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Black Rhino return to Samburu-Land

In the shadow of Mount Kenya lie the hot lowlands of Samburu-land. This vast, beautiful region of rocky ridges, acacia grasslands and doum palm forest is the traditional homeland of the Samburu people, the rare Grevy’s zebra and the Gerenuk antelope. For thousands of years, it was also home to the black rhino, until the…

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Oshkosh

This year, LightHawk Volunteer Pilot Michael Baum of Los Altos, CA made an interesting stop on his way to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI. The self-described aviation enthusiast made a special detour to Centennial, Colorado (KAPA) to begin a flight mission donated for LightHawk. Baum touched down on his way to AirVenture, the renowned airshow…

Not all Dragons Breathe Fire

Dragons have been present in human folklore for centuries, appearing as heroes and villains in the pages of children’s books, Hollywood summer blockbusters, and popular television shows. But to me, dragons are just another part of my day job. As the senior wild animal keeper for the Herpetology Department at the Bronx Zoo in New York City, I am responsible for the care and management of the four Komodo dragons that are currently part of our collection. While these dragons do not breathe fire and have not stolen away princesses, they still possess the beauty, power, and majesty of their fictional brethren.

Video Trap Catches Genet Hitching a Ride on Back of Rhinoceros

A genet, a small nocturnal animal that resembles a mix between a cat and a mongoose, was caught in a video trap hitching a ride on the back of a critically endangered black rhino in a South African park. It can be seen hunting insects that might have either been disturbed by the rhino, or attracted to it (like a cattle egret or fork-tailed drong would do during the day). A bat, (another potential source of prey for the genet), is also seen cashing in on the insect bounty. It is still unclear whether the genet is also interested in parasites like ticks on the rhino’s skin.

Offsetting Biodiversity: Greening or Greenwashing?

There’s a new conservation controversy brewing. While carbon offsetting continues to be debated as a response to continuing emissions growth, biodiversity offsetting is increasingly being seized upon as a solution to unabated biodiversity loss. The idea is that damage to biodiversity from development can be neutralized by creating an “ecologically-equivalent” benefit elsewhere – thus achieving “no net loss” of biodiversity. But inappropriate application of offsetting carries its own risk. What if misplaced confidence in offsets means more biodiversity losses are permitted? With many governments actively developing offset policies, strict standards are needed to ensure the approach really does mean better conservation outcomes, rather than simply drawing a thin green veil over habitat destruction.

Dumbledores and Bumblebees

It may interest you to know that one of this generation’s most iconic characters, Dumbledore, takes his name from an Old English term for the bumblebee. It’s easy to see why J.K. Rowling could be so inspired, bumblebees never seem incessantly busy like their honey-crazed counterparts and they tend to “bumble” along alighting among  flowers…

Death of Zimbabwe’s Best-Loved Lion Ignites Debate on Sport Hunting

Zimbabwe’s most well-known and much-photographed black-maned lion, affectionately named Cecil, was killed by sport hunters just outside the nation’s premier wildlife park, Hwange, last week. The killing by a hunter using a bow and arrow has sparked considerable discussion about the ethics of hunting big cats in areas adjacent to wildlife sanctuaries, especially when research has shown that it can cause severe destabilization of prides, including the killing of fatherless cubs.

A Remote Trip in Search of Bahamian Queen Conch

Guest post by Dr. Andy Kough, research associate, Shedd Aquarium Queen conch, Lobatus gigas, is an iconic but threatened Caribbean species. The Bahamas are one of the last strongholds where conchs are still fished, but populations are in decline. The first step for protecting a species and replenishing its numbers is describing where healthy populations still…

Identidad Madidi: Exploring the Fantastic Biodiversity of Bolivia

By Rob Wallace

It’s an idea that was four years in the making: to send a group of Bolivian scientists to investigate fourteen different habitats spanning 6,000 meters – from the Andes down to the Amazon – in what is the most biodiverse protected area on the planet. Identidad Madidi, expected to take a year and a half to complete, is a scientific expedition intended to draw attention to the wonders of Boliva’s Madidi National Park.

Zebra Sharks: Gentle, Sweet and Disappearing

Guest post by Lise Watson, Wild Reef collections manager, Shedd Aquarium I’ve been passionate about sharks ever since I started working with them in the mid-80s at the beginning of my career. During this time, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a variety of species of sharks, both in public accredited…

The Foundations of our Forests

Louise Egerton-Warburton, Ph.D. Conservation Scientist, Soil and Microbial Ecology, Chicago Botanic Garden Characterized by warm temperatures, high rainfall and a 365-day growing season, tropical rainforests are an unparalleled display of biodiversity. These impressive and unique ecosystems provide resources we need – from shelter to medicines to food – while releasing oxygen, cycling and filtering water, and…

Giant Volcano and Its Baboons With Altitude!

Yvonne de Jong and Thomas Butynski explore enormous Mount Elgon and find the highest-altitude baboons in East Africa.

Are Fences the Solution for Protecting Africa’s National Parks?

With the expansion of human populations, instances of human-wildlife conflict become increasingly frequent. One proposed solution to protect both people and wildlife is the implementation of fences around established protected areas. Many conservation scientists argue that these fences may do more harm than good. A recent paper published in June by some of the world’s most renowned…

A life-changing experience studying iguanas in the Bahamas

Guest post by Shannan Yates, a student at The College of the Bahamas, who recently attended one of Shedd Aquarium’s field research trips to Andros Island in The Bahamas. In the spring of 2014, I had the opportunity of a lifetime that changed me both professionally and personally. At a conference on Bahamian natural history,…

World Heritage — Saving Nature As Well As Culture

By Susan Lieberman

What do the Taj Mahal, Yellowstone National Park, the Great Wall of China, and Virunga National Park have in common? They are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites, protected by an international convention recognizing that they and another thousand special places around the world are the common heritage of humanity and deserve the highest level of protection.