VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
The practice of solving conservation problems for wildlife has presented more and varied challenges for researchers and practitioners in Asia, especially over the last quarter century. While human populations have grown, lands available for wildlife have steadily decreased and habitats have been degraded. Yet as conservation practice has matured, researchers are striving to make their science relevant to the issues at hand and practitioners have better tools and information available to implement solutions.
By Rob Wallace
After a five month break during the wet season, the Identidad Madidi field team is reunited on the fifth leg of its Bolivian scientific expedition. The Andean foothill forests of the upper Hondo River represent our seventh study site in a series of fifteen spanning the unique altitudinal range of almost 6,000 meters in Madidi National Park.
The future of coral reefs depends on the response and adaptation of corals to rising ocean temperatures. Finding reefs that serve as climate refuges and managing them globally is one of the highest priorities for action. To achieve that goal will require funding reef science beyond the borders of wealthy countries and prioritizing the monitoring and reporting of coral reefs around the world.
Indonesian government agencies, supported by the Wildlife Crimes Unit (WCU) of the Wildlife Conservation Society, this week confiscated two illegally caught whale sharks from a major supplier of large marine megafauna to the international wildlife trade. The bust followed an 18-month investigation into a sophisticated operation that the WCU was first alerted to in late 2014.
By Jim Stone
This week President Obama signed into law the National Bison Legacy Act (NBLA). With that act, he has lifted the spirits of Native Americans and created hope on our journey to renew bonds with our ancient friend and provider, the buffalo. This pivotal legislation – which makes the bison our national mammal — reaffirms this magnificent species’ connection to our country and all of its people.
“As the smoke rises and the flames crackle, it is hard not to be swept away by the mixed emotions this spectre creates. It is hard not to think about the thousands of elephants that died to make this fire. It is hard not to wonder if there isn’t a better way to honor their…
When the Kenya burn is over and the smoke clears, WCS is hopeful the world will be even more galvanized in its resolve to end the trafficking crisis that is wiping out Africa’s mighty elephants and rhinos.
Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo, April 15, 2016 – A week ago, the Wildlife Conservation Society suffered the tragic loss of one of our field researchers, Jana Robeyst, in the Republic of Congo. She died after she was charged by an elephant while she was working with a team of fellow conservationists here. The following tribute was posted on the WCS Congo website to honor Jana and her work.
A report by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) documents the collapse of the world’s largest great ape- the Grauer’s gorilla – due to a combination of illegal hunting around mining sites, civil unrest, and habitat destruction. I am proud to be part of a generation of Congolese conservationists who, together with a worldwide network of wildlife organizations, have never been better equipped and more committed to save this iconic species.
April 4, 2016 will long be remembered by the Blackfeet Nation. Yesterday, close to 90 bison calves arrived at the 9,000 acre Blackfeet Bison Ranch near Two Medicine River in Montana. These buffalo, from Elk Island National Park in Alberta, Canada, are the true descendants of the Pablo-Allard herd from Montana that were first captured 30 miles east of Browning and subsequently sold and moved to Canada in the early 1900s. The repatriation marked the start of our effort to build and expand the Blackfeet tribal buffalo herd and will form the source stock for future reintroduction onto larger landscapes along the Rocky Mountains.
By Jeremy Radachowsky
Today I am joining colleagues from the Honduran park service, ICF, for a flight over the Moskitia – the second largest forest in Central America and the largest protected areas complex in Honduras. We are here to help ICF with strategies to protect the cornerstone of this vast forest – the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site designated as “In Danger.” Also in danger are the reserve’s rangers and the indigenous Miskitu, Tawakha, and Pech communities that hold territorial rights in the reserve’s cultural zone.
By Sangeeta Mangubhai
After 10 days at sea, traveling over 500km and completing 26 dives, I have solid data on the scale and intensity of damage to the Vatu-i-Ra Seascape from Cyclone Winston – a tropical storm that passed through Fiji on the 20 February 2016.
By Alison Clausen
Today marks the U.N. International Day of Forests. I was asked recently for an “elevator pitch” in 25 words or less on why we should invest resources in saving tropical forests and, in particular, in tropical forests in Madagascar. To those of us working in conservation, this question seems like a no-brainer, so at first I took the question with a grain of salt. However, my questioner persisted and it made me realize both that it is not a no-brainer for everyone – particularly given the competing priorities for peoples’ attention – and that for the conservation community we need to be able to answer such questions if we are to engage people in our work.
It has been almost impossible to predict which reefs would survive Cyclone Winston and which ones would sustain serious damage. There is no clear pattern so far. We would dive on one reef to find it broken apart by waves, then turn a corner and find a reef intact and flourishing. The fish and shark life seemed at this stage to be largely unaffected. We were lucky to swim with white tip and grey reef sharks, large manta rays, and big schools of big-eyed trevally, surgeonfish, and fusiliers.
In my assessment of Cyclone Winston’s impact on the coral reefs of Fiji, I have been spending part of each dive collecting data on the scale and intensity of bleaching across a range of habitats – including fringing patch and lagoonal reefs, channels, and bommies. Over the last four days, I have documented mild levels of bleaching, with common coral genera like Acropora, Pocillopora, Porites (massive forms), Montipora and Pavona mostly affected.