Category Archives: Biodiversity

Papua New Guinea gets its largest-ever conservation area

Papua New Guinea has been granted its largest-ever conservation area, a 1,390-square mile protected area of rainforest, nearly 900,000 acres. The newly formed Managalas Conservation Area is home to the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo and cassowary among thousands of other species.

Papua New Guinea has been granted its largest-ever conservation area, a 3,600-square kilometer (1,390-square mile) protected area of rainforest in the country’s southeast that stretches from near the ocean up into the mountains. Called Managalas Conservation Area, the move is being celebrated by conservation organizations and local communities that have been working for 32 years to establish more protections for the region. Managalas Conservation Area was officially declared on November 29 by Minister for Environment and Climate John Pundari and Northern Governor Gary Juffa at Itokama village. “Without environment, and without you and I, we will never enjoy the blessings of life,” said Pundari, as reported by PNG’s Post-Courier. “If we lose [the environment], we lose ourselves and that is also a global message.” Local communities held a party following the announcement to celebrate the declaration, the culmination of their decades of work towards protection of their forests. Minister for Environment and Climate John Pundari and Beate Gabrielsen from  the Norwegian Embassy at the declaration ceremony.

The region, called the Managalas Plateau, still has expansive tracts of primary forest. But it has been increasingly eyed by extractive industries like logging and mining, according to Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN), which is supporting conservation activities in the region. Industrial agriculture is also a big threat, with several areas of the plateau suitable for oil palm plantations.

Read more: http://www.envirolink.org/2017/12/08/papua-new-guinea-gets-its-largest-ever-conservation-area/

Huon Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei) female and joey peer over branch. Endangered species from the Huon Peninsula, Papua New Guinea.

Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Christopher@WCFF.org

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
October 18-28, 2018 | New York, NY
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Cambodia’s plan to reintroduce tigers

The Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) is one of the six living tiger subspecies, and is found in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and southwestern China.

The total population is less than 325 individuals in the wild. The largest population unit survives in Thailand estimated at 175 to 200 individuals. There are 75 individuals in Myanmar, and only 20 Indochinese tigers remain in Vietnam. The last tiger seen in China was 2009 in the Yunnan province.

As recently as 1999, Cambodia was home to one of the world’s largest tiger populations. Within a decade, the big cats had been eliminated from the country due to poaching and habitat loss. The last  Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) was captured by camera trap roaming the lush Mondulkiri Province in the country’s east in 2007. Nearly 11 years later, none have been seen.

The Cambodian government is looking to change that. The Ministry of Environment announced in late September that it is moving forward with a plan, along with the WWF, to reintroduce tigers to Cambodia — a scheme that has drawn criticism from wildlife experts across the globe due to weak rule of law, rampant poaching and the destruction of Cambodia’s environment through illegal logging and other practices

However are there are a number of conservation organizations and scientists that feel now is not the right time to launch this program in Cambodia.

To read more visit: https://news.mongabay.com/2017/11/is-cambodias-plan-to-reintroduce-tigers-doomed-to-fail/?n3wsletter&utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=1868686cdf-newsletter_2017_11_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-1868686cdf-67233543

Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Christopher@WCFF.org

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
October 18-28, 2018
http://www.WCFF.org
Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Instagram: @wcff_org
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LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

Grizzly Bear Populations may soon combine

The grizzly bear population in Yellowstone National park number over 750 individuals. Male bears are moving north to expand their range and could meet up with members of their species around Glacier National Park within ten years or less. The distance between the two parks is 410 miles and their are a number of National Forests connecting the two parks as a wildlife corridor.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/science/grizzly-bears-yellowstone-genes.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fscience&action=click&contentCollection=science&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=8&pgtype=sectionfront

Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Christopher@WCFF.org

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
October 18-28, 2018
http://www.WCFF.org
Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Instagram: @wcff_org
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LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

New Species of Great Ape Confirmed

A new and third species of orangutan has been confirmed by genetic testing,  nearly 90 years after scientists first heard rumors of its existence.

A study indicates what was once assumed to be an isolated population of the Sumatran orangutan is in fact a distinct species.
The Batang Toru orangutan in western Sumatra differs from the Sumatran orangutan in morphology, behavior and genetics. Genomic analysis suggests it diverged from other orangutan species 3.4 million years ago.
There are fewer than 800 Batang Toru orangutans in existence, making it one of the rarest of all the great apes.

For additional reading visit: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/newly-discovered-orangutan-species-is-also-the-most-endangered/

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
October 18-28, 2018
http://www.WCFF.org

Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
Christopher@WCFF.org
Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Instagram: @wcff_org
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LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

Elephants in the Coffee

The Asian Elephant population is down to just 30,000 in its native habitat of India and southeast Asia. The primary threat for this species is loss of habitat.

This week the award winning film Elephants in the Coffee, produced by Dr. Thomas Grant and D.K. Bhaskar screens in New York, NY at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival. For a schedule of films, speakers and to attend visit: WCFF.org

‘Elephants in the Coffee’ shows how growth of coffee plantations
​ in Southern India led to deadly conflicts between humans and elephants. For more information about this splendid

For more information about this award winning film visit: http://www.elephantsinthecoffee.com/

 

 

Both Caribou and Monarch Butterflies in Canada Threatened

DCF 1.0

On December 4, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (Cosewic), a group of scientific experts, classified both Canada’s caribou and its monarch butterfly populations as endangered. “Caribou are, sadly, very sensitive to human disturbances, and we are disturbing caribou more and more,” said committee member Justina Ray. “These stressors seem to be interacting in complicated ways with rapid warming in the North.”

The committee’s report notes that: “Many of the great northern caribou herds have now fallen to all-time lows, and there is cause for concern that they will not rebound in the same way they have before.” The group is responsible for classifying wildlife species at risk of extinction, and recommending potential protective actions to the Canadian government.

In order to determine whether caribou herds were at risk, Cosewic examined two different caribou populations: the tundra herd, deemed to be “threatened,” as well as the smaller population of Torngat Mountain caribou which dwell in northeastern Canada, and which were found to be at an even greater risk of extinction. This group was thus labelled “endangered,” and was noted to be facing “imminent” extinction. The report also highlights both habitat encroachment, due to increased forestry and mining, and Arctic global warming as grave threats to Canadian caribous’ continued existence. This October the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) rang alarm bells over Canadian caribou herds’ rapid decline over the past thirty years, and the committee’s findings sadly lend support to this conclusion.

In the same report, Cosewic classified monarch butterflies as endangered, noting that the “remarkably tiny wintering grounds where monarchs congregate continue to be chipped away by habitat loss.”

These migratory creatures regularly fly 4000km south from Canada to Mexico to remain warm as winter approaches. The committee strongly recommends that the butterfly’s habitat in Canada, the United States, and Mexico, all be proctected to ensure the insects have a place to rest each step of their migration.”Otherwise, monarch migration may disappear, and Canada may lose this iconic species,” it concluded.

Lending support to this call, this June, 200 American, Mexican, and Canadian scientists, artists, and academics appealed to the leaders of the three nations to ban illegal logging and mining in the Mexican reserve where monarchs outlast the winter. They also called for a ban on pesticides used to diminish milkweed, which serves as the only food source for monarch caterpillars. For its part, Cosewic called out the use of an herbicide used on genetically modified corn and soybean, which has been detrimental to monarchs as well.

Actions such as those recommended by the committee will go a long way in helping preserve two Canada-dwelling species that rely heavily on diminishing habitats.

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Source: “Canada caribou and monarch butterfly ‘endangered’”. Phys.org. 6 December 2016.

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

Biodiversity & Wildlife Crime Conference
Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
Founder & CEO
Christopher@WCFF.org
www.WCFF.org

Facebook.com/WCFForg
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The Epic Battle Against Invasive Lionfish

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First reported near Florida in the 1980s, lionfish have since spread throughout southeastern U.S. waters, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, taking over coasts from New York to Brazil. These brightly-striped ornamental fish, native to the Indo-Pacific, were believed to have been let loose in U.S. waters by the aquarium trade.The problem: with insatiable appetites (they’ve been found to eat over 70 fish/invertebrate species) these invasive creatures have since wreaked havoc on coral reefs and fisheries, eating both other species’ prey and grazers that clean algae from reefs. Plus, no predators have stepped in to gobble up the strange species, allowing the fish to reproduce relatively unchecked.

Still, scientists and environmentally-minded entrepreneurs alike have been taking action against ballooning lionfish populations, creating and testing everything from underwater robots to fish traps loaded with special recognition software, all designed to drastically lower the lionfish headcount. “It’s the inverse of every fisheries management plan you’ve ever heard of,” says marine biologist Corey Eddy, who focuses on lionfish near Bermuda. “Usually we’re trying to minimize the pressure on fish populations so they can rebound. Now we’re saying, let’s start wiping them out.”

Though strategies like hosting spearfishing tournaments and giving out special lionfish culling permits can help individuals nab hundreds of lionfish in a day, this is nothing compared with the two million eggs a female lionfish could spawn every year. Add that to the fact that they can lurk below 130 feet, too deep for average divers, and scientists have speculated that robots may be better than humans at controlling lionfish populations.

Colin Angle, cofounder of iRobot, had this same thought while diving in Bermuda, only natural since his company has created robots from the Roomba to radioactive nuclear waste cleaners. Inspired by the idea to employ robots in lionsih control, Angle and his wife, biochemist Erika Ebbel, began nonprofit Robots in Service of the Environment (RISE), with the goal of creating an affordable autonomous underwater robot that lethally shocks lionfish by early next year. RISE members feel that lionfish could ultimately become the next popular delicacy, a demand that would vastly help limit lionfish populations. “Ultimately the way this becomes a success is by creating a market and the interest of consumers in eating lionfish,” says John Rizzi, executive director of RISE. “The best way to challenge the sustainability of a species is for humans to eat it. Whether that’s good or bad, in this case that will benefit the environment.”

Similarly, recreational divers Bryan and Anna Clark were inspired to start a nonprofit environmental group called Coast Watch Alliance, which works to simultaneously protect reefs and battle lionfish. Bryan Clark is working on a prototype to suck up the fish with a vacuum-like gulp. He’s also developing a “hunting ROV” (remote-operated vehicle) with a camera to seek out the fish before diving down. He feels that both technology and financial motives will help decimate the lionfish. “Some people are going to harvest lionfish because it’s great for the environment, others will do it because it’s fun to do while they’re diving. But a lot of people are going to do it because they’re going to make some money taking lionfish to the market,” he says.

It just so happens that lionfish have already unwittingly stepped into the spiny lobster fishery commercial market, as 20 percent of lobster traps end up catching lionfish as well. “lf the lionfish are showing up in those traps, uninvited and unintended, then why not get them to show up intentionally?” notes diver Bob Hickerson, who’s putting his contractor skills to good use by designing a better lionfish trap. The “Frapper Trap” (from the French word meaning “to strike down”) will implement a pattern recognition program to seize lionfish, and let other species free. Along with his wife, Maria, his father-in-law, and volunteers from Team Frapper, he hopes to have a trap ready to test in the next six months. “We can’t stand back and watch our reefs being taken over by lionfish,” he says.

Nevertheless, even with such a broad range of arsenals being developed, experts believe that total destruction of lionfish is impossible, though creating a strong commercial market for selling the species to diners could prevent them from devastating entire ecosystems.

“I think commercial incentive will be a big part of the solution, supplemented by spearfishing in shallow water and some of these other things,” says Stephen Gittings, science coordinator at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “Some of these might sound like crazy ideas, but you never know until you try.”

Source: Gaworecki, Mike. “The lionfish invasion: a call to arms?” Mongabay. 14 December 2016.

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Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

Biodiversity & Wildlife Crime Conference
Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
Founder & CEO
Christopher@WCFF.org
www.WCFF.org

Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Instagram: @wcff_org
Vimeo.com/wcff
dailymotion.com/WCFF1
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival