VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
The newest and most technologically advanced polar icebreaker in the United States fleet is the US Coast Guard icebreaker Healy. The Healy is involved in research in the Arctic, where 80 crew members and 50 scientists are often at sea for weeks on end.
My focus in particular is the pangolin: a small, scaly, creature, rather like an armadillo, with an innocent nature, despite its resemblance to a four-footed, flightless dragon. It is also the world’s most highly-traded mammal, with more than a million being poached from the wild over the last decade, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The organization says a pangolin is taken from the wild, either to be killed or sold, every five minutes.
As we celebrate the centennial anniversary of the National Parks Service and look at the effect that protected lands and parks around the world have had on those who visit them, we see that protected lands are far more valuable than simply providing a place for a camping trip. The protected lands around the world enable people to wonder, to study, and to share their experiences with others through conservation and inspiration, though they may be a world apart.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games present a great opportunity to forge positive links between sport and the environment. This year, as part of a commitment to sustainability, 100% of the cod served to athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic Village comes from Visir, a family-run fishing business in Grindavik, south west Iceland.
From the vastness of the world’s oceans, the mystery of underwater ecosystems to humankind’s reliance on marine processes, the ocean is a wonderfully strange, altogether necessary part of our world. It is on World Oceans Day that we reflect on all of the benefits, mysteries, and wonders of the ocean.
But on this day, I am on a very different assignment. There is no freedom here, and for the whale shark that swims past me at speed, there is no escape either. This is a marine pen, housing two young sharks, on a small island in the Maluku Sea, Indonesia.
Bhutan is a relative newcomer to modernity: the country’s first paved road was completed in 1962, and the Internet and TV were not introduced until 1999. Since 2000, however, the pace of its development has snowballed. That acceleration is particularly evident in the country’s shifting demographics. Sixty percent of the Bhutan’s population is below the age of 34. While some people work on farms, more and more prefer to live and work in cities such as Thimphu, the capital. It’s easier than ever to move to those cities, but difficult to find jobs in them.
They are waging a war that is relentless, unforgiving and uncompromising in nature and that is taking its toll physically and emotionally. All conservation efforts in Africa will amount to very little without a well skilled, resourced, dedicated and motivated field force. It is high time that we all rise up and recognize the crucial role that these heroes play and we must support them in every way possible!
Conservationists put the number of Sumatran tigers in the wild at around 300. It’s a devastating statistic, particularly given that Indonesia has already lost the Bali and Javan tiger which were both hunted to extinction. Without a serious overhaul of its present laws on wildlife crime, Indonesia can presume that the Sumatran tiger is in its dying days. It is a heartbreaking notion, but with the right level of deterrence and education, it is one that does not have to become reality.
We arrive at the release site and head straight over to see Chocolate who has been in a holding cage for two weeks now, and is fully recovered from the arduous overland trek to get here. I couldn’t believe how confident he had become.
Krista Schlyer writes on the beauty and memory of National Parks. “It isn’t just beauty we see in these places, and in infinite others in the National Park System–it’s memory. Memory of another time, another life, when we lived in seamless connection to the system of nature. Written on this body of Earth is the prose of universal memory. We as humans are but a word of it.”
In a significant move to safeguard the world’s largest known manta population, Peru’s Ministry of Production announced on January 1, strong regulations to protect the oceanic manta ray. It is now illegal to target, capture, and retain a manta ray or trade in any manta parts across their entire range, from Peru to Ecuador, where they are already legally protected.
Since the 17th century, 80% of the Dalmatian Pelican’s breeding sites have disappeared, but efforts in Montenegro’s Lake Skadar aim to protect and stabilize its population.
iLCP Fellow Paul Hilton Photography sends us another article from his valuable and eye-opening work in Indonesia, documenting the devastation brought to this country and its wildlife by palm oil plantations.
The future of the critically endangered Sumatran elephant hangs on a thread. Palm oil plantations have converted 90 percent of prime Sumatran elephant habitat to a monoculture desert. The lowland rainforests of the Leuser Ecosystem are the world’s best remaining habitat for the Sumatran elephant yet they are being bulldozed, often illegally, for palm oil everyday.