VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers

Menu

What We Now Know – and Don’t Know — About Honeybees and Colony Collapse Disorder

In honor of September being National Honey Month, National Geographic Voices publishes an extract from a new book, Bees on the Roof (Tumblehome Learning, September 1, 2016). “Bees are fascinating,” says the author and former business journalist Robbie Shell. “I have always been a little wary of them, but I became intrigued after visiting my brother’s backyard beehives and seeing their amazing teamwork and productivity. Then I learned that bees are actually in danger of being wiped out. They had a story that needed to be told.”

Feeling the Burn: Understanding how Biomass Burning Changes Climate

Each year, during the dry season, a large swath of the African countryside goes up in flames. During two distinct seasons—October through March in the northern hemisphere, and June through November in the southern hemisphere—fires are set to clear land, remove dead and unwanted vegetation and drive grazing animals to less-preferred growing areas. This is called “biomass burning,” and Africa is responsible for an estimated 30 to 50 percent of the total amount burned globally each year. Biomass burning also occurs when fires start naturally (such as after a lightning strike on the savannah), but they’re rare. Worldwide, 90 percent of biomass burning can be attributed to humans.

Solving the Mystery of the 18th-Century Killer “Beast of Gévaudan”

From 1764 to 1767, in the historical region of Gévaudan, located in southern France, and in adjacent areas, about one hundred children, youths, and women were killed by a so-called “Beast”. Numerous other humans survived the attacks, many of them seriously injured. The series of attacks has been confirmed by a great variety of historical documents and is not called into question by scientists.

Historians claim that wolves, or a hybrid of a wolf and a domestic dog, had attacked the victims; the “hybrid-assumption” is based on the description of a canid, shot in June 1767, that was said to have strange morphological characteristics. However, a critical evaluation of historical texts, including the publications of the French abbots François Fabre and Pierre Pourcher, revealed that neither this animal, nor any other wolf killed in Gévaudan, had anything to do with the attacks of the Beast.

In this post, German biologist Karl-Hans Taake posits that The Beast was a very different carnivore to a wolf.

Artist Uses Body Paint to Transform Three Women Into Elephant

Italian artist Johannes Stoetter is famous for using body paint to transform humans into animals. Here at CITES, he teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about the decline of elephants with a new work, “Coming Together for Elephants.” Can you spot the three women in the elephant? “While a canvas lasts…

The Ploughshare Tortoise’s Countdown to Extinction

The ploughshare tortoise, which has hung on for millennia, is now on the very verge of extinction in the wild—possibly within the next two years. As the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convenes its 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) in Johannesburg, we urge the government of Madagascar and the other Parties to CITES to prioritize putting a swift end to the illegal international trade of this critically endangered species.

Process for Establishing Future Ivory Trade Rejected at CITES Conference

For the last nine years, CITES parties have been negotiating a “decision-making mechanism,” (DMM), which would establish a process for a future trade in ivory. Today, the parties of CITES voted to end the long-running discussion.

Swimming 130 Miles to New York City to Prove Importance of Healthy Rivers

Clean Water Advocate and New York Native Christopher Swain has already swum the entire lengths of the Hudson River, the Gowanus Canal, and Newtown Creek. Now the 48-year-old father of two plans to swim more than 130 miles from the easternmost tip of Long Island, to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.  His route includes the entire lengths of…

Environmental Forensics: Drones and Advanced Technologies to Track Eco-criminals

Professor Massimiliano Lega has a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering, and is currently a professor on the Environmental Engineering themes and director of the Environmental Engineering Forensic Lab at the University of Naples Parthenope – Italy. He is also an Associate Researcher on the Italian National Research Council (CNR), President of Technical/Scientific Advisory Committee of Campania Sea/Coasts Observatory and Technical Consultant for several Italian Government Bodies/Agencies. In this introductory post for Voices he talks about his work and his recent meetings and discussions with research collaborators at U.S. institutions.

Barbary Macaques Could Gain Protection from Pet Trade

The barbary macaque is the most frequently seized, live, CITES-listed mammal in the European Union. Ever heard of it? It’s a monkey found in Gibraltar and the northern African countries of Morocco and Algeria—the only primate (besides humans) that lives north of the Sahara and the only macaque found outside of Asia. Here at CITES…

Fighting Wildlife Crime: Communities Work to Turn Away Poachers (Video)

Every single living organism on Earth has a role to play for the ecosystem to be balanced, says Fominyam Njoh Christopher, Conservator for Kimbi-Fungom National Park, Cameroon.

A challange for the new national park in the West African country is to find ways “through [a] participatory approach” to win the support and cooperation of the people who live in the villages around the park. “We try to win them on our side, get their confidence, ask them to collaborate with us, and make them understand the benefit of having that wildlife in there,” he explains in this video.

Biotherm & Mission Blue to Collaborate on Hope Spot Expedition in Balearic Islands

Since 2012, Biotherm Water Lovers has donated more than €700,000 toward furthering the protection of Mission Blue Hope Spots Today Dr. Sylvia Earle and the Mission Blue Expedition Team join French luxury skincare company Biotherm in Mallorca, Spain to highlight their partnership and announce an upcoming joint expedition to the Balearic Islands Hope Spot. Since…

Surveying Canopy Wildlife: A Brief Look at Looking Up

There is more to come in the way of introductions, but here is a quick first look at my project, Looking Up: A Canopy Wildlife Expedition. Throughout the year, I’ll be conducting wildlife surveys in forest canopies of Malaysia and Ecuador. As a scientist, I’m excited to expand my work to new research sites. Camera trapping…

Shark Fins on Display at CITES

Shark fins and gill plates of devil and manta rays are both hot commodities on the international black market. In Asia some people use the fins to make soup, considered a delicacy. The gill plates, which help the rays filter plankton from the water, are dried and used in traditional medicine. The Pew Charitable Trusts, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit, has a booth at this year’s meeting in Johannesburg of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), where they showcase real fins and gill plates from various species and explain the differences between them.

New Elephant Estimate Documents Major Decline

The International Union for Conservation of Nature released its 2016 African Elephant Status Report this morning, and the results are sobering: Africa has approximately 415,000 elephants, a net decline of more than 110,000 from the beginning of 2007 to the end of 2015.

Islanders Trying To Save Ancestors’ Eternal Resting Place

Residents of North Carolina’s slender, sandy Outer Banks have been wrestling with the sea for centuries. And they know that the sea–the Atlantic Ocean to the east and large sounds to the west–eventually gets its way. About the best they can usually hope for is figuring out a way to accommodate the inevitable. Sometimes, however,…