By Brendan Mackey and James Watson
It’s now or never if the world’s surviving primary forests are to be saved. Will the international community act or continue to turn a blind eye to our planet’s key life support systems? Despite their shortcomings, international environmental agreements can provide incentives for national governments and land custodians to turn back the tide of forest destruction. Primary forests, however, remain invisible in forest policy debates and oddly off the radar for most conservation organizations.
By K. Ullas Karanth, Director for Science-Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society The Malenad Tiger Landscape in southwestern India, located in Karnataka and covering adjacent areas of neighboring Kerala and Tamil Nadu, today harbors what is possibly the largest wild tiger population in the world, about 400 animals or so. Camera trap research supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society…
At a time when no one had previously descended deeper than 350 feet and survived, Beebe and Barton set out in 1930 to explore the vast depths of the Atlantic near the island of Bermuda in the bathysphere submersible invented by Barton. The men crammed into a cast iron sphere that was 4.75 feet in diameter with 1” thick walls to withstand the immense pressure of the ocean’s depths.
My assignment is a mammoth one: Go to Kenya and photograph African elephants – a vulnerable species currently losing ground as 35,000 elephants are killed a year.
There is an incredible diversity of snake species that occupy a wide range of environments in tropical and temperate areas, from deserts and mountain summits to oceans. With about 3,458 species known so far, snakes are a successful group of predatory vertebrates. Since 2008, 309 new species of snake have been described.
The Amazon basin—with its vast rainforests and river systems—is the most bio-diverse place on earth and, not surprisingly, a region rich in discovery. Newly described plant and animal species are a frequent occurrence. The recent video documentation of a newly discovered fish migration is a much rarer event and particularly noteworthy this weekend as we celebrate World Fish Migration Day, a one-day global initiative to boost awareness of the importance of open rivers and migratory fish.
Since we last celebrated Earth Day a year ago, 29 states have experienced 99 Federal disaster declarations. Fires, floods, mudslides, hurricanes, and tornadoes have devastated the United States, causing billions of dollars of damage, destroying thousands of homes, and up-ending people’s lives.
Half of the world’s farmers are women, but women only own about one percent of the world’s land. Similarly, women make up nearly 50 percent of the global fisheries workforce, but in most countries have little to no say in how fisheries are managed. These statistics are indicative of a more general trend: women’s interests and roles are seldom seriously considered in the design and implementation of rural development and conservation initiatives.
In its coastal fisheries, Belize is leading the way in innovative management strategies designed to preserve biodiversity in a manner that keeps fishermen on the water and focused on the long-term sustainability of fish stocks. Future generations of Belizeans will be able to carry on their rich fishing traditions thanks to the decisions, at times quite difficult, being made right now.
Whether it is using scuba and snorkel surveys to track changes in coral reef health, systematic ranger and ecoguard patrolling to enforce wildlife laws and prevent crime, expert opinion interviews to assess strengths and weakness of natural resource governance, or household surveys to measure the livelihoods of families who share the landscapes in which we work, increasingly conservation organizations are committed to ensuring we measure what we manage.
The international trade in parts and products of wild animals is worth more than $150 billion per year. Yes, billions. International illegal wildlife trade is considered by some experts to be the fourth largest illegal trade in the world (after drugs, weapons, and human trafficking). It involves animals and plants used for collectibles, food, pets, ornaments, curios, leathers, medicines, and cosmetics. It includes tens of millions of wild mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and other species.
Many important areas would remain un-protected in the Alberta government’s draft Regional Plan, which would establish new Wildland Parks in about 25% of the area. In fact, the government’s proposed parks would cover only a small portion of each species’ vital habitat. Several of the more productive habitats along the upper river valleys and higher tributaries would be excluded from protection.
For more than a decade, scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society have conducted research and worked with partners to protect pronghorn migration to and from Grand Teton National Park along a more than 100-mile long migration corridor known as the Path of the Pronghorn. The animals migrate along this corridor between summer range in and around Grand Teton National Park and winter range in the Upper Green River Valley south of Trapper’s Point in western Wyoming. If this migration corridor is severed, pronghorn will be lost from Grand Teton National Park.
Human society clearly wants raw materials to fuel economies of sufficient size to meet the needs of what will soon be nine billion people. Yet promoting the disturbance and degradation of the few places on the planet that remain intact and most resilient to climate change is, at the very least, short sighted.
By K. Ullas Karanth, Director for Science-Asia at the Wildlife Conservation Society Tigers are the largest of all living wildcats. Over the course of two million years, nature fine-tuned them as master predators through a trial-and-error process we call Darwinian evolution. Hunting alone, a tiger can take down prey four to five times its own…