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Challenging Perceptions, Part 2

Joburg doesn’t have a stellar reputation, but people like Michael Luptak and the organization he co-founded, Dlala Nje, are trying to change that. The following podcast is a (brief) look at their story.

Using Technology to Combat Wildlife Crime

“Wildlife rangers now have the help they’ve desperately needed.” says Colby Loucks, WWF’s wildlife crime technology lead. “This groundbreaking technology allows them to search for poachers 24 hours a day, from up to a mile away, in pitch darkness. It’s upping the game in our fight to stop wildlife crime across the region.”

Where I Was When I Heard the News

My surreal experience of Donald Trump’s election, far away from America When Donald J. Trump was elected President of the United States, I was sitting in a tin-roofed, dirt-floored cafe on the shore of Lake Victoria, in a bustling Kenyan fishing village called Usenge, waiting for a ferry and watching the sun rise. It should…

The Lost History of South Africa

The strange creature is half antelope and half bird. Painted in jet black, frozen in flight on the wall, the animal has the hind legs and tail of a buck, and the magnificent wings of a raven that spread out from its shoulders. Above the flying figure, a long scaly reptile with crocodile-like ridges stretches…

Could Climate Change Keep Kids Out of School?

By Lisa Palmer

Education is seen as a key tool for building resilience to climate change in the developing world. But new research shows that climate change could also make it harder to keep kids in school and ensure they get the best out of their time in the classroom.

Heather Randell, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, a research institute funded by the National Science Foundation and the University of Maryland, studies the relationships between environmental change, development, and human health and wellbeing. Her research focuses on the social processes underlying migration, the links between development and rural livelihoods, and the social and health impacts of environmental change.

Challenging Perceptions: Part 1

Here’s a screenshot my friend sent me before I arrived in Joburg. It sums up what I had heard a few times about the city:  There’s some truth to the narrative that Johannesburg is unsafe. The fences struck me right away. Nearly every house has a fence around it, most topped by barbed (and sometimes…

World body that could protect elephants—decides not to

Acutely, an elephant’s problem is ivory. Chronically the problem is shrinking space. Rich or poor, humans seem too much of a good thing. One wonders where this trend of growing human numbers and appetites, afflicting elephants and humans alike, is headed.

African Lions on the Brink: A Conversation with Lion Expert Craig Packer

With roars that rend the African night, lions have captured our imaginations since the dawn of humankind. “Lions have long been celebrated in art and literature throughout the world,” says ecologist Craig Packer, National Geographic Explorer and Expeditions Council grantee, and director of the University of Minnesota Lion Center. In the face of habitat loss and…

Taming Rivers: A Fulbright-National Geographic Journey

“Simply, water is surpassing oil itself as the world’s scarcest critical resource. Just as oil conflicts were central to twentieth-century history, the struggle over freshwater is set to shape a new turning point in the world order and the destiny of civilization” — Steven Solomon, Water   The Dam, located in the leafy Johannesburg suburb of…

CITES CoP17 Delegates Adopt Resolution Recommending Closure of Domestic Elephant Ivory Markets Globally

The global community today further chipped away at the elephant ivory market. The countries gathered at CITES CoP17 adopted a resolution recommending the closure of domestic elephant ivory markets around the world. Traffickers and criminal networks are losing their markets and losing their financial incentives to illegally kill Africa’s elephants for their ivory.

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…

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.

Large Wildlife and the Global Carbon Cycle: Studies at the Mpala Research Center

At first glance, the relationship between large, charismatic wildlife species and comparatively invisible carbon compounds is not abundantly clear.  In terms of an ecosystem’s carbon dynamics, it’s more intuitive that soil microorganisms do a lot of the work by breaking down carbon compounds and respiring carbon dioxide; also intuitive is that plants draw carbon back…

Two Cheers on World Elephant Day 2016

Things have improved since the dark days of 2011 and 2012 when ivory poaching across Africa appeared to be spiralling out of control and conservations began to contemplate the unthinkable: the extinction of the African elephant. On World Elephant Day 2016 there are grounds for cautious optimism. Nevertheless, it is too soon to assert that Africa’s elephants are safe.

Urgent Global Action Needed to Stop Extinction of Earth’s Last Megafauna

A swift and global conservation response is needed to prevent the world’s gorillas, lions, tigers, rhinos, and other iconic terrestrial megafauna from being lost forever, an influential group of international scientists reported today in the journal BioScience.

Their analysis, entitled Saving the World’s Terrestrial Megafauna, covers the precipitous loss of large animal populations around the globe. The report included a 13-point declaration by 43 scientists and conservationists calling for acknowledgement that a “business as usual” mentality will result in massive species extinction. Read the declaration and study the maps showing the global decline of big land animals.