VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
Habitat loss, civil unrest and illegal hunting are driving a “devastating decline” of the iconic giraffe, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said today. The global giraffe population has plummeted by up to 40 percent over the last 30 years, and the species is now listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
An update to the IUCN Red List was released at the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP13) in Cancun, Mexico. Apart from the giraffe the list also has grim news for birds, wild plants, and Lake Victoria’s freshwater species: Full details in this post.
Found on every continent other than Antartica, the owl is anything but an unexceptional bird. Their piercing gaze, uncanny ability to swivel their heads in the round, and their spooky stealth has long made them the subjects of art, literature, and films. And even those only slightly interested in birdwatching can’t help being thrilled by hearing or seeing an owl in the wild.
More than 200 bird species in six rapidly developing regions are at risk of extinction despite not being included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of at-risk species, research led by Duke University scientists has found.
The study, published today in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, used remote sensing data to map recent land-use changes that are reducing suitable habitat for more than 600 bird species in the Atlantic forest of Brazil, Central America, the western Andes of Colombia, Sumatra, Madagascar and Southeast Asia, Duke said in a news statement. “Of the 600 species, only 108 are currently classified by the IUCN Red List as being at risk of extinction.”
Birds have long fascinated humans, and not only because they can do what we can’t: jump into the air and fly. They are everywhere we have settled on Earth, and in many places we have not. We admire them for their variety of shapes, feathers, and song. But we are also often annoyed and sometimes scared by them. So it is little wonder that birds have inspired so much art, music, and folklore, from the dove that was the harbinger of the end of the great biblical flood to the swallows that signal the onset of summer.
It’s a bit of a no-brainer that the trees gracing our sidewalks, parks and other urban spaces are pleasing to the eye, providing soothing shade in the harsh, barren concrete landscape. In city parks, trees provide a place for citizens to relax and birds and squirrels to reside. What’s not to like about them? But not many of us…
Part lavishly illustrated coffee table book, part reference book for all ages, the second edition of Tui De Roy’s Galapagos: Preserving Darwin’s Legacy is a must-read-and-keep volume for anyone who has been, or plans to go, to one of the world’s magic places to experience wildlife. If you haven’t been, or will never be able to go, this book is as close as you will get to appreciating and understanding what the Galapagos fuss is all about.
A major conference on the future of the world’s cities and towns, known as Habitat III, wrapped up in Quito, Ecuador, with delegations adopting a new framework that will set the world on a course towards sustainable urban development by rethinking how cities are planned, managed and inhabited, the United Nations announced in a news statement…
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.”
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…
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.
“We do get captivated by media, by the attention drawn to other countries, to the big animals that are being slaughtered by poachers. And we do forget that we have the same problems going on in our backyards.” Those are the words of Shelley Hammonds, Regional Law Enforcement Coordinator, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, spoken in this video interview.
There are many challenges rangers face, says Fyson Suwedi, in this video. A Senior Assistant Parks and Wildlife Officer in Malawi’s Lengwe National Park, he should know. “Poachers look at rangers as obstacles. They can do anything to make sure they get what they want. They can kill the rangers,” he says. The video is part of a series featuring voices of those fighting against organized wildlife crime.
Manu Prakash, a physical biologist applying his expertise in soft-matter physics to illuminate often easy to observe but hard to explain phenomena in biological and physical contexts and to invent solutions to difficult problems in global health, science education, and ecological surveillance, is one of 23 extraordinary individuals named 2016 “Genius Grant” winners, the MacArthur Foundation announced this week. Prakash was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2015. (Read a National Geographic interview with him).
Wildlife does not belong to an individual,” says Julius Kamwendwit Cheptei in this video interview. Assistant Director of the Southern Conservation Area, Kenya Wildlife Service Parks and Preserves, Cheptei is a veteran of the struggle to protect his country’s wildlife from poachers, ivory traders, and other criminals. For Cheptei, wild animals belong to everyone, so everyone should be involved in fighting wildlife crime.
“Success is collective…and there’s a lot of hope because everybody all over the world is rallying behind the same. Without hope, we will not be doing what we are doing. There is hope because we come together to preserve it. There is hope because we are fighting for a common good. So there is hope for the survival of these animals. Hope is there for me, for you, for my children, and your children, too. There is hope.”
Wildlife trafficking today is unlike anything the world has ever seen before,” says Bryan Christy in this video. The award-winning investigative journalist and National Geographic Fellow adds: “Rare animals are being exploited by criminal syndicates who have access to advanced technology, advanced weapon systems. There’s a huge imbalance in terms of the resources Law Enforcement have…