Chinese turtle heist sends rare Philippine species to brink of extinction, international rescue underway
On Friday, June 19, Philippine authorities raided a warehouse on the island of Palawan and confiscated more than 4,000 live, illegally harvested rare turtles, only days before they were to be shipped to foreign food and pet markets. The massive haul included over 3,800 critically endangered Philippine forest turtles – animals in very poor health and showing signs of severe neglect from long captivity.
Video: camera traps highlight wildlife diversity of 'forgotten' park
Things appeared to be on the upswing in Cambodia's vast Virachey National Park in the early 2000s. Conservation groups were surveying the area and the World Bank had committed $5 million in funds. But then the Cambodia government handed out a mining exploration permit covering 90 percent of the park.
Indonesia's booming caged-bird trade is fueling trafficking and threatening extinction
Indonesia is a global hub for the wild bird trade, given its abundance of bird species and deep-seated tradition of bird-keeping. But while newspaper headlines regularly trumpet the most alarming examples of international smuggling, experts warn it’s the domestic pet trade that poses a bigger threat.
Video: Vet describes emotional toll of responding to brutal rhino poaching
In March 2012 poachers struck a South African game reserve. They drugged three rhinos and hacked off their horns, inflicting massive facial trauma to the immobile but unanesthetized animals. Wildlife veterinarian Will Fowlds attended to the victims.
On the fence about wildlife fencing: new paper outlines research needed to resolve debate
Fencing is used to protect wildlife against poaching and human encroachment, and also to protect people and livestock from wildlife. As a conservation strategy, it has proponents as well as detractors. A recent paper by a team of 45 international researchers in the Journal of Applied Ecology questions the wisdom of erecting wildlife fencing in dryland ecosystems. It also seeks to ease decision-making on fencing initiatives by setting a research agenda to answer open questions that will help resolve the debate.
Cat update: lion and African golden cat down, Iberian lynx up
A new update of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorized the West African population of lions—which is considered genetically distinct and separate from East and Central African lions—as Critically Endangered. Based largely on a paper in 2014, the researchers estimate that there are only 121-375 mature lions in West Africa today.
Study confirms what scientists have been saying for decades: the sixth mass extinction is real and caused by us
Humans are wiping species off the plant at a rate at least 100 times faster than historical levels, providing further evidence that we're in the midst of a sixth great extinction, concludes a new study based on 'extremely conservative' assumptions on past and current extinction rates.
Happy World Giraffe Day (Photos)
Families across the United States are today celebrating Father's Day. But this Sunday is extra special because it is also World Giraffe Day.
Today: watch rainforest wildlife live #rainforestlive
A number of conservation groups have partnered up to deliver a full day of rainforest wildlife viewing via social media.
Can we save the Sumatran rhino? Indonesia holds out hope
'One percent of the world's population,' veterinarian Zulfi Arsan says as he nods towards Bina, a 714-kilogram, 30-year-old female Sumatran rhinoceros leisurely crunching branches whole. A gentle and easygoing rhino, pink-hued Bina doesn't seem to mind the two-legged hominids snapping pictures and awing at her every move at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary.
Real-time monitoring: How timely location data can keep wildlife out of danger zones
Do you know where your study animals are? How fast have they travelled over the past day or week? How far are they from a river, or from a highway? Previously, wildlife biologists had to estimate the locations of their study subjects, using either triangulation from two or more receiver locations or identifiable landscape features on aerial photos or hand-drawn maps. With the advent of GPS technology, they can pinpoint the location of their subject to within a few meters, at any given time.
New campaign says 'tickling is torture' for slow lorises
Have you seen a video where a slow loris—a small, cute, big-eyed primate from Asian rainforests—gets tickled? Here's the real story of how that slow loris got there. It was stolen from the wild by poachers, who probably took it from its mother—after killing her. Then its teeth were torn out with pliers and without anesthetic, a procedure many stolen slow lorises don't survive.
What do China, Kenya and India have in common? Wildlife trafficking
When it comes to trafficking rhino, elephant, and tiger parts the biggest players are China, Kenya, India, Vietnam, South Africa and Thailand, according to a new paper in PNAS. Examining news media reports aggregated by HealthMap: Wildlife Trade, researchers were able to pinpoint the most important countries for exporting, moving and importing illegal wildlife parts worldwide.
Asiatic lion population rises by 27% in five years
A new survey last month put the number of wild Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) at 523 individuals, a rise of 27% from the previous survey in 2010. Once roaming across much of Central and Western Asia, Asiatic lions today are found in only one place: Gir Forest National Park and surrounding environs in western India.
The ivory trade and the war on wildlife (rangers) [commentary]
In this commentary, Fred Bercovitch, wildlife conservation biologist at Kyoto University, confronts the conservation community with an unconventional approach to stopping the ivory trade and illegal elephant killing. The views expressed are his own.
Catch a whiff? Device aims to reveal age, gender, and identity of endangered wolves from the scent of their poop
Wolves use their noses to track their quarry by its scent. Now a scientist is turning the tables, building a handheld device to study endangered Mexican gray wolves based on the odor of their scat.
Conservationists appeal to donors after mystery kills 134,252 saiga
The good news: conservationists believe that whatever killed off over a hundred thousand saiga in Kazakhstan in less than a month has abetted. The bad news: the final death tally is 134,252 saiga or around half the population of an animal already considered Critically Endangered. Given the dire situation, conservationists are now asking for emergency donations.
Passenger pigeon redo? Superabundant bird collapses across Eurasia
In 1914 the world's last passenger pigeon died. Nicknamed, Martha, she was not killed by hunters, but simply old age. With her passing, the passenger pigeon fell into extinction. A hundred years before Martha's death, however, the passenger pigeon may have been the most populous bird in the world with a population often estimated in the billions. Now, conservationists warn history may be repeating itself.
In Aceh, an illegal logger reformed
Mukhtar used to be an illegal logger. Now he coordinates community forest rangers in Indonesia's Aceh province. His job involves preventing dangerous human-elephant encounters and helping communities protect themselves from environmental offenders - like Mukhtar once was.
Tigers expanding? Conservationists discover big cats in Thai park
For the first time conservationists have confirmed Indochinese tigers in Thailand's Chaloem Ratanakosin National Park. In January, camera traps used by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Thailand's Department of National Parks took a photo of a tigress, confirming what had only been rumors. A couple months later the camera traps photographed a male tiger in the same park.
Student becomes first researcher to hold an Annamite striped rabbit
Almost nothing is known about the Annamite striped rabbit. First described in 1999, this beautifully-colored rabbit is found in Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos, but—rarely seen and little-studied—it's life history is a complete mystery. But Sarah Woodfin, a student at the University of East Anglia, got lucky when undertaking a three month research trip on the species. Really lucky.
The poachers' bill: at least 65,000 elephants in Tanzania
During the last couple years there have been persistent rumors and trickles of information that elephant poaching was running rampant in Tanzania as the government stood by and did little. Yesterday, the government finally confirmed the rumors: Tanzania's savanna elephant population has dropped from 109,051 animals in 2009 to just 43,330 last year—a plunge of 60% in just five years.
Zambia lifts hunting ban on big cats
Nine months after Zambia lifted its general trophy hunting ban—including on elephants—the country has now lifted its ban on hunting African lions and leopards. The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) lifted the ban after surveying its big cat populations and setting new regulations.
Elephants rejoice: China to end ivory trade
The Chinese government announced today that it will 'eventually' shut down its legal domestic ivory market. The move, which surprised conservationists, could provide a major boost in efforts to stop the mass killing of elephants for their ivory.
120,000 dead: half of the world's saiga die in less than a month
No one knows what's killing them, but scientists estimate that almost half of the world's saiga (Saiga tatarica) have perished since May 10th. To date, researchers on-the-ground unofficially estimate that 120,000 saiga have died in Kazakhstan from what appears to be a wildly virulent disease, although no cause has been ruled out.
Drone Herders: Tanzanian rangers and researchers use UAVs to protect elephants and crops
HEC, otherwise known as human elephant conflict, is a centuries-old problem responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of elephants. This ongoing battle between African farmers trying to grow crops and hungry elephants foraging for a meal, has motivated conservationists to find solutions for protecting the largest and one of the most intelligent land animals on the planet. Scientists’ most recent effort -- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), frisbee-sized remote controlled quad-helicopters -- may provide the answer that researchers have been looking for.
Up to 11 stunningly colorful chameleon species discovered in Madagascar
The panther chameleon, a lizard prized in the pet trade for its remarkable color changing abilities, may actually represent 11 different species, report researchers writing in the journal Molecular Ecology. Analyzing the genetics of more than 300 individual panther chameleons, Swiss and Malagasy researchers make a case that different color morphs of Furcifer pardalis may be distinct species.
Cash prizes offered for solutions to wildlife poaching crisis
A coalition has launched an initiative, the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge to spark and drive investment in innovative science and technology solutions to help reduce the damage caused by wildlife trafficking. The initiative is backed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, and TRAFFIC.
Mozambique loses almost 10,000 elephants in just five years
Mozambique has lost nearly half of its elephants to relentless, brutal, and highly-organized poaching in just five years, according to a new government survey. In 2010, the country was home to an estimated 20,000 pachyderms, today it houses just 10,300.
Nepal's rhino population rises by 72% in ten years
A new survey in Nepal counted 645 one-horned rhinos, up from 375 animals ten years ago and 534 animals in 2011. This represent a rise of 72 percent over the last ten years, an impressive feat given that the world's rhinos are facing a savage poaching crisis.