Ethiopia’s first botanic garden aims to preserve country’s flora heritage

first_imgForests Though frequently visited by dignitaries and international visitors, Gullele is still relatively unknown to local residents.The garden is home to 780 plant species endemic to Ethiopia.Gullele’s management hopes to collaborate with institutions of higher education to plant and research vegetation in their natural environments. ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – When Ethiopia’s first botanic garden was established six years ago, few Ethiopians knew of country’s flora heritage.But with agro-ecological zones ranging from 125 meters below sea level to about 5,000 meters above sea level, the country boasts one of the richest flora heritages in Africa according to Birhanu Belay, research department coordinator at Gullele Botanic Garden (GBG).The GBG is situated on 70 hectares of land along the northwest outskirts of Addis Ababa, a joint venture of Addis Ababa University (AAU) and the city of Addis Ababa. The garden is used for research, education, eco-tourism and conservation currently hosts 780 of the country’s estimated 6,500 plant species.According to Belay, the primary aim behind establishing the garden was to save plants that have economic value, are endemic, have medicinal value or are endangered.“Increasing population means expansion of agricultural land and shrinking forest coverage and establishing botanic gardens is one way to fight this challenge,” Belay said. He also noted that preserving native plants has an additional benefit of better soil conservation and health.Not a replacement for natural vegetationWhile Belay says GBG aims to be a hub for conservation, research, education and eco-tourism activity, he notes that it’s in no way a replacement for natural vegetation.“We’re not only engaged in collecting plants from various parts of Ethiopia but also planning to collaborate with higher educational institutions nearby on particular plant vegetation so that its grown and researched in its natural location,” he said.Birhanu Belay at GBG. Photo by Maheder Haileselassie Tadese.“The primary objective is to bring these various plants from different parts of the country to grow here and finally introduce back to its natural habitat.”GBG is already working with institutions of higher education including Bahir Dar, Adigrat and Haramaya universities to establish their own botanical gardens.What is a forest?GBG’s ultimate goal is to preserve Ethiopia’s botanic heritage and promote other domestic botanic gardens with an aim to also eventually boost the country’s forest cover.That raises questions about the country’s forest coverage.While the government touts its success at increasing the country’s forest coverage from about 3 percent two decades ago to 15 percent today, what’s considered as a forest remains a question mark. Belay for one thinks the forest cover of Ethiopia hasn’t increased per se, but the definition of forest has changed.That’s a view shared by Asaye Nigusie, a landscape and Geographical Information System (GIS) expert and consultant who’s collaborated with GBG since its inception.The Ministry of Forestry, Environment and Climate Change (MoFCC) is mapping forest coverage to improve the definition of forests to mean anything more than 2 meters (6.5 feet) high, so bamboo forests are included. In fact, with bamboo in the new category it represents 20 percent of tree coverage. The new definition has also meant that places planted with exotic species like Eucalyptus tree originally from Australia has been added to the list.The Gullele Botanic Garden. Photo by Maheder Haileselassie Tadese.This includes the hills of Entoto which overlook metro Addis Ababa, a city of nearly 5 million souls. Entoto was once covered with indigenous junipers (Juniperus) and Hagenia (Hagenia abbyssinica) decades ago with recent ongoing efforts trying to preserve the ecology with the controversial eucalyptus.“We need to be realistic with our objectives, eucalyptus is a fast-growing tree that serves as fuel wood, meets housing needs, has medicinal value and is used as lumber export,” Nigusie said, adding that with Ethiopia’s rising population there’s need for an efficient and ready to use solutions to meet the increasing demand for land while still preserving indigenous trees.However, he admits that trees like eucalyptus need to be researched thoroughly and carefully managed lest its toxic effects outweigh its benefits.Gullele Botanic Garden. Photo by Asaye Nigusie.Eucalyptus use in Ethiopia has been controversial because the trees exploit the soil and water while stunting the surface growth of other trees.Such is the dominance of eucalyptus in Addis Ababa and generally in Ethiopia that the botanic garden had to remove about 100 hectares of its own land and replace with various indigenous trees.GBG is also involved in afforestation projects in Addis Ababa with plans for 2017 to select indigenous plants to plant along roads to serve as ornamental purpose as well as green cover for a city that’s fast becoming a concrete jungle.GBG invisible to the publicWhile GBG has been used by foreign diplomats for bike races and by athletes for jogging, by couples celebrating their wedding ceremony, and children to celebrating their birthdays, knowledge of its existence outside Addis Ababa is quite low.The garden reportedly has plans to advertise its activities by television and radio.“In the future we want to take the garden to the community instead of vice versa, helping botanic gardens beginning from the smallest locality,” Belay said. He added that already in the capital it’s trying to establish three other gardens with involvement from community schools.GBG also plans to publicize its work outside of Ethiopia, including collaboration with similar institutions in neighboring countries preserving plants that it shares with Ethiopia as well as endemic plant species of the neighboring nations.“At this moment our major objective is conservation, research, education and eco-tourism activity. But in the future we plan to facilitate work with multinational firms in regards to plants that can be used as food items or have medicinal value” Belay said.GBG even has a vision 2028 master plan in which it foresees itself being on par with other internationally-renowned botanic gardens that were established several hundred years ago.For Asaye, he believes that the garden has the potential to attract international students and tourists like those he has seen in the United Kingdom and South Africa, and to become a center where plant species samples can be found from across the globe.Banner image: Gullele Botanic Garden. Photo by Asaye Nigusie. Elias Gebrelsellasie is a freelance journalist based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. You can find him on Twitter at @EliasGebre.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Article published by Genevieve Belmakerlast_img read more

Bats and viruses: Beating back a bad reputation

first_imgEcologist Merlin Tuttle argues that too much research and media attention is focused on bats based on tenuous links to deadly disease-causing viruses such as Ebola.Live Ebola virus has never been found in bats, and virologists acknowledge that other animals may be involved.But scientists have plucked live strains of other dangerous viruses from bats, and researchers argue that continuing to study the association between viruses and bats (as well as other animals) will ultimately help us better prepare for future disease outbreaks. A burned-out stump was all that remained by the time a team of virologists arrived in Méliandou in 2014. They had been hunting for the source of the deadly outbreak of the disease caused by Ebola virus that had begun late the previous year. A patchwork of clues had led the researchers to the tree’s charred remnants in this small Guinean village of not more than a few dozen families.The tree had once been home to bats that locals would nab on occasion for a meal. It was also a spot where Emile Ouamouno might have been before he got sick. Emile, a toddler from Méliandou, is thought to be the first person to contract the illness in this outbreak. With little else to go on, scientists postulated that the origin of the virus that infected Emile might be the tree and its bats.The virologists told a reporter for Science that they couldn’t confirm if people from Méliandou had burned the tree to get rid of the bats that they feared might be carrying Ebola virus. But ecologist Merlin Tuttle has little doubt that was the case. To him, this type of persecution is part of the pattern set in motion when there’s a whisper that bats might be involved in a disease outbreak.A Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat (Epomophorus wahlbergi), about to pollinate a baobab tree in Kenya. Countless thousands of epauletted bats live in African villages without record of harm to humans, Merlin Tuttle said. Photo and caption © Merlin Tuttle“I personally have documented cases where hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of bats, were buried alive in their caves,” he added, “just because somebody had one of these crazy ideas before it was even tested and found not to be true.”As recently as 2012, Tuttle and several colleagues traveled to a cave in Cuba’s Alejandro de Humboldt National Park where they hoped to watch a bat colony emerge. But locals, fearful of the disease-causing microbes that they assumed the bats carried, had sealed it shut by the time they arrived, he said.Tuttle, a research fellow at the University of Texas, contends that the accusations pegging bats as wellsprings of dangerous viruses to diseases including Ebola are often premature and grossly exaggerated He says that premature speculation can ignite the type of backlash that he witnessed in Cuba and that he suspects occurred in Guinea.“When somebody comes out with a scary headline, the bats can all get eradicated before anyone even finds out that the bats weren’t guilty,” he told Mongabay.The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa was scary indeed, killing more than 11,000 people in 10 countries before fizzling in 2016. Once bats are linked to such an event, “Who in his right mind is going to tolerate bats around under those circumstances?” Tuttle said.A colony of insect-eating bats in a limestone cave in Malaysia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler / MongabayBat fansThe septuagenarian has studied bats around the globe and continues his advocacy for bat conservation, not least for the benefits they provide us. The U.S. Forest Service reports that some 300 species of fruit trees need the pollination services of bats. And a study in Indonesia found that bats and birds boosted cacao yields by 31 percent, providing an annual bump in profits of $730 per hectare for farmers.The biology and conservation of bats have been the focus of Tuttle’s 55-year scientific career. Now, he’s continuing his mission to vindicate them through his photographs, books, and popular articles, as well as a blog that rallies a vocal group of “bat fans.”An undue emphasis on bats as disease carriers has bled into scientific research, Tuttle says. In a consistent refrain, he argues that a frenzy of speculative scientific evidence, followed by even more speculative — and sometimes hyperbolic — storytelling on the part of journalists, leads to the unwarranted killing of bats.In Tuttle’s view, bats are about as suspect as other animals found in the forests of West and Central Africa, where all Ebola outbreaks have originated. Scientists have discovered that chimpanzees, gorillas, a skittish little antelope called a duiker and several rodents all tote Ebola virus RNA in their bloodstreams, although they’ve only found snippets, not entire genomes.The isolation of a live strain of infectious Ebola virus from bats would indicate that bats are Ebola hosts, but so far that’s been elusive. Researchers have turned up antibodies to Ebola in blood from bats, but from many other animals as well. The discovery of these remnants from a battle between a bat’s immune system and a virus is often misinterpreted, said Jens Kuhn, a virologist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.“That is very quickly taken as signs of [Ebola] infection by many people, but it doesn’t mean that,” Kuhn said. “Antibodies just means exposure to something that is Ebola-like.”The upshot is that no one has found a definitive link between bats and any of 25 outbreaks since 1976. As a result, by the time the latest epidemic was winding down, studies began to emerge that expressed doubts about bats’ role in the disease.An Indian flying fox (Pteropus giganteus) in flight. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher © WCSThe hunt for originsWhat scientists are looking for — and what some think that a bat species might be — is the organism that carries the Ebola virus continuously in its population, known as a reservoir. Whatever this reservoir is, it doesn’t get sick or die itself, so it’s an essential source of the virus to other organisms.But not all scientists hunting for an Ebola reservoir are fixated on bats.“There is something that doesn’t quite fit in my head with this Ebola-bat story,” said Siv Aina Leendertz, a virologist at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. “I don’t think that it’s enough evidence at the moment to say that Ebola continuously circulates in bats.”Leendertz published a review in 2016 where she posited that the chain of infection might include an aquatic insect like a mayfly. She said it was just an example to demonstrate how another animal could be involved that might be “completely wrong.”“If we are only focusing on the fruit bats,” Leendertz added, “we might miss other things that could give us more information, more clues, more pieces to the puzzle.”Still, the antibodies that researchers have plucked out of bat blood demonstrate that bats “definitely have something to do with it,” she said.A common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. Photo by Bill Meng © WCSFor most of us, pegging bats as dangerous harbors of disease-causing viruses isn’t too much of a stretch, Kuhn said.“It totally fits into our narrative about bats that they also carry very evil things.”Satan in Dante’s Inferno takes a bat-like form. Their nocturnal nature touches on our most basic fear of the darkness and the unknown. And of course, the vampire Dracula can shapeshift into a bat in the famous Bram Stoker novel.But like Leendertz, Kuhn advocates casting a broader net to track down the animals that connect us to viruses like Ebola. He has a hunch that an insect or another arthropod might be involved in the transmission of Ebola virus from animals to humans — perhaps a tick, delivering the infective agent into the blood of another host animal before it gets to us.Our association with bats, both in lore and in real life, dates back millennia — think the cave dwellings of our early ancestors. And that’s one reason Tuttle sees their reputation as flying disease distributors as so improbable.“There are millions and millions of people every year that eat bats,” he said. “I wish that there was a good reason that people shouldn’t eat bats because it’s caused the extinction of some, and it’s certainly threatening many others.“The truth is, there is no evidence that eating bats has caused any pandemics or major disease outbreaks,” Tuttle added.Kuhn agrees that this close relationship points to the involvement of some other organism. If bats are the sought-after reservoir of Ebola virus, Kuhn said, “Why don’t we have one outbreak of Ebola after another?”The answer? “There’s more to [it] than just bats,” he said.Bracken Cave in San Antonio, Texas, is the summer home of more than 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis), making it the world’s largest bat colony. Photo in the public domain by Ann Froschauer / U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceAn image problemUntil about 20 years ago, bats were known mostly for being carriers of the rabies virus — although then, as now, the chances of contracting rabies from a bat were astronomically small, with an average of fewer than three cases a year in the U.S.Beginning in the late 1990s, however, scientific research to investigate bats’ roles in the transmission of other diseases began in earnest. A bevy of viruses tied to bats stormed onto the epidemiological scene beginning in the late 1990s.After that, “Bats became hip,” Jens Kuhn said.Nipah virus, which causes potentially fatal encephalitis, struck Malaysia in 1998. It made pigs sick, and it killed more than half of its victims, who were mostly pig farmers. In 2003, researchers isolated live Nipah virus from the urine and saliva of seemingly healthy bats, and studies now refer to the fruit bat genus Pteropus as the “wildlife reservoir” of the disease.Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) appeared in Asia in 2003, sickening 8,100 people. Scientists figured out that humans probably picked up the SARS-causing virus from civets for sale at local markets, and researchers have never pulled the live virus from a bat. However, in 2005 a paper, titled “Bats Are Natural Reservoirs of SARS-Like Coronaviruses,” appeared in the prominent journal Science.Once the science community had made the connection, however tenuous, between SARS and bats, that’s what most people remembered, Tuttle said, not that they hadn’t been able to find the live virus.“There’s never been any proof that SARS came from bats,” he added.Indeed, many scientists who publish such research qualify their conclusions and explain that more work is needed. Yet such nuance is often lost on the media.In a 2014 report on the inception of Ebola in Guinea published in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example, the authors refer to fruit bats as “potential reservoirs” of Ebola virus. But primed by what Tuttle sees as an overemphasis on bats in the realm of virology research, one news story on that paper stated unequivocally that fruit bats “are reservoirs of the virus.”A male straw-colored fruit bat (Eidolon helvum) from Kenya. Contrary to available evidence, this species was erroneously blamed for the index case, a child in Guinea, in the 2014 Ebola outbreak, Tuttle said. Photo and caption © Merlin TuttleInvestigations probing the relationship between bats and viruses led to new hypotheses about the role of bats in the spread of disease, and they revealed new insights into how their immune systems handle viruses. Journalists and the public then latched onto aspects of bats’ unique biology as the beginning and the end of the story of how viruses get from animals to humans.Kuhn investigates many of the virus families associated with bats, and he said that the “weak” links that scientists have found, such as with Ebola, are easy to exaggerate.For example, popular news outlets use the fact that bats fly to explain how these viruses get from one place to another. That’s a “dangerous simplification,” Kuhn said, that has been “completely overhyped in the media.”It also ignores other flying animals, Tuttle said.“OK, they can travel long distances, but so do birds and insects,” he said. “They’re not the only thing that can travel long distances.”One news report, under the headline, “Why Killer Viruses Are On The Rise,” called bats “arguably one of the most dangerous animals in the world.”Part of the story had been reported from Gomantong Cave in Malaysian Borneo, home to the swiftlets that spin the nests used to make bird’s nest soup, a favorite dish in parts of Asia. Workers climb to the cave’s ceilings twice a year for the profitable harvest after the birds have vacated their homes. The boardwalk loop into the cavernous 90-meter-high (295-foot) gash in the forest is also popular with tourists, and they’re not unlikely to pick up some sort of, ahem, souvenir dripping from the cave’s ceiling and the millions of bats and birds that reside there.The story warned, “There could be Ebola in the poop that lands on your shoulder.”Not only has Ebola virus never been found in Malaysia, but neither have any members of its family, the filoviruses. It’s inaccurate to imply a risk of Ebola to cave visitors, but the sentence’s broader, cheeky implication is that bats are constantly slinging around deadly viruses. If that’s the case, Tuttle said, why haven’t any of the nest harvesters or visitors gotten sick or touched off an outbreak after they left the cave, especially since humans have been doing pretty much the same thing there for hundreds of years?“There is no evidence that any human in the whole world history has ever got any disease from poop landing on their shoulder from a flying bat,” he said.Tuttle uses his website to excoriate such media reports, which he argues put bats at risk of retaliation, including one on Mongabay in April 2016 that’s since been corrected.Gomantong Cave in Malaysian Borneo is home to millions of bats. Harvesters of swiftlet nests for soup and tourists are frequent visitors to the cave. Photo by John C. Cannon / MongabayThe bat stops hereJust how big an effect does the intentional killing of bats have? In a 2016 study, a team of bat researchers tried to put some numbers to that question, as well as the other causes of bat decline worldwide, by reviewing cases of bat deaths going back to 1790.Up until the beginning of the 21st century, they did find that “intentional killing” by humans was the most significant cause of deaths, often because people viewed them as pests. Then around 2000, as wind turbines began to pop up, they became a leading cause of death. So did white-nose syndrome, a potentially fatal disease in bats caused by a fungus. But the study didn’t turn up evidence that people have ramped up efforts to destroy bats in the past 100 years, even when the bats-as-disease-carriers line of research began about two decades ago.Paul Cryan, a bat biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and an author of the research, recognizes that the perception of bats affects the way we treat these animals.“It seems that people stigmatize and vilify things they don’t understand, and bats are among the most misunderstood animals out there,” Cryan wrote in an email. But, based on the team’s research, “I would not expect extermination efforts to increase as new information on diseases and bats comes to light,” he added.Tuttle found the study’s conclusions lacking. He said that Cryan and his coauthors’ research did not account for the fact that journals stopped reporting “deliberate human killings” of bats in the 1980s, potentially ignoring more recent incidents.Since that time, “Scientific journals have almost exclusively only published hypothesis-testing papers, meaning no further reporting of deliberate human killings that previously were at least sometimes reported,” Tuttle said.Even if they’re not reported, he is adamant that bat killings continue. “In Mexico and the remainder of Latin America, it is sometimes difficult to find a hollow tree that hasn’t been burned to kill bats (mistakenly feared as vampire bats),” Tuttle said. “And, with new speculation, bat killing there may get even worse.“In my experience, wherever I go worldwide, people who fear bats attempt to kill them,” he added.Tuttle is frustrated with his fellow scientists, many of whom have followed the fashionable line of bat-focused disease research to lucrative grants.In late 2014, in the midst of the Ebola crisis, the U.S. House of Representatives approved $1.77 billion in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “for Ebola preparedness and response,” which included money to support scientific research between 2015 and 2019.That money hasn’t all gone to bat research, but Tuttle says it’s out of whack with the threat that Ebola poses to us. What’s more, he suggests that the desire to keep that funding flowing is twisting the conclusions that researchers and journal publish, though he’s hesitant to single out scientists by name.These reports do often carry warnings about the value of bats to the ecosystem and that the evidence linking bats to viruses shouldn’t be seen as a justification for killing them. Many news articles also highlight the importance of bats in controlling insects and pollinating crops as a way of discouraging retribution.But, Tuttle said, such qualifying statements often appear late in the text, after the frightening, attention-grabbing, and potentially dangerous news appears.A minor epauletted fruit bat (Epomophorous labiatus minor) carrying a fig in Kenya. Fruit-eating bats are seed dispersers vital to reforestation of tropical and subtropical areas worldwide. Photo and caption © Merlin TuttleOne such study appeared in the journal Virus Evolution in early June 2017 and laid out a case for considering bats “the major evolutionary reservoirs” of coronaviruses, the group that includes the viruses that cause SARS and MERS.The aim of this study was to find viruses that aren’t yet known to science. It’s part of an effort led by researchers with the PREDICT project, a $100-million effort funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development to cut the risk of global pandemics.Tuttle upbraided the new study immediately, arguing in a written response he shared with Mongabay that bats are easy to catch in large numbers, making them good study subjects. As a result, finding a lot of viruses in them wasn’t surprising. (Ironically, Tuttle said that many of the scientists looking for diseases in bats use a trap that he invented.)“If I had many millions of dollars to look at you for viruses, I could find a lot of new viruses and I could make up a hell of a lot of scary tales about how they’re related to things that were dangerous,” he added.Tuttle wrote in a June 14 post on his website that the research propagates “the needlessly sensational presentation of bats as exceptionally dangerous animals.”“Many viruses are innocuous or even beneficial, including some that are closely related to deadly ones,” Tuttle wrote on July 2. “Also, the number of viruses found in bats is not necessarily indicative of risk.”He also said that the “exceptional diversity” of coronaviruses found in bats should be expected, given that bats themselves are “an exceptionally old, diverse, and widespread group.” At around 1,300 species, one in every five known mammals is a bat.The Virus Evolution study ran under the benign title, “Global patterns in coronavirus diversity.” But it spawned media coverage under headlines such as “Bats are global reservoir for deadly coronaviruses,” which ran in the news section of the journal Nature.The hunt for viruses that haven’t yet caused an outbreak or been proven harmful to humans has drawn criticism from other scientists as well. Michael Osterholm questions the value of spending so much to find these previously unknown viruses. He is an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, and he also leads a team that’s been working to rapidly develop a vaccine for Ebola virus since 2014.Osterholm advocates putting more effort toward developing vaccines and getting them into the hands of healthcare workers, rather than building up our catalog of viruses with unknown consequences.“I don’t care if you have a fire truck that’s big, red and shiny,” he said. “If it doesn’t have an engine in it, what good is it?”Rodrigues fruit bats (Pteropus rodricensis) at the Bronx Zoo. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher © WCSThe bat we knowStill, Osterholm said bats are clearly linked to “very serious infectious diseases,” and he voiced his concerns about disregarding all evidence that associates bats with disease.“This concept that any description of bats carrying these viruses is somehow unwarranted or dangerous to bats — I think that’s naïve,” he added.Jens Kuhn agrees that given what we’ve learned about bats and viruses in the past two decades, especially with Ebola virus, further research is warranted.“You have to go by the data that you have and not the data that you don’t have,” Kuhn said. “There is enough of this kind of anecdotal, weird evidence that would lead me to believe that bats are somehow involved in that [Ebola] puzzle.”While Kuhn emphasizes how different these viruses are — “You can’t throw them all together” — he offers an answer to Tuttle and Osterholm’s challenge to the value of identifying viruses new to science. Understanding how these viruses evolve and are related to each other could ultimately help us be better prepared for outbreaks, he said.Right now, it’s a quest in which scientists sit at the very frontier of their knowledge. Never mind the tip, Kuhn said: “We haven’t even seen the iceberg yet.”Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, is one example of what researchers like Kuhn can glean from those relationships. The MERS coronavirus — in the same family as the SARS virus — can cause pneumonia and diarrhea. Of the roughly 2,000 people infected since 2012, 35 percent have died.Tuttle pointed out that when MERS broke out in 2012, scientists and the media didn’t look far for a culprit.“Before they knew anything about it, they practically bet the bank — they predicted in writing — this is almost certainly coming from bats,” he said.Though bats were originally suspected to have caused a 2012 outbreak of MERS and closely related viruses have been found in bats, the virus that causes the disease most likely came from domesticated camels (Camelus dromedarius). Photo by Anne-Claire BenoitIn fact, epidemiologists eventually discovered that the virus had springboarded — or spilled over — into humans from a common animal in Saudi Arabia: camels (Camelus dromedarius). Epidemiologists use the term ‘spillover’ to refer to the juncture when a virus-carrying host slips the virus it is carrying to an organism of a different species.But humans domesticated camels thousands of years ago. If our humped companions were the ultimate reservoirs of the MERS virus, meaning that they have been carrying the virus without showing signs of disease, it stands to reason that we would have noticed a spillover to humans before 2012.Kuhn said that shared history left public health researchers with a big question: “How the heck did this virus get into dromedaries?”When virologists checked out the lineage of the MERS virus, they found that “Every single neighbor is a bat coronavirus,” he said. “The most logical conclusion is that this is actually a bat virus that jumped into dromedaries,” making bats a likely host and possibly a reservoir of MERS virus.MERS isn’t the only such disease. In 2009, a CDC-led team collected a live filovirus called Marburg from fruit bats known as Egyptian rousettes (Rousettus aegyptiacus) that roost in African caves by the tens of thousands.Marburg virus infections have led to about a dozen outbreaks in humans since 1967, stemming mostly from contact with caves. Its deadliest recorded offensive in 2005 killed 90 percent of the 252 people who contracted the disease in Angola.Researchers have since found that bats can carry an infectious form of Marburg virus for months in their colonies without visible symptoms. What’s more — and this is a really important piece of the puzzle — they can eject bits of the virus in their saliva, feces and urine.The fact that it can circulate in their systems for an extended period of time has led many scientists to deduce that bats are “at least a host” of Marburg in the environment, said Kuhn. That does not mean that Egyptian rousettes are the ultimate reservoirs. But such a strong connection to one filovirus does seem to hint that Ebola, another filovirus, might also reside in bats in a similar way.Scientists have found that Egyptian rousettes (Rousettus aegyptiacus) can carry live Marburg virus, though no outbreak has ever been directly tied to contact between rousettes and humans. Photo by Zoharby (Own work), CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL, via Wikimedia CommonsThe odds in our favorThe fact that bats can survive the effects of Marburg virus seems to lend support to the idea “that bats have unique physiological relationships with microbes,” Paul Cryan said.Part of that has to do with how bats live their lives. As flying mammals, bats expend a lot of energy, which raises their internal temperature. This constant feverish state can be particularly destructive to DNA unless an organism can evolve a solution. Cryan said he remembers “getting a chill” a few years ago as he read a study in Science postulating that bats’ unique immune system, honed over millions of years of evolution to repair DNA damaged by flight, might help explain why they can handle such a close association with viruses.Humans don’t have such clever adaptations to handle microscopic invaders, so the thinking goes, and that leaves us more vulnerable than bats to the diseases that viruses and other organisms cause.Even without such adaptations, the likelihood that humans will contract a virus from bats is infinitesimally small, Tuttle said. His hometown of Austin, Texas, has an enviable safety record with bats. Spectators from around the country gather on spring evenings to witness the exodus of perhaps 1.5 million bats from under a bridge on Texas’ Colorado River. In the 1980s, public health officials worried that someone would contract rabies, but Tuttle campaigned for the bats to be left alone. Instead of getting rid of them, officials acted on his advice and posted signs asking visitors not to handle the bats.“Thirty-five years later, we’re still waiting for the first person to be harmed by a bat,” he said.Globally, people are much more likely to get rabies from dogs, as they’re responsible for about 99 percent of cases.Tuttle also points to his own extensive history with bats in dozens of countries with little more than a rabies shot as the only line of defense.“I’ve done everything you can do to get exposed to some of these supposedly … deadly viruses,” he said. “I’m still very healthy at 75.”Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) emerging from the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas. Despite early health official warnings of danger, none of the millions of tourists has been attacked or harmed, Tuttle said. Photo and caption © Merlin TuttleThe good health that most scientists enjoy from developed countries might be enough to keep a virus at bay, Kuhn said. Guinea and the other Ebola-endemic countries are among the world’s poorest.“It is very possible that you need to be immunosuppressed to get the first infection going,” Kuhn said, “to make that species jump.”Tuttle draws on statistics to demonstrate the rarity of diseases associated with bats. He pointed out that in the past 40 years, Ebola, Marburg, MERS, Nipah, SARS, and a viral disease called Hendra have together caused just 15,000 human deaths. By comparison, he said, during that time frame some 2.2 million people are conservatively estimated to have died from rabies transmitted by dogs, which is itself considered to be rare.“It just caught huge headlines because it was sensational and different,” Tuttle said of Ebola. “This disease is trivial compared to a lot of other causes of human mortality.”But to Kuhn, that’s a dangerous justification.“This is, of course, true for any disease in history when it started,” he said. “The moment you have an outbreak with 11,000 deaths, it’s probably worthwhile trying to figure out where the virus is coming from.”Deforestation and roads continue to open up new areas of wilderness bringing us into closer contact with animals and any disease-causing viruses they carry. With that sort of novel exposure, along with humankind’s increased mobility and rising population, the next Ebola outbreak could afflict a hundred thousand people, Kuhn said.“Yes, it’s a hypothetical scenario, but it’s not necessarily an unlikely scenario,” he added, “as this outbreak in western Africa has shown.”       One thing is clear — that we will share our future with these zoonotic diseases, regardless of the reservoir and whether they spill over from bat, pig or camel.“To be clear,” Tuttle said in an email, “I recognize that bats can transmit some scary diseases, just like all other animals, especially humans.”As a population ecologist, he acknowledges our ever-shifting relationship with other species, and, bats aside, how difficult it is to predict just how bad the next spillover of disease from animals to humans will be.“I don’t know of anybody with my kind of training who doesn’t think we’re headed for some really serious bumps in the road,” Tuttle added.Shreya Dasgupta and Rebecca Kessler contributed reporting.Banner image of a minor epauletted fruit bat in Kenya © Merlin Tuttle.Follow John Cannon on Twitter: @johnccannonEditor’s note 8/31/17: At Merlin Tuttle’s request three statements were amended to better reflect his views. CITATIONSAnthony, S. J., Johnson, C. K., Greig, D. J., Kramer, S., Che, X., Wells, H., … & Karesh, W. (2017). Global patterns in coronavirus diversity. Virus Evolution, 3(1).Baize, S., Pannetier, D., Oestereich, L., Rieger, T., Koivogui, L., Magassouba, N. F., … & Tiffany, A. (2014). Emergence of Zaire Ebola virus disease in Guinea. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(15), 1418-1425.Leendertz, S. A. J. (2016). Testing new hypotheses regarding ebolavirus reservoirs. Viruses, 8(2).Li, W., Shi, Z., Yu, M., Ren, W., Smith, C., Epstein, J. H., … & Zhang, J. (2005). Bats are natural reservoirs of SARS-like coronaviruses. Science, 310(5748), 676-679.Luby, S. P. (2013). The pandemic potential of Nipah virus. Antiviral Research, 100(1), 38-43.Maas, B., Clough, Y., & Tscharntke, T. (2013). Bats and birds increase crop yield in tropical agroforestry landscapes. Ecology Letters, 16(12), 1480-1487.O’Shea, T. J., Cryan, P. M., Hayman, D. T., Plowright, R. K., & Streicker, D. G. (2016). Multiple mortality events in bats: a global review. Mammal Review, 46(3), 175-190.Osterholm, M., Moore, K., Ostrowsky, J., Kimball-Baker, K., Farrar, J., & Team, W. T. C. E. V. (2016). The Ebola Vaccine Team B: a model for promoting the rapid development of medical countermeasures for emerging infectious disease threats. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 16(1), e1-e9.Saéz, A. M., Weiss, S., Nowak, K., Lapeyre, V., Zimmermann, F., Düx, A., … & Sachse, A. (2014). Investigating the zoonotic origin of the West African Ebola epidemic. EMBO Molecular Medicine, e201404792.Towner, J. S., Amman, B. R., Sealy, T. K., Carroll, S. A. R., Comer, J. A., Kemp, A., … & Formenty, P. B. (2009). Isolation of genetically diverse Marburg viruses from Egyptian fruit bats. PLoS Pathogens, 5(7), e1000536.Towner, J. S., Khristova, M. L., Sealy, T. K., Vincent, M. J., Erickson, B. R., Bawiec, D. A., … & da Silva, F. G. (2006). Marburgvirus genomics and association with a large hemorrhagic fever outbreak in Angola. Journal of Virology, 80(13), 6497-6516.Zhang, G., Cowled, C., Shi, Z., Huang, Z., Bishop-Lilly, K. A., Fang, X., … & Tachedjian, M. (2013). Comparative analysis of bat genomes provides insight into the evolution of flight and immunity. Science, 339(6118), 456-460.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by John Cannon Activism, Agriculture, Animal Behavior, Animals, Apes, Bat Crisis, Bats, Biodiversity, Birds, Charismatic Animals, Conservation, Deforestation, Ebola, Ecological Beauty, Ecology, Endangered Species, Environment, Featured, Forests, Hunting, Mammals, Research, Roads, Saving Species From Extinction, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife consumption, Wind Power, Zoonotic Diseases center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Video: Thousands of illegally caught African gray parrots being rehabilitated

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Shreya Dasgupta The Wildlife Conservation Society has released a video showing seized African gray parrots being treated at a rescue facility built specially for the rehabilitation of these birds.The birds were collected from the wild in the Republic of the Congo, and were most likely being smuggled to markets in Europe and the Middle East.So far, the WCS team has rehabilitated and released almost 900 parrots back into the wild. Thousands of African gray parrots (Psittacus erithacus), seized from traffickers in Republic of the Congo by rangers, are being treated at a rescue centre built specially for the rehabilitation of these birds, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced Tuesday. The group released a video showing footage of some of the rescued birds at the facility built by WCS.The confiscated parrots were most likely being moved to Democratic Republic of the Congo, WCS said, from where the birds would be smuggled to markets in Europe and the Middle East.African gray parrots are extremely talented mimics. They are also one of the world’s most trafficked birds. Trapped illegally from the wild for the international pet trade, the bird has suffered catastrophic decline across its range. Close to 99 percent of African gray parrots have been wiped out from Ghana’s forests since 1992, for instance, a 2015 study found. These birds are also being stolen from forests across the Republic of the Congo, conservationists say.“Traffickers are vacuuming up African gray parrots from Africa’s forests,” Emma Stokes, WCS Regional Director for Central Africa, said in a statement. “This heartbreaking footage should serve as a wake-up call to any prospective buyers of parrots to avoid them unless they come from a highly reputable dealer and you are absolutely certain they were bred in captivity and not taken from the wild.”African gray parrot. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher / WCS.Trapping the hyper-social African gray parrots in the wild is not hard. Collectors go deep into the forests, climb trees, and tie up bunches of glue-coated palm leaves to the tree canopy. They also tie up a couple of captive African gray parrots next to the sticky branches. Once the decoy birds start calling, curious wild parrots come down in large flocks and land on the palm branches. The glue sticks to their feathers, and unable to fly, the birds fall to the ground. The parrots are then packed together in small cages and smuggled abroad.Many gray parrots do not make the journey. They succumb to injuries or die from stress or other illnesses. Parrots that do get rescued from the traffickers provide hope for the species. But they need to be treated quickly if they are to be saved, Stokes told Mongabay.The first priority, she said, is to reduce the parrots’ physical and mental stress, and stabilize their condition. This is because mortality of these birds is highest during and immediately after the confiscation. Once at the rehabilitation centre, the birds are medically treated by veterinarians and cared for until they are deemed fit for release to the wild, Stokes added. Often, traffickers clip the wing feathers of the parrots, and these birds require longer periods of rehabilitation.So far, the rescue team has released almost 900 parrots back into the wild.“From the past releases we believe that the parrots do successfully,” Stokes said. “Many of them continue to return to the cage site to roost at night.”Veterinarians and bird experts from WCS’s Bronx Zoo have been providing expertise on the parrots’ care.“The WCS Congo veterinary staff is making heroic efforts to save as many parrots as possible, and we were honored to provide our expertise and assistance,” said David Oehler, Curator for Ornithology with WCS’s Bronx Zoo.Last year, at a conservation meeting in South Africa, protection for the African gray parrot was increased to the highest level. The species was included in the Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which prohibits all international commercial trade in wild-caught African gray parrots. However, the trade ban cannot be effective without proper enforcement, WCS said.WCS plans to open a second rehabilitation centre soon. The group is also working with the Congolese government to investigate trafficking networks and improve patrolling. The group has also launched a campaign to garner support for their work.Banner image of African gray parrots at the rescue centre in the Republic of the Congo. Image captured from video provided by WCS.center_img Animals, Biodiversity, Birds, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environment, Forests, Green, Happy-upbeat Environmental, In-situ Conservation, Parrots, Poaching, Rainforest Animals, Rainforest Conservation, Tropical Forests, Wildlife, Wildlife Trafficking last_img read more

Selective logging reduces biodiversity, disrupts Amazon ecosystems: study

first_imgAmazon Biodiversity, Amazon Conservation, Amazon Destruction, Amazon Logging, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Biodiversity Hotspots, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, Environment, forest degradation, Forest Destruction, Forest Loss, Forestry, Forests, Global Environmental Crisis, Green, Land Use Change, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforest Logging, Rainforests, Saving The Amazon, Sustainable Forest Management, Threats To The Amazon, Tropical Deforestation Article published by Glenn Scherer Reduced-impact logging, also called selective logging, which gained popularity in the 1990s, aims to balance biodiversity impacts with global demand for timber by extracting fewer trees. But the success of this approach is coming under increasing scrutiny.A new study in the Brazilian Amazon found that dung beetle communities, and their important role as “ecosystem engineers,” is severely disrupted by even low-level timber extraction, with sharp reductions in species richness.Multitudes of studies on birds, mammals, amphibians and invertebrates around the globe demonstrate the same finding: that even low-levels of timber extraction have significant impact on species diversity.This extensive research suggests that selective logging techniques should be shelved in favor of “land-sparing” timber extraction strategies, which create a patchwork of highly logged sites and intact forest reserves. Coprophanaeus lancifer, the largest crepuscular tunnelling dung beetle species found in the Amazon study region. Photographed in the Brazilian Amazon, 2016. Photo by Filipe FrançaReduced-impact-logging techniques are now used globally. This forestry approach, also called selective logging, aims to preserve biodiversity and maintain forest ecosystem functions while extracting commercially valuable timber. However, new research shows that even low-levels of timber extraction can have a detrimental effect on biodiversity that includes impacts on important ecosystem engineers such as dung beetles.Reduced-impact logging (RIL) became popular in the 1990s because it promised to provide timber without the ecologically devastating effects of clear-cutting. There are no published estimates of the global scale of RIL schemes, but a Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) report in 2015 found that more than 2.1 billion hectares (8.1 million square miles) of forest is under a forest management plan, and 438 million hectares (1.7 million square miles) are internationally certified.Meanwhile, evidence has been mounting over the last decade that selective logging may not be the win-win scenario it was once thought to be.Tree being logged by a worker within the Brazilian timber concession where the study was conducted. Photo by Filipe FrançaLow level logging impacts dung beetlesIn a study published online in Biological Conservation in October, an international research team compared the species richness of dung beetles and their effectiveness at removing dung, both before and after selective logging, at thirty-four sites in the Amazonian Jari Florestal logging concession in Pará, Brazil.Under a 30-year cutting cycle developed by the FAO, the Amazon sites experienced varying intensities of logging: from zero trees removed, up to nearly eight trees per hectare. The research team found that even very low-intensity timber removal had a significant impact on dung beetle populations. The removal of just 3 to 35 trees in a 10-hectare (25 acre) site resulted in 1 to 8 fewer species of dung beetle post-logging. Filipe França, an ecologist at Lancaster University who led the study, concludes that“Even low levels of timber removal can lead to the loss of forest biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.”The team found that dung beetle species richness decreased as logging intensity increased. Unexpectedly, this relationship was curved, with the steepest declines in dung beetle species occurring when the first few trees were removed. França suggests that the immediate effects of even low-intensity logging may occur because extraction techniques inadvertently damage neighboring trees and undergrowth, causing a disproportionate effect to the weight of timber removed.Pará is the second largest state in Brazil, and home to 25 percent of Brazil’s Amazon forest. It supports extraordinary levels of biodiversity, with nearly 10 percent of the world’s bird species found in these forests.As the largest timber-producing state in Brazil, Pará has also suffered severe deforestation with this state alone accounting for a third of the total forest lost in Brazil between 1998 and 2015.Earlier this year, Pará made headlines around the world after Brazil’s government announced plans to open the national reserve of Renca, which covers 4.6 million hectares (17,800 square miles) in Pará and the neighboring state of Amapá, to mining. The decree was later revoked after intense pressure from conservationists, but vast swathes of Amazon forest in Pará remain open to logging, and a 2006 report by the State Environment Agency identified 25 million hectares (96,500 square miles) of forest for potential timber extraction.França’s study suggests that even low-levels of logging in these forests could have a disastrous impact on dung beetle communities and the invaluable ecosystem services they provide.Diabroctis mimas is a large black and metallic-green dung beetle species found in the forests of Pará state. Photographed in the Brazilian Amazon, 2016. Photo by Filipe FrançaDung beetles: engineer of forest ecosystemsDung beetles might not be the most glamorous of the Amazonian insects, but they perform crucial ecosystem functions such as ploughing and aerating the soil, fertilizing plants with fresh dung, and helping to disperse seeds. Because of these roles, dung beetles are known as “ecosystem engineers.”Furthermore, changes in dung beetle communities are thought to be representative of changes to other taxonomic groups. “Most people I talk to about dung beetles think it is funny or strange that we use them in research for examining forest health. In fact, just a few people know that dung beetles are a key indicator group for the overall health of ecosystems,” says França. Beetle communities respond quickly to disturbance by logging, fire and road construction, and because they rely on the dung of other species, dung beetle communities also respond to other human activities such as hunting.Dung beetles show similar responses to forest disturbance as other taxonomic groups including ants, birds and plants. All experience greater species richness in primary forest than in logged sites and agricultural lands.In line with the recent Amazon dung beetle study, even minimal deforestation has been shown to significantly increase extinction risk in over 19,000 species of vertebrate worldwide. A 2014 study found that removing 38 cubic meters of timber per hectare halved the number of mammal species present and that logging intensity was the most important determinant of species richness in butterflies, dung beetles and ants.França’s new study has been criticized by some researchers for its small sample size and limited replication. “In my view this is a classic case of very broad generalizations being drawn from limited data,” says Andrew Davis, former senior scientist at the Danum Valley Field Centre in Sabah, Malaysia. Davis carried out one of the first investigations on the effects of logging on dung beetle communities in tropical rainforest. “They tell a nice story although based on a sample of less than 5,000 specimens with limited replication,” Davis says.Brazilian Amazon rainforest near the fieldwork site, state of Pará, July 2013. Photo by Filipe FrançaFrança defends the methodology, saying that the study compared a gradient of logging intensities before and after logging, rather than directly comparing logged and unlogged sites.Davis also points out that the Amazon study’s method for catching dung beetles – pitfall traps that beetles and other insects fall into and cannot escape – may have missed some species: “The authors are, by only using pitfalls, sampling a subsection of the dung beetle community.” He adds that traps that catch insects in flight tend to catch different species and in varying abundances.França counters, noting that “dung-baited pitfall traps are a standardized method for sampling dung beetles in ecological research elsewhere in the tropics, and is considered a most robust method.”Amazonian timber yard within the study area. Photo by Jos BarlowA matter of scaleForestry legislation in Brazil operates at the scale of 100 hectares (247 acres), which is also commonly used in studies assessing the impact of logging programs. However, França’s study shows that impacts on dung beetles are evident at much smaller scales, from 10 to 90 hectares. “Smaller spatial scales should be considered when monitoring the logging impacts on tropical biodiversity,” França states.Furthermore, França and his colleagues found that different effects of logging were evident at different scales; changes in beetle communities were best explained by logging intensity at the 10-hectare scale, but changes in dung removal rate were only detectable when considering logging intensity at the 90-hectare scale.“The ecological consequences from timber removal are highly dependent on the scale at which logging intensity is measured,” explains França. He admits that the cause of this pattern is still something of a mystery. “This is a good question for further research aimed at understanding whether biodiversity and ecosystem functioning respond similarly to human-induced forest disturbances at different spatial scales.”Coprophanaeus lancifer dung beetle species photographed in the Brazilian Amazon, 2012. Photo by Hannah M. GriffithsLand sparing or land sharing? Selective logging is an example of “land-sharing” timber extraction, where it is hoped that wildlife and the natural services they provide can be maintained alongside moderate levels of timber extraction. Instead, França’s study, and others that have found low thresholds for logging impacts in tropical forests, provide evidence in favor of “land-sparing” timber extraction strategies, which create a patchwork of highly logged sites and intact forest reserves.Several studies have found evidence for the unique importance of intact forests. Sparing unlogged forests avoids the rapid initial loss of species that occurs with selective logging and could help maintain higher levels of biodiversity, overall, by protecting vital ecosystem functions like decomposition and seed dispersal.“The shape of the relationships between logging intensity and dung beetle responses provide support for land-sparing logging as the most promising strategy for maximizing the conservation value of logging operations,” says França.Evidence from two decades of research increasingly suggests that selective logging may not be effective in preserving species biodiversity or the services that intact ecosystems provide. Forestry management, urge the researchers, should respond to the wealth of new evidence and consider the use of land-sparing models rather than selectively logging entire forests.Citation:França, F. M., Frazão, F. S., Korasaki, V., Louzada, J., & Barlow, J. (2017). Identifying thresholds of logging intensity on dung beetle communities to improve the sustainable management of Amazonian tropical forests. Biological Conservation, 216, 115-122.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.Timber logs1_by FFrança: Amazonian logs gathered in a timber yard. New research shows that even low-levels of timber extraction, as carried out using selective logging, can have a detrimental effect on biodiversity. Photo by Filipe Françacenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Camera traps confirm existence of ‘world’s ugliest pig’ in the wild, warts and all

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored The Javan warty pig is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List due to a drastic population decline, “estimated to be more than 50% over the last three generations (approximately 18 years),” driven primarily by destruction of its preferred habitat in stands of teak forest and similar forest or plantation areas. The pigs are also hunted for sport and frequently killed in retaliation for raiding local communities’ crops at night.“There are no estimates of overall population size, but the species has shown a rapid population decline in recent decades,” the IUCN reports. “Compared to a survey conducted in 1982, 17 of the 32 (53%) populations are extinct or have dropped to low encounter rate levels.”There were originally three subspecies of Sus verrucosus, but one of them, S. v. olivieri, found on the island of Madura, is now believed to be extinct. Researchers proposed upgrading another, S. v. blouchi, found on Bawean Island, to full species status in 2011, but it is still treated as a subspecies pending further study of its genetics. S. verrucosus is the subspecies endemic to the island of Java.Compounding the threats to S. verrucosus, it’s believed that the pig’s continued existence might also be jeopardized by hybridization with European wild pigs, which can also be found on Java.Johanna Rode-Margono, South East Asia Field Programme Coordinator for the Chester Zoo, led the study that used camera traps, nocturnal forest surveys, and interviews with locals to locate the last Javan warty pigs.“Javan warty pigs are of a similar body size to European wild boar but are a bit more slender and have longer heads. Males have three pairs of enormous warts on their faces. It is these characteristics that have led to them being affectionately labelled as ‘the world’s ugliest pig’ but, certainly to us and our researchers, they are rather beautiful and impressive,” Rode-Margono said in a statement.“Indeed the Javan warty pig is a special animal. They are unique and can only be found in Java. Little is known about them and that very fact means we need to preserve them. We just don’t know what havoc it could wreak for other wildlife if they go extinct.”Shafia Zahra, a Program Manager at the Chester Zoo who is leading the field surveys in Java, noted that there are currently no protections for the Javan warty pig under Indonesian law.Between June 2016 and May 2017, Zahra led surveys of seven locations across Java that were previously identified by local communities as still potentially harboring Javan warty pigs. The species was found in just four of those locations, meaning that it is likely extinct in the other three, according to Zahra and team.“Sadly the pigs are freely hunted — not just for crop protection but often as a hobby and a sport,” Zahra said. “Yes, they may be ‘ugly’ but no animal deserves to become extinct because of human activity.”The Chester Zoo researchers are conducting a second study to estimate the exact size of the Javan warty pig population, assess the impact that hunting is having on the species, and examine the threat posed by hybridization with non-native wild boars. They hope that their findings will help inform conservation efforts to protect what’s left of the Javan warty pig population.Wild Javan warty pigs caught on camera for the very first time. Photo courtesy of Chester Zoo.CITATION• Semiadi, G., Rademaker, M. & Meijaard, E. (2016). Sus verrucosus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T21174A44139369. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T21174A44139369.en. Downloaded on 18 January 2018. Researchers have used camera traps on the island of Java, Indonesia to capture what they say is the first-ever footage of the Javan warty pig in the wild.Sometimes referred to as “the world’s ugliest pig” because of the eponymous warts that grow on its face, the Javan warty pig (Sus verrucosus) has seen its numbers decline precipitously over the past few decades, leading to fears that it might be locally extinct in a number of locations and perhaps even on the brink of extinction as a species.The Javan warty pig is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List due to a drastic population decline, “estimated to be more than 50% over the last three generations (approximately 18 years).” Researchers have used camera traps on the island of Java, Indonesia to capture what they say is the first-ever footage of the Javan warty pig in the wild.Sometimes referred to as “the world’s ugliest pig” because of the eponymous warts that grow on its face, the Javan warty pig (Sus verrucosus) has seen its numbers decline precipitously over the past few decades, leading to fears that it might be locally extinct in a number of locations and perhaps even on the brink of extinction as a species.But researchers with the Chester Zoo in the UK have now recorded a total of 17 videos that clearly show Javan warty pigs at two different sites on Java. You can see some of that footage here: Article published by Mike Gaworecki Animals, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Endangered Species, Environment, Mammals, Saving Species From Extinction, Wildlife last_img read more

Films celebrate big cats on World Wildlife Day

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Big cats is the theme of the global celebration of this year’s World Wildlife Day on March 3.A big cats film festival hosted by CITES and Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival at the UN headquarters in New York City will screen 16 films selected as finalists.Big cats are key apex predators that keep ecosystems healthy, and eight species are being celebrated for the event: the clouded leopard, jaguar, cheetah, leopard, lion, snow leopard, tiger and puma. Big cats around the world face many challenges, from diminishing prey populations and habitat degradation, to poaching for their meat and body parts. A current spike in the killing of Bolivia’s jaguars for the illegal trade in their teeth for jewelry is perhaps the most recent and egregious example of the latter.But there are notable efforts to raise awareness and galvanize support for these important apex predators led by some governments and NGOs like the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Panthera, National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative, and many others.Cheetah with cubs. Photo courtesy of ZSLNow added to this list is an upcoming event for World Wildlife Day on March 3. A key celebration of this global event will be the International Big Cats Film Festival, on March 2 and 3, jointly presented by Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The festival will be hosted at the United Nations headquarters in New York City and the Explorers Club, as well as many other places around the world.“When it comes to big cats, there is an urgent need for action, now,” Lisa Samford, executive director of Jackson Hole WILD, told Mongabay by email. “The International Big Cats Film Festival creates a bank of programming for free local events that raise awareness on a global scale to empower local stakeholders and cat conservation advocates as they address local issues. By working together, people around the world can impact public policy decisions governing wildlife trade, thereby really making a difference.”The event and related programming focuses on eight particular species: the clouded leopard, jaguar, cheetah, leopard, lion, snow leopard, tiger and puma.African lion. Photo courtesy of Julie Larsen Maher“These eight cats were chosen by CITES to underscore the systemic importance of these apex predators,” Samford said. “By saving these species and the habitats they range, we simultaneously impact the entire ecosystem of species that share their territories.”“Over the past century we have been losing big cats, the planet’s most majestic predators, at an alarming rate,” CITES secretary-general John Scanlon told Mongabay by email. “Big cats is not only the theme of this international film festival we’re co-organizing with Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, but more importantly the theme of this year’s UN World Wildlife Day.“World Wildlife Day 2018 gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about their plight and to galvanize support for the many global and national actions that are underway to save these iconic species,” Scanlon added. “Through World Wildlife Day, the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife, we will generate the level of attention big cats deserve to be sure they are with us for generations to come.“All species of wild cats, including big cat species, are protected under CITES through the regulation of international trade,” Scanlon said. “For nearly 20 years, CITES has highlighted the role of organized criminal activity in the illicit trafficking in Asian big cats, which have always been high on the CITES agenda, and over the last seven years we have seen our efforts to combat transnational organized wildlife crime at global level and on the front lines significantly enhanced.”Amur tiger and cub. Photo by Julie Larsen MaherIn an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible, the expanded definition of big cats is being used for World Wildlife Day, which includes not only lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars — the four largest wild cats that can roar — but also cheetahs, snow leopards, pumas and clouded leopards. Big cat species are found in Africa, Asia, and North, Central and South America, representing a virtually global distribution.Event organizers have released a list of the 16 finalists for the film festival; these will all be screened at the event and the winners announced.Readers who are not in the New York area or are outside the United States are invited to get involved by hosting a screening of the films in their own communities at a later date. Learn more about that here. Learn more about World Wildlife Day here. Article published by Erik Hoffnercenter_img Animals, Arts, Big Cats, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Cats, Cheetahs, Cites, Critically Endangered Species, Endangered Species, Film, Jaguars, Leopards, Lions, Snow Leopards, Tigers last_img read more

Detecting disasters on community lands in the Amazon: film highlights indigenous struggle

first_imgcameras, Drones, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Reserves, Indigenous Rights, Mapping, Monitoring, Rainforests, Remote Sensing, Sensors, Technology, Wildtech For decades, indigenous communities across the western Amazon have protested the contamination of their water, soil and other natural resources by oil companies.A short film, “Detecting Disasters,” explores the use by the Kukama Kukamiria and other indigenous groups of small drones to strengthen their case to officials and reduce future damage to their health and that of their forest resources.The successful, consistent use of drones and other new technologies by remote communities requires overcoming several basic challenges, including adequate electricity, training time, and availability of parts to make repairs. Tens of thousands of indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon have been fighting decades of contamination of their natural resources by foreign and domestic oil companies.Oil spills, leaky pipelines, and dumping of toxic production waters have polluted soils, gardens, rivers and lakes, as well as the fish and other animals living there, for more than 40 years. Health problems resulting from drinking and washing with waters contaminated by billions of barrels of toxic waste include epidemics, diarrhea, and skin diseases. These problems continue, though the government frequently blocks or ignores the people’s protests, or it sides with industry’s efforts to hide its trail of impact.Clean-up crew at an oil-contaminated stream in Loreto, northern Peru after a 2016 spill, one of several that year from the PetroPeru pipeline. Image credit: Al Jazeera, YouTubeThe short film “Detecting Disasters” explores one action the Kukama Kukamiria and other indigenous groups are taking to strengthen their case and reduce future damage to their resources—using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, a.k.a. drones) to monitor their lands.The Kukama Kukamiria people’s territory in northern Peru includes the exceptionally biologically diverse Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, which has also been invaded and drilled by oil industry teams.Contamination from oil and gas spills in 2014 in the Kukama Kukamiria people’s water still imperils the community. They and other groups teamed up with the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest  (AIDESEP),  an organization representing indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon, and U.S. non-profits to learn to fly small UAVs.“It’s a way of monitoring territory more efficiently and more quickly,” Apu Alfonso López Tejada, President of the indigenous Kukama Kukamiria organization ACODECOSPAT, explained in the film, below. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Sue Palminteri The Kukama training produced high-quality filming and mapping results, and AIDESEP has helped train indigenous groups to monitor their territories using drones since 2015.“We can check very distant areas and also see the potential threats, such as illegal mining and illegal logging, among other activities, which are incompatible with the objective of creating this protected natural area [Pacaya-Samiria],” said participant Edwin Yunga Yauta M., from the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve. “In this way, we can mitigate the impacts currently being caused by hydrocarbons, mining, and also encroachment.”The Amarakaeri people in southeastern Peru also began using UAVs in 2015 to monitor land cover change, specifically from invasions of their territory by illegal loggers and miners.The idea is to train trainers who can build capacity regionally. “We are trying to train an environmental monitor in each of the communities of our organization,” López Tejada said.Nevertheless, introducing UAVs or any new technology to remote societies is not without its difficulties, as highlighted in a 2017 review of the use of UAVs in indigenous territory monitoring.Despite the high enthusiasm of the Kukama training participants, the single workshop’s short duration and a single practice drone, which was then kept by AIDESEP for future use, limited practice time. The lack of practice time, both during and after the 12-day workshop, prevented the group from learning to fly the UAV independently. Similarly, they lack easy access to parts to fix the drone when it crashes and access to the internet to allow the UAV pilots to view the ground below the UAV as it flies.The upper row shows the fixed-wing drone used and some of the workshop participants. The lower row shows drone imagery acquired that found an oil spill within the Kukama territory not yet cleaned after a year. The spill was located some 11 km inside a swampy forest area; reaching the site on foot was unsafe and very challenging. Photo credits: Paneque-Gálvez et. al (2017).Decades of careless management of Amazon hydrocarbon and mining infrastructure continues to take its toll on some of the world’s highest biological and linguistic diversity, including areas far from the drilling and pipeline sites.The 64 Amazonian indigenous peoples include over 1,800 communities that are home to more than 650,000 people in 19 linguistic families. AIDESEP works to defend their rights and lands, highlight their problems, and present alternative proposals for development. The organization conducts periodic trainings, some in conjunction with NGOs and universities.‘If Not Us Then Who?’ is a US non-profit that produced this and other participatory films, photos, and content to highlight the role indigenous and local peoples play in protecting the planet.Banner image shows the lush vegetation in the rainforest canopy of southeastern Peru. Photo credit: Sue PalminteriReferencePaneque-Gálvez, J., Vargas-Ramírez, N., Napoletano, B. M., & Cummings, A. (2017). Grassroots Innovation Using Drones for Indigenous Mapping and Monitoring. Land, 6(4), 86.last_img read more

Javan rhino population holds steady amid ever-present peril

first_imgThe latest survey from the Indonesian government shows the population of the Javan rhino, one of the world’s most endangered large mammals, holding steady in its last remaining habitat.While the findings indicate a healthy and breeding rhino population, wildlife experts warn of the dangers looming over the animal’s existence, including human encroachment into its habitat and the ever-present threat of a volcanic eruption and tsunami.The Javan rhino is one of the last three Asian rhino species — alongside the Sumatran and Indian rhinos —  all of which have been pushed to the brink of extinction. JAKARTA — The Javan rhinoceros, one of the world’s most endangered species, continues to persevere in its last remaining sanctuary, the latest census from the Indonesian government has found.In a statement issued Feb. 26, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry said the population of Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus) as of the end of 2017 was a minimum of 67 individuals: 37 males and 30 females. All of the rhinos, once the most widespread rhino species in Asia, are now corralled into a single area, Ujung Kulon National Park on the westernmost tip of Java — an area spanning 480 square kilometers (185 square miles), or the combined size of the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.Ujung Kulon National Park sits on the southwestern tip of Java. Map created using Map For Environment.The census showed the population holding steady from the previous year, park agency head Mamat Rahmat said in the statement.“Our field surveys found no signs of Javan rhino death,” he said.Four rhino protection units, or RPUs, comprising park authorities and representatives of conservation NGOs, regularly patrol the area. They are also helped by community members in joint patrols four times a year.The report indicated that the rhino population included about 13 juveniles — a positive sign, given that Javan rhinos are typically solitary animals known to have a low reproduction rate. Females of the species reach sexual maturity at 3 or 4 years old, while the males mature much later, at around 6 years. The gestation period is 16 months.“The findings reflect a healthy Javan rhino population that’s breeding well,” Widodo Ramono, executive director of the Indonesian Rhino Foundation (YABI), told Mongabay.The Javan rhino is so rare and reclusive that this image, by conservationist and photographer Alain Compost is one of very few that exist. Photo courtesy of Alain Compost.Despite the positive news, Widodo emphasized the importance of sustained protective measures for the animal, and research into the dangers of having only one surviving population of the species.“The habitat eventually will hit its natural limit to provide for the population,” he said.The latest reported number is short of a target, set in 2007, of raising the population to 70 to 80 rhinos by 2015. Some conservationists say they believe the park may not be able to support a larger population than at present.While authorities have reported zero rhinos killed, threats from human encroachment into Ujung Kulon remain real. In September 2017, the park agency reported that dozens of people were caught engaging in illegal activities in Ujung Kulon’s core zone and jungles, including hunting wildlife, collecting wood and other resources, and even planting rice and other crops.The threat of natural disaster is one that has long loomed over the population, whose habitat lies within the danger zone of Anak Krakatau, the ever-growing and active volcano that rose up after the catastrophic eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. That eruption generated a tsunami with 30-meter (100-foot) waves that hammered the Ujung Kulon coast.Indonesian authorities and wildlife experts have since 2015 been scouting a second site to seed a new population of the Javan rhino. The current shortlist includes locations in western Java, but there have also been calls to look further afield at Sumatra, which is home to a distant cousin, the Sumatran rhino.But the prospects of survival for the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) appear bleak. Experts believe the total population in the wild could be as low as 30 individuals. They live in fragmented packets of forest far away from each other, making breeding much more challenging.Poaching and habitat loss have put the Javan and Sumatran rhinos on the IUCN’s list of critically endangered species, or a step away from vanishing from the wild.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Critically Endangered Species, Environment, In-situ Conservation, Javan Rhinos, Mammals, One-horned Rhinos, Protected Areas, Rainforest Animals, Rainforests, Rhinos, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation center_img Article published by Basten Gokkonlast_img read more

PHOTOS: The great Sandhill crane migration makes its annual stopover on the Platte River

first_imgArticle published by Mike Gaworecki Animals, Birds, Climate Change, Climate Change And Biodiversity, Environment, Impact Of Climate Change, Migration, Photos, Wildlife Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img The annual migration undertaken by sandhill cranes in North America is considered one of the world’s great natural spectacles, on par with Africa’s wildebeest migration and the “march of the penguins” in Antarctica.Nowhere is the sandhill crane migration more visible in all its majesty than on the Platte River in the U.S. state of Nebraska — you truly have to see it to believe it.You can hear many of the sounds of the sandhill crane migration on a recent episode of the Mongabay Newscast. It’s one thing to hear the migration, however, and quite another to see it. The annual migration undertaken by sandhill cranes in North America is considered one of the world’s great natural spectacles, on par with Africa’s wildebeest migration and the “march of the penguins” in Antarctica. And nowhere is the sandhill crane migration more visible in all its majesty than on the Platte River in the U.S. state of Nebraska — you truly have to see it to believe it.The migration is underway now, as the birds head to their breeding grounds in the northern United States, Canada, and Siberia after having spent the winter in Cuba, Mexico, and the U.S. states of California, Florida, Texas, and Utah. According to National Geographic, more than three-fourths of all sandhill cranes make a stopover at what’s known as a “migratory staging area” along a 75-mile stretch of the Platte River every year.The National Audobon Society has said that “The early spring gathering of Sandhills on the Platte River in Nebraska is among the greatest wildlife spectacles on the continent, with over a quarter of a million birds present at one time.”While sandhill cranes are the most common crane species, habitat degradation and other environmental changes at key migratory staging areas like the Platte River could have major impacts in the future.On a recent episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we spoke with researchers Ben Gottesman of the Center for Global Soundscapes at Purdue University and Emma Brinley Buckley of the Platte Basin Timelapse project about their work using camera traps and audio recording devices to document how the migrating sandhill cranes and other species that are important to the Platte River ecosystem are responding to changes in the environment wrought by climate change. You can hear many of the sounds of the sandhill crane migration (as well as chorus frogs, prairie chickens, and more) by giving the episode a listen:It’s one thing to hear the migration, however, and quite another to see it. Brinley Buckley has also photographed the cranes as they make their stopover on the Platte River, and captured other species besides. She was kind enough to share the following pictures with Mongabay.Sandhill crane silhouettes circling at sunset before roosting on the Platte River for the night. Photo Credit: Emma Brinley Buckley.Sandhill crane silhouettes circling at sunset before roosting on the Platte River for the night. Photo Credit: Emma Brinley Buckley.Sandhill cranes on the Platte River in central Nebraska. Photo Credit: Emma Brinley Buckley.Sandhill cranes on the Platte River in central Nebraska. Photo Credit: Emma Brinley Buckley.Sandhill cranes in flight over the Platte River. Photo Credit: Emma Brinley Buckley.A roost of sandhill cranes waking up to a snow storm on the Platte River. Photo Credit: Emma Brinley Buckley.A leopard frog sitting in the shallow waters of a slough. Photo Credit: Emma Brinley Buckley.A lek of prairie chickens booming and dancing on conservation land managed by The Crane Trust. Photo Credit: Emma Brinley Buckley.A prairie chicken. Photo Credit: Emma Brinley Buckley.Here is a soundscape timelapse video Gottesman and Brinley Buckley made, pairing audio and photos of the Platte River ecosystem:Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

Agroforestry bolsters biodiversity and villages in Sri Lanka

first_imgResidents of the rural Sri Lankan village of Pitekele relied on the nearby rainforest as a source of food, fuel, fiber and medicine for generations, until it was made into a park.The forest’s new conservation status and rules for accessing traditional products caused traditional “home garden” agroforestry plots to replace the forest’s role in villagers’ incomes and food procurement strategies.These unusually diverse agroforestry systems have reduced the pressure on native primary rainforest and serve to provide habitat, forest cover, biodiversity and food security within the buffer zone, where land is otherwise increasingly being used for tea cultivation.Sri Lanka is a biodiversity hotspot, and its home gardens are very diverse too: Pitekele’s home gardens support a richness of 219 species in 181 genera and 73 families. PITEKELE, Sri Lanka — Visitors to the Sinharaja Man and Biosphere Reserve, Sri Lanka’s largest remaining primary rainforest, could easily miss the fact that adjoining the forest’s entrance is the old and thriving community of Pitekele. Yet on foot, it takes just a quick turn and a climb over a boulder or two to exit the UNESCO World Heritage Site and enter into this bucolic village landscape of fallow rice paddies, sprawling tea gardens, and homes surrounded by some of the most diverse, and biodiverse, gardens in the whole region.Pitekele, Sinhalese for “the village outside the forest,” is located within the 3-kilometer-wide (1.9-mile) buffer zone on the northwestern side of Sinharaja, the last remaining example of a once extensive mature wet-zone rainforest containing species endemic to Sri Lanka, and is itself a prime example of applied agroforestry.View of a Pitekele home garden surrounding dense plantings of tea. Photo by Chandni Navalkha for MongabayVillagers have a complex relationship with the protected area; while they fully support the conservation of the forest for its contribution to the local climate and clean water, conservation rules implemented after the reserve’s establishment in 1986 have curtailed their ability to use forest resources upon which they have depended for generations.These restrictions have made the villagers’ “home gardens” — multi-story combinations of trees, shrubs, herbs and lianas planted around houses — increasingly important for their livelihoods and food security.Shifting away from forest resourcesForest resources were once a central part of villagers’ livelihoods. Three decades ago, men and children in Pitekele would often go to the forest to gather valuable products for use at home and to sell.Villagers tell of the many different plant species they would gather at different seasons. A favorite was wild cardamom (Elletaria ensal), known locally as enasal, used to flavor curries and sweets. A yellow vine called weniwelgetha (Coscinium fenestratum), which has recognized anti-tetanus properties and is now critically endangered, was prized as medicine for ailments as common as fevers and as rare as snakebites. On their way to tap fishtail palms (Caryota urens), known as kitul, whose sweet sap is used to make hard sugar and syrup, men would gather up nuts and resins from native dipterocarps (Shorea sp.) to eat and to sell.Since the creation of the reserve, these activities are forbidden. Now, to tap palms within the forest, villagers are required to purchase permits. As a result, people rarely enter the forest; even village elders told Mongabay that they go maybe once a year.“Before, we used to go to the forest to gather food, spices, medicine, to tap fishtail palms,” says Guneratne W.* “We used to sell resins and fruits we collected, and now we don’t, we sell areca nut, coconuts, or bananas that we have on our land when we need extra income. Now, we must grow what we want to eat or sell in our home gardens.”Nam nam is a fruit tree common in Sri Lankan home gardens, this one has a fruit that’s almost ready to be picked. Photo by Chandni Navalkha for MongabayAn extraordinarily diverse agroforestry systemScholars believe home gardens in Sri Lanka are an ancient agroforestry system that has been practiced for more than 2,500 years. The age of tropical home gardens is less well understood, but Vijaykumara W.* knows his family has maintained a home garden in Pitekele for at least 200 years. “I am the fifth generation here,” he says, “this is my ancestral village.”According to village elders like Vijaykumara, most of the home gardens in Pitekele were planted between 30 and 50 years ago, established by children when setting up their own households. Some home gardens, those of the older households, are more than 100 years old.These home gardens also feature a high level of diversity compared to other regions of Sri Lanka. A forthcoming study on Pitekele by Klaus Geiger et al. in association with Yale University finds that the tropical home gardens found here demonstrate a much higher species richness than those found in other studies of Sri Lankan home gardens. Through their survey of 10 home gardens in the village, the authors found a total species richness of 219 species in 181 genera and 73 families. Similarly, their mean species richness per home garden of 64 species is much higher compared to other estimates of Sri Lankan home gardens, which range from 42 to 46 in a 2009 study by K. Kumari et al.People here say that their home gardens have existed as far back as they can remember, even if the species mix has changed over time. Jayawira*, a tea planter and kitul tapper in Pitekele, remembers walking 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from Weddagala, the closest town, carrying construction materials for his house on his back.“In the past, there was no road … we would walk,” he recalls. “We had to grow everything we wanted because we couldn’t buy it, including medicine because we were far from the doctors and hospital. Now we have less than we used to in the home gardens because we don’t need to grow medicines anymore, we have the road and can go to the hospital.”While no single home garden in the village is the same — each reflects the individual preferences of a family — all contain a mix of edible, medicinal and ornamental trees and plants. The most common trees in home gardens are the native kitul palms and two species which are ancient introductions: coconut palms (Cocos nucifera), including the famous king coconut (Cocos nucifera v. aurantiaca), and areca palms (Areca catechu), the nuts of which are sold for cash throughout the year.In addition to these native palms, jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) and mango (Mangifera indica) trees dominate the canopy of home gardens and provide an important source of both fruit and timber. Exotic fruit species from Latin America and the Asia Pacific, like breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis), ambarella (Spondias dulcis), water apple (Syzygium malaccense), and rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum), as well as spice trees like clove (Syzygium aromaticum), compose the mid-canopy.“Here, we don’t buy fruits,” Niyentara G.* says as she hands me a 2-kilo (4.4-pound) bag of ambarella from her garden to make curry for dinner. “We eat from the garden as things come into season. But the animals eat the manioc and bananas, and we still need to buy things like vegetables in town.”Edible and medicinal herbs cover the ground in Pitekele’s home gardens. Photo by Chandni Navalkha for MongabayLower-canopy trees consist of exotic citruses such as lemon (Citrus aurantifolia), orange (Citrus sinensis), and mandarin (Citrus reticulata), plus guava (Psidium guajava) varieties, nam nam (Cynometra cauliflora), the native cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum verum) and medicinal trees such as nika (Vitex negundo) and pawata (Pavetta indica). Black pepper (Piper nigrum) and betel (Piper betel) vines often adorn the trunks of these trees.Ground-story herbs and shrubs supplement edible fruits with edible leaves like koppa (Polyscias scutellaria), niramulia (Hygrophila schulli), gotukola (Centella asiatica) and bowitiya (Osbeckia aspera), used to make the sambal sauces that traditionally accompany meals of rice and curry. Spices like curry (Murraya koenigii) and pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius) leaf are also found in this layer of the home garden, as are popular medicinals like polpala (Aerva lanata) and iraweriya (Plectranthus zatarhendi var. tomentosa), which are used for stomach ailments.Changing livelihoodsThe road is a symbol of the villagers’ changing livelihoods. Two or three decades ago, sheets of freshly tapped and rolled rubber would be drying outdoors on clotheslines; people grew coffee and cinnamon as cash crops, sold forest products, tapped kitul and planted their own rice.Around the same time as the establishment of Sinharaja, however, villagers began replacing their rubber and cinnamon plantations with tea plants and stopped growing rice altogether.According to villagers, this shift began when the price of low-grown tea rose above rubber prices. Infrastructure, like the road and a daily truck sent to pick up villagers’ tea harvest, encouraged people to switch from rubber and cinnamon to tea. “We became busy with growing tea and picking the tea leaves,” Lakshi R.* explains, “We didn’t have time to grow rice, and with our income from tea, we can buy rice instead.”Even as higher incomes enable families to purchase rice from the market, villagers say that as food prices increase home gardens are vital in supplying their households with food staples like peppers, coconuts, spices, and fruits and vegetables. Ashoka W.*, who started his tea plantation in Pitekele about 10 years ago, told Mongabay, “Our lives depend on the price of tea. If it goes down, so does our quality of life.”Useful trees visible in this typical home garden include coconut, jackfruit, areca palm, banana, mango, breadfruit, and citrus varieties. Photo by Chandni Navalkha for MongabayGrowing their own food in home gardens ensures that even if the price of tea decreases, villagers in Pitekele are food secure. The same study by Geiger et al. found that an equal amount of Pitekele’s land area is in tea cultivation as in home gardens.Recognizing this, the Sri Lankan government has encouraged the establishment of home gardens through its rural development and agricultural policies. In 2011, the Sri Lankan Department of Livelihoods (Divi Neguma, later consolidated into the poverty alleviation program known as Samurdhi) launched an initiative to foster the establishment of more than 1 million home gardens. Annual targets continue to extend this number; in 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture aimed to create 500,000 additional home gardens throughout Sri Lanka.Maintaining tree cover and combating climate changeIn a country where deforestation has decreased its original forest area by half since 1956, home gardens like those in Pitekele are crucial to maintaining forest cover and ecosystem services. A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization in 2009 found home gardens compose nearly 15 percent of Sri Lanka’s land area and 33 percent of its total forest area.Like other agroforestry systems globally, home gardens in Sri Lanka play an important role in combating climate change. Annually, agroforestry sequesters 0.73 gigatons of carbon around the world. While quantitative studies of carbon storage in home gardens is lacking, experts agree that Sri Lanka’s tropical home gardens have a high degree of existing and potential carbon storage“These are tree-based systems that store large amounts of carbon in both above-ground biomass and in soils,” says James Roshetko, an expert on agroforestry in Southeast Asia at the World Agroforestry Centre. Along with carbon storage, home gardens boost resilience to climate change: “The diversity of home gardens helps farmers eliminate the risk associated with changing climate conditions.”Mangala De Zoysa, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Ruhuna in Sri Lanka, notes that even as home gardens themselves sequester carbon, they reduce the risk of deforestation and degradation of carbon-sequestering forests like Sinharaja.Sixty percent of Sri Lanka’s timber is supplied by home gardens, he says. “People get their fuelwood and firewood from their gardens, which helps to protect natural forests.”Home gardens capture carbon and provide dense cover for creatures to hide, forage, and nest in, as with this gourd tree. Photo by Chandni Navalkha for MongabaySupporting biodiversity, from monkeys to monitor lizardsAlong with reducing pressure on forest resources, contributing to villagers’ food security and livelihoods, and maintaining forest cover in the buffer zone of Sinharaja, the tropical home gardens of Pitekele support biodiversity conservation in the region by providing a habitat for important fauna, many of which are endemic species.“Home gardens provide excellent habitat for pollinators like insects and birds,” Roshetko says. “And at the same time their diversity helps farmers to keep out pests and disease.”Talking with villagers about the birds and animals they witness commonly within their gardens, they mention just a few of the many species they see.One family often spies the endemic Sri Lankan gray hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis) eating papaya from a tree in their garden. Villagers put out rice to feed the birds, and the Sri Lankan jungle fowl (Gallus lafayetii) can be seen in many home gardens as a result. Other commonly seen and heard birds are the pied cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus), the brown-headed barbet (Megalaima zeylanica), the Sri Lanka blue magpie (Urocissa ornata), and the rarer Ceylon frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger). Yellow-billed Babbler in a Pitekele garden. Photo by Le Do Ly Lan 1234 read more