Thai police bust leading wildlife trafficker

first_imgThai police have arrested Boonchai Bach, the alleged kingpin behind one of the world’s biggest and most notorious wildlife trafficking syndicates.Bach and his family operation have been the target of authorities and anti-trafficking groups for more than a decade for moving vast quantities of rhino horns and elephant tusks to markets in China, Vietnam and Laos, via their hub in Thailand.One of the family’s main customers remains at large, however. Vixay Keosavang, said to be the most prominent wildlife dealer in Southeast Asia, is beyond the reach of Thai authorities, in Laos. Police in Thailand last week detained a key figure in one of the world’s most notorious wildlife trafficking syndicates, accused of smuggling large numbers of rhino horns and elephant tusks from Africa to Asia.Boonchai Bach, who also goes by the name Bach Van Minh, was arrested Friday at his operational base in Nakhon Pathom province, for allegedly trafficking 14 rhino horns from Africa to Thailand last month. The case also implicated a Thai official, a Chinese national and a Vietnamese courier.“This arrest is a significant for many reasons,” police colonel Chutrakul Yodmadee said in a statement.“The confiscated items are high in value. And we are able to arrest the whole network involved, starting from the courier, the facilitator, the exporter who [planned] to export goods through Thai-Laos border. We even got the moneyman [investor] behind the gang. That means we are able to arrest the whole network.”Boonchai Bach, 40, was arrested last week by Thai authorities over alleged attempts to smuggle more than a dozen rhino horns. Photo courtesy of Matthew Pritchett/Freeland.Boonchai, a 40-year-old Vietnamese who also holds Thai citizenship, has been accused of operating an international trafficking network on the Thai-Laos border that expanded into Vietnam.The anti-trafficking group Freeland Foundation has described Boonchai and his family as the main suppliers to Southeast Asia’s major dealers in Laos, Vietnam and China, including the notorious Vixay Keosavang. Freeland had tracked the family since 2003, collecting evidence on their operations, which included transporting tiger bones across borders.From 2010 to 2013, Freeland and Thai law enforcement authorities identified Keosavang as the region’s most significant wildlife dealer. However, he remains out of reach of Thai authorities, in Laos. In 2013, the New York Times ran an exposé of Keosavang’s animal-smuggling syndicate, which the group and Thai officers codenamed “Hydra.”In the Times article, it was revealed that convicted Thai citizen Chumlong Lemtongthai had supplied Keosavang with large amounts of rhino horn from South Africa, using Thai commercial sex workers to pose as hunters and sign fraudulent hunting and export documents. Lemtongthai was arrested by South African authorities in 2012 and sentenced to an unprecedented 40 years in prison.The U.S. government in 2013 put up a $1 million reward to end Keosavang’s operations.In 2014, Freeland and Thai investigators learned that Keosavang’s supply chain was fed by the Bach family, who had representatives in Africa, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Lemtongthai was one of them, and had been hired by the Bachs who were working with Keosavang to order dozens of rhinos at a time to be killed for their horns, and to then transport them to Laos, via Thailand, for onward sale to Vietnam and China.In early December 2017, officers at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport allowed suitcases containing the rhino horns to pass through customs, then followed them to Nikorn Wongprajan, a Thai officer allegedly involved with the Bach network. Wongprajan admitted to being hired to pass the horns from the airport to a Bach family member at a nearby apartment, leading to their arrest along with the Chinese courier.Freeland said the Thai airport officers “are to be congratulated for breaking open the country’s largest wildlife crime case ever.”“This arrest spells hope for wildlife,” said Steven Galster, the founder of Freeland. “We hope Thailand, its neighboring countries and counterparts in Africa will build on this arrest and tear Hydra completely apart.”Rhino horns can fetch an estimated $100,000 per kilogram (about $45,360 per pound). Thousands of rhinos in Africa are killed each year, both by legally sanctioned hunters and by poachers, and most species are listed as “Critically Endangered,” or being on the brink of extinction.The illegal trade in wildlife and their body parts is worth an estimated $23 billion a year, and is the world’s most lucrative black market industry after drugs, human smuggling and arms trafficking. Despite this, international law enforcement has been slow to crack down on it.Banner image: Rhinoceros eating at a national park in South Africa. Photo courtesy of Komencanto/Wikimedia Commons.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 Article published by Basten Gokkoncenter_img Animal Cruelty, Animal Rights, Animals, Conservation, Crime, Environment, Environmental Crime, Illegal Trade, Law Enforcement, Rhinos, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Crime, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking last_img read more

New app hopes to reduce wildlife deaths on India’s roads, railway lines

first_imgArticle published by Shreya Dasgupta Animals, Biodiversity, Citizen Science, Conservation, Conservation Technology, data collection, Endangered Species, Forests, handheld, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Infrastructure, Roadkill, Roads, Technology And Conservation, Wildlife, Wildtech Roadkills, a newly launched Android app, lets users in India record information on deaths of animals — both domestic and wild — on roads or railway lines, and upload geotagged photos.Such roadkill data can be useful for both researchers and people planning infrastructure projects across the country, conservationists say.The app data can help identify what sections of roads and railway lines animals use the most, for instance, which could in turn help guide measures that would reduce or prevent wildlife deaths.Warning: Some photos may be disturbing or graphic. India’s growing network of roads and railway lines, often crisscrossing forests and wild lands, has turned deadly for wildlife. In December last year, for example, an 8-year-old male tiger died in a road accident on a four-lane-highway in the state of Maharashtra, while a speeding train killed five elephants in the state of Assam.Countless other animals, from frogs and snakes, to birds and jackals, frequently collide with high-speed cars or trains in India, but their deaths go unnoticed, unrecorded.A newly launched mobile-based app hopes to tackle this problem.Roadkills, an Android app currently supported by the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT), lets people record information on deaths of animals, both domestic and wild, on roads or railway lines, and upload geotagged photos. Such data can be useful not just for researchers, according to Milind Pariwakam, a wildlife biologist with the WCT, but for people planning infrastructure projects across the country. The app data can help identify what sections of roads and railway lines animals use the most, for instance, which could in turn help guide measures that would reduce or prevent their deaths.“Small research teams can only monitor a few roads at a time,” Pariwakam told Mongabay. “But development is going to happen everywhere, and the scale of this problem is so huge that resources are always going to be limited no matter how big an organization you are. So we thought ‘Why don’t we mobilize citizens to collect roadkill data instead?’”An 8-year-old male tiger was hit and killed by a speeding vehicle on Dec. 29, 2017, on a national highway in Maharashtra state. Photo by Sheetal Navgire/WCT.Users can see all of the app data on a map on the Roadkills website. And those wanting to analyze the data themselves, or use it for other purposes, can write to the team, a press release notes, adding that “the data will be shared free of cost under a Creative Commons license.”While the team’s long-term plan is to use the data to reduce roadkill, their immediate objective is to grow the user base and keep the users engaged. “Only then can data actually start flowing in and some action be taken,” Pariwakam said.But users should be careful while using the app, he cautioned. “People drive fast on highways, which is also the reason for roadkills. So while recording a roadkill would be nice, your own safety is of utmost importance,” he said.Stopping on some roads, such as parts of national highways that pass through some national parks, is also illegal. And people should be mindful of not breaking the law to collect data, he added.The team is currently working on an iOS version of the app, which they say will be out within the next couple of weeks.“We call upon other wildlife conservation organizations to join this initiative and make the data collection effort larger and more inclusive,” said Anish Andheria, the WCT president. “The data will be made available for better planning of roads and railway lines for a wildlife-friendly and better society.”A dead jungle cat on an Indian highway. Photo by Vishal Bansod/WCT.Indian fox roadkill on a highway. Photo by Anish Andheria/WCT.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

Calls for change in handling abuse allegations at top conservation group

first_imgAmazon Conservation, Conservation, Corruption, Endangered Environmentalists, Featured, Forests, Rainforest Conservation, Rainforests, Saving Rainforests, Tropical Forests, Wildlife Conservation Information provided to Mongabay shows a history of employees at CI who feel twice victimized — first by what they describe as “bullying and harassment,” and a second time by consequences if they report up.Although CI advertises myriad policies about workplace ethics and protections, many say they are still afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation.Staff also say that they are crippled by uncertainty about privacy rights and fear possibly destroying their careers or being branded a “troublemaker.” Despite that, staff have found ways to tell management time and again that not enough is being done to protect people in their organization. There are two versions of the story, and both of them are true. In one version, Conservation International (CI) is an idealistic, energetic and challenging place to work and grow if you want to help save the planet. The pay is on the high side for comparable non-profits or global conservation organizations. It’s also prestigious: its CEO dines with world leaders, its board includes movie stars, and it just announced a partnership with NASA and legendary grunge band Pearl Jam. It gets funding from USAID, the National Science Foundation, NOAA and the U.S. Department of State.In the other version of the story, current and former employees of one of the largest environmental non-profits in the world say the organization is not adequately addressing allegations of workplace bullying and harassment that stretch back years.“I was told once that women can’t budget, I was called stupid in front of colleagues and harassed to the point of tears during meetings,” current staffer Rebecca* said. She also said she has faced professional retaliation, even while receiving outstanding performance reviews and trying to solve workplace problems from within the CI system.She said in her several years at CI, which took her to multiple country offices, she also witnessed other colleagues suffer or advocate similarly. “I could have tried to find a lawyer, but I didn’t want money to stay quiet, I wanted things to change,” she said.In a months-long investigation that unearthed information spanning nearly two decades, Mongabay conducted more than half a dozen extensive background interviews with current and former CI staff about their experiences with the organization. We also analyzed over 150 pages of public and private documents, and more than a dozen videos. The records show that years of staff complaints of bullying, sexual harassment and abusive behavior by management have not led to significant or effective changes in institutional practices. Documents provided to Mongabay also show that numerous individuals within executive leadership, upper-level management, and legal and human resources departments have long been well aware of the complaints.Rebecca said that although she loves her mission-driven work at the non-profit, she can’t reconcile that with the negative aspects. “I can’t shake the other experience I’ve had at CI — the years of bullying and verbal abuse. We say we’re working for human well-being and then the human well-being within our organization is lacking.”A river from healthy forest area meeting a river downstream from logging sites near Sabah Malaysia. Photo by Mongabay.Rebecca said her work ethic was questioned when she was “too exhausted from working overtime to even think clearly.” She said she was propositioned for sex by a country director from one of CI’s South American offices “in front of a CI board member who didn’t even flinch.” She said she’s also witnessed and personally experienced male managers joking about oral sex and pornography, and asking probing, personal questions about relationship and marital status.Erin* is a former CI staffer who worked at CI over 10 years ago with a small team that was eventually almost completely dissolved.Erin said she initially went to work for the organization because its mission aligned with her personal and professional ideals and goals. That proved to be a more complex alignment than she’d realized, particularly given CI’s diverse spectrum of workplaces around the world.“You have different social norms in different places,” she said. “There’s a culture of fear. People don’t speak out that much.”So information continues to get passed around through the organization’s grapevine, along with experienced advice on how to deal with the most difficult characters. Former staff also remain in close touch with some of their ex-colleagues and are trusted sounding boards.“Everyone at CI has their favorite anecdote about harassment and bullying that they share over drinks when prompted,” Rebecca said. “You often hear at happy hours that people are being treated badly, the work expectations are unreasonable, their work is being insulted in front of other people, they are being told they aren’t good enough. They are being told inappropriate comments about women or people of other nationalities.”Many point to career and financial pressures as major factors in deciding whether or not to speak up, though. “Employees continue to keep quiet for fear of retribution or blacklisting in the industry,” Rebecca said.That’s a reaction shared by almost every current or former CI staffer who came forward to be interviewed for this story**: not one of them would agree to use their real name on the record. That includes those who said they “had only positive experiences” while at CI. The most-cited reason was fear of negative professional repercussions.Mongabay also combed over five dozen employee evaluations on popular employment review sites Glassdoor.com and Indeed.com in search of repetitive scenarios that either aligned with positive and negative accounts of staff we spoke to, or threw the veracity of those accounts into question. There were no major variations from the more than half a dozen accounts we gathered of both positive and negative experiences.In an email, a Glassdoor spokesperson explained that the process to moderate the more than 80 reviews posted about CI on the website involves a multi-step evaluation before publication. Anonymity is protected under Glassdoor’s privacy policy and community guidelines.CI does frequently promote various avenues to make complaints, including its Ethics Hotline, legal and human resources departments, and even executive-level management. The hotline is a phone number and email run by third-party corporation Navex.The non-profit also requires staff to report any issues that violate its policies on sexual harassment and other workplace ethics. How many actually put that requirement into practice is unclear.“I meticulously documented things,” Rebecca said. “I submitted things through the ethics hotline … I spoke to a lot of people. They just saw this as 100 small incidents. The end result is that it was not appropriately addressed.”Her decision to speak out also made her more aware of what was happening with others.“The more I reported harassment, and the more I talked to HR, the more I realized I wasn’t the only one,” she said. “There are countless individuals that have been known [as] toxic bullies that eventually just left because they got a better offer from somewhere else or retired out.”Now she and other CI staffers say they want their organization to provide more robust management, human resources and sexual harassment training, greater confidentiality protections, and a more standardized chain of command for reporting up. They also want a consistent practice of using outside third-party investigations in serious cases, and for protections to extend to field staff and those who work with their partner organizations globally.‘It was emotional abuse’On more than one occasion, a manager with allegations of abuse or harassment against them at CI has been let go, though complaints don’t seem to be the main factor when managers facing allegations are fired. More often than not it’s been left up to the employee who is complaining to pick a path: fight or flight.Multiple former and current staffers who have gone through CI’s complaint process more than once told Mongabay they spent years repeatedly discussing their issues with everyone from a human resources representative to a member of the executive team. Meetings were set up. Confidences were established. Recommendations were given. But problems continued for those staffers and others.Former CI staffer Tom* worked for the non-profit full-time for more than two years before he quit in early 2015 because of what he describes as an “emotionally abusive supervisor.”“She left a trail of destruction behind her,” Tom said, adding that his supervisor’s reputation was well known and he was warned from day one on her team. “So many people came up to me and said, ‘I advise you to start looking for another job right now because you have no idea what mistake you’ve made.’”The warnings proved true, he said, and over a period of about a year he went to human resources four times looking for help.Tom added that he believes many other people made complaints about the same supervisor around the same time. About six months into his position, he got an unexpected promotion and raise. It seemed things were looking up and the problems had been resolved.Then an approved vacation request for a few days off turned into a nightmare, he said, as his supervisor demanded, “You need to be available to me while on vacation.” He said the moment his vacation began, his manager began to frantically call and email, asking him to complete an urgent assignment. Then HR began to call and email. Nowhere near a computer at the time and with a fading cellphone battery, he started receiving frantic messages that the vacation had to be canceled to finish “an important task.” Tom made a detour to respond. He was stunned to find his boss was asking him to make a title slide for a PowerPoint presentation.“Everybody knew,” Tom said, adding that the situation for him became a matter of surviving toxic doses of manipulation. “It was, in a way, an abuse of power. You know you’re in a situation where someone abuses power, and you start wondering, ‘Is it something I did wrong? Am I making the project fail? Am I not working hard enough?’”The final straw was an assignment that dropped into his lap with a one-month deadline just two weeks before his winter vacation. He said he had to work over the holidays to finish on time, all while HR continued to advise him to get another job. Within less than two months of finishing that assignment — he said he was exhausted, depressed and at his wit’s end — he finally quit. After he left, a majority of his colleagues from his team also quit independently of one another.“Many, many people have come before me,” Tom said. “It was never about performance, it was emotional abuse.”Finding skeletons in the closetToday, CI works with more than 2,000 in-country partners, according to its website. Its annual budget is hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to tax filings.Yet staff say that over time, they feel that things like management training and protecting employees has taken a backseat to funding pressures. CI partners financially and programmatically with some of the largest philanthropic organizations in the world, but complaints of employee mistreatment at Conservation International have persisted for years.“CI-HQ needs sexual harassment training!” wrote one employee in October 2010 to CI’s online anonymous suggestion box. “I have witnessed and heard about multiple instances of harassing behavior in the last six months. None of the individuals (all women in their 20s) who experienced this harassment were comfortable approaching anyone in a position of authority about it. The training … should be made mandatory here.”The response to the complaint of harassment was simply: “We currently have no plans to institute training on this topic but will consider doing so if we have reports of harassment at CI.”In 2012, a suggestion to create an ombudsman position as a neutral third party to address issues was not taken up, but CI did conduct its first staff survey that year. In the second and most recent staff survey, in 2014, a total of 630 people responded. The survey results show that 40 percent of respondents didn’t think workplace rules were being applied equally to everyone. Areas of top concern included accountability and “fear of speaking up.”Beyond that, some say that CI continues to make unacceptable allowances for cultural and gender differences in their diverse organization.“We need to be equitable and fair, both within our external programming and internally,” said Amanda*, a longtime CI staffer in management at HQ. “To me the most tangible way is to … do some sort of mandatory workshop that is self-reflective and begins to shift the culture.”In the summer of 2017, CI did host a Gender Summit near its U.S. headquarters over a period of several days, but it was focused on gender-related issues in programming. However, an after-report summary written by the 14 attendees included a suggestion about gender issues in CI’s workplace. The suggestion stemmed from a discussion that took place within the group during the summit and particularly focused on stories from South Africa, Peru and Bolivia, according to CI field staffers who attended.“If we don’t walk the walk, we can’t talk the talk,” they wrote. “Unfortunately, there are still many inequities and work cultures at CI that are not equally supportive of women and men, and other social groups.”They also noted that “there still remains prominent issues within field offices and headquarters that impede the realization of the internal culture we desire. This is a red flag issue that should be prioritized within CI’s HR department and among leadership.” The report noted an intention to bring “some of the main issues and recommendations” to executive management in a letter. The letter was never sent, according to sources familiar with the situation.Fast-forward to today: There has been little significant institution-wide training for sexual or other harassment, or for bullying and abuse. There are discussions and promises from the top that a new survey and some kind of training are on their way this year, and CI confirmed to Mongabay that a minimum two-hour sexual harassment training is required within the first year of employment. The spokesperson also said that during management events, such as the annual week-long internal training, it includes the topics of sexual harassment and what it describes as “other ethics matters.” It said both CI staff trainers and external experts are used.In the meantime, an array of issues persists for both men and women, and sources told Mongabay that there is a fear associated with reporting up, even with anonymity or having true confidentiality when dealing with a complaint. Staff that have used the oft-advertised anonymous Ethics Hotline say that in their experience, any report there can, and sometimes does, get passed around among different relevant individuals.“I think a lot of people … don’t trust it [the hotline]. So in theory you call this number and it works in multiple languages,” Amanda said. “I think in practice … people just don’t trust it or understand where the complaint is going.”However, according to a former upper-level manager within the HR department at CI who departed earlier this year and asked not to be identified, the anonymous option on the hotline is trustworthy.For Amanda, she believes that a fear of power plays a role in not reporting up.“When you’re looking at the breakdown in field programs, most women are in the lower, entry and mid-level positions,” Amanda said. “And in the discussions I’ve had with a number of them there’s limited opportunity for advancement and there can be issues of bullying or not being respected in part because of their gender.”Nonetheless, she and many others at CI remain optimistic. CI’s staffing numbers do reflect the strong presence of women within the organization. According to the most recent information provided by the non-profit, women make up half of their global staff, and over half of CI’s 17 senior vice presidents are women.“I have hopes that this new leadership will take a more proactive approach than the last one did. But we’ll have to see,” Amanda said.Responses from CI’s new leadershipCurrent CEO M. Sanjayan took the reins from co-founder Peter Seligmann, who had served as CEO since the organization’s founding in 1987, last May. He was joined by new president Jennifer Morris and executive vice president Sebastian Troëng.The problems are widespread enough that Sanjayan has weighed in on the issue more than once during his first nine months at the helm of CI. In fact, he has personally offered to field complaints, and sources say he has gotten quietly involved multiple times, but they haven’t yet seen any broader change beyond their personal cases.He’s also publicly encouraged discussion and often reiterated CI’s strict policies and avenues for reporting issues.During an all-staff meeting on Oct. 30, 2017, Sanjayan, Morris and Troëng briefly addressed a question about harassment and gender equality in the workplace. Sanjayan said the HR department knows “it’s time to do a refresher on inclusion and make sure there’s absolute clarity.”The next day, during a Women’s Network meeting, sources say Sanjayan showed up unannounced to ask women there if the #metoo movement is relevant to CI. The Women’s Network is a professional networking and support group within CI that was founded in 2010. Opened to men in mid-2017, it is run and populated largely by about 200 mid-level female staff, most of whom have little or no institutional power.In a written response to Mongabay, CI spokesperson Jenny Parker said that the non-profit wants to be part of the “global conversation underway” about issues of harassment and abuse and that executive leadership is committed to reinforcing “our core workplace values, which do not tolerate harassment of any kind.”Parker added that CI does enforce its policies for inappropriate behavior. “Every complaint of harassment, bullying, or any other inappropriate behavior is taken seriously, investigated thoroughly, and dealt with promptly,” Parker said. She added that any new information would “warrant review and any necessary action.”* Current and former CI staffers interviewed for this story asked that their names and other identifying details not be used out of concern over negative professional repercussions. ** Editor’s note (April 6, 2018): After this story was published, one of the former CI employees contacted for this article reached out to Mongabay indicating a willingness to be used as a named source. The former CI employee, who wasn’t interviewed or used as a source for the story, “only had positive, empowering, respectful experiences with male colleagues”. Based on this information, we updated the story April 6 by adding the word “almost” to this sentence: That’s a reaction shared by almost every current or former CI staffer who came forward to be interviewed for this story.Genevieve Belmaker is a contributing editor at Mongabay. You can find her on Twitter at @Gen_Belmaker. With additional reporting by Lauren Crothers and Carinya Sharples.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 Genevieve Belmakercenter_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

Indonesia’s dying timber concessions, invaded by oil palms, top deforestation table

first_imgBanner image: A logging road cuts through a tropical forest in Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler. Deforestation, Environment, Forestry, Forests, Indonesia, Logging, Palm Oil, Plantations, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Logging, Rainforests, Selective Logging, Timber, timber trade, Tropical Forests Article published by Hans Nicholas Jong A study shows that selective-logging leases accounted for the highest rate of deforestation in three provinces studied from 2013 to 2016.While the discovery came as a surprise, the researchers attributed part of that deforestation to the illegal encroachment of oil palm plantations into many of these timber concessions. Another factor is the cutting of more trees than permitted by logging operators.Environmentalists warn the problem could get even worse if the government follows through on plans to lift a ban on exports of unprocessed logs, which has been in place since 1985 (with a brief hiatus from 1997 to 2001). JAKARTA — The rate of deforestation in selective-logging concessions in parts of Indonesia has unexpectedly overtaken those of pulpwood and oil palm concessions, a new study shows.A study by the NGO Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) in the provinces of North Sumatra, East Kalimantan and North Maluku showed a combined loss of 7,180 square kilometers (2,770 square miles) of these forests between 2013 and 2016. Seventy-two percent of that deforestation occurred in areas under one of four types of concessions: selective logging (for timber); pulpwood (typically acacia, to make paper); oil palm; and mining.Selective logging, which the researchers believed to be a declining industry relative to the booming oil palm and pulpwood industries, experienced the highest rate of deforestation over the study period, losing 838 square kilometers (323 square miles) of natural forest. This was followed closely by mining concessions (833 square kilometers), palm oil concessions (760 square kilometers) and pulpwood concessions (370 square kilometers).“We considered the selective-logging industry to be comatose … largely replaced by acacia plantations and then oil palm plantations,” FWI campaigner Agung Ady Setiawan told Mongabay. But the study, he said, showed otherwise — and the culprit was the latter industry.Selective-logging concessions, known by the Indonesian acronym HPH (Hak Pengusahaan Hutan), are the backbone of Indonesia’s historically important timber industry. But that industry has been on a steady decline due to competition from other countries across Southeast Asia and an export ban on unprocessed logs imposed by the government since 1985. (The ban was briefly lifted from 1997 to 2001, but has remained in place ever since.)In 2000, selective-logging concessions occupied 640,000 square kilometers (247,100 square miles) of forested area in Indonesia, contributing $9 billion a year to the economy. By 2015, the concessions had shrunk by less than a third, to 206,200 square kilometers (79,600 square miles). Of the 269 selective-logging companies registered in the country, only 178 are still active.Palm oil plantations, meanwhile, have experienced a boom in the past four decades, from just 3,000 square kilometers (1,160 square miles) of concessions in 1980 to 116,000 square kilometers (44,800 square miles) in 2016, according to the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI).Unlike acacia and oil palm plantations, the cutting of trees in HPH concessions is selective, with only commercially valuable trees larger than a certain diameter allowed to be felled. This leaves other trees standing for long-term generation. Between two and 20 trees are typically removed from each hectare of forest once every few decades.This generally leaves more than 90 percent of the trees standing, and the remaining vegetation recognizably constitutes a forest.That, said FWI’s Agung, was what made the discovery of the high rate of deforestation in selective-logging concessions such a surprise.Upon closer inspection, FWI found that in many cases, the selective-logging concessions had been illegally converted into oil palm plantations, with the operators relying on a dearth or, in the case of abandoned concessions, complete lack of monitoring by the authorities.This was the case in at least one of the selective-logging concessions studied in the district of South Tapanuli, in North Sumatra, said FWI researcher Mufti Fathul Barri.“We assume that this is the cause of deforestation in some HPH concessions,” he said. “There are many HPH concessions that are left unmonitored and unmanaged by the owners, and so they’re converted into oil palm plantations by locals or other companies.”The takeover by the oil palm plantations has also triggered conflicts with residents, the study found.In other cases, the deforestation in HPH concessions was due to more trees being cut down than were permitted. FWI said this was the case in two selective-logging concessions in Obi Island, North Maluku. One of the concessions lost 48 square kilometers (18 square miles) of natural forest in the three-year study period, while the other lost 41 square kilometers (15 square miles).“Based on our analysis, deforestation is shifting to the eastern part of the country,” which includes North Maluku, Agung said. “This pattern [of deforestation in HPH concessions] used to happen in Sumatra and Kalimantan [Indonesian Borneo] 10 to 20 years ago. Now it’s happening in HPH concessions in eastern Indonesia because this part of the country still has thick and lush forests.”The government is considering once again lifting the ban on exports of unprocessed logs from HPH concessions, as a means of reviving the timber industry. It argues that with low domestic prices for timber, the industry needs access to the overseas market.Environmental activists, however, warn that this will only speed up the rate of deforestation in selective-logging concessions.“It’ll become deforestation permitted by law,” Even Sembiring, the policy assessment manager at Walhi, Indonesia’s largest environmental NGO, told Mongabay. “The protection of HPH concessions is still weak, as we can see from many former concessions being converted into oil palm plantations, because the managers don’t bother to reforest their concessions.” 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

Global warming may poison monarch butterflies, study finds

first_imgCitation:Faldyn, M. J., Hunter, M. D., & Elderd, B. D. (2018). Climate change and an invasive, tropical milkweed: an ecological trap for monarch butterflies. Ecology.Banner photo: a monarch butterfly feeds on tropical milkweed. Photo by Korall via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor 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 Monarch numbers have plummeted in recent decades and scientists think it’s due in large part to the reduction of milkweed in the U.S. and Canada from increased herbicide use, as well as deforestation of monarch overwintering grounds in Mexico.A recently published study finds a new threat: warming temperatures may be making milkweed, the only plant monarch caterpillars can eat, too toxic for the butterflies.The researchers estimate that at current warming rates in the southern U.S., tropical milkweed will be too toxic for monarchs within 40 years.Monarchs prefer tropical milkweed to native species and the plant is now widespread throughout the southern U.S. Monarch butterflies depend on milkweed and its poisonous compounds that are deadly to most other insects. But a new study finds global warming may be making the very plant monarch butterflies need to survive too toxic even for them.Their vibrant red-orange wings with contrasting black veins and white dots make monarchs (Danaus plexippus) easy to recognize not only to humans but also to birds on the lookout for a snack. It’s a warning that tells would-be predators an important message: Poisonous – do not eat.Monarchs get their protective poison from the milkweed plant, which is actually a group of species nested under the genus Asclepias. The great Swedish botanist and founder of modern taxonomy Carl Linneaus named this group after Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, because of the plant’s use in traditional medicine. But milkweed plants also have a deadly side. They produce compounds called cardenolides that are steroids capable of stopping the heart.Scientists believe milkweed plants produce cardenolides as a defense against plant-eating insects and other animals. But some species have coevolved around this defense. And some, like monarch butterflies, don’t just cope with these toxins – they’re able to sequester them in their tissue to make themselves poisonous and bad tasting to their own predators.A monarch caterpillar feasts on a milkweed leaf. Photo by USFWS Mountain-PrairieBecause of their unique defense, monarch butterflies are obligate feeders on milkweed, and their caterpillars cannot eat anything else. This relationship is a risky one, and monarchs seem to be paying a price; their numbers have plummeted in recent decades and scientists think it’s due in large part to the reduction of milkweed in the U.S. and Canada from increased herbicide use. (Other factors, like deforestation of monarch overwintering grounds in Mexico, may also be contributing to their decline.)But now, scientists say they have discovered another threat to monarchs. In a study recently published in the journal Ecology, researchers at Louisiana State University (LSU) put forth findings that indicate global warming may be making remaining milkweed plants more toxic.The study found that one of the monarch’s favorite milkweed species, Asclepias curassavica, commonly called tropical milkweed, responds to warmer temperatures by producing more cardenolides. The researchers say that monarchs prefer this species because it tends to have more cardenolides than milkweed native to North America, but that they can withstand these toxins only up to a certain point.“It’s a Goldilocks situation for monarch butterflies. Too few of these chemicals in the milkweed, and the plant won’t protect monarch caterpillars from being eaten,” said Bret Elderd, associate professor in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences. “But too high of a concentration of these chemicals can also hurt the monarchs, slowing caterpillar development and decreasing survival.”A monarch caterpillar tastes the flower of a tropical milkweed plant. Photo by Judy Gallagher via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)Tropical milkweed is prized not only by monarchs but by humans as well. With its attractive, long-lasting orange flowers and leaves that don’t shed, gardeners often opt for this species over native species – planting it has even been touted as a way to help monarchs – and it is now widespread throughout the southern U.S. But at current warming trends, Elderd and his team found that tropical milkweed there may get too toxic for monarchs within the next 40 years. Or sooner, if heat waves hit the region.“If I’m a monarch butterfly, and I’m responding to past environmental conditions, I’ll lay my eggs on A. curassavica,” Elderd said. “But under conditions of global warming, I’ll be doing my offspring a disservice without knowing it.”This isn’t the first strike for tropical milkweed when it comes to monarch butterflies. Previous research found monarchs that were raised on tropical milkweed tended to change their migration behavior and have higher rates of disease and parasitic infection.Unlike tropical milkweed, swamp milkweed (Ascelpias incarnata) is native to North America and produces fewer toxic cardenolides. The researchers say this is a better choice for monarchs in a warming world. Image from the public domain.Elderd and his team hope their study will help further understanding of the complex impacts climate change may have on wildlife, and inform better decision-making on the part of conservationists.“Overall, we have shown the importance of examining how species interactions may respond to abiotic changes due to climatic drivers,” the authors write in their study. “This is particularly true for specialists and their response to global warming.“Without gaining proper insight into how these interactions shift as the planet warms, we may be unwittingly setting ecological traps.” Article published by Morgan Erickson-Davis Agriculture, Animals, Butterflies, Climate Change, Climate Change And Biodiversity, Climate Change And Extinction, Deforestation, Environment, Global Warming, Insects, Invertebrates, Plants, Research, Wildlife last_img read more