Wild tigers are returning to Kazakhstan after 70-year absence

September 8, 2017 by  
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70 years after the iconic big cats went extinct in the country, wild tigers are being reintroduced to Kazakhstan. In the past, tiger reintroduction projects in other locations, such as nature reserves in India , have been implemented in areas where tigers still live – albeit in severely diminished populations. It will be several years before the WWF-supported project is ready on the ground, as the landscape is modified and prey animals are also reintroduced. The first wild tigers are expected to arrive in 2025. If this project proves successful, it would stand as the first instance in which wild tigers have been revitalized in a region from which they had gone extinct for nearly a century. Although tigers once inhabited a vast area that included most of Asia, they have lost 90 percent of their historic range and have become isolated in scattered populations throughout the continent. Between 1900 and 2017, the global wild tiger population fell from 100,000 to 3,900. In Kazakhstan , poaching and encroaching human development have impacted both tigers and their native prey, such as the  kulkan , or wild donkey, and bactrian deer. Reintroducing these animals is only one part of the process. “[Preparing for the tiger reintroduction] means tackling poaching and illegal activities, having well-trained and equipped rangers, thriving prey populations and engaged local communities,” said Ekaterina Vorobyeva, the director of WWF-Russia’s Central Asia program. Related: China approves massive new park for endangered leopards and tigers The tiger reintroduction project, which is set to operate in the Ili-Balhash region, is also an exercise in international cooperation. “Thanks to years of close collaboration between Kazakhstan and Russian conservation experts, we have now identified the best possible territory in Ili-Balkhash for the restoration of a thriving wild tiger population,” said Igor Chestin, the director of WWF-Russia. “Our continued cooperation will be key in the successful creation of a new reserve, the restoration of rare native species and, in a few years’ time, achieving an unprecedented trans-boundary relocation of wild tigers to central Asia .” Via The Guardian Lead image via Depositphotos , others via Dmitry Teslya , Neil Turner , and  Torekhan Sarmanov

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Wild tigers are returning to Kazakhstan after 70-year absence

Endangered Borneo pygmy elephants cruelly slaughtered for ivory

January 4, 2017 by  
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Elephant poaching has ravaged populations in Africa for years – and now poachers are starting to target endangered pygmy elephants in Sabah, Borneo. On New Year’s Eve wildlife officials found the bones of Sabre, a male pygmy elephant known for having tusks similar to a sabre-tooth tiger’s. Only days before, they’d found another mutilated male elephant. Both horrifying incidents occurred less than a mile away from each other. Sabre was probably murdered in late November. Conservationists fitted him with a satellite collar after finding him on a palm oil plantation in October. They released him back into the wild, as poaching wasn’t thought to be a grave danger to elephants in the area. Related: 8 Heartbreakingly Adorable Endangered Animals That We Need to Save The other unnamed male elephant was likely killed about a month after Sabre; his face had been hacked off so the poacher could grab his tusks. Danau Girang Field Centre director Benoit Goossens said a professional hunter may have cruelly slaughtered the elephants. Goossens told The Guardian, “My hope is that Sabah wakes up…we are losing our megafauna, the rhino is gone, the banteng [wild cow] is going, the elephant will be next. Those crimes should not go unpunished. Let’s not lose our jewels, the next generation will not forgive us.” According to the World Wildlife Fund, only around 1,500 pygmy elephants are alive in the world. These small elephants struggling for survival in Sabah face deforestation and habitat loss, mainly at the hands of the palm oil industry. Wildlife Conservation Society Vice President of Species Conservation Elizabeth Bennett told The Guardian that elephants will be safe from poaching only when ivory markets are closed. China has announced plans to ban the ivory trade by the end of the year – and for imperiled elephants, that date can’t come soon enough. Via The Guardian Images via shankar s. on Flickr and Bas Leenders on Flickr

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Endangered Borneo pygmy elephants cruelly slaughtered for ivory

Chrysler unveils all-electric self-driving Portal car "designed by millennials for millennials"

January 4, 2017 by  
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While Tesla and Google are busy developing the technology to make cars drive themselves, other auto companies are dreaming up what those autonomous cars of the future might look like . Fiat Chrysler just gave us a first look at its all-electric, self-driving car of the future ahead of the vehicle’s official debut this week at CES in Las Vegas. Far from a sporty coupe, the Chrysler Portal is a family car primed to leave present day minivans in the dust. The self-driving Portal looks rather similar to the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, although it sports a slightly narrower wheel base. The Portal also does away with the driver and front seat passenger doors in lieu of a single sliding door on each side. It’s worth noting that Chrysler isn’t actually calling the Portal a minivan, despite its appearance. Rather, Chrysler says the Portal is “next generation family transportation designed by millennials for millennials” which serves as “an open and serene atmosphere that bridges work and home.” Related: Chrysler and Google team up to create a self-driving minivan Among its many enticing attributes is the promised range of the all-electric vehicle – a whopping 250 miles or more on a full battery charge. Chrysler promises a 350-kilowatt fast charger that can juice up the battery enough in 20 minutes to travel up to 150 miles. The Portal’s cockpit looks drastically different than any car currently on the road, of course. Stripped down and minimalist in design, the self-driving concept car still features the essentials for human driving: a gas pedal and brake as well as a steering ‘wheel’ that looks more fit for a sci-fi set than a family van. Via The Verge and Autoblog Images via Fiat Chrysler

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Israel to test electric roads that wirelessly charge vehicles as they drive

January 4, 2017 by  
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Forget the charging port—the roads of the near future could power your electric car while you drive, eliminating the need to ever stop to recharge or refuel again. Israeli startup Electroad is working to pave the way towards a greener world with technology that retrofits existing roads with buried coils to inductively charge electric vehicles. The team has already performed successful tests of the technology, and will be demoing the electric roads on a larger scale with a public bus route in Tel Aviv . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkpcavw_vFI Founded with the goal of reducing global emissions, Electroad promises a more cost-effective, efficient, and cleaner way to travel. The startup uses technology that relies on electromagnetic induction —the basic principle behind wirelessly powering smartphones and rechargeable toothbrushes—to power electric cars with renewable energy while driving. Although other companies like Qualcomm and KAIST also work with wireless vehicle charging, Electroad’s CEO Oren Ezer says that while the concept is the same, the technology is different. “Our technology is flexible,” said Ezer. “Only copper and rubber is needed, and deployment is quick and easy. You can retrofit one kilometer of road in just half a day, from night to morning.” The installation process begins with an asphalt scraper that digs an 8-centimeter-deep trench. A second vehicle installs the wireless energy charging strips and fills the trench back up with asphalt. Smart inverters with real-time communication are installed on the sides of the road. A coil unit attached beneath the electric vehicle receives power transferred over a small 24-centimeter air gap. Radiation is minimized and locally shielded for driver and passenger safety. Related: KAIST Launches First Road-Charged OLEV Electric Buses in South Korea Electroad plans to focus on public transportation first before opening the platform up to private transit. The startup successfully tested their technology with an electric bus five months ago in Tel Aviv and opened 20 meters of retrofitted electric road outside their lab. Soon the company will test out the technology on a public electric bus with a set route in Tel Aviv. Since the bus will drive on electric roads, it won’t need to be recharged though it will have a small battery to allow the bus to drive up to five kilometers without an electric current. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQ-DzXirW08 “We remove the energy source,” said Ezer. “The electricity will come from renewable energy transferred to the road. This is a really sustainable solution. A battery for an electric bus can cost $300,000 and weigh 5 tons. If you remove the battery then the bus is much lighter and requires less energy. This technology is cost saving. If you compare it to diesel buses, it’s half the price. If you just start with public transportation it will save money and then you can open it up to taxis and trams. Payback is very fast.” Ezer has a dream to turn all of Israel’s transportation electric with inductive charging. Electroad received a research and innovation grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 and recently completed a program at Capital Nature , an accelerator that focuses on emerging renewable energy in Israel. The startup plans to test their technology on a public bus route in Tel Aviv next year. + Electroad + Vibe Israel Tour courtesy of Vibe Israel Images © Electroad , last image © Lucy Wang

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China promises to end ivory trade by the end of this year

January 2, 2017 by  
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In what could be a game changer for elephants , China just announced plans to end its ivory trade by the end of the year. In just three years, 100,000 elephants were slaughtered by poachers for their ivory – much of which ended up in China. That’s set to end this March, as the country will stop processing and trading ivory, giving real hope to the world’s threatened elephant populations. “China’s announcement is a game changer for elephant conservation,” said Carter Roberts, president of the World Wildlife Fund . “The large-scale trade of ivory now faces its twilight years, and the future is brighter for wild elephants .” Every year, at least 20,000 elephants are killed for their ivory, causing the world elephant population to drop from 1.2 million 35 years ago to just 40-50,000 now. Scientists believe that the future of elephants lies in the hands of China. The elimination of one of the world’s largest ivory markets will ease pressure on elephant populations. Related: Elephants may be doomed to extinction with EU opposition to global ivory ban There are some concerns, however, that ending the ivory trade in China may have a negative impact, depending on how the country handles the transition. It could drive the price of ivory up, increasing the perceived value, and if nearby markets like Vietnam don’t take similar steps, ivory buyers could simply travel to a neighboring country. The good news is that, if done right, the measure could cause the price of ivory to collapse, allowing elephant populations to recover. Via Washington Post and NYT images via USFWS and Jon Mountjoy

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The most shocking Inhabitat stories of the year

January 1, 2017 by  
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It’s official: 2016 was a shocking year. We witnessed the loss of far too many artists, suffered through a crushing election season, and were punished by record temperatures all across the globe. On top of all that, New York City’s Indian Point nuclear reactor leaked radioactive material into groundwater, while Water Protectors in North Dakota, were mercilessly punished by law enforcement with water cannons in sub-zero temperatures. A US advisory board suggested slaughtering 45,000 horses , and tourists punched tigers for fun in one of China’s animal “sanctuaries.” Fortunately, it wasn’t all bad. Medical hackers invented an affordable Epi-pen alternative to battle skyrocketing costs for the life-saving device, and a brilliant smog sucking vacuum cleaned the air in Beijing. Check out all of this year’s jaw-dropping stories and tell us which shocked you the most. [poll id=119]

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Rare, one-horned rhinos death terminates two-year zero-poaching streak in Nepal

September 8, 2016 by  
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A rare, one-horned rhinoceros died this week after being shot by poachers in Nepal . The death restarts the clock on the country’s two-year streak of successfully preventing rhino poaching deaths, prompting officials to consider increasing security outside the boundaries of national parks. On Tuesday, an adult male rhino reportedly succumb to his injuries after weeks of medical care at the Chitwan National Park . The endangered animal was found shot in a forest in southern Nepal in August and had started to show signs of improvement, yet the hope that he would recover from his injuries was shattered this week. Related: First baby rhino born in 25 years under community care in Kenya In May, Nepal had celebrated two years free of poaching-related rhino deaths in May of this year. The World Wildlife Fund reports there are 645 one-horned rhinos living in the country today, thanks to a coordinated national effort to patrol national parks, using software to locate poaching hot spots, and improving raid procedures. The penalty for rhino poaching in Nepal is a maximum prison term of 15 years and a fine of 100,000 rupees ($1,000 USD). Via Phys.org Images via Wikimedia , Pixabay

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Rare, one-horned rhinos death terminates two-year zero-poaching streak in Nepal

Nearly-extinct porpoises may disappear in just 3 years because of by-catch

January 19, 2016 by  
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If you haven’t heard of the highly endangered vaquita porpoise , you’re not alone. Few people are familiar with this rare marine mammal, found only in the Gulf of California. According to most recent estimates, fewer than 100 of the animals remain in the entire world. Interestingly, the main threat facing the vaquita is the illegal trade of a completely different animal — the totoaba, an endangered fish whose swim bladder is highly prized in China. Read the rest of Nearly-extinct porpoises may disappear in just 3 years because of by-catch

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INFOGRAPHIC: The endangered animals of Latin American and how you can help

January 15, 2016 by  
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Hunting , poaching , industrialization and other eco-threatening human activities are proceeding at a pace that nature can’t sustain. According to conservationists, many animal species are unable to adapt fast enough to survive the dramatic changes of their habitat and climate that result from human activity. Consider the sloths of Central and South America, which move on average only 40 yards per day and sleep for 15 to 20 hours per day. Such ingrained biological habits leave them with virtually no chance of adapting to the rapid pace of industrial deforestation. Cox & Kings created this extraordinary infographic that identifies the most popular endangered species in Latin America in hopes to bring more awareness to the dangers they face. Hunting, pollution, global warming, urbanization, and agriculture are among the many man-made factors responsible for the large-scale destruction of natural animal habitats. According to the World Wildlife Fund, habitat loss is the greatest threat to biodiversity on this planet today. The impact of habitat destruction can trigger a wave of destructive forces. For example, the howler monkey—found in the tropical regions of Central and South America—is threatened by its inability to find food as a result of deforestation. When its food supply is threatened, the howler monkey is less likely to reproduce, thus compounding the threat to the health of its population. Deforestation, in particular, is a devastating driver of habitat loss. Half of the world’s original forests are already gone, and they continue to be removed at a rate 10x faster than they can be regrown. The impacts of human behavior are not felt only by the creatures of the land. There are currently only 8,000 nesting Hawksbill sea turtles left in the wilderness, many of whom inhabit the waters surrounding Costa Rica and other Latin American territories. The hawksbill and other sea turtles are facing extinction due to man-made climate change and human interference with its nesting sites and food sources. In addition to contributing to and volunteering for the many worthy conservationist organizations, you can also do your part by learning more about the animals that are currently threatened, where and how they live, and how they contribute to their respective ecosystems. + Cox and King

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INFOGRAPHIC: The endangered animals of Latin American and how you can help

Airbus starts 3D-printing airplane parts in collaboration with Autodesk, APWorks and The Living

January 15, 2016 by  
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