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China's Rapacious Apetite for Timber Is Devastating West Africa's Woodlands

China's Rapacious Apetite for Timber Is Devastating West Africa's Woodlands | Endangered species | Scoop.it
Conservation researcher Hazel Chapman tells us about the alarming pace of
woodland destruction in Nigeria and elsewhere in West Africa -- fueled by a
highly valued tree species.

The rampant logging of Rosewood (Pterocarpus erinaceus) -- a valuable
timber used for luxury furniture -- is devastating woodlands in Nigeria and
beyond in West Africa. 

And where is the Rosewood going?  To China, of course, the world's biggest
timber importer. 

Huge Jump in Timber Imports

From 2010 to 2014, China’s Rosewood imports from West Africa jumped by 700
percent.  In the first half of 2016 alone, nearly US$216 million worth of
West African Rosewood was imported into China, according to the
international group Forest Trends.

In Nigeria, the logging is most intense in Taraba State in the country's
southeast, where entire woodlands are being felled. 

Taraba State was expecting to receive accreditation to receive
carbon-trading (REDD+) funds from the United Nations, but all that has
changed now. 

Much of Taraba's woodlands have become denuded wastelands.

Roadsides in Taraba State are lined with pile after pile of roughly sawn
Rosewood logs, awaiting transport to Lagos for export. 

The frenzy of timber cutting has been likened to a fevered 'gold rush' that
is turning swaths of Taraba State into a nearly lifeless desert. 

It all began just over a year ago.  Now loggers are penetrating deeper and
deeper into the bush, hacking logs from steep hillsides where they are
rolled downhill, knocking flat any vegetation in their way.

Rampant Illegal Logging

Elsewhere in West Africa, the illegal logging of Rosewood continues apace,
with Interpol and other authorities seizing illegal felled timber worth
hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Rosewood is a key component of Sahel savanna-woodlands, a biologically
important ecosystem.  Rosewood also has many uses for local peoples,
including forage for livestock, medicinal properties, and dyes for

Why is this systematic deforestation being allowed to continue?  Lax
regulations and weak law enforcement, an aggressive Asian business culture,
poverty, and corruption are all to blame.

In Nigeria, the Taraba State government seems powerless to stop the
destruction.  The State Minister of Environment asked the Federal Ministry
to halt Rosewood exports.  The request was made at least three months ago,
but no action yet been taken. 

Every day of delay leads to the death of many more trees and the diverse
wildlife that depend on them.

If a ban is not enforced immediately, there will be no Rosewood left in
Taraba State, just as the tree is vanishing across large swaths of West

How can a Nigerian government dedicated to supporting a Great Green Wall
-- a giant land-reclamation and afforestation project -- allow such a
shocking destruction of its native woodlands to occur?

And how can the Chinese government -- which claims it is trying to reign in
predatory and unlawful practices among its corporations operating overseas
-- stand idly by while such rapacious activities fuel yet another
environmental crisis? 
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Drones Are Protecting Wildlife Too Now

Drones Are Protecting Wildlife Too Now | Endangered species | Scoop.it
Drones have been trending for a while now, and it’s only just the beginning. While there are drones that patrol work premises and homes, there are now also
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Fighting for Firsts: Endangered species recoveries in 2016 – Age of Awareness

Fighting for Firsts: Endangered species recoveries in 2016 – Age of Awareness | Endangered species | Scoop.it
Endangered species are often associated with “lasts” — the last individual of a species alive, the last time one was sighted or the last to live in the wild. Over the past year, we’ve seen story…
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Silent Forests: Battling Hunting Overkill in Southeast Asia

Silent Forests: Battling Hunting Overkill in Southeast Asia | Endangered species | Scoop.it
Environmental journalist Jeremy Hance, a regular contributor to ALERT,
tells us about the holocaust of hunting in Southeast Asia -- and what could
be done to save imperiled species.

The famed author Rachel Carson warned of a “Silent Spring” in her most
famous work, but in Southeast Asia it’s the forests that have gone silent.

A new study in Conservation Biology argues that overhunting is actually a
bigger peril to the region’s wildlife than deforestation, despite the fact
that countries in Southeast Asia have some of the highest deforestation
rates on the planet.


The research, headed by Rhett Harrison with the Chinese Academy of
Sciences, describes a poaching epidemic that has spread across Southeast
Asia during the past 30 years, reaching even the most remote places and
protected areas. 

Poaching, Harrison and colleagues argue, is working its way down the
wildlife hierarchy -- with large species being wiped out first, following
by the progressive demise of smaller animals.

Known as defaunation, many forests in Southeast Asia today sustain nothing
larger than small birds and squirrels.  Earlier research had suggested that
just 1 percent of the region's forests supports mammals over 20 kilograms
in weight, but Harrison's team asserts that the situation is even more dire
than that.

With few animals, Southeast Asia’s forests will increasingly become
ecologically impoverished.  Many tree species in the tropics depend on
fruit-eating birds and mammals for seed dispersal.  If pushed to local
extinction, these animals could eventually take their dependent tree
species with them, impacting everything from carbon storage to insect


Hunters in Southeast Asia are generally not killing animals for
subsistence; they won’t starve if they don’t hunt.  Instead, they are
shooting or snaring animals for recreation, cultural reasons, or to make a
little extra money, according to the study.

Hunting in the region is also usually opportunistic.  Southeast Asian
hunters aren’t necessary walking into the woods looking for a single
species, such as a wild pig or deer.  Instead, they will often kill
whatever they can eat or sell; this includes everything from freshwater
turtles to small birds to big animals such as deer and tapir.

The widespread use of snares exacerbates his opportunistic,
kill-whatever-comes-along approach.  Snares are random killers, maiming
whatever animal steps in them.  Snares have been called “the landmines of
the forest” and are common across the region, especially in countries that
have strict gun laws.

Culture also plays a role.  Many wild animals in Southeast Asia are
considered delicacies or are thought to have medicinal values.  And many
people in the region would rather eat wild than domestic meat.  In some
countries, the ability to buy wild species raises one’s social status.

Harrison and his team contend that the bulk of hunting in Southeast Asia is
actually for domestic consumption, rather than international trade.  Sure,
some animals are transported from rural areas to nearby cities, but most
are not going over borders.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t professional poachers targeting animals such
as tigers or pangolins for international trade.  But the authors assert
that the bulk of hunting is by rural people looking to bring something wild
home or to sell in the local market.


All this is occurring at a time when infrastructure and other development
projects have bulldozed into most of the remote forests of Southeast Asia.

While road building in rainforests has long been criticized for promoting
deforestation, it also creates much greater access to forests for hunters.

In Southeast Asia, new highways, logging roads, and plantation roads have
infiltrated many remote areas and are allowing easy access for anyone with
a motorbike.  Large infrastructure and commercial projects –- such as dams,
mines, and plantations –- are also bringing workers into remote areas.   

Recent research has shown that Earth's forests are not only shrinking but
also becoming increasingly fragmented and infiltrated by people.  Core
forests are vanishing, in large part from rampant road building and other
infrastructure projects.

Experts estimate that by 2050, nearly 25 million kilometers of paved roads
will be added to our already road-ravaged world.  We'll see 60 percent more
roads than we had in 2010, mostly in developing nations with high
biodiversity and numerous endangered species.

In Southeast Asia, population growth is also increasing pressure on
declining wildlife.  Harrison and his team found that human population
density was the biggest determinant of local hunting pressure in rural


Harrison and his team lament that international organizations have not
seemed to grasp the scale of the overhunting crisis in Southeast Asia.  If
they did, they say, potential solutions are available.

First, they recommend a renewed focus on securing and better managing
protected areas in the region, instead of pushing for more parks.

Second, they say governments and conservationists should work with hunters
-- instead of fighting against them.  Hunting is outlawed in many
countries, technically making anyone who takes a shotgun or snare into the
wild a criminal.  This hard-line stance might seem desirable to some, but
the authors say it stops conservationists and hunters from working

Instead, the researchers say that allowing the exploitation of species that
can withstand some hunting pressure -- such as wild pigs, certain small
ungulates, bamboo rats, squirrels, common civets, and some birds -- could
help bring conservationists and hunters together to reduce the pressure on
more-vulnerable species.

Other solutions -– such as education programs, stiffer penalties for
poachers of endangered species, and community conservation -– could also
help turn the tide.

The research team's bottom line: To save Southeast Asia's wildlife from the
gun and the snare, we need better strategies and more resources from
governments and conservationists.

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Pivotal Moment in the Battle to Save One of Earth's Natural Wonders

Pivotal Moment in the Battle to Save One of Earth's Natural Wonders | Endangered species | Scoop.it
The fate of the iconic Leuser Ecosystem -- the last place on Earth where
Tigers, Orangutans, Rhinos, and Elephants still coexist, along with myriad
other wild species -- could be decided this week.

On Tuesday (Nov. 8), Indonesian judges will deliver their verdict on a
major lawsuit against the much-criticized Aceh Spatial Plan, a scheme that
would see much of the Leuser region in northern Sumatra environmentally

In more than a dozen blogs and press releases, ALERT has supported the
lawsuit -- known as GeRAM, the Aceh Citizen Lawsuit Movement -- as well as
other initiatives to save the Leuser Ecosystem (for example, see here,
here, and here).

Make Your Voice Heard

To date, over 73,000 people from Aceh, Indonesia, and around the world have
signed this Change.Org Petition to support the lawsuit.  Please take a few
seconds to sign it too!

GeRAM is urging the judges presiding over the case to deliver a fair
verdict for Leuser. 

The Coalition is arguing that the Aceh government has ignored the
tremendous conservation significance and vital ecosystem services of Leuser
in its spatial plan.

Such ecosystem services include reducing destructive floods and landslides,
limiting erosion, storing carbon, and providing clean water supplies to
villages and farmers in the region.  

Roads to Ruin

Farwiza Farhan, a leading Indonesian conservationist, said the Aceh Spatial
Plan “effectively legalizes numerous new roads, many of which have already
been cut and constructed illegally through vast areas of the forests,
fragmenting the sensitive ecosystem and opening up new pathways for

There is great fear that, without adequate protection, Leuser could soon
resemble the tragic Tesso Nilo National Park in central Sumatra, which is
being devastated by fires, oil palm expansion, poaching, and uncontrolled

In a press event in Indonesia last week, GeRAM representatives highlighted
the crucial nature of the court's ruling this week -- while releasing this
excellent video. 

Aman Jarum, a local traditional leader said, "We appeal to the judges to
apply their wisdom in making their decision, taking into account the lives
and livelihoods of the Acehnese people which depend on the Leuser

The world will be watching on Tuesday and hoping for a verdict in favor of
those battling to save one of the world's most important natural wonders.
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No tiger reserve status for 2 new wildlife sanctuaries in Maharashtra | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

No tiger reserve status for 2 new wildlife sanctuaries in Maharashtra | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis | Endangered species | Scoop.it
No tiger reserve status for 2 new wildlife sanctuaries in Maharashtra - Conservationists believe that converting Umred Karhandla into a tiger project would ensure better management and reduce man-animal conflict.
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Dick Smith backs plan for private leasing of wildlife | PressReleasePoint

Dick Smith backs plan for private leasing of wildlife | PressReleasePoint | Endangered species | Scoop.it
Business as usual for threatened species is not working - lists are getting longer and threats from predators and habitat loss are getting worse.
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The world's vanishing wild places are vital for saving species

The world's vanishing wild places are vital for saving species | Endangered species | Scoop.it
Wildlife in wilderness areas have more genetic diversity, which is better for their survival.
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Has hope become the most endangered species in conservation?

Has hope become the most endangered species in conservation? | Endangered species | Scoop.it
As wildlife continues to decline around the world, conservation has become a bleak calling. Can a new Optimism Summit help reframe the mission to save life on Earth?
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Perils for the Last Place Where Tigers, Orangutans, Elephants and Rhinos Survive in the Wild

Perils for the Last Place Where Tigers, Orangutans, Elephants and Rhinos Survive in the Wild | Endangered species | Scoop.it
The world-renowned Leuser Ecosystem in northern Sumatra, Indonesia is the
last place on Earth where Tigers, Elephants, Orangutans, and Rhinos still
survive together in the wild. 

Conservationists recently breathed a sigh of relief that key threats to the
Leuser -- including government schemes for large-scale road and oil palm
development that would also promote illegal logging, mining, and poaching
-- were being set aside as part of a moratorium on forest destruction. 

But dangerous new plans are just on the horizon, with a big push coming
from the Aceh Provincial Government. 

New Threats

The biggest new threats are proposed energy plants and roads to be
constructed in critically important areas for conservation.  These
proposals are being touted as promoting sustainable development in Aceh,
but in reality they will lead to severe environmental degradation.

Two particularly alarming developments are a massive new geothermal plant
planned by Turkish company PT Hitay Panas Energy in the heart of the Leuser
Ecosystem, and a major hydroelectric scheme on the Kluet River proposed by
PT Trinusa Energy Indonesia.  

Both schemes are being fast-tracked by senior levels of the Aceh
Government, as evidenced by a recent letter of support from the Governor of
Aceh Province. 

This letter requests Indonesia’s Minister of the Environment and Forestry
to rezone part of Gunung Leuser National Park, which comprises a critical
element of the Leuser Ecosystem. 

Re-zoning this area would allow the proposed mega-geothermal project to
proceed.  But this would set a damning precedent -- promoting large-scale
projects in a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is already formally
considered "In Danger". 

Why is the government pushing these destructive plans within a World
Heritage Site?  Especially when far more sustainable locations -- such as
the Seulawah and Takengon regions that are much closer to existing
transmission networks and major population centers in Aceh -- are readily

Alarm Bells and Local Fury

Alarm bells are ringing.  A number of local civil-society organizations
have already written to the President of Indonesia, the Minister of
Environment and Forestry, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, the
World Conservation Union (IUCN), and many others to oppose the proposed

But given the money and power of those pressuring for the new projects,
there is great worry that they will be pushed through regardless.  

Beyond these protests, a civil lawsuit has been lodged by nine community
groups (known as GeRAM) living in the Leuser area.  Abu Kari, a local
community leader and one of the GeRAM plaintiffs, tells ALERT his views:

“I’m furious.  We call upon President Jokowi to intervene immediately. 
When the forests of the Leuser Ecosystem are opened and disturbed we suffer
from fires, flooding and landslides.  Too many people have already died
from this, and now we see more foreign projects behind plans to destroy our
homes, our families and our livelihoods.

We have had enough and we will fight this.  If we lose the Leuser Ecosystem
we lose our one chance at long-term economic development.  We could even
lose our lives, and those of our families and friends.

We beg President Jokowi to uphold environmental planning laws in
Indonesia.  We are in court now to fight for the Leuser Ecosystem and we
invite the people of Aceh, Indonesia, and the world to join our fight.”

Hope Ahead?

Thankfully, it appears the giant geothermal scheme in the Kappi region is
coming under fire.  The Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry and
her colleagues have been ‘shooting down” the plans in the media and
declaring their opposition to the Aceh Governor’s request to rezone Leuser.

But this is just one small battle in a tide of attempts to open up the
Leuser Ecosystem and other critical wildlife habitats in northern Sumatra
for development.

For instance, beyond the Kluet River hydroelectric project, which would
imperil key habitats for orangutans and Sumatran elephants, additional
plans for new electricity projects are being proposed for Gayo Lues
District and several watersheds in East Aceh.

Vigilance is Vital

It is essential that northern Sumatra is monitored closely, to prevent
these and other ill-advised schemes being approved in the near future.

Your voice does make a difference -- a big difference.  Please add your
name to GeRAM’s petition to the President of Indonesia to protect the
Leuser Ecosystem.  Do this for the sake of Sumatra’s unique biodiversity
and the local people who depend on these areas for their livelihoods.

ALERT will do its best to keep you posted on new developments.
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ALERT Joins Battle to Halt Nigeria's 'Highway to Hell'

ALERT Joins Battle to Halt Nigeria's 'Highway to Hell' | Endangered species | Scoop.it
Beleaguered conservationists have been fighting a planned 'Superhighway'
that could obliterate many of the biologically richest habitats remaining
in the West-African nation of Nigeria.

Today, ALERT joined the battle -- by issuing an international press release
decrying the Cross River Superhighway.

The proposed highway would slice through the southern half of Nigeria,
opening up the nation's last critical remnants of tropical rainforest to
illegal logging, deforestation, poaching, and other human pressures.

“Nigeria needs better roads, but this is one of the most ill-conceived
infrastructure projects we’ve seen anywhere,” said ALERT director Bill

Especially vulnerable is Cross River National Park, which would be skirted
by the proposed highway.  Already a 100 meter-wide clearing has been
bulldozed near the park's border, in anticipation of future road building.

ALERT director Bill Laurance inspects the road clearing near Cross River
National Park, guided by a park guard (photo by Mahmoud Mahmoud).

“Cross River National Park is irreplaceable -- a biological jewel,” said
ALERT member Thomas Lovejoy, a former environmental advisor to three U.S.

“It sustains a remarkable 18 species of primates, including the critically
endangered Cross River Gorilla -- Africa's most imperiled Ape species --
plus other imperiled wildlife such as forest elephants and leopards,” said

“We can only hope that common sense prevails,” said ALERT member Mahmoud
Mahmoud, a Nigerian environmental scientist.  “There are alternative routes
for the highway that would be far less damaging to the environment and
local peoples.”

It is vital to shine a light on this environmental crisis in the making,
which is likely to proceed unless international pressure can be brought to

Please share this press release with interested friends, colleagues, and
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The biggest animals in the ocean are more likely to go extinct

The biggest animals in the ocean are more likely to go extinct | Endangered species | Scoop.it
The current extinction crisis threatening ocean animals is different than those in the past in one big way: the larger the animal, the greater the risk of extinction.
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Only Radical Action Will Stop Earth's Sixth Mass Extinction

Only Radical Action Will Stop Earth's Sixth Mass Extinction | Endangered species | Scoop.it
ALERT director Bill Laurance and conservation icon Paul Ehrlich, author of
The Population Bomb, have recently argued that we are now entering a sixth
mass extinction -- one that could rival the great extinctions on Earth that
claimed the dinosaurs and many other species.  

Laurance and Ehrlich's essay is going viral: you can read it here.

The authors summarize the evidence that current extinctions are
accelerating and -- while it is not too late to change our ways -- mass
species losses could soon become unstoppable unless we take dramatic

Giant primates driven to extinction by the first humans to arrive in

More Alarming News

And a new study has added one more element of concern: It turns out that
data on endangered species may actually be too optimistic.

Led by Natalia Ocampo-Peñuela at Duke University, the study assessed the
status of nearly 600 bird species found in biologically diverse and
imperiled forests in Latin America, Madagascar, and Southeast Asia. 

According to the IUCN Red List, which provides the best estimates of
species endangerment, 18 percent of these bird species are currently
threatened with extinction.

However, when Ocampo-Peñuela and colleagues looked in detail at the
geographic distributions of the birds, they found that 43 percent of the
species were actually threatened.

Thus, at least for rare forest birds, there were about two and a half times
more threatened species than suggested by the IUCN Red List.

The endangered Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher.

A key conclusion of the study is that the maps of species distributions
used by the IUCN contain many areas where habitats are unsuitable or have
been so badly degraded that the species don't actually occur there.

That is alarming news indeed, and it suggests that we may be
underestimating the number of species verging toward extinction on the
Earth today.

Still Time to Act

But the worst thing we can possibly do is throw up our hands and conclude
that everything is hopeless.

Laurance and Ehrlich argue that this is precisely the wrong thing to do.

In fact, they suggest, there is still time to head off a mass extinction if
we begin moving aggressively to (1) slow human population growth, (2) halt
the destruction of remaining wilderness areas and biodiversity hotspots,
(3) limit harmful climate change, and (4) staunchly defend our protected

These kinds of actions can make an enormous difference. 

Sure, we have lost some amazing species already and many more are in
trouble.  But it's nothing like the number that we could lose if we fail to
act now.
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Research Highlight: Vaquita Illustrate the Complicated Landscape of Endangered Species Preservation | Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

Research Highlight: Vaquita Illustrate the Complicated Landscape of Endangered Species Preservation | Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego | Endangered species | Scoop.it
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The Mega-Banks Funding Forest Destruction in Southeast Asia

The Mega-Banks Funding Forest Destruction in Southeast Asia | Endangered species | Scoop.it
Environmental journalist Jeremy Hance, a regular contributor to ALERT,
tells us about a valuable new database that identifies the lending
institutions that are bankrolling forest destruction in Southeast Asia.

What do you need to knock down a primary forest and replace it with a

One word: money.  Without capital –- often in the form of loans from a bank
–- forest-destroying corporations couldn’t clear-cut forests.  

But this process –- who’s giving money to whom –- has often been secretive
and shrouded.  Now, a new database is tracking which mega-banks are
bankrolling forest destruction in Southeast Asia, a region losing tropical
forests faster than any other.

The new database, called Forests and Finance, tracks US$50 billion worth of
capital from 244 banks and investors to a wide variety of so-called
“forest-risk” companies, such as those dealing in palm oil, pulp and paper,
logging or rubber.


According to the database, the worst offender is Malayan Banking, otherwise
known as MayBank, which has pushed $2.7 billion into forest-risk companies
from 2010-2015.

Ironically, MayBank’s mascot is the tiger.  Scientists estimate there are
only 250-340 Malayan tigers left in the wild, down from about 500 a decade

The database also includes an assessment of each financial institution's
environmental and social policies.  For example, while Malayan Banking
rates a zero on its environmental policy (out of 30), ABM Amro –- a bank in
the Netherlands –- gets a vastly better score of 24.

Created by the Rainforest Action Network, TuK INDONESIA, and Profundo, the
database reveals that Malaysia is putting more money into forest-destroying
industries than any other county.

In total, Malaysian institutions such as Malayan Banking have invested over
$7.7 billion into forest-risk companies.

But the money isn’t stemming only from Malaysia.  Chinese institutions have
invested over $6.2 billion, almost entirely into the industrial pulp and
paper production, whereas Japanese institutions have invested $4.1 billion
and Indonesian institutions, $3.9 billion.


But forest-killing funds are not just coming from Eastern countries. 

U.S. institutions have invested nearly $3 billion into forest-risk
corporations in Southeast Asia.  JPMorgan Chase is the biggest, investing
over $1.2 billion. The bank has a score of 14 out of 30 for its social and
environmental policies.

Even larger is HSBC, headquartered in the United Kingdom, which has
invested $1.6 billion.

The biggest investor in Australia is ANZ, which has put in $448 million. 
It has a score of 11 for its policies.

Worryingly, many banks in the database rated poorly on their environmental
and social policies.


Of course, it’s not just banks that invest directly in forest-destroying
companies that are causing worry.

Banks that invest heavily in infrastructure are also playing an out-sized
role in forest destruction, though these are not tracked by the Forests and
Finance database.

Research has long shown –- and ALERT has long warned –- that booming
infrastructure projects are playing a leading role in decimating the
world’s forests and threatening a mass extinction crisis.

Major international lenders such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank,
African Development Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank, have a long
history of funding major infrastructure projects -- ranging from new
highways to coal-burning power plants -- in areas of rich biodiversity and
primary forests.

And to make matters worse, scientists fear that new infrastructure banks,
such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Brazilian Development
Bank, are establishing even worse environmental records.

For example, the Brazilian Development Bank is one of the biggest funders
of dozens of planned dams in the Amazon and across South America.  Such
dams have been heavily criticized for imperiling indigenous groups and
promoting large-scale deforestation, biodiversity loss, and sizeable carbon
and methane emissions.  


Investigations such as the Forest and Finance database can play a powerful
role by showing the world whose hands are on the financial axes that are
decimating forests. 

Now that the sinners are increasingly being revealed, it is up to
conservationists and investors to pressure those institutions to clean up
their acts.  Voting with our wallets -- divesting from such lenders and
institutions -- can send a powerful message.

And past conservation campaigns have shown that bad publicity alone can
have a powerful impact on many corporations. 

What major bank would want to have little children and grandmothers
picketing in front of their headquarters with signs accusing them of
killing orangutans and decimating the world's forests?



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Planet Earth II and the bloodthirsty evolution of the nature documentary

Planet Earth II and the bloodthirsty evolution of the nature documentary | Endangered species | Scoop.it
From Walt Disney’s mass lemming killing to Jacques Cousteau ramming a baby whale, nature shows were once full of fakery and cruelty. Has this all changed?
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Project to increase wild tiger population

Project to increase wild tiger population | Endangered species | Scoop.it
In order to protect and increase wild tiger population, nearly one million acres of protected habitat in India and Bhutan will be covered under a new private conservation efforts.The ‘Project C.A.T —
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A Death Sentence for the Bengal Tiger?

A Death Sentence for the Bengal Tiger? | Endangered species | Scoop.it
Imagine if someone built two giant coal-fired power plants right next to
the last livable place in your country.  How terrible would this be?

That is what the Bangladesh government is planning to do near the
Sundarbans, the largest intact mangrove forest on Earth -- and the only
sizeable mangrove area left for the globally endangered Bengal Tiger (
Panthera tigris tigris) -- which likely numbers less than 2,500 animals
alive today.

The mangrove forests of the Sundarbans (in green) in southwestern
Bangladesh and the bordering area of India.

A recent census reported 106 Bengal Tigers residing in the Bangladesh
Sundarbans, which is internationally recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage

Imminent Threat

The Bengal Tigers and their mangrove habitats in the Sundarbans are now
under imminent threat.  The Bangladesh government has recently signed a
$1.7 billion agreement with an Indian corporation, Bharat Heavy Electrics,
to build the massive Rampal coal-fired power plant.

Comprising two giant coal-fired generators just a dozen or so kilometers
from the Sundarbans, the power plant will degrade the environment via air
pollution and fly ash, unregulated increased resource extraction, road and
infrastructure expansion, and the risk of spillage of coal and its
by-products on site and during transportation.

Dirty energy -- coal-fired generating plants are among the biggest global
sources of greenhouse gases.

This proposed development has raised the ire of civil society, many
scientists, and global conservation groups (see here and here).  Both
UNESCO and the IUCN have urged the Bangladesh government to move the power
plant to another suitable area to limit its environmental threats to the

So great are such perils that the government of Sri Lanka cancelled an
agreement with the same Indian corporation to build a similar but smaller
coal-fired power plant in its eastern port city of Trincomalee, largely
because of concerns about the environmental threats it posed.

A Sanctuary for Nature and People

In addition to providing critical habitat for Bengal Tigers, the Sundarbans
harbor many other rare or endangered species, such as the Estuarine
Crocodile, Indian Python, and the Ganges and Irrawaddy Dolphins.

Irrawaddy Dolphin -- the "smiling dolphin" found today in only scattered
coastal and freshwater areas in Southeast Asia.

Moreover, more than one million local people depend on natural resources
from the Sundarbans to sustain their livelihoods -- and rely on this
natural barrier for protection against calamities such as destructive
tropical monsoons and tsunamis.

The Sundarbans is already facing threats from climate change and local
human-caused disasters.  But one thing is for certain, the proposed
coal-fired power plant would further imperil Earth's last remaining
mangrove habitat for Bengal Tigers and other rare wildlife.
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100 & Counting: Tiger Deaths in India This Year Exceed 2015 Toll

100 & Counting: Tiger Deaths in India This Year Exceed 2015 Toll | Endangered species | Scoop.it
India lost its 100th tiger, Durga, in Kerala’s Thrissur Zoo.
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A Vital New Reason To Save Wilderness

A Vital New Reason To Save Wilderness | Endangered species | Scoop.it
In science, it’s rare that a new idea comes along that stops people in
their tracks. 

For those who care about the world’s rapidly shrinking wilderness areas,
this has just happened.

ALERT director Bill Laurance highlights this vital research finding and its
implications for conservation here. 

In just the last two decades, the world's wilderness areas have shrunk by a

We already know lots of good reasons to protect wild places.  But the the
new study puts a fundamentally different spin on things.

Simply put, it's a novel way of thinking about the value of wilderness that
every conservationist and ecologist should know about.
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Who’s Responsible for our Climate Crisis? Just 90 Companies

Who’s Responsible for our Climate Crisis? Just 90 Companies | Endangered species | Scoop.it
Environmental journalist Jeremy Hance, a regular contributor to ALERT,
tells us it's time to 'name and shame' the world's biggest polluters.

Trying to figure out if you can point the finger at anyone in particular
for our current climate crisis?  Maybe you can: how about 90 someones?

In 2014, a stunning paper revealed that just 90 investor-owned corporations
and government-run industries are responsible for 63 percent of global
greenhouse-gas emissions (including carbon dioxide and methane) over the
past 250-plus years.

All the more remarkable is that the research is the product of one
scientist, Richard Heede, the co-director and founder of the Climate
Accountability Institute, who spent eight years sifting through data on
fossil fuel’s heaviest hitters.

Recently highlighted in Science, Heede has since updated his research to
include more recent years (2011-2013).

Climate Culprits

Heede began whittling away at climate culprits by looking at those
corporations, state-owned companies, and state actors that emitted over 8
million tonnes of carbon annually.  He then estimated their emissions based
on data from wherever he could find it.

In the end, Heede came up with a master list including 56 oil and
natural-gas producers, 37 coal producers, and 7 cement producers.

Most –- 50 –- are investor-owned corporations, but 31 are owned by states
and 9 are state actors, either currently or previously in existence. 

All told, these heavy polluters emitted the equivalent of 914 billion
tonnes of carbon dioxide between 1854 and 2010.

The List of Sinners

The big sinners include well-known names such as ExxonMobil, BP, and
Chevron, but also lesser-known state-linked entities like Russia’s Gazprom
and Iran’s National Iranian Oil Company.

Just eight of these corporations are responsible for 20 percent of global
emissions.  Tied for first place on this dubious list are Saudi Aramco and

Next, in order, are ExxonMobil, BP, Gazprom, Royal Dutch Shell, National
Iranian Oil Company, and Petroleos Mexicanos.

Still, Heede admits in his paper that his work is both conservative and has
gaps in reporting, largely due to the difficulty of getting complete and
unambiguous records from the corporations in questions.  The result is
likely an under-reporting, not overstating, of the responsibility of these
90 big polluters.

The list, and its updates, helps put a real face to the planet's climate
culprits.  Heede told The Guardian newspaper that the heads of these
‘carbon majors’ could all fit into a couple of buses.

Half of All Emissions in Last 25 Years

Not only was Heede able to set 63 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas
emissions at the feet of just 90 actors, but he also showed that half of
those emissions came after 1988.

This means that as much greenhouse gases were spewed out in the last 25
years (1989-2013) as were emitted between 1751 and 1988 -- the previous 237

This reveals the common lie that these corporations had no idea their
actions were risking climate stability.  The science of climate change was
already solidified by the late 1980s, including James Hansen’s famous
testimony to the U.S. Congress on the issue in 1988.

And, as we now know, thanks to a massive investigation by Inside Climate
News, ExxonMobil had confirmed both the reality of climate change and its
devastating impacts during extensive internal research between the 1960 and
1980s –- but hid their findings while going on to become one of the biggest
climate-change deniers in subsequent years.

Time to Divest

Heede’s research has helped change the narrative around climate change --
and it's given science-based ammunition to groups working to take
climate-change culprits to court.

The good news: mega-polluters are not immune.  They can be protested
against, publicly shamed, sued, and even regulated. 

It's time to do all of the above -- and to urge universities and other
responsible investors to sell off their stocks from big polluters and stop
profiting from harmful climate change.  
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Poaching behind worst African elephant losses in 25 years | Scoop News

Poaching behind worst African elephant losses in 25 years | Scoop News | Endangered species | Scoop.it
Johannesburg, South Africa, 25 September 2016 (IUCN) – Africa’s overall elephant population has seen the worst declines in 25 years, mainly due to poaching over the past ten years – according to IUCN’s African Elephant Status Report launche
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Ken-Betwa River Link-up Approved, Tiger Reserve to Be Submerged

Ken-Betwa River Link-up Approved, Tiger Reserve to Be Submerged | Endangered species | Scoop.it
A panel headed by the environment minister Anil Madhav Dave has agreed to submerge more than 100 square km of Panna Tiger Reserve to link the rivers.
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China considers a huge national park for Amur tigers and leopards

China considers a huge national park for Amur tigers and leopards | Endangered species | Scoop.it
A proposed national park spanning nearly 6,000 square miles would be dedicated to protecting Amur tigers and Amur leopards as part of the Chinese government’s grand vision for its new national parks system.
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