How to see these six fascinating animals in the wild while aiding in their conservation

October 15, 2019 by  
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If you’re going to travel , travel responsibly. The best way to show animals that you love them is by respecting their habitats and aiding in the conservation of their species. Here’s how to ethically view six animals in their natural habitats in ways that benefit them rather than disturb them. Sharks on Viti Levu, Fiji There are hundreds of different species of sharks who call earth’s waters home, and a trip to Fiji will give you the chance to see at least eight of them in their natural habitat. Due to the misshapen view of sharks as dangerous creatures paired with many parts of the world’s affinity for shark fin as a delicacy has caused these misunderstood creatures to dwindle in population. The future of sharks is heavily reliant on the changing of that mindset and the conservation of the animals and their habitats. While the ethics of shark diving remains a personal choice for different travelers, those who choose to swim with sharks should ensure that it is done under the appropriate conditions and provide a benefit to sharks through conservation or habitat protection. Beqa Adventure Divers in Fiji uses the funds raised from their shark diving tours to fuel their conservation efforts, from working with the local government to create designated protected marine parks to multiple scientific research projects. The organization is sponsored by is sponsored by the Shark Foundation, the Save our Seas Foundation and PADI Project AWARE. Polar Bears in Svalbard, Norway  It’s no news to wildlife lovers that the world’s polar bear population has been among the worst affected by climate change. Natural Habitat Adventures with Lindblad Expeditions offers expedition ship tours of Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago located between the Barents and Greenland seas north of Norway and 600 miles from the North Pole. Onboard naturalists help spot polar bears in their natural habitat while giving expert insight about these majestic creatures in real time. A National Geographic-certified photography instructor accompanies guests to create timeless memories and the company’s fleet of kayaks and zodiac boats allow for closer, responsible examination of the bears. Natural Habitat Adventures was the first 100% carbon-neutral travel company in the world and a portion of their sales goes towards the World Wildlife Fund, one of the leading voices for polar bear conservation . Dolphins in Akaroa, New Zealand Black Cat Cruises in Akaroa, New Zealand is committed to the conservation of the country’s rare Hector Dolphins. Take a boat tour of the historic village of Akaroa just an hour and a half drive from Christchurch. The Akaroa Harbour is a marine mammal sanctuary , so the protection of these animals is paramount. The company donates a portion of all ticket sales to the research of the area’s dolphins, as well as educational programs. Additionally, Black Cat Cruises was the first boat tour company on earth to receive the Green Globe 21, an international program aimed at ensuring sound environmental practices. They are also the only cruise operator in the Akaroa area to obtain an Enviro-gold certification from the New Zealand tourism quality assurance organization, Qualmark. Humpback Whales on Maui, Hawaii The Pacific Whale Foundation offers whale watching eco-tours on the island of Maui, where Humpback Whales migrate each year from December to May to breed and give birth to their young. The channel that runs between the islands of Maui and Molokai offer some of the best whale watching in the state. The Pacific Whale Foundation , a non-profit organization founded in 1980, puts all profits towards their research, education and conservation programs. Additional funding is raised through donations and local fundraising activities as well. Penguins in Chubut, Patagonia While penguins aren’t exactly difficult to see (they are included in most zoos and aquariums around the United States), these flightless birds are actually quite mysterious in the wild. Scientists understand how they interact on land, but research on how penguins find their food in the depths of the ocean is much more sparse. The Earthwatch Institute offers penguin trailing tours where participants join scientists and conservationists at the nesting colonies in Argentina’s Golfo San Jorge. Tag penguins to track their nesting and feeding locations, as well as help choose a selection of 50 penguins to track with more advanced GPS devices and underwater cameras. Finding out where these animals frequent throughout the year helps scientists better understand which parts of the ocean need the most protection in order to keep penguin populations strong in Patagonia. Wolves at Yellowstone National Park, United States The wolf reintroduction efforts at Yellowstone National Park have influenced and inspired conservationists and scientists around the world. After the wolf population at the park had completely died off by 1926, efforts to reintroduce the animals back into Yellowstone territory in the mid 1990s were completely successful in restoring the balance in the ecosystem. Experts at the park suggest heading to the open valleys in the northeast corner of Yellowstone (specifically the Lamar Valley) to have the best chance of seeing wolves. The winter months offers the best possibilities since the snow helps provide an easy backdrop. Keeping the wolves at the park safe and healthy requires constant monitoring and research from the National Parks Service, and part of your entrance fee into the park goes towards those efforts. Images via joakant , NPS Climate Change Response , Gregory Smith , National Marine Sanctuaries, Celine Harrand , 12019 , Shutterstock

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How to see these six fascinating animals in the wild while aiding in their conservation

Can we use nature to mitigate wildfire risk?

October 11, 2019 by  
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As wildfire season heightens, The Nature Conservancy is developing and implementing a new strategy to fight back.

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Can we use nature to mitigate wildfire risk?

Circular cities: The state of the art

October 11, 2019 by  
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What happens when cities think in loops.

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Circular cities: The state of the art

Get away from the urban chaos in one of these 8 amazing eco-friendly treehouses

September 24, 2019 by  
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Imagine just for a moment waking up to the chirpy birdcall and the crisp sounds of rustling leaves coming from the surrounding tree canopy.  The rest of your day can be spent exploring the deepest part of the Costa Rican rainforest or strolling along pristine coastal waters. You might just want to sleep in and enjoy a mid-morning yoga class, too. Although all of this may seem too good to be true, it’s not. This is life within the rainforest sanctuary known as the Finca Bellavista community. Located in the southern region of Costa Rica, this idyllic sustainable community offers ecotourists their choice of eight amazing eco-friendly treehouse retreats. Casa Tamandua Entrenched in lush vegetation, the three-level Casa Tamandua offers family-style lodging high up in the tree canopy. The solar-powered treehouse has two bedrooms plus a cool sleeping loft. The main living area offers ample space to enjoy the great outdoors, but for those looking to really immerse themselves in nature, the place to be is swinging on the dual hammocks hanging on the spacious decks. Related: 9 treehouses you can actually rent for an off-the-ground getaway Fila Tortuga For those looking for a serene off-grid respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Fila Tortuga is calling your name. The one bedroom treehouse sits high up in the canopy, surrounded by vegetation. Although it has no electricity, it comes with all of the basics, including a well-equipped kitchenette. There is plenty of indoor living space, but at the heart of the treehouse is the large balcony with plenty of room to watch the amazing wildlife. Cabina Colibri Get back to the basics with this lovely studio treehouse that offers the glorious delight of off-grid simplicity. The Cabina Colibri offers a quiet treehouse stay, complete with a furnished balcony with outdoor dining space to enjoy the daily sightings of the wildlife among the rusting of the tree leaves. El Castillo Mastate El Castillo Mastate stays true to its name by offering guests a castle in the sky. Reached by a fun plankway, the two-story treehouse is another great family-oriented retreat. The treehouse features three bedrooms with Queen-sized beds, two bathrooms, plus a fully-equipped kitchen and large dining table that seats up to eight people. Although, the large open-air deck is the perfect place for dining al fresco while listening to the birds and other wildlife. Solar-powered electricity provides enough charge for lights, refrigeration, phones, etc. Casa Estrella With its robust all-wood interior, including exposed wooden beams, this two bedroom, 1.5 bathroom treehouse is like a tiny wooden cabin in the sky. Along with a spacious living and dining area, the solar-powered treehouse comes with furnished balconies and canopy views that offers the best in wildlife viewing. As the closest treehouse to basecamp, Casa Estrella is especially suited for those who are looking for a getaway, but not one that’s not so far from civilization. Casa de Tigre This studio-style treehouse offers a beautiful stay for anyone wanting to explore the Costa Rican jungle. Tucked into the vegetation, this cabin sits high off the ground, but is accessible via a small ramp. It even has its own trail leading to an adjacent river. With a large-open air balcony and screen-in windows on every wall, it’s perfect for getting in tune with the surrounding nature. Casa de Leon This three-level treehouse is a perfect location for anyone wanting to truly go off-grid with a large group. Casa de Leon sleeps ten, spread out between two bedrooms and a loft. And although there is no electricity in the off-grid treehouse, there is a well-equipped kitchenette with everything needed to whip up tasty meals. La Torreluna Reached by a stairway leading up from the landscape, La Torreluna treehouse is a perfect escape for a small family. The treehouse offers one queen bed and two twin beds, along with a bathroom. Although there is no electricity, families can spend their time bonding as they hike through the large network of hiking trails that lead to some seriously breathtaking views. Along with a vast choice of amazing eco-friendly treehouses to choose from, Finca Bellavista offers an incredible chance to explore the Costa Rican jungle. In addition to wildlife viewing, hiking, mountain biking, etc., the community offers complimentary daily yoga classes with reservations secured. Fresh organic produce is grown on site at their expansive gardens. Guests can also enjoy spending time at the camp’s community center which provides internet service, happy hour gatherings, games, etc. + Finca Bellavista Images via Finca Bellavista

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Get away from the urban chaos in one of these 8 amazing eco-friendly treehouses

$87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions

August 23, 2019 by  
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Mountain lions in Southern California will have a safer place to roam by 2023 thanks to an $87 million bridge being designed northwest of Los Angeles and spread out above the busy 101 Highway. California is the only state in the country where shooting the creatures for sport is banned . But a March study published in the journal Ecological Applications suggested mountain lions could be extinct within 50 years if changes to their environment don’t happen. Related: Utah plans $5 million wildlife bridge over deadly I-80 highway “ Animals were able to move around through different parts of the mountains until humans cut them off with giant roads,” said Beth Pratt of the National Wildlife Federation. “GPS tracking shows that the animals are largely isolated in their own small areas, unable to mingle. Segmentation impacts animals both large and small: lizards and birds up to mountain lions.” Once the project is completed, the wildlife bridge will connect various sections of the Santa Monica Mountains, hopefully giving mountain lions and other wildlife better protection. It is designed to blend into the scenery, so the creatures won’t know they are on a bridge. Pratt stressed this ecological environment needs to be rebuilt for the sake of all animal welfare and thinks the wildlife bridge is a good idea. “This is an animal that is particularly beloved in California ,” Pratt said. “We want these animals on the landscape, and the population will go extinct if we don’t do something soon.” The project has been 20 years in the making, with the National Park Service closely studying the area during this time. It wasn’t until about a decade ago the idea became a reality; funds totaling $13.4 million have been raised by private contributors, according to The Guardian. The project has caught the attention of actor Leonardo DiCaprio , who has been a supporter of the project, as well as other big names around the world. About 9,000 comments were posted in favor of the project, and only 15 were against it when the public was given the opportunity give feedback. “We’re doing this in LA, a city of 4 million people,” Pratt said. “If LA can do it, it can work anywhere. Even in a giant city , we’ll make a home for a mountain lion.” + Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains + Clark Stevens Via The Guardian Design and images via Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains and Clark Stevens Architect/Raymond Garcia Illustrator

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$87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions

Tesla solar panels now available to rent

August 23, 2019 by  
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If you’re looking to cut your electric bill by installing solar panels but are looking for an affordable option, Tesla may have the answer– rent them. Hoping to offer homeowners a better money-saving option by renting the streamlined panels, Tesla offers renters monthly payments, no installation costs, no long-term contracts and the ability to cancel monthly rental payments anytime. However, the company will charge a $1,500 fee to remove the system from your roof and return it to its original condition. Related: Chattanooga becomes first 100% solar-powered airport in US If customers were to sell their homes, Tesla offers a convenient contract transfer option that can be set up under the home’s new owner. The solar panel rental program is currently available to rent in six states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New Mexico. The Tesla panels come in three sizes starting at a small 3.8 kilowatt solar panel at $50 per month which generates an average of 10 to 14 kilowatt hours of energy per day; a medium 7.6 kWh for $100 per month, generates between 19 to 28kWh per day; or the large 11.4kWh option for $150 per month producing 29 to 41kWh per day. Keep in mind that the average U.S. household uses about 28 kilowatt hours of electricity per day While Tesla expects the solar panel renting to be a big hit, energy experts say the company wants to give customers the chance to rent panels as way to boost its struggling solar business. Earlier this year the company reportedly cut its solar panel prices and also allowed customers to purchase residential systems in increments. +Tesla.com Via Yale Environment 360 Image via Tesla

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Tesla solar panels now available to rent

California partners with UN on climate insurance

July 31, 2019 by  
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California is the first state to work directly with the United Nations on a natural infrastructure insurance program that could help protect communities from wildfires and other disasters. The California Department of Insurance is working on a year long initiative with the United Nation’s Environment Program to develop insurance practices that manage and reduce risks, specifically related to wetlands and forests. Related: Every year, humanity ‘overshoots’ the natural resources earth can replenish “We have a historic opportunity to utilize insurance markets to protect Californians from the threat of climate change, including rising sea levels, extreme heat and wildfires,” says Insurance Commissioner for California Ricardo Lara. “Working with the United Nations, we can keep California at the forefront of reducing risks while promoting sustainable investments.” In 2018, California experienced the state’s deadliest wildfire, which cost $12 billion in insurable losses and killed 85 people. According to experts, the increased severity of wildfires is likely due to climate change . Insurance services can offer compensation for risk reduction strategies, such as effective forest management or protecting utility infrastructure from possible disasters. “A sustainable insurance road map will enable California to harness risk reduction measures, insurance solutions and investments by the insurance industry in order to build safer, disaster-resilient communities, and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy,” said the U.N. lead, Butch Bacani. Other countries have initiated similar natural infrastructure insurance programs, including protections for coral reefs and mangroves, which reduce coastal flooding and erosion. Via LA Times Iamge via Flickr

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California partners with UN on climate insurance

Endangered rhino population up 1000% in Tanzania following poaching crackdown

July 15, 2019 by  
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The president of Tanzania reported that since his election, the population of endangered rhinos has increased by 1000 percent. Following years of out-of-control poaching, President John Magufuli fulfilled his promise to crack down on wildlife trafficking and went so far as to use his own government security task force to arrest poachers. The president’s office stated that in 2015, there were only 15 surviving rhinos left in the country. Within the first year as head of state, Magufuli had arrested major Chinese smugglers and sentenced them to 15 to 20 years in prison each. According to government reports, the arrests set a strong example to poaching gangs that regardless of status within the Chinese elite class, Magufuli meant business. Related: Ivory Queen sentenced to 15 years for illegal ivory smuggling In addition to cracking down on poachers , the government has supported a park ranger program to collar and track elephants, which enables them to monitor and protect the species better. Four years later, the current rhino population is estimated to be about 167. Similarly, the elephant population is estimated to have risen 50 percent due to legal efforts against endangered wildlife crimes. “As a result of the work of a special taskforce launched in 2016 to fight wildlife poaching, elephant populations have increased from 43,330 to 60,000 presently,” an official from the Tanzanian government said. Foreign conservationists are skeptical about the president’s claims, arguing that the majority of rhino newcomers are imported and the increase is not thanks to effective breeding or protection measures. CITES also shows that Tanzania had 133 rhinos four years ago, not 15 as the government has stated. “This sounds like very good news, but we should view these figures with caution until there’s verification — there’s no way that has occurred through breeding and protection alone,” said Mark Jones, the policy lead at Born Free Foundation, a wildlife charity . According to environmentalists, the breeding and gestation period is too long for the population to have grown through natural biological processes in just four years. “They mature late, have long gestation periods and don’t produce many young,” Jones said. “Both species take a long time biologically to reproduce.” Via The Independent Image via René Mayorga

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Endangered rhino population up 1000% in Tanzania following poaching crackdown

Endangered Canadian Orca births first calf in three years

June 4, 2019 by  
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A small and endangered pod of orca whales primarily seen off the coast of British Columbia was seen with their first newborn calf since 2016. The calf has been called a “ray of hope” by whale researchers and conservationists and brings the total population up to just 76 whales. “Researchers at the Centre for Whale Research, have confirmed that the calf is a new addition, and based on its coloration and body condition was likely born sometime in the last one to three weeks…More field observations are needed to confirm the identity of the calf’s mother,” the research center said in a statement. Related: Russia to release hundreds of illegally captured orcas and belugas from ‘whale jail’ The whale was first observed and photographed by whale watchers on May 31, who noted its orange hue and fetal skin– evidence that it was born very recently. This subsection of endangered killer whales are unique to others of the same species because they primarily eat Chinook salmon instead of seals and mammals. The crash in salmon population in the Pacific Northwest contributed to a decline in whale population. Last year, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee released a plan to revive and protect salmon and whale populations. The newest calf belongs to the J-Pod, but there are two other pods of the endangered group– the L-pod and the K-pod. Just five months ago, the L-pod also successfully birthed a calf. “Southern resident killer whales , their population is small so any birth is huge,” a representative from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada told CBC News. Despite these recent celebrations, the survival rate for Orca calves is only 50 percent. The last successful Orca birth took place in 2016. However, last year after the death of the calf, the mother continued to carry the body for a heart wrenching 7 days, a story which received considerable media attention and drew sympathy for the vulnerable population. Via The Guardian Image via skeeze

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Endangered Canadian Orca births first calf in three years

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

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