Nature news stories from Mongabay

Visualizing the impacts of human disturbance on tropical forest biodiversity by Mike Gaworecki [07/26/2017]
- Efforts to protect biodiversity often focus on keeping forests and the habitat they represent from being cut down. But research published in the journal Nature last year suggests that forest degradation resulting from human activities is perhaps just as urgent a threat to biodiversity as deforestation.
- According to the study, man-made disturbances in Pará’s tropical forests have resulted in levels of biodiversity loss equivalent to clearing 92,000 to 139,000 square kilometers (around 35,500 to 53,700 square miles) of pristine forest.
- If that kind of raw data is hard to wrap your brain around, that’s where Silent Forest comes in. Thiago Medaglia described it as “a journalistic data visualization project” in an email to Mongabay.

Proposed Colombia dam threatens to wipe out endangered plants, disrupt river by Taran Volckhausen [07/26/2017]
- A proposed $800 million dam in northwestern Colombia would provide 352 megawatts of electricity annually.
- The dam is sited in the Samaná Norte River, which scientists are just starting to survey after being barred due to conflict. A recently discovered, critically endangered species of palm, Aiphanes argos, is highly threatened by the dam. Its dicoverer says that flooding caused by dam construction could put the palm at high risk of extinction.
- Other critics say the dam may also displace local communities and reduce populations of a fish species important to the local economy. A dam expert says reduced water flow from damming the Samaná Norte could release more methane into the atmosphere.
- A representative from the company charged with construction of the dam says precautions will be taken to mitigate environmental damage.

Working with communities to fight fires in Way Kambas National Park by Della Syahni [07/26/2017]
- Way Kambas National Park in southern Sumatra supports populations of Critically Endangered Sumatran rhinos, tigers and elephants, along with hundreds of other species.
- In 1997, forest fires hit 70 percent of the park, killing many animals and hampering regeneration in previously logged areas.
- Local authorities and conservation groups are now working with residents to prevent and fight fires, with notable success.

How effective are wildlife corridors like Singapore’s Eco-Link? by Maxine Chen [07/26/2017]
- Man-made wildlife corridors are becoming a popular policy tool to create connectivity between natural areas for animals – but how well are they working?
- Early data suggests the Eco-Link@BKE has helped some species, including the critically endangered Sunda pangolin.
- More research is needed to understand which species benefit from eco corridors and why.

Conserving the World’s Remaining Intact Forests (commentary) by Michael Painter and David Wilkie [07/25/2017]
- Intact forests are among the few places on earth where native trees and animals can fulfill their ecological roles outside the influence of industrial humankind.
- Some interpret “intact” to mean absent the influence of people, but people have lived within forests the world over for millennia and we are only beginning to understand how they have – and continue to – influence them.
- We cannot solve our most pressing environmental and development problems by compromising the few areas that remain whole.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Stopping climate change may be harder than scientists thought by Morgan Erickson-Davis [07/25/2017]
- One major goal of the Paris Agreement is to reduce carbon emissions and keep global temperature averages from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.
- To track the world's progress to the 2-degree threshold, climate scientists use a temperature baseline set in the late 1800s.
- But a new study finds this baseline measurement may not actually represent the global temperature average prior to the beginning of human-cased warming. Its authors say an older baseline would be more accurate.
- If correct, the researchers' findings mean the world has warmed as much as 0.2 degrees Celsius over previous estimates, and that 40 percent less carbon would need to be burned to reach current emissions reduction targets.

UN moves one step closer to convening high seas treaty negotiations by Mike Gaworecki [07/25/2017]
- While the high seas can be said to belong to everyone, no one body or agency is tasked with their governance and there is no comprehensive management structure in place that is capable of protecting the marine life that relies on them.
- The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2015 calling for a preparatory committee to explore the feasibility of an international treaty designed to protect high seas biodiversity and report back by the end of 2017.
- Environmentalists applauded the outcome of last week’s meeting: “We are pleased that the UN Preparatory Committee has completed its mandate and agreed by consensus to recommendations that will move this issue to the next phase of high seas conservation,” said Liz Karan, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ campaign to protect ocean life on the high seas.

Business owners in top Belize destination want increased mangrove protections by Erik Hoffner [07/25/2017]
- Towns like San Pedro depend on attractions like Hol Chan Marine Reserve to bring tourists but loss of mangroves on land is a threat to clean water and healthy reefs
- A number of business owners would like to see better mangrove protections and planning documents developed
- Up to one third of Belize citizens work in the tourism sector, more than agriculture

Audio: Global megadam activism and the sounds of nature in Taiwan by Mike Gaworecki [07/25/2017]
- Activists from around the world attended the conference to strategize around stopping what they see as destructive hydropower projects. As Bardeen relates in her commentary, many attendees at the conference have faced harassment, intimidation, and worse for their opposition to dam projects, but they’re still standing strong in defense of free-flowing rivers.
- We also speak with Yannick Dauby, a French sound artist based in Taiwan. Since 2002, Dauby has been crafting sound art out of field recordings made throughout the small country of Taiwan and posting them on his website,
- In this Field Notes segment, Dauby plays a recording of his favorite singer, a frog named Rhacophorus moltrechti; the sounds of the marine life of the corals of Penghu, which he is documenting together with biologists; the calls bats use to echolocate (slowed down 16 times so they can be heard by human ears!); and more!
- All that plus the top news on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast!

Low-tech challenges to high-tech forest monitoring: lessons from Ugandan parks by Sue Palminteri [07/25/2017]
- Remote sensing technology can provide useful intelligence to park managers but must be combined with an understanding of its limitations, as well as the tools and training needed for its use.
- An assessment by park rangers in Uganda of satellite image-based deforestation alerts found that the alert locations at 30 m x 30 m resolution were sufficiently accurate to support reserve management.
- The near real-time alerts of likely deforestation could make forest patrols more efficient and effective, but rangers must still have proper training, incentives, and resources to properly integrate alerts into their regular functions.

Flood hits India’s Kaziranga National Park, killing four rhinos by Bikash Kumar Bhattacharya [07/24/2017]
- Annual monsoon floods are a natural part of Kaziranga National Park's ecosystem but pose multiple threats to animals, including the risk of drowning or getting poached or hit by cars while fleeing rising water.
- According to officials, 81 animals have been killed in this year's flood, including four rhinos. Another 78 animals have been stranded or injured.
- Mitigation measures include increased monitoring by rangers, police and drones; closely tracking the speed of vehicles through the park; and the construction of artificial highlands.
- Authorities are also considering a controversial proposal to build a road-cum-embankment to prevent floodwaters from inundating the park.

Pangolin hunting skyrockets in Central Africa, driven by international trade by [07/24/2017]
- The study pulled together information on markets, prices and hunting methods for pangolins from research in 14 countries in Africa.
- Pangolins are hunted for their meat in some African countries, and their scales are used in traditional medicine, both locally and in several Asian countries, including China.
- The researchers found that as many as 2.71 million pangolins from three species are killed every year across six Central African countries – at least a 145 percent increase since before 2000.
- They recommend better enforcement of the 2016 CITES ban across the entire supply chain, from Africa to Asia.

Meet the new giant sunfish that has evaded scientists for centuries by Shreya Dasgupta [07/24/2017]
- Scientists have named the new species the Hoodwinker sunfish or Mola tecta (derived from the Latin word tectus meaning disguised or hidden).
- The team is yet to determine the Hoodwinker's range, but they have found the fish around New Zealand, off Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales (Australia), South Africa and southern Chile.
- The Hoodwinker sunfish can grow up to 2.5 meters (over eight feet), the team estimates, and its slimmer, sleeker body doesn't change much between juveniles and adults.

Orangutans find home in degraded forests by John C. Cannon [07/24/2017]
- The study leveraged three years of orangutan observation in the field and airborne mapping of the forest structure using laser-based light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology.
- The research team found that orangutans make use of habitats that have been ‘degraded’ by logging and other human uses.
- The research is part of a larger effort in collaboration with the Sabah Forestry Department to map carbon stocks and plant and animal biodiversity throughout the Malaysian state of Sabah with the goal of identifying new areas for conservation.

On the front lines of conservation: How do rural women feel? by Neha Jain [07/21/2017]
- Researchers interviewed women living inside a national park in the West African state of Guinea-Bissau about how the park affects their daily lives.
- The women felt the park was the cause of malnutrition because chimpanzees and baboons in particular damaged their crops and they did not receive compensation.
- Although reluctant to participate in conservation, they hoped the researchers could help provide compensation and improve their lives.

Will banning trade in fins help endangered sharks? Some experts say no by Ula Chrobak and Sukee Bennett [07/21/2017]
- The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2017, introduced before Congress on March 9, would terminate the possession and trade of shark fins in all 50 U.S. states and 16 territories.
- Activists and advocacy groups often cheer these bans as a way to protect sharks. Internationally about 70 of the planet’s 400-plus shark species now face extinction, often due to overfishing..
- However, some experts argue that better tracking to determine whether imported fins were caught sustainably, followed by trade restrictions on those that weren’t, represent the best steps toward saving threatened shark species.
- Some go so far as to argue that a U.S. trade ban may do more harm than good, by crushing a domestic industry that exports sustainably caught fins to markets in Asia and allowing less-sustainable fisheries to take up the slack.

Road safety for wildlife: researchers analyze the best techniques for road-kill mitigation by Danielle Bettermann [07/21/2017]
- In a given year, an estimated one to two million wildlife-vehicle collisions occurs in the United States alone.
- A meta-analysis comparing data on the effectiveness of road-kill mitigation efforts found that fencing yields the best results.
- Although the most effective road-kill reduction measures can be the most costly, the study emphasizes that they have high returns on investment.

Mounting outcry over Indonesian palm oil bill as legislators press on by Hans Nicholas JongPhilip Jacobson [07/21/2017]
- The bill cements the right of oil palm planters to operate on peat soil, at a time when President Joko Widodo is trying to enforce new peat protections to stop another outbreak of devastating fires and haze.
- The bill has also been criticized for outlining a variety of tax breaks and duty relief schemes for palm oil investors, although those provisions have been dialed back — but not completely eliminated — in the latest draft.
- The bill's main champion in the House of Representatives is the Golkar Party's Firman Soebagyo. He says it will help farmers and protect Indonesian palm oil from foreign intervention.
- Responding to mounting public criticism, some cabinet members recently asked the House to abandon the bill, but Soebagyo, who is leading the deliberations, says they will continue.

Big forests, big ag: Are rainforests the right place for industrial agriculture? (commentary) by Glenn Hurowitz [07/21/2017]
- Gabon remains a relative stronghold for endangered wildlife like chimpanzees and forest elephants.
- Singapore-based Olam International, one of the world’s largest agribusinesses, has agreed not to plant palm oil in protected wetlands, and also set aside conservation areas and corridors for wildlife in its concessions in Gabon.
- But there is only so much that can be done to minimize the impact of clearing 26,000 hectares in the middle of one of the world’s most forested countries.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Lawyer opposing U.S. resort developer in Baja Mexico jailed 62 days by Rodrigo Soberanes [07/20/2017]
- An American company plans to build what it dubs Tres Santos: 4,472 houses, a tank to store 400,000 liters of water, and two boutique hotels like one being built on Punta Lobos Beach in Baja California Sur
- At the time of his arrest, lawyer John Moreno Rutowski was representing the fishing community of Punta Lobos, which opposes the project because it supplants the beach and wetland area they’ve used for 100 years
- Four days after Moreno Rutowski’s incarceration, a federal judge confirmed the right of the fishermen to “protect their traditional beach against the threat of displacement brought about by Tres Santos,” according to Moreno Rutowski’s lawyer
- 62 days later Moreno remains in jail on unclear charges

Camera traps capture elusive ocelots in Peru’s Madre de Dios by Milton López Tarabochia [07/20/2017]
- The ocelot is a particularly important part of the Amazonian ecosystem because it’s a dominant species in the food chain, especially at the mesopredator level.
- Between 1960 and 1970, Peru’s population of ocelots went through a crisis known as a population bottleneck. Even today, they are sometimes kept as pets or killed for their fur.
- In addition to the hunting of ocelots, the study highlights the vulnerability of Peru’s Las Piedras District. Although it has some of the most remote forests in Peru, the district is at risk of deforestation and degradation due to the human pressures like logging.

Climate change is increasing the mortality rate of African wild dog pups by Mike Gaworecki [07/20/2017]
- The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), a native of sub-Saharan Africa, is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, which reports that there are only an estimated 6,600 adults in 39 subpopulations left in the wild — and that their numbers continue to decline due to ongoing habitat fragmentation, conflict with humans, and infectious disease.
- Compounding these threats to the species’ survival, according to a paper published in the Journal of Animal Ecology yesterday, climate change appears to be increasing the mortality rate for African wild dog pups.
- Researchers discovered that the packs spend less time hunting in hot weather. They also found that more pups died as the days got hotter, which they theorize is because, simply put, decreased hunting time means less food to feed the young.

Halfway through the year, 2017 is on pace to be the second warmest on record by Mike Gaworecki [07/19/2017]
- June 2017 was the third-hottest June ever recorded, the 41st June in a row — and the 390th consecutive month — that saw the average global temperature rise above the 20th-century average.
- Not only that, but January-to-June 2017 was the second-hottest January-to-June ever recorded.
- All of which means that 2017 is on pace to be the second-hottest year since global temperature data first started being recorded in 1880 — and there's not even an El Niño event this year to boost temperatures.

Brazil’s indigenous Munduruku occupy dam site, halt construction by Sue Branford and Maurício Torres [07/19/2017]
- The Munduruku say their sacred sites were destroyed to make way for other hydroelectric projects. Experts say the dams are also blocking fish migration routes.
- The Munduruku are making a series of concrete demands they want fulfilled before they end the occupation.
- The director of São Manoel Energia, the construction consortium building the dam, said that construction work would be halted for the duration of the occupation.
- A prosecutor and acting head of Brazil's FUNAI Indian agency will be visiting the site of the occupation this week.

Animated animals: can games engage an audience with a conservation message? by Sue Palminteri [07/19/2017]
- Video games that incorporate new data visualization technologies offer an alternative channel to communicate the ecology and the plight of wildlife to an otherwise untapped audience.
- An online game called Safari Central will combine real tracking data from animals in the wild with augmented reality, creating virtual avatars of these namesakes.
- Though still unproven, games also offer an unconventional business model to support wildlife conservation programs through small in-game purchases by a potentially huge audience.

Behind rising rhino numbers in Nepal, a complex human story by Alex Dudley [07/19/2017]
- The fortunes of the indigenous Tharu people and Nepal's rhinos have been linked for centuries.
- The establishment of Chitwan National Park in 1973 deepened the marginalization the Tharu, evicting thousands from their land and depriving them of access to the forest.
- Since the 1990s, conservation groups have been working to develop a community-based conservation model that includes the Tharu.
- Other ethnic groups have long remained outside the community conservation model, and have in some cases turned to poaching for income.

Mothers vs. loggers: the destruction of Białowieża Forest splits Poland by Rachel Fritts [07/19/2017]
- A bark beetle outbreak has led Polish officials to begin large-scale logging across old-growth Białowieża Forest, home to bison, wolves and a rich cultural history.
- The logging is opposed by everyone from scientists to the UN to the European Commission to a group of mothers concerned about the world their children will inherit.
- The European Commission has recently declared that all logging should cease.

Charcoal and cattle ranching tearing apart the Gran Chaco by John C. Cannon [07/19/2017]
- The year-long probe of Paraguay’s charcoal exports by the NGO Earthsight revealed that much of the product was coming from the Chaco, the world’s fastest-disappearing tropical forest.
- Suppliers appear to have reassured international supermarket chains that it was sustainable and that they had certification from international groups such as FSC and PEFC.
- But further digging by Earthsight revealed that the charcoal production methods used may not fit with the intent of certification.
- Several grocery store chains mentioned in the report have said they’ll take a closer look at their supply chains, and the certification body PEFC is reexamining how its own standards are applied.

Investigation finds ‘thriving’ rhino horn trade in Asia by John C. Cannon [07/18/2017]
- Over 11 months, EAL investigators posed as potential buyers and identified 55 'persons of interest' involved in the trade of rhino horn.
- The group mapped out the routes by which rhino horn – valued at tens of thousands of dollars per kilogram – arrives in China.
- Recorded conversations during the investigation allude to the fact that dealers and traders understand that rhinos face the threat of extinction.

Nepal’s rhino numbers rise, thanks to national and local commitment by Alex Dudley [07/18/2017]
- Nepal's population of greater one-horned rhinos has fluctuated wildly over the past century.
- Widespread in the early 1900s, rhinos were reduced to a few pockets by the 1950s and around 100 individuals in the 1970s.
- Conservation efforts boosted the population by the 1990s, but the 1996-2006 Maoist insurgency took a devastating toll.
- Numbers are now rising again, a trend attributed to commitment at both the grassroots and the highest levels of government.

Inflated quotas for captive-bred wildlife in Indonesia may aid traffickers: report by Basten Gokkon [07/18/2017]
- Indonesia's captive breeding plan is meant to enable the legal wildlife trade while protecting the country's natural riches, including its incredible biodiversity.
- But "unrealistically high" quotas for the maximum production of certain species in the plan are likely being taken advantage of by wildlife traffickers, according to a new study.
- The Indonesian environment ministry official in charge of setting the quotas says his department has audited the country's breeding centers to ensure their professionalism and quality.

Tuna catch monitoring enters the electronic age by Sue Palminteri [07/18/2017]
- A new electronic monitoring system is being tested in the western and central Pacific to improve the timeliness and accuracy of tuna catch data and the transparency of tuna supply chains through faster more effective on-board and portside catch monitoring.
- Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing results in overharvesting and an annual loss of US $600 million for the region and is perpetrated primarily by licensed vessels hauling in unreported and unregulated fish stock.
- The Onboard, Observer, and TAILS portside e-Reporting apps are still in the testing phase, but their use is expected to expand across the Pacific.

Ranges for majority of world’s large carnivores have shrunk by more than 20 percent by Mike Gaworecki [07/17/2017]
- The red wolf’s (Canis rufus) global range, in particular, has shrunk almost entirely, with researchers quantifying the loss as 99.7 percent.
- The range for five other species has also decreased by more than 90 percent: Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis, 99 percent), tiger (Panthera tigris, 95 percent), lion (Panthera leo, 94 percent), African wild dog (Lycaon pictus, 93 percent) and cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus, 92 percent).
- Researchers found that proximity to higher densities of rural humans, livestock, and cropland area made the decline of large carnivore ranges far more likely — a finding that would seem to contradict previous research showing that larger-bodied carnivore species are at greater extinction risk due to their need for larger prey and extensive habitat.

As Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem faces multiple threats, local resistance grows by Junaidi Hanafiah [07/17/2017]
- Sumatra’s Leuser Ecosystem covers 2.6 million hectares and is home to some 105 mammal and 382 bird species, many found nowhere else on earth.
- The ecosystem is part of a World Heritage Site that has been listed as "In Danger" since 2011 — a designation that was renewed earlier this month.
- The local government's plans for the ecosystem include large hydroelectric dams. Deforestation and encroachment for palm oil and pulp and paper production are also major problems for the Leuser.
- Local NGOs and community groups are speaking out against large-scale projects in the ecosystem, citing threats to the area's human residents as well as to wildlife.

Transforming business as usual in Indonesia: an interview with Aida Greenbury by Rhett A. Butler [07/17/2017]
- Aida Greenbury is the former Chief Sustainability Officer at Asia Pulp & Paper, a forestry giant with extensive operations in Indonesia.
- Greenbury was the lead internal architect for APP's 2013 forest conservation policy, which is today one of the most ambitious zero deforestation commitments in the plantation sector.
- Greenbury left APP in May and is today working on collaborative initiatives to protect and restore ecosystems.

First ever photos of wild lion nursing leopard cub by Shreya Dasgupta [07/17/2017]
- Five-year-old lioness named Nosikitok is currently collared and monitored by KopeLion, a conservation NGO in Tanzania.
- The circumstances that brought the lioness and the leopard cub together still remain a mystery.
- She is believed to have recently given birth to her second litter of cubs and scientists think that the lioness's maternal instincts may have driven her towards caring for the little leopard.

Scientists condemn expansion of industrial monocultures at expense of traditional gardens in Mexico by [07/15/2017]
- Planned expansion of industrial monocultures in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula poses a threat to traditional agricultural practices, say scientists.
- Mexico has traditionally been at the forefront of recognizing community rights to forest management, including including having strong land tenure laws.
- Mexico is currently losing over 150,000 hectares of forest per year

Colombia expands indigenous reserves near key deforestation hotspot by Mike Gaworecki [07/14/2017]
- The Puerto Sabalo - Los Monos and Monochoa indigenous reserves are both located in the province of Caquetá, which has the highest rate of forest loss in Colombia.
- The expansion of the two reserves connects Chiribiquete with Predio Putumayo, the country's largest indigenous reserve, creating a conservation corridor slightly larger than the entire country of Honduras.
- A recent report by the Mapping the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) shows that cattle ranching and agricultural development have opened a new deforestation hotspot in Caquetá province’s Amazon rainforests — and that deforestation is expanding towards Chiribiquete National Park.

Big mammals flourish as Cerrado park’s savanna comes back by John C. Cannon [07/14/2017]
- The study examined a state park in the Brazilian Cerrado, which contains land used in recent decades for eucalyptus plantations, cattle ranching and charcoal production.
- The researchers used camera traps, recording the dry season presence of 18 species of large mammals.
- In a subsequent analysis, they found that the number of large mammals found in the ‘secondary’ savanna was similar to numbers found in untouched regions of the Cerrado.

Going under: mangrove restoration in low-lying Guyana a vital need, say experts by Carinya Sharples [07/13/2017]
- A mature mangrove tree, which can grow as high at 30 feet, acts as a buffer against the sea and storms, a filter for the water, and can chop ten times more carbon than any other plant.
- Greater seawall defense is an urgent problem in a country where portions of the coastline are nearly five feet below sea level at high tide.
- Almost 90 percent of the country’s population lives and works along Guyana’s fertile Atlantic coast, making a lack of seawall defense a potential threat to food security, livelihoods and lives.

2016 was even deadlier for environmental and indigenous activists than 2015 by Mike Gaworecki [07/13/2017]
- According to a new report released today by Global Witness, at least 200 people were killed in 24 countries last year in retaliation for standing up to environmentally destructive industrial projects. That’s up from 185 murders in 16 countries in 2015.
- With at least 33 murders linked to the sector, mining appears to be the most deadly industry to oppose. But killings connected to logging companies are on the rise, with 23 in 2016, compared to 15 the year before. Another 23 deaths were associated with agribusiness projects, 18 with poachers, and seven with hydroelectric dam projects.
- More than half of all killings of environmental activist last year occurred in Latin America. Brazil was once again the deadliest country in the world to be an activist, with 49 murders, many of them committed by loggers and landowners in the Amazon.

Soy King Blairo Maggi wields power over Amazon’s fate, say critics by Jenny Gonzales [07/13/2017]
- Brazil’s Blairo Maggi made a fortune with vast Mato Grosso soy plantations in Legal Amazonia. Today, Amaggi Group, the family company, dominates the nation’s agribusiness sector — profiting from farm commodities, and the roads, railways, and industrial waterways that transport them.
- Maggi rose through Brazilian politics, becoming Mato Grosso’s governor, a senator, and today, the Temer administration’s agriculture minister. He is also a leader of the bancada ruralista, the agribusiness lobby, that dominates Brazilian government.
- Once known as the Soy King, Maggi has often pushed anti-environmental agribusiness policies, including those resulting in major Amazon deforestation, ending indigenous land demarcation, and harmful infrastructure projects putting biodiversity at risk. He has also, paradoxically, worked to end illegal logging and to reduce deforestation.
- On Monday, 17 July, Maggi will meet with the Trump administration to urge the U.S. to lift its ban on Brazilian beef, a ban prompted by scandal involving a corrupt federal meat inspection service overseen by his ministry. Maggi was recently accused of corruption by federal Lava Jato investigators. He continues to shape Amazon policies.

Temer signs law that could see millions of acres lost in the Amazon by Sue Branford and Maurício Torres [07/13/2017]
- MP 759, signed into law this week by President Temer, and little noticed by the media, significantly alters Brazil’s Terra Legal program, introduced in 2009 by President Lula — a program that has already been hijacked by land thieves, critics say.
- The new law introduces further multiple loopholes to allow land thieves, who have illegally occupied and cleared vast areas of public land in the Amazon, to legalize their land holdings, and to do so both easily and cheaply.
- MP 759, among other things, increases the land claimable via Terra Legal from 1,500 to 2,500 hectares; allows wealthy land thieves to go on paying very little for land; and offers what in practice is an amnesty for land grabbers who illegally seized public lands between 2004 and 2011.
- With government regulatory and enforcement agencies hard hit by massive budget cuts, analysts fear that the passage of MP 759 will result in an alarming increase in rural violence, which is already running at very high levels.

On poaching in South Africa, education “has saved more wildlife than any guard with a gun” by Justin Catanoso [07/13/2017]
- Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the largest and best-known parks for seeing large animals in the world.
- However, as many as three rhinos a day are poached for their horns in and around Kruger despite massive anti-poaching efforts.
- Anti-poaching advocates near Kruger say hope lies in basic education and jobs in tourism, which they aim to provide.

Catching the buzz: acoustic monitoring of bees could determine pollination services by Danielle Bettermann [07/13/2017]
- The services of pollinating animals are necessary for the reproduction of over 85 percent of flowering plants, and the majority of these pollinators are bees.
- Characteristics of individual bees, including their body size and tongue length, result in unique buzz signatures and allow for the study of the bee’s productivity.
- To help the productivity of bees’ pollination services, researchers have developed an inexpensive method of measuring each bee’s acoustics that will eventually be available for the public’s use.

Illegal mining threatens last remaining habitat of green peafowl in China by Shreya Dasgupta [07/13/2017]
- China is home to about 500 green peafowls, all of which are known to occur only in the Yunnan province.
- The mining operations — that include construction of roads, mine shafts and storehouses — are all illegal, the report says.
- Greenpeace's investigation also revealed that two roads servicing a hydropower project have been built inside the core area of Konglong River Nature Reserve.

Empowering communities fighting new mines: an interview with filmmaker Jessie Landerman by Caitlin Looby [07/13/2017]
- Local communities often suffer from environmental degradation and human rights abuses when mining companies move into their territories.
- A new series of videos shows local communities that they are not alone by sharing stories of how other communities have combatted, with some success, mining giants.
- The organization is screening the films for various impacted communities worldwide.

Seafood giant Thai Union commits to clean up supply chains following pressure campaign by Mike Gaworecki [07/12/2017]
- Said to be the largest tuna company in the world, Thai Union owns a number of popular canned tuna brands sold in markets around the globe, including Chicken of the Sea in North America; John West, Mareblu, and Petit Navire in Europe; and Sealect in the Asia Pacific region.
- Tuna fleets are pulling the fish out of the ocean faster than tuna populations can recover, and the overuse of fish aggregating devices (FADs) and the practice of transhipment are compounding the problem, as is rampant illega fishing.
- According to the agreement struck between Thai Union and environmental NGO Greenpeace, which spearheaded the campaign that compelled the company to adopt better sustainability policies, Thai Union’s new commitments are intended “to drive positive change within the industry” by addressing the issues of FADs, longlines, transhipment, and labor abuses.

Audio: DJ remixes the sounds of birds, lemurs, and more to inspire conservation by Mike Gaworecki [07/12/2017]
- Our first guest is Ben Mirin, aka DJ Ecotone, an explorer, wildlife DJ, educator, and television presenter who creates music from the sounds of nature to help inspire conservation efforts.
- In this very special Field Notes segment, Mirin discusses his craft and some of the challenges of capturing wildlife sounds in the field — including why it can be so difficult to record dolphins when all they want to do is take a bow ride on your boat.
- We also speak with Cleve Hicks, author of a children’s book called A Rhino to the Rescue: A Tale of Conservation and Adventure, not only to express his love of nature but to help raise awareness of the poaching crisis decimating Africa’s rhino population.
- All that plus the top news on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast!

Shipping companies face criminal charges after coal barges damage reef in Indonesian marine park by Basten Gokkon [07/12/2017]
- In two separate incidents this winter, five coal-carrying vessels ran aground on reefs in Central Java's Karimunjava National Park.
- The boats were given permission to take shelter in the area during storms, but broke loose from their moorings, damaging 1,400 square meters of coral.
- Officials are pressing charges of gross negligence and seeking financial compensation.
- These incidents preceded a March case in which a cruise ship ran aground on a reef in Raja Ampat in eastern Indonesia.

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