For over 30 years, David Suzuki has been Canada’s most beloved scientist. But on October 9, he publicly accused the Canadian government, Canadian corporations, and even Canadian citizens of serious crimes against our country, environment and planet. Now, he will stand trial for those claims and defend his beliefs in front of the largest jury in history: Canada. [x]
This warrants a look, especially since I don’t think it really made it outside of Canada, or Ontario for that matter. David Suzuki was found “not guilty” in his mock trail (facilitated by the ROM), wherein he accuses Canadian government and corporation of environmental neglect, and a particularly new kind of charge: of intergenerational crimes, of which I find the most compelling.
There has been a lot of discussion over how Suzuki’s suggestions are economically impractical, like instating a hefty $150 carbon tax. What he alleges as “treasonous” is being labelled otherwise economically ruinous, more than anything else. As predicted, there’s been a continual political backlash, as is what usually follows Suzuki around. What Suzuki has included in his Carbon Manifesto is not particularly new, but one has to applaud his attempt to say it as loudly as possible, because his main goal seems to be sparking further, wider discussion.
-The Trail of David Suzuki
-Financial Post on Suzuki/Levant
-Toronto Star’s heather Mallick on The Trial
-Macleans on the issue
The alert about the okapi follows a new assessment of its population in its only home, the rainforests of the eastern side of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For nearly 20 years, this region has been one of the most dangerous places on earth, for humans and for animals both, ever since the 1994 Hutu-Tutsi genocide in Rwanda spilled over the border into the DRC and sparked continuous conflict between the government and a shifting assortment of rebel groups, in what became known as “Africa’s world war”.
Read on: Nature Studies
paul souders spent two weeks in the hudson bay looking for polar bears, but spotted only two. luckily, this one, photographed thirty miles offshore of churchill, manitoba, felt comfortable enough to get “very, very close. scary close,” as he put it. “i couldn’t believe i was doing something this crazy close. …i could hear her slow, regular breathing as she watched me below the surface, increasingly curious. it was very special.”
Bemaraha woolly lemur (Avahi cleesei)
Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Avahi cleesei wasn’t discovered until 2005, and is named after John Cleese. It lives only in the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in central Madagascar. Unusually for a lemur, this species is monogamous. Females give birth to a single young after a gestation period of four to five months. Pairs keep in contact with each other when foraging with distinctive whistles and calls.
The slash and burn agriculture seen across Madagascar is the main threat to A.cleesei. Bushfires near the borders of the national park where this species is found also prevent vegetation from regenerating.
Better enforcement of the protection of Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park will help protect this species from extinction. However, little is yet known about A.cleesei, and more information is needed to provide proper protection.
Photo: Edward Louis.
Turns out there is a price to pay for protecting your rainforests.
This is fucking important! Sign and reblog.
wow this is outrageous, why isn’t this going around? from the link:
Infinito Gold, a Canadian mining company, just slapped Costa Rica with a $1 billion lawsuit simply because the country decided its rainforests were more important than an open-pit gold mine.
Lauded as one of the countries with the most beautiful rainforests, it’s no wonder Costa Rica rejected Infinito’s mine. Costa Rica’s rainforest is home to many endangered species such the green macaw. Gold mining also uses toxic chemicals such as cyanide, which often leaks into and pollutes nearby lakes and rivers.
A subsidiary of Infinito Gold has announced that a massive lawsuit is “imminent”, so we need to act now. If thousands of us stand together, we can show Infinito that countries such as Costa Rica should have the right to protect their rainforests without being persecuted by corporations.
please sign and reblog!
The most detailed range-wide assessment of the bonobo (formerly known as the pygmy chimpanzee) ever conducted has revealed that this poorly known and endangered great ape is quickly losing space in a world with growing human populations. The loss of usable habitat is attributed to both forest fragmentation and poaching, according to a new study by University of Georgia, University of Maryland, the Wildlife Conservation Society, ICCN (Congolese Wildlife Authority), African Wildlife Foundation, Zoological Society of Milwaukee, World Wildlife Fund, Max Planck Institute, Lukuru Foundation, University of Stirling, Kyoto University, and other groups.
Using data from nest counts and remote sensing imagery, the research team found that the bonobo— one of humankind’s closest living relatives —avoids areas of high human activity and forest fragmentation. As little as 28 percent of the bonobo’s range remains suitable, according to the model developed by the researchers in the study, which now appears in the December edition of Biodiversity and Conservation.
"This assessment is a major step towards addressing the substantial information gap regarding the conservation status of bonobos across their entire range," said lead author Dr. Jena R. Hickey of Cornell University and the University of Georgia. "The results of the study demonstrate that human activities reduce the amount of effective bonobo habitat and will help us identify where to propose future protected areas for this great ape."
"For bonobos to survive over the next 100 years or longer, it is extremely important that we understand the extent of their range, their distribution, and drivers of that distribution so that conservation actions can be targeted in the most effective way and achieve the desired results," said Ashley Vosper of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "Bonobos are probably the least understood great ape in Africa, so this paper is pivotal in increasing our knowledge and understanding of this beautiful and charismatic animal."
The bonobo is smaller in size and more slender in build than the common chimpanzee. The great ape’s social structure is complex and matriarchal. Unlike the common chimpanzee, bonobos establish social bonds and diffuse tension or aggression with sexual behaviors. The entire range of the bonobo lies within the lowland forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa and currently beset with warfare and insecurity.
Photos: Crispin Mahamba/Wildlife Conservation Society-DRC Program.
The discovery of the okapi shocked the world in 1901. African explorer, Henry Stanley, called it ‘donkey-like,’ while others thought it a new species of zebra, given the stripes. However, this notoriously-secretive rainforest ungulate proved to be the world’s only living relative of the giraffe, making it one of most incredible taxonomic discoveries of the Twentieth Century as well as one of the last large-bodied mammals to be uncovered by scientists.
But the future of the okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is increasingly in doubt: a new update of the IUCN Red List released today has raised the threatened level for the okapi from Vulnerable to Endangered…
My favorite animal may go extinct in my lifetime because people are dicks. Way to go, everyone.
omg this is my fave animal too, has been since my childhood. the Denver zoo had a bb one a few years back.
please don’t die bbs.
- from Past Horizons
"While tracking white-lipped peccaries and gathering environmental data in forests that link Brazil’s Pantanal and Cerrado biomes, a team of researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and a local partner NGO, Instituto Quinta do Sol, discovered ancient cave drawings made by hunter-gatherer societies thousands of years ago.
The drawings are the subject of a recently published study by archaeologists Rodrigo Luis Simas de Aguiar and Keny Marques Lima in the journal Revista Clio Arqueológica. The diversity of the renderings, according to the authors, adds significantly to our knowledge of rock art from the Cerrado plateau region that borders the Pantanal.
“Our work with the Wildlife Conservation Society focuses on promoting sustainable land use practices that help protect important wildlife species and the wild places where they live,” said Dr. Alexine Keuroghlian, researcher with WCS’s Brazil Program.
“Since we often work in remote locations, we sometimes make surprising discoveries, in this case, one that appears to be important for our understanding of human cultural history in the region.”
Surveys of white-lipped peccaries
The discovery was made on Brazil’s Cerrado plateau in 2009, when Keuroghlian and her team were conducting surveys of white-lipped peccaries, herd-forming pig-like animals that travel long distances and are environmental indicators of healthy forests. The peccaries are vulnerable to human activities, such as deforestation and hunting, and are disappearing from large swaths of their former range from southern Mexico to northern Argentina.
While following signals from radio-collared white-lipped peccaries and the foraging trails of peccary herds, the team encountered a series of prominent sandstone formations with caves containing drawings of animals and geometric figures.
Keuroghlian contacted Aguiar, a regional specialist in cave drawings who determined that the drawings were made between 4,000-10,000 years ago by hunter-gatherer societies that either occupied the caves, or used them specifically for their artistic activities” (read more).
(Source: Past Horizons)
Akodessewa Fetish Market
On Monday morning October 28th, Ricky gave birth to a new baby boy. We named him Dennis G. Jacobson Jr. in memory of Dennis as requested by his mother, a cousin of Alan’s and long time friend of the GCC. Dennis is a healthy, strong baby and the whole family is interested in him. Everyone takes their turn kissing and grooming the new addition the the family.
The GCC participates in the Species Survival Plan for northern white-cheeked gibbons, this species is critically endangered with less than a thousand left in the wild. We invite you to come see Dennis this Saturday 9:30am-1:30pm during our Thanks-Gibbon fundraiser!
Nomascus concolor, methinks.
I love baby
gremlinsgibbons! So gangly and cute.
Madagascar’s real-life lemurs face extinction within 20 years
Immortalised in the hit cartoon “Madagascar”, real-life lemurs face extinction within 20 years short of drastic action to tackle the poverty driving islanders to poach the primates and destroy their habitat.
Each year that passes hastens the decline of the saucer-eyed primates, as the Indian Ocean island’s people struggle for survival amid a drawn-out political crisis.
“As long as there is poverty, we can’t expect to prevent the lemurs’ extinction,” said primatologist Jonah Ratsimbazafy from the University of Antananarivo.
Cast as a lovable bunch in the “Madagascar” movies, lemurs occur in the wild only on the island, having evolved separately from their cousins the African ape over millions of years.
Madagascar is home to 105 different species of lemur, accounting for 20 percent of the world’s species of primate, in an area spanning less than one percent of the global habitat of all primates.
But crop burnings and wild fires destroy 200,000 hectares of Madagascar’s forest a year. And the 13 percent of its natural forest that remains may disappear within a generation, according to Ratsimbazafy.
“If this rate of deforestation continues you could say that within 20 to 25 years there won’t be any forest left, so no lemurs either,” he said.
Ninety-three of the 105 known lemur species are on the endangered list.
An estimated 92 percent of Madagascar’s people live on less than a $2 a day, and social conditions have worsened on the island since its leader Andry Rajoelina seized power in 2009 with the help of the army.
Most foreign aid was suspended, bringing the economy to its knees and putting the country at risk of a food crisis — a situation exacerbated by a locust plague this year.
The broke state has scheduled a presidential election for later this month aimed at ending the four-year political crisis.
The island’s blossoming tourist industry also suffered a blow this month following the mob lynching of two Europeans and a local man accused of killing a boy on the Madagascan tourist island of Nosy Be.
The deadly riots sparked travel warnings from several countries including France and the United States.
Meanwhile locals eke out a living where they can — including by looting precious woods, minerals and lemurs from the forest around them.
Small-scale woodcutters also hunt the animals for food while searching for rosewood, according to Tovonanahary Rasolofoharivelo, another primate expert.
“Often they don’t bring enough to eat and woodcutting is hard work, so they eat lemur meat because the animals are easier to catch than birds.”
"Much of Madagascar’s flora and fauna is endemic – 98 per cent of Madagascar’s land mammals, 92 per cent of its reptiles, 68 per cent of its plants and 41 per cent of its breeding bird species do not exist anywhere else." (x)
I’ve been trying to find a version of this that wasn’t quite so long. But this is the first time it has shown up on my dash, so I figured now is as good as any time to start talking about it.
This is going to be a really long post but I need to say my piece. And no, I am not sorry.
So Madagascar’s rainforests have been disappearing at unprecedented rates. What is left is but a tiny fraction of the original extent, as Shelly showed with the poignant photo above.
What this illustration does not show is that what is left of that forest is but a mosaic - it is not even as cohesive as shown in the final image. And we must also note that that image is only accurate up to 1990. Currently, less than 5% of the original extent of rainforest remains (though estimates vary).
Mosaic forest, i.e. forest that is broken into small fragments, is extremely vulnerable to deforestation. And what’s more, it is likely to be overlooked in conservation assessments focussing on things like this article - if we only care about forests of sufficient size to support lemurs, a lot of forest fragments get ignored. Many of those forest fragments are home to critically endangered species that are found nowhere else in the world, because Madagascar not only has unparalleled levels of endemism per square kilometre, but it also has unrivalled levels of micro-endemism, such that one forest mere kilometres from another may have numerous species not found in that other forest.
Take for example the Tarzan Chameleon, Calumma tarzan.
This species is known only from two tiny tiny forest fragment in eastern Madagascar. This species lives in fragments that are categorically too small to be considered for lemur-based conservation, so it has been overlooked. When it was described in 2010, the authors of the description named it specifically for the purpose of making it a conservation flagship, because of this ‘lemur-bias’ in conservation in Madagascar.
The same kind of thought process was behind the recent description of several dwarf chameleon species, including Brookesia desperata (from the Latin desperatus meaning ‘desperate’) and B. tristis (from the Latin tristis meaning ‘sad’ or ‘sorrowful’), both of which received names reflecting their conservation prospects and the prospect of the survival of their species as a whole.
That we have gotten to this point, where animals are being named in reflection of the fact that the survival of their species is unlikely, says so very much about what is wrong with conservation and what we are doing to our planet. Barely have these animals been named before we will be forced to append a little ‘EX’ label to their specimen jars in museums. And these are the lucky ones - to have even been discovered before they are eradicated, and that only because they are found in protected forest.
NO species should have to have go straight from description to the Critically Endangered or, worse, Extinct ranking.
While it is great that we think towards the lemurs, many of which are obviously disappearing, we have to think at the level of whole ecosystems if we want to save species. Conserving just for one species is incredibly short-sighted. We need to protect the forests at the holistic level.
One of the problems then is that, without a flagship to drive the conservation, how do we rally support? There is a constant battle between that which needs to be conserved as soon as possible, and finding some aspect about it for the public and for the conservation agencies to convince them that it is worth their time and money.
If you’ve read some of my earlier writings on this topic and the topic of my research and my field, you will know what this means to people like me. My forests, my animals, millions of years of independent evolutionary innovation, is being eradicated before we even know what it contains. Before it even has a name. That tragedy is… unspeakable.
Four years ago I went out to work in a forest called Antsolipa in northern Madagascar. We were doing a rapid assessment of the forest’s herpetological, avian, and mammalian fauna, to inform conservation work in that area. Yesterday, I learned that that forest no longer exists. It was lost in a fire. I have no doubts that that fire was man-made. My soul aches to think of everything that was lost.
The reality is that this is happening across the island and, at a broader scale, across the globe every day. If you could see it, and identify with it, as I did with my forest in northern Madagascar, your very soul would bleed out. And we are helpless to stop it. ‘Progress’ marches on and we will not know what havoc we have wrought until we reap its true repercussions.
The lemurs are vanishing. The forest is vanishing. 98% of all lemur species are ranked as Vulnerable or worse on the IUCN Red List. The frog assessment (which is ongoing, and in which I am [currently passively] involved) shows much the same trends - and when chytrid finally arrives on the island, as it almost inevitably will, the devastation will be unfathomable.
As they said in the article above, and as I have talked about in the past, while the poverty situation in the country continues, and while the political shitstorm lasts (those are not separate issues), nothing is going to change. Not for the forests. Not for the animals. Not for the researchers. And not for the people.
But what the future is… nobody can say for certain. Whether it will come in 20 years, or in 200, one thing is certain: if nothing changes soon, everything will be lost.
Reblogging for comments.
Everybody read this. And then be sick.
But then read it one more time so this all sinks in.
A First Nations group who met with a UN representative Thursday warn Enbridge has already started work on the proposed Nothern Gateway Pipeline.
The 1/2 Ton Giant Freshwater Stingray With a 15-Inch Poison Barb
by Matt Simon
Scientists first described Southeast Asia’s giant freshwater stingray in 1990, which can grow to more than 16 feet long and 1,300 pounds. And while it packs a 15-inch, poisonous, serrated stinger, it’s actually a gentle, inquisitive creature, an endangered titan that researchers are scrambling to understand before humans drive it to extinction.
Though this could be the largest freshwater fish on the planet, accounts of its existence only emerged in Thai newspapers in the early 1980s. It’s exceedingly rare to see one, in part because it destroys all but the strongest fishing rods and lines. Even if you have the right equipment, the giant freshwater stingray tends to take exception to being hunted and buries itself in the river bottom when hooked.
In 2010, 15 anglers working in shifts reportedly spent six hours reeling one in, which either says something about the stingray’s strength or the group’s collective fishing skills. The fish can drag boats for miles, and even pull them under…
(read more: Wired Science)
photo: Zeb Hogan, University of Nevada
As the illegal poaching of African elephants and rhinos reaches epidemic levels, other species are also suffering catastrophic losses as a direct result of poachers’ behavior. A recent incident in July, where a poisoned elephant carcass led to the death of 600 vultures near Namibia’s Bwabwata National Park, has highlighted how poachers’ use of poison is now one of the primary threats to vulture populations. Poachers poison carcasses to kill vultures, since large flocks may give away the location of poaching activity, attracting the attention of law enforcement officials.
"By poisoning carcasses, poachers hope to eradicate vultures from an area where they operate and thereby escape detection," explains Leo Niskanen, Technical Coordinator, IUCN Conservation Areas and Species Diversity Programme. "The fact that incidents such as these can be linked to the rampant poaching of elephants in Africa is a serious concern. Similar incidents have been recorded in Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia in recent years".
African vultures are highly imperiled, and are under pressure from a range of factors, including habitat loss as well as poisonings. Drastic population declines over the last 30 years have resulted in many species being classified as threatened by the IUCN. On average, the number of vultures in West Africa has dropped by 42% during this time, with Rueppell’s vulture (Gyps rueppellii) suffering losses of up to 85%….
The current decline may have serious ecological and human health consequences in the longer term, say IUCN experts. The loss of vultures would be keenly felt, because they play a critical role within an ecosystem. Their scavenging behavior does not endear them to people, but by quickly cleaning carcasses they limit the spread of disease to humans, domestic animals, and wildlife, as well as keeping populations of other species which spread disease in check. They also offer a valuable service to farmers, who would otherwise need to pay to dispose of diseased or injured livestock. Where vulture populations have recently crashed in India, increases in rabies and feral dogs can be directly attributed to the loss of these aerial scavengers.
Although poisoning by poachers is rife, farmers also use poison to reduce predator populations to safeguard their livestock, and this can severely impact vultures too. Kolberg sees limiting the use of poison in general as key to vulture conservation.
(Read more at Mongabay.com)
Photo: Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) by André Botha.
Brian Skerry photographs the results of commercial bluefin tuna fishing in the mediterranean. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that each year, 4.4 million sharks and 90,000 turtles are unintentionally caught as bycatch from unregulated commercial tuna fisheries using long lines and drift nets. A shark caught in a net will suffocate to death. Shark numbers have declined by as much as 80 per cent worldwide, with a third of all species now threatened by extinction (pew charitable trusts)