Banana plantation threatens rainforest valley (video)

June 21st, 2011

Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains were recently spared a titanium mine, however now the region faces a new peril: bananas. The Australian firm Indochina Gateway Capital Limited has proposed a banana plantation in the Southern Cardamom Mountains. The plantation would likely destroy an elephant corridor for one of Cambodia’s last wild elephant populations. In addition, pesticides used in the plantation could pollute local waters, threatening nearly-extinct species, such as the royal turtle, and local people.

According to Wildlife Alliance: [we] recently proposed an alternate plantation location to Indochina Gateway as a win-win solution: Move the proposed location of the plantation to the nearby province of Kampot, where the same beneficial conditions exist (i.e. excellent water supply and good soil). Beyond that our proposed plantation area is actually closer to a harbor and labor sources, and it is located in truly degraded forest inside a low priority ecosystem.

For more information: Learn About the Threat to Key Tropical Forest Corridor Presented by Banana Plantation

For more on the conservation organization Wildlife Alliance:

Cambodia’s wildlife pioneer: saving species and places in Southeast Asia’s last forest

(05/11/2011) Suwanna Gauntlett has dedicated her life to protecting rainforests and wildlife in some of the world’s most hostile and rugged environments and has set the trend of a new generation of direct action conservationists. She has designed, implemented, and supported bold, front-line conservation programs to save endangered wildlife populations from the brink of extinction, including saving the Amur Tiger (also known as the Siberian Tiger) from extinction in the 1990s in the Russian Far East, when only about 80 individuals remained and reversing the drastic decline of Olive Ridley sea turtles along the coast of Orissa, India in the 1990s, when annual nestings had declined from 600,000 to a mere 8,130. When she first arrived in Cambodia in the late 1990s, its forests were silent. ‘You couldn’t hear any birds, you couldn’t hear any wildlife and you could hardly see any signs of wildlife because of the destruction,’ Gauntlett said. Wildlife was being sold everywhere, in restaurants, on the street, and even her local beauty parlor had a bear.

Activism: save Southeast Asia’s last major primary lowland rainforest

June 2nd, 2011

Note: as a news organization, mongabay.com does not endorse the action below, but believes its readers may be interested in taking action or discussing the issue further.


Villagers from Prey Lang forest area rally in Cambodia’s capital against continuing destruction of their forest. Protestors dressed as ‘avatars’ to gain more attention to their plight. Photo courtesy of: Prey Lang Network.

Cambodia’s Prey Lang forest is one of Southeast Asia’s most important rainforests. Much of the forest has never been logged even though as as a lowland rainforest it should have been one of the first to see the axe. It sustains startling biodiversity including popular animals such as tigers and elephants, and provides vital resources to the surrounding communities. Yet, the Prey Lang forest remains unprotected and the forest is being handed over to corporations for clearcutting piece-by-piece. Locals are working to stop the destruction, but they face an uphill battle, including threats to arrest and intimidation for protesting. For Prey Lang to be protected, pressure may need to come from abroad as well as locally.

According to the petition: “Prey Lang is the last large primary forest of its kind on the Indochinese peninsula. Inclusive of seven distinct ecosystems including unique primordial forest, Prey Lang’s biodiversity is exceptionally high, including almost 40 endangered plant and animal species. As a primary watershed, regulating water and sediment flow to the Tonle Sap Basin, and as an important spawning area for fish, Prey Lang is vital for Cambodia’s long-term environmental sustainability and people’s food and water security. With among the highest carbon sequestration values in the region, it is a powerhouse for fighting global warming. About 200,000 people, mostly indigenous Kuy, live around the forest and our dependent on it for their livelihoods and culture.”

Prey Lang Forest petition: Help Save Cambodia’s Prey Lang Forest.

For more information on Prey Lang:

Photos: Cambodians rally as ‘Avatars’ to save one of the region’s last great rainforests

(05/31/2011) Two hundred Cambodians rallied in Phnom Penh last week to protest the widespread destruction of one of Southeast Asia’s last intact lowland rainforests, known as Prey Lang. In an effort to gain wider media attention, protestors donned dress and make-up inspired by the James Cameron film, Avatar, which depicts the destruction of a forest and its inhabitants on an alien world. The idea worked as the rally received international attention from Reuters, CNN (i-report), MSNBC, and NPR, among other media outlets.

Cambodians prevented from protesting destruction of their forest

(03/10/2011) Cambodian villagers fighting to save their forest from rubber companies have been rebuked by the local government. Two days in a row local authorities prevented some 400 Cambodian villagers from protesting at the offices of the Vietnam-based CRCK Company, which the villagers contend are destroying their livelihoods by bulldozing large swaths of primary forests. Authorities said they feared the villagers would have grown violent while protesting.

Rising hope for Asia’s vultures?

May 31st, 2011

Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction from The RSPB on Vimeo.

Vultures may not get a lot of love, or respect for that matter, from the public, but they play a vital role in cleaning up and recycling nature’s waste, which also helps prevent diseases from spreading. Vultures were once abundant throughout Asia, but that was until veterinary drug diclofenac became common. Used on cattle and livestock, researchers discovered in 2003 that the drug was toxic to vultures, killing any bird that consumed the deceased livestock. Within years populations plummeted, putting several once-abundant species on the Critically Endangered list.

Rapid response from conservationists, including innovative and unique programs, have provided hope that vultures species may still survive.

Girl Scouts fighting palm oil receive wider media coverage (video)

May 24th, 2011

After five years of campaigning, two Girl Scouts fighting palm oil in Girl Scout cookies are receiving wider media coverage this week after meeting with heads of Girl Scouts of the US. The organization has now agreed to research different options, such as sustainably-grown palm oil or using another ingredient, reports the Wall Street Journal. Above, the Girl Scout activists are interviewed on the CBS Early Show.

For more information:

Girls Scouts censors Facebook page after coming under criticism for product linked to rainforest loss

(05/04/2011) Girls Scouts USA has censored its Facebook page after receiving comments criticizing the organization, according to Rainforest Action Network (RAN). RAN along with Change.org and two Girl Scout activists, Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva, declared today a social media day of activism against the Girl Scouts for using palm oil in their popular cookies. The oil has been linked to rainforest destruction in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Avon commits to greener palm oil

(04/15/2011) The beauty products giant Avon will purchase enough GreenPalm certificates to meet 100 percent of its palm oil use.

KFC dumps palm oil due to health, environmental concerns

(04/08/2011) KFC Corporation, the fast food giant, will stop using palm oil in its deep friers, reports The Independent.

Pictures of baby animals with their mothers for Mother’s Day

May 8th, 2011

Mother tarsier and baby on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother tarsier and baby on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother and baby orangutan in tree in Sumatra. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother and baby orangutan in tree in Sumatra. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother Panamanian golden frog with green baby. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother Panamanian golden frog with green baby. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

 Southern Tree Hyrax with baby in Kenya. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Southern Tree Hyrax with baby in Kenya. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

 Baby crowned lemur clinging to its mother in Madagascar. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Baby crowned lemur clinging to its mother in Madagascar. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) with babies in Belize. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) with babies in Belize. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother lion sleeping with cubs in Kenya. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother lion sleeping with cubs in Kenya. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother and baby Matschie's Tree-kangaroos (Dendrolagus matschiei). Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother and baby Matschie’s Tree-kangaroos (Dendrolagus matschiei). Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother ringtail lemur with baby on stomach. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother ringtail lemur with baby on stomach. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother capybara with baby in Brazil. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother capybara with baby in Brazil. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

African elephant (Loxodonta africana) mom and juvenile drinking in the Chobe River . Photo by: Tiffany Roufs.
African elephant (Loxodonta africana) mom and juvenile drinking in the Chobe River . Photo by: Tiffany Roufs.

Smiling mothers with babies on their backs in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo outside of Cuzco, Peru. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
And people too! Smiling mothers with babies on their backs in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo outside of Cuzco, Peru. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Photos: ugly is the new adorable when it comes to saiga babies

May 3rd, 2011

A pair of saiga calves.  Photo by: Igor Shpilenok.
A pair of saiga calves. Photo by: Igor Shpilenok.

Few species have seen a worse decline in the past 15 years than the Asian antelope, the saiga. Once known for making up one of the world’s largest migrations, the saiga population has dropped from 1.25 million in the 1990s to 50,000 animals today, plunging over 90% and landing itself on the Critically Endangered species list.

The Saiga Conservation Alliance (SCA), which is working hard to save this species from extinction, has turned to a new model to help: eco-tourism. The group, along with travel company Saga Voyages, is organizing a tour of a unique, rarely visited region in Russia to see and support the saiga. But that’s not all: birding, other wildlife viewing, and cultural visits are also apart of this unique trip. SCA hopes the tour will help convince locals in the region that saiga and other wildlife can bring economic investment and interest from abroad.

Saiga calves.  Photo by: Nils Bunnefeld.
Saiga calves. Photo by: Nils Bunnefeld.

An adult male saiga.  Photo by: Nils Bunnefeld.
An adult male saiga. Photo by: Nils Bunnefeld.

About the tour: First International Saiga Ecotour to Southern Russia

For more information (and photos from the region):

New eco-tour to help save bizarre antelope in ‘forgotten’ region

(05/01/2011) Imagine visiting a region that is largely void of tourists, yet has world-class bird watching, a unique Buddhist population, and one of the world’s most bizarre-looking and imperilled mammals: the saiga. A new tour to Southern Russia hopes to aid a Critically Endangered species while giving tourists an inside look at a region “largely forgotten by the rest of the world,” says Anthony Dancer. Few species have fallen so far and so fast in the past 15 years as Central Asia’s antelope, the saiga. Its precipitous decline is reminiscent of the bison or the passenger pigeon in 19th Century America, but conservationists hopes it avoids the fate of the latter.

Photos: up close and personal with Sumatran elephants

May 1st, 2011

Baby Sumatran elephant on the run.
Baby Sumatran elephant on the run.

Photos of Sumatran elephants at Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park on the island of Sumatra. These Sumatran elephants are patrol elephants; they’ve been recently domesticated and are used to reduce human-wildlife conflict. All photos by Rhett A. Butler.

 Meeting of the minds.
Meeting of the minds.

Sumatran elephant with mahout.
Sumatran elephant with mahout.

Trunk tricks
Trunk tricks.

Traveling
Traveling.

Big male.
Big male.

Fountain.
Fountain.

Modern world.
Modern world.

To see more photos of Sumatran elephants: Sumatran Elephants

To see why elephants are vital to the forests they inhabit:

Elephants: the gardeners of Asia’s and Africa’s forests

(04/25/2011) It seems difficult to imagine elephants delicately tending a garden, but these pachyderms may well be the world’s weightiest horticulturalist. Elephants both in Asia and Africa eat abundant amounts of fruit when available; seeds pass through their guts, and after expelled—sometimes tens of miles down the trail—sprouts a new plant if conditions are right. This process is known by ecologists as ‘seed dispersal’, and scientists have long studied the ‘gardening’ capacities of monkeys, birds, bats, and rodents. Recently, however, researchers have begun to document the seed dispersal capacity of the world’s largest land animal, the elephant, proving that this species may be among the world’s most important tropical gardeners.

Researcher brings home new species of Malaysian gecko (video)

April 14th, 2011

Herpetologist Lee Grismer discovers a new species of gecko sporting lovely colors and lines.

Dr. Lee Grismer from the La Sierra University in Riverside, California, shows off the world’s newest gecko, captured in a cave in Malaysia.

Young sun bear takes to the trees (video)

April 11th, 2011

A five-month old orphaned sun bear, Natalie, at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center explores the trees.

The sun bear (Ursus malayanus) is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. It is threatened by deforestation, the illegal pet trade, poaching, and the trade for traditional Chinese medicine.

Camera trap catches snow leopards in Mongolia

March 30th, 2011

Video is from an ongoing study by Panthera and the Snow Leopard Trust. It is the first comprehensive long-term study on snow leopards.

This video was taken in August 2010 at the Tost Mountain study area in South Gobi, Mongolia where Panthera and the Snow Leopard Trust are collaborating. This film clip is actually 61 images taken about a half second apart by one of our remote automated cameras. We believe it is a mother and her nearly grown cubs.

For more photos from the study and information:

Conservationists oppose snow leopard hunt for ‘science’

(03/23/2011) Conservationists have come out in opposition against a plan by the Mongolian government to issue four permits to kill snow leopards (Panthera uncia ) for ‘scientific research’. The permits were awarded to foreign nationals last month. Snow leopards are listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List with their population declining. “If the planned hunting of snow leopards is allowed to go forward, Mongolia’s creditability as a leader in conservation of [snow leopards] and other rare species will be severely tarnished,” reads a letter from Tom McCarthy, Executive Director of Panthera’s Snow Leopard Program and George Schaller, Vice President of Panthera, to Mongolia’s Minister of Nature, Environment, and Tourism.