Rare large blue butterflies reintroduced in Gloucestershire

August 14, 2020 by  
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Rare large blue butterflies just experienced their most substantial reintroduction into the wild. About 750 of the globally endangered butterflies successfully hatched from larvae and flapped around Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire this summer. “Bringing such an important and rare species back to Rodborough Common is a testament to what collaborations between organisations and individuals can achieve,” said  conservation  officer Julian Bendle in a press release issued by National Trust. “Creating the right conditions has been vital to the programme and this doesn’t happen overnight.” Related: Migrating monarch butterflies get the right-of-way in new agreement Rodborough Common serves as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. Officials selected this area for the butterfly release because it met the species’  habitat  requirements. The space houses several rare plants and insects, including the pasqueflower, duke of burgundy butterfly, rock rose pot beetle and fourteen different orchid species. Of Britain’s nine types of blue butterflies, the large blue, with a wingspan surpassing two inches, remains the biggest and rarest. With no large blue sightings at Rodborough Common logged for 150 years, in 1979 officials declared the species extinct in  Britain . Lepidopterologists began reintroducing the large blue from continental Europe nearly 40 years ago. The butterfly has now established populations at several sites across southern England. The campaign to bring the butterflies back to Rodborough Common took five years of planning and included changing the grazing patterns of local  cattle , ensuring the butterflies had plenty of marjoram and wild thyme to lay their eggs in and providing an abundance of delicious red ants. This project also required many human partners, including people at the National Trust, Butterfly Conservation, the Limestone’s Living Legacies Back from the Brink project, Natural England, Royal Entomological Society (RES) and the Minchinhampton and Rodborough Committees of Commoners. As David Simcox, research ecologist and co-author of the commons management plan, explained, cows help the butterflies by creating “keeping the grass down so sunlight can reach the soil which gently warms it creating perfect conditions for the ants.” Simcox continues, saying, “Then, in the summer when the ants are out  foraging , nature performs a very neat trick – the ants are deceived into thinking that the parasitic larva of the large blue is one of their own and carry it to their nest. It’s at this point that the caterpillar turns from herbivore to carnivore, feeding on ant grubs throughout the autumn and spring until it is ready to pupate and emerge the following summer.” Last August, conservation groups released 1,100 larvae on the 867-acre site. The 750 resulting adult  butterflies  demonstrate the program’s success. + National Trust Images via Sarah Meredith and David Simcox

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Rare large blue butterflies reintroduced in Gloucestershire

Earth Overshoot Day comes 3 weeks later this year

August 14, 2020 by  
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In more silver-lining news related to COVID-19 , humanity’s ecological footprint contracted this year more than any time since researchers started tracking it in the 1970s. Earth Overshoot Day will fall three weeks later this year than it did in 2019. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Earth Overshoot Day isn’t exactly a holiday. The date changes year to year and marks the time when humans’ use of ecological resources and services exceeds what our planet can regenerate in a year. This year, Earth Overshoot Day will fall on August 22, according to the Global Footprint Network. Last year, the grim day came three weeks earlier, on July 29. While this is a significant improvement, it still falls noticeably short, with humanity using a year’s worth of resources with more than four months of the year still to go. Related: Every year, humanity ‘overshoots’ the natural resources earth can replenish The Global Footprint Network calculates Earth Overshoot Day by dividing Earth’s biocapacity, or the amount of natural resources the planet can generate that year, by people’s demand for those resources. Then it multiplies the ratio by 365. We have COVID-19 to thank for this year’s 9.3% reduction of our ecological footprint. When you put humans on lockdown, carbon dioxide emissions suddenly drop. “This shift in the year-to-year date of Earth Overshoot Day represents the greatest ever single-year shift since the beginning of global overshoot in the early 1970s,” according to  the Earth Overshoot Calculation Report 2020. “In several instances the date was pushed back temporarily, such as in the aftermath of the post-2008 Great Recession, but the general trend remains that of a consistent upward trajectory.” Humanity is currently burning through natural resources 1.6 times faster than Earth can regenerate. So unless we can find an extra .6 planet, we will either have to change our ways ASAP or run short of resources. The Global Footprint Network’s ambitious goal is to move Earth Overshoot Day back five days per year, so that by 2050, we will be living within our ecological means. The group’s website suggests ways that people can move the date by focusing on five areas: cities, food , population, energy and planet. + Earth Overshoot Day Images via Earth Overshoot Day and Arek Socha

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Earth Overshoot Day comes 3 weeks later this year

Collection of plant-based shirts raise awareness of endangered species

November 12, 2019 by  
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Sustainable design label PANGAIA  has collaborated with eco-activist Nadya Hutagalung and artist Raku Inoue on a new, limited-edition capsule collection to raise awareness for five of the world’s most endangered species , including the Sumatran Elephant and Tapanuli Orangutan. The collection includes vibrant, hand-drawn images by Inoue that are printed on PANGAIA’s seaweed fiber T-shirts using natural dyes. PANGAIA has built a world-wide reputation for its commitment to designing functional, sustainable products . The entirety of the sustainable fashion company’s designs are made from natural, eco-friendly materials such as seaweed fiber, flower down, natural dyes, recycled materials and more. Related: The sustainable wardrobe — it’s more accessible than you think Now, the eco-fashion leader is teaming up with world-renowned activist Nadya Hutagalung to raise awareness of five of the world’s most incredible animals that are unfortunately also at the top of the world’s most endangered species list. This includes Sumatran elephants, Tapanuli orangutans, Amur tigers, giant pandas and Sumatran Rhinoceros. Hutagalung is a UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador well-known for her work in the preservation of endangered species across Africa and Asia. The PANGAIA x  Nadya Hutagalung capsule collection features designs printed on PANGAIA’s popular seaweed fiber T-shirts. The artwork by legendary artist Raku Inoue features hand-drawn compositions of the five endangered animals, all surrounded by a natural background of the animals’ native habitats. The T-shirts  include a range of colors, and some of the options for sale feature additional animals that are in peril, such as the bumble bee , the Ceylon Rose butterfly and Kemp’s Ridley turtles. The PANGAIA x  Nadya Hutagalung T-shirts can be ordered at PANGAIA for $85 each. The teams behind the designs have announced that 100 percent of the proceeds from the capsule collection will be donated to the Barumun Nagari Wildlife Sanctuary for mistreated elephants  and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. + PANGAIA  + Nadya Hutagalung + Raku Inoue Images via PANGAIA

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Trump administration moves to weaken Endangered Species Act amid global extinction risks

August 13, 2019 by  
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It’s no secret that endangered species around the globe continue to face extinction, and the dilemma could get worse with the recent revamp of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) . On August 12, the Trump administration unveiled new changes to the ESA, which was first passed in 1973. The new ESA rules will change how federal agencies implement portions of the conservation law, making it easier to remove recovered species from the protected list and allow for more drilling and development. First proposed in July 2018, the changes will allow federal agencies to weigh economic factors into decisions on assigning species protections. The law previously prohibited this. The administration believes the new changes will  “modernize” and “improve” the law, lifting regulatory burdens while continuing to protect species . Karen Budd-Falen, the Interior Department’s deputy solicitor for fish, wildlife and parks, said the changes will “ensure transparency” in the ESA process and “provide regulatory assurances and protection for both endangered species and the businesses that rely on the use of federal and private land.” However, environmentalists have a different view and believe the new rules only help industry and will continue hurting ecosystems , ultimately resulting in their downfall. Alarmingly, a three-year United Nations study found up to 1 million species wildlife are at risk of extinction by human actions if current trends continue. The changes to the ESA could speed up the process. Related: 1 million species are at risk of extinction, says new UN report Today, the ESA protects more than 1,600 plants and animals, as well as the habitats important to their survival, according to one report. The ESA has prevented 99 percent of listed species from becoming extinct . “The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal ? recovery of our rarest species,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, an ex-oil and gas lobbyist, said. “The Act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation.” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra promised to battle the new ESA changes in court. “I know that gutting the Endangered Species Act sounds like plan from a cartoon villain, not the work of the president of the United States, ” Healey said during a call with journalists. “But unfortunately, that’s what we’re dealing with today.” Via Huffington Post Image via Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

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Trump administration moves to weaken Endangered Species Act amid global extinction risks

Police seize over 10,000 animals in global crackdown on wildlife trade

July 12, 2019 by  
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What do 4,300 birds, 1,500 reptiles, 10,000 turtles and tortoises, 23 primates, 70 truckloads of timber and 30 big cats all have in common? No, they’re not the residents of a new zoo — all of these critical plants and animals were seized in a major international operation that cracked down on wildlife smuggling. Throughout the month of June, international police and customs authorities united for ‘Operation Thunderball’ and rescued an astonishing number of dolphins, sharks, lions, tigers, birds, tortoises, parakeets, finches, ivory and rhino horns. The operation was carried out in more than 100 countries and hopefully dealt a serious blow to the $19 billion dollar illegal wildlife trafficking industry. Over 600 suspects have been identified, with 21 arrests in Spain and three arrests in Uruguay. Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of the World Wildlife Fund, said Operation Thunderball “underscores why international cooperation is so important to addressing this deadly criminal activity.” Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife Wildlife trafficking is a major industry that not only hurts the environment and targets endangered species , but it also supports a far-reaching, violent criminal network. Much of the illegal wildlife trade has shifted online to an internet-based black market. For example, in April of this year, Indonesian police officers detained smugglers who admitted to using Facebook for selling Komodo dragons. International animal rights advocates, police and conservationists agree that Operation Thunderball was a massive success for the fight against the illegal animal trade. But some argue that national authorities now need to pick up where the international authorities left off and fully prosecute the detained criminals. This will help set an example and further debilitate the illegal network. Susan Lieberman, vice president for international policy at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said, “This massive disruption of criminal networks is key to saving endangered wildlife across the globe, but seizures and arrests are only the first step — governments now must follow up with strong, meaningful prosecutions.” + Interpol Via New York Times Images via © INTERPOL

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Police seize over 10,000 animals in global crackdown on wildlife trade

This eco-friendly bamboo restaurant was built in just 5 weeks

July 12, 2019 by  
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Crystal-blue waters, luxury accommodations and tropical appeal aren’t the only draws of Sundy Praia , São Tomé and Príncipe’s first five?star resort. The sustainably minded destination is also home to an award-winning restaurant designed by French architect-designer agency D.L.2.A (Didier Lefort Architectes Associés). Crafted in the shape of a large fish, the restaurant features a bamboo structure that was mainly assembled by hand and built in just five weeks. Located in the Gulf of Guinea off the western coast of Africa, Sundy Praia on the island of Príncipe was created with low-impact luxury in mind. Hidden among tropical almond and banana trees are the resort’s 15 tented villas, each anchored into the ground with retractable screws to reduce impact on the forest. In keeping with this eco-friendly ethos, designer Didier Lefort created a bamboo restaurant that uses local craftsmanship and materials. Related: Bamboo community center empowers the local Brazilian community Crafted to resemble a large fish with an undulating spine and a wide-open mouth, the building structure comprises a series of bamboo arches of varying dimensions that are fastened by hand with natural ties and only bolted at key areas. Measuring 24 meters from head to tail, the restaurant can accommodate up to 100 people inside and on the terrace. The undulating size of the restaurant — from its width to its height — creates spaces for different guests. The narrowest end of the restaurant, for instance, is for VIPs who wish to dine quietly, while the large “belly” area accommodates families. The “mouth of the fish” at the entrance is a popular place for couples wanting to dine by candlelight.  The interior of the restaurant is also dressed in locally crafted products, such as the chandeliers braided from bamboo and inspired by fishermen creels and the large curtains that are held together by strings of large seeds. The long buffet tables are designed by the D.L.2.A agency. + D.L.2.A Photography by Géraldine Bruneel via D.L.2.A

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This eco-friendly bamboo restaurant was built in just 5 weeks

Hen Harriers on the verge of extinction due to gamekeepers killing illegally

March 21, 2019 by  
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A new study reveals that hen harriers are being killed at an alarming rate on U.K. grouse moors. Scientists found that gamekeepers are eliminating these birds , which are on the verge of extinction in England because they hunt red grouse. Conservationists have been tagging hen harriers in the U.K. for several years and discovered that 72 percent of the birds involved in studies have come up missing. The researchers believe the majority of these birds were killed illegally. Related: Don’t forget to fight for these “less glamorous” endangered species Sadly, 83 percent of juvenile hen harriers in this region do not make it through their first year. In comparison, 65 percent of juveniles do not survive in other areas of the country. In areas completely devoid of grouse moors, those numbers drop to less than 50 percent. According to The Guardian , hen harrier numbers have dropped dangerously low in the U.K., despite the fact that there are acceptable habitats for large numbers to survive with ease. Not only is there plenty of food for the birds of prey, but there are also few predators with which to compete. Even still, only seven of the 58 birds in the study were alive by the end of 2017. Five of the deceased birds uncovered in the study, which spanned a decade, died naturally. Four others sustained injuries consistent with hunting and were considered to be illegally killed. The great majority of the missing birds, however, vanished without a trace. Only a small percentage of these disappearances can be attributed to malfunctioning tags; the rest are believed to be victims of hunting . “Carcasses were rarely recovered, presumably due to suspected illegal killing and carcass disposal,” the study revealed. In order to boost population numbers, a new program was just passed to rear juvenile hen harriers in captivity. Researchers with Natural England plan to find juvenile birds in the wild, raise them in captivity and later release them far from grouse moors. The new hen harrier plan has been met with some resistance by conservationists , though a court just ruled in favor of its legality. Via The Guardian Image via Rob Zweers

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Hen Harriers on the verge of extinction due to gamekeepers killing illegally

Wildlife conservation aided by a Chesapeake Bay retriever named Train

March 13, 2019 by  
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A Chesapeake Bay retriever named Train is playing an important part in wildlife conservation . Train, who was too energetic to make it as a drug dog, is lending his nose to sniff out endangered species by smelling their poop. Train is helping conservationists like Karen DeMatteo track down some of the world’s most elusive animals, such as oncillas and jaguars, by finding their scat in the wild. DeMatteo and her colleagues are focusing their research in Argentina, and Train is helping them discover where these endangered species are calling home. “Everybody leaves poop behind in the forest,” DeMatteo shared. “You can figure out which habitats they like and which habitats they avoid.” Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife DeMatteo is using the data she gathers to help conservationists determine where they need to focus their efforts. As human populations continue to encroach on wilderness areas, researchers hope to figure out which areas of the country need better conservation practices — and Train is helping them reach their goals. Before he was sniffing out wildlife , Train was placed in a drug-detection program. Train’s life as a drug-sniffing dog did not pan out, because he was far too energetic for the program. Luckily, DeMatteo snagged him up and trained him to sniff out poop instead of drugs, and the rest is history. Train’s energy also makes him ideal for tracking down wildlife in Argentina. In fact, DeMatteo and her team hiked over 600 miles in 2018 looking for scat, and Train’s energy helped him handle the workload with ease. Before Train came along, researchers like DeMatteo relied on game cameras to find and track endangered species. The only problem with this system is that scientists have to wait until the animals cross the camera’s view. They also have to deal with theft. Although Train is 12 years old, he has not slowed down. After Argentina , DeMatteo and her team will be traveling to Nebraska to find mountain lions, continuing Train’s assistance in wildlife conservation. + Got Scat? Via CNN Images via Karen DeMatteo

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Wildlife conservation aided by a Chesapeake Bay retriever named Train

Trump administration wants to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list

March 11, 2019 by  
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Government officials in the U.S. are looking to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list. The move, proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, would allow states in the Lower 48 to lawfully hunt populations of the gray wolf. “Recovery of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of our nation’s great conservation successes,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shared. According to NPR , the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is publishing the proposal in the Federal Register this month. After the rule is published, officials will entertain public comments for a short period before passing anything into law. The public comments period usually lasts a few weeks. Related: 10 species at risk of extinction under the Trump administration Gray wolves were labeled endangered back in 1978, when populations dwindled to only 1,000 in the United States. Since then, the numbers have risen to more than 5,000 across the country. As populations have grown, ranchers and farmers have spoken out against the federal protections, as they often consider wolves a threat to livestock. While the numbers are a good sign, conservationists warn that the gray wolf has not fully recovered in all of the areas it used to roam. In some locations, the numbers are so small that removing the hunting ban could have disastrous effects on populations. For example, wolves may never reach recoverable levels in the southern Rockies unless the federal protections are extended. The former head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jamie Rappaport Clark, believes that states will not treat gray wolves the same as other species once the endangered status is lifted. Clark is fighting for additional protections that will ensure the wolves will not be hunted in mass once they are off the list. It is unclear when the law would be put in place if officials decide to move forward with their plan. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to respond to the criticism of removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list. Via NPR Image via Christels

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Trump administration wants to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list

Zimbabwe hopes to bring attention to trafficking endangered species with the Pangolin Project

February 20, 2019 by  
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Zimbabwe is raising awareness about animal trafficking with the annual World Pangolin Day. The pangolin is the most often trafficked mammal in the entire world, with an estimated one million of the scaly mammals being sold in the black market over the past 10 years alone. The pangolin project hopes to curb those numbers and raise awareness about the growing problem of animal trafficking around the globe. Behind drugs, weapons and humans, animal trafficking is the fourth highest illegal trade in the world. “It breaks my heart to know how the greed of mankind is pushing this animal to the brink of extinction,” the head of the Tikki Hywood Foundation, Lisa Hywood, explained. “Time is running out for the pangolin, so we all need to take action.” The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) outlawed the trade of pangolin in Asia and Africa, two regions of the world that contain all eight of the endangered species. The ban has given the pangolin protective status, but officials are still dealing with large scale poaching. Related: 60% of wild coffee species are now threatened with extinction In honor of Pangolin Day, several groups are using the occasion to raise awareness about other trafficked animals throughout the world. This includes the Tikki Hywood Foundation, which produced a documentary in 2016 about saving pangolins from poachers and the black market. While efforts like Pangolin Day are doing a great job at raising awareness, environmentalists and conservationists face an uphill battle ahead of them. In fact, animal trafficking numbers have steadily grown over the past few years, despite bans against trading endangered species like pangolins. Last week, for example, authorities in Hong Kong uncovered nine tons of pangolin scales in a shipyard, along with over 1,000 elephant tusks. The shipment was headed to Vietnam by way of Nigeria, and officials believe the cargo would have sold on the market for as much as $8 million. Sadly, experts believe around 13,000 pangolins were killed to account for the nine tons of scales seized in Hong Kong The incident in Hong Kong is one of many examples of the growing problem of animal trafficking around the world. Fortunately, initiatives like World Pangolin Day is helping raise awareness about animal trafficking and making it harder for illegal traders to operate. Via UN Environment Images via David Brossard 

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Zimbabwe hopes to bring attention to trafficking endangered species with the Pangolin Project

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