastic Problem
6 Jan 2020 12:00 am
44 files
Our planet is swamped with plastic. From tiny microplastics entering our diets to synthetic fishing debris entangling and killing wildlife we are swimming in this petroleum based product. Some is recycled, some is buried in landfills but more is washed into our oceans where wildlife mistake it for food which is fed to seabird chicks choking their digestive tracks; bags, bottles and other debris wash back onto beaches and seaturtles mistake floating plastic bags for delicious jellyfish - an error which is often fatal. What can we do? What can you do to reduce your use of plastic products? The planet and its occupants are counting on humans to come up with a solution....
Plastics in our Oceans
7 Apr 2021 05:08 pm
33 files
According to the IUCN, at least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year and make up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. The main sources of marine plastic are land-based, from urban and storm runoff, sewer overflows, beach visitors, inadequate waste disposal and management, industrial activities, construction and illegal dumping.~~What happens when marine animals are exposed to these synthetic materials? Mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish can be deadly for hungry sea turtles and entanglement in debris is always a risk. This gallery includes images of animals living with and sometimes suffering from the inflow of plastic trash into their habitat. Nudibranchs lay eggs on bottles, a tiny nautilus rides a piece of a potato chip bag in the ocean current and pilotfish shelter beneath floating trash to protect themselves from hunting seabirds.
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
50 files
Polar Bear Refuge
28 Jun 2022 12:00 am
6 files
With increasing global temperatures the ice platforms that Polar Bears rely upon to hunt are literally melting away. A new study, however, from Kristin Laidre (research scientist at the Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Lab, University of Washington) et al reveals a remote population of bears in southeast Greenland who have adapted to life at the base of a glacier. Discovery of this population suggests both that such environments might serve as refuge for polar bears and that conservation of this new population is essential. We have a handful of images from this remote region recently supplied by Theo Allofs and Jami Tarris.
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
50 files
Rescue and Rehabilitation
11 Sep 2020 11:39 am
35 files
25 Oct 2015 12:00 am
50 files
Say Goodbye to Biodiversity
27 Jan 2021 02:46 pm
12 files
A recent report released by the World Wildlife Federation for Nature relays some sobering news about the loss of planetary biodiversity. The global Living Planet Index shows an average 68% decrease in population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish between 1970 and 2016. These findings are supported by other studies including:~~ An annual winter count by the Xerces Society which recorded fewer than 2,000 monarch butterflies, a massive decline from the tens of thousands tallied in recent years and the millions that clustered in trees from Northern California’s Marin County to San Diego County in the south in the 1980s.~ ~Researchers with CONICET found fewer bee species have been recorded since the 1990s, raising concerns that rare species might be extinct. About 25% fewer species were found between 2006 and 2015, compared to records prior to the 1990s, according to a study published on Friday in the One Earth Journal. ~~Due to over fishing shark populations in the high seas have fallen by 71% since 1970, researchers report in Nature magazine. The main cause is overfishing, which has put three-quarters of these species at risk of extinction.~~Why is this happening? In the last half century our world has been transformed to feed and fuel our current lifestyles and population growth. There is a glimmer of light. As the report states: ... the models are all telling us the same thing: that we still have an opportunity to flatten, and reverse, the loss of nature if we take urgent and unprecedented conservation action and make transformational changes in the way we produce and consume food
Sea lion and the Mask
15 Dec 2020 09:57 am
3 files
As Ralph Pace descended into the cold waters of Monterey Bay off of the California coast he expected to spy sea lions amid the kelp forest. This time, however, the curious and playful animals had discovered a discarded N-95 mask and were captivated by this new toy. ~~"I knew it was only a matter of time before we saw the COVID single use effects on the ocean. I’m actually surprised it took this long with the amount of masks and gloves you see laying around. But the rains here seemed to have brought some of them below. Swimming today I found a group of sea lions taking turns playing with a mask." - Ralph~~Once the animals spotted Ralph diving nearby he proved to be much more interesting than the mask and as the sea lions were distracted the debris floated away on the currents.
Southern Sea
16 Jun 2021 12:00 am
30 files
Since National Geographic began making maps in 1915, it has recognized four oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic Oceans. Starting on June 8, World Oceans Day, it recognized the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica as the world’s fifth ocean. “The Southern Ocean has long been recognized by scientists, but because there was never agreement internationally, we never officially recognized it,” says National Geographic Society Geographer Alex Tait.~~What sort of creatures live in these freezing waters? More than you may expect - humpback whales, penguins, albatrosses (Saturday the 19th is World Albatross Day!), orcas and tiny marine invertebrates like krill thrive in this habitat.
State of the Rhino
29 Sep 2021 12:00 am
20 files
The International Rhino Foundation released their annual State of the Rhino report this month with some rare good news. The greater one-horned rhino population, which once numbered as low as 100 individuals in the early 1900s, has increased to more than 3,700. “The continued growth of the greater one-horned rhino population is encouraging and the result of tremendous collaboration between the governments of India and Nepal, local and international organizations and the local communities that value their rhinos and other wildlife as national treasures,” said Nina Fascione, executive director of IRF. “With ongoing combined efforts, we can expect to see continued growth of existing populations as well as the potential to introduce rhinos to additional habitats they once called home.”
Sumatran Orangutan Rescue
11 Sep 2020 11:15 am
10 files
There are only 13,000 Sumatran Orangutans left in the world mainly due to deforestation in their habitat as rainforest is burned and cut to make way for palm oil plantations. As logging forces the primates into smaller degraded rainforest parcels where nutrition is scarce the animals are forced into contact with local farmers in the primates' search for food.~~As a Patron of the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS), Suzi Eszterhas had the privilege of working with a team from the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) in Sumatra. The experience was an adventure to say the least - one that included death threats, some serious jungle tromping, and most of all, heart warming moments with an amazing team of brave men.~~The team was able to successfully evacuate a female orangutan from a degraded piece of rainforest on a remote part of the island and release her into the Gunung Leuser National Park where the habitat is still intact. The rescue process is a harrowing endeavor that includes frightening the animal up into a tree so they can shoot her with a tranquilizer dart. Once she's sedated they hoist her into a cage to transport overland to a safe location, wait for her to awake and watch her make her way into her new jungle home.
Upcycling Plastic
11 Sep 2020 11:48 am
17 files
Proyecto Titi in Columbia turns trash to treasure in an effort to protect their local endangered Tamarin Monkey population. The organization collects plastic bags for use in eco-mochilas (bags) - the bags are cleaned, cut and woven into totes and durable reusable shopping bags. This project has recycled million plastic bags and provides an income to the village living around the forest who rely less on forest resourced and more on earned money. Plastic bottles are used in a similar project which prevents litter while paying locals to collect the bottles. Bottles are chipped and remelted into fence posts which farmers and ranchers can use in place of young trees which saves the monkey's habitat.
Urchin Barrens
11 Sep 2020 11:44 am
20 files
With warming sea waters the small but voracious sea urchin has the chance to wipe out entire kelp forests in California which effects local economies and ecosystems. The eruption in 2013 of sea star wasting disease, which wiped out important urchin predators, resulted in a population explosion among small purple urchins. With warming waters these quarter-size animals have had a huge impact on the state's kelp forests which provide necessary wildlife habitat and consume carbon emissions.
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