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The Ploughshare Tortoise’s Countdown to Extinction

The ploughshare tortoise, which has hung on for millennia, is now on the very verge of extinction in the wild—possibly within the next two years. As the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convenes its 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) in Johannesburg, we urge the government of Madagascar and the other Parties to CITES to prioritize putting a swift end to the illegal international trade of this critically endangered species.

Forests in 25 Words or Less

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.

How to Celebrate Christmas on a Volcano

Evolutionary biologist and National Geographic grantee Borja Milá went to a volcanic island in the Indian Ocean to study evolution in birds. But when Mother Nature unleashed a tropical storm on Christmas Eve, Milá’s team was stuck atop a volcano.

What Are We Actually Protecting In The Ocean?

One of the great recent success stories in conservation is the rapid increase in the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs). Since 2006, there has been a staggering growth of 10 million km2 of new MPAs globally, a nearly four-fold increase over the past decade. Yet there has been no baseline for measuring how well our marine species are represented in protected areas. Until now.

A new paper we have published in Nature’s Scientific Reports assesses the overlap of global MPAs with the ranges of 17,348 marine species (fishes, mammals, invertebrates). We have discovered some sobering results: most marine species are not well represented within MPAs and several hundred species are not covered at all.

Paris Climate Talks: The 21st Time Must Be the Charm

We are issuing the Polar Bear Is Not Alone graphic today in support of efforts at COP21. Our graphic depicts how the polar bear, long the symbol warning us about climate change, is not alone. Joining the bear is a farmer in California, communities in Papua New Guinea, the migrating bar-tailed godwit, the quiver tree of Southern Africa, and other forms of life across the globe. Not only must we curtail carbon emissions to slow the rate of climate change; we need to help both wildlife and humans adapt to the impacts of change by ensuring the protection of functioning ecosystems and the services they provide that support all life on our planet. We must be emissions smart and adaptation sharp.

A New Strategy for Wildlife Conservation

By Cristián Samper

At the Wildlife Conservation Society today we unveiled our WCS: 2020 strategy and, along with it, a new WCS.org website and brand identity. This announcement advances our 120-year mission to save wildlife and wild places. As the world rapidly changes, our approach to conservation must adapt and evolve. Our WCS: 2020 strategy represents our response to that change and a way to scale up our impact. Our choices today can give us a fighting chance to preserve the intricate balance of species and ecosystems that all lives depend upon.

The New Sustainable Development Goals: a Vision for Living in Harmony with Nature

There is now clearer recognition that sustainable development and biodiversity conservation are inextricably linked and that one cannot succeed without the other. The UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals address conservation of both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The new agenda specifies that UN member states will “conserve and sustainably use oceans and seas, freshwater resources, as well as forests, mountains and drylands and to protect biodiversity, ecosystems and wildlife.” And SDG targets specifically refer to endangered species, calling for an end to wildlife poaching and trafficking.

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…

If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em

There’s a growing trend among scuba divers in the Caribbean: they’re on the hunt for something tasty… Last month, the Glass Goby (Coryphopterus hyalinus) suffered a change in status on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Previously considered of Least Concern to conservationists, this reef-dwelling fish is now listed as Vulnerable. And it isn’t alone.…

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.

Locally “Extinct” Bumblebee Found in Virginia

A rare bee species thought extinct in the eastern U.S. has popped up in a Virginia state park, giving scientists hope.

“Extinct” Snail Found Alive—But for How Long?

“So I was wrong,” scientist says about extinction—but cautions the purple-and-pink mollusk is still perilously close to dying out.

The Fall and Rise of the Amphibian Empire

In 1970, a group of experts on frogs, toads, salamanders, and caecilians noticed that populations of the Yosemite Park Toad in California had suddenly crashed. The habitat was suitable, there seemed to be nothing wrong but their numbers had crashed to very low levels. People scratched their heads and thought of it as just one…

Dead and Lost Boobies: Harbingers of a Growing El Niño?

Starving seabirds far from home may point to a brewing El Nino in the Pacific.

Shark Species Thought to Be Extinct Turns Up in Fish Market

When scouting for extremely rare species probably the last place you’d think to check would be “the store.” And yet it was at a store of sorts–a public fish market in Kuwait to be exact–where marine researchers rediscovered the smoothtooth blacktip shark (Carcharhinus leiodon) in 2008. The species was thought to be extinct, or not even a…