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

Deforestation could wipe out over 50 percent of species in Haiti

January 16, 2019 by  
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According to new research from Temple University scientist Blair Hedges, the Caribbean island nation of Haiti is undergoing a mass extinction event, and the country is close to losing its rich biodiversity. Hedges — who has spent decades in Haiti’s rain forests — says that the results of his latest study are shocking. In a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Hedges and his co-authors revealed that Haiti , which was once full of lush trees and teeming with wildlife, has now lost almost all of its virgin forests because of deforestation, and is at risk of loosing more than half of its species by 2035. “Up until this analysis, nobody had any idea it was that bad,” Hedges said. “Haiti is in the middle of a mass extinction, and it’s already lost a large number of species because entire areas where unique species exist are no longer present.” Hedges and his colleagues used NASA satellite imagery to analyze Haiti’s current landscape and found that the country has about one percent of its primary forest left since people have resorted to cutting trees down in order to make way for farming and charcoal production needed for cooking. Related: Deforestation in South America causes extinction of 8 bird species He also explained that no one on his research team expected the forest to disappear so quickly. The team of researchers realize that Haiti is at a forefront of a global mass extinction as the country’s species are disappearing at the alarming rate of 100 to 1,000 times the normal rate. Haiti’s loss of wildlife and forestry is largely due to habitat destruction (cutting down trees), but that is just one component in worldwide mass extinction. Other factors across the globe include climate change , invasive species and other human-related activity. Hedges says people often associate deforestation as just removing plants and trees, but in reality everything is being removed. Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation ecology at Duke University, says that Hedge’s study is a “tragic and brutal” instance of the lengths of human destruction. Primm added that Haiti’s story should resonate, and should be a lesson that everyone should heed when managing wild areas, watersheds and rivers. Via Whyy.org Image via 753tomas

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Deforestation could wipe out over 50 percent of species in Haiti

What conserving rhinos taught me about climate economics

November 26, 2018 by  
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It’s simple economics.

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What conserving rhinos taught me about climate economics

Planning a successful TCFD project? Begin with the end in mind

November 26, 2018 by  
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It starts with planning, buy-in and a path forward. First of a three-part series.

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Planning a successful TCFD project? Begin with the end in mind

Judge stops bear hunt and returns Yellowstone grizzlies to the endangered list

September 27, 2018 by  
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The hunt for grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park is officially over. This week, a judge ordered that all grizzly bears living in or near the park to be put back on the list of endangered species. The ruling stops the attempts of wildlife officials to issue licenses for those want to hunt the bears, which have been protected from hunting for the past four decades. According to The Guardian , the population of grizzly bears has increased in the last 30 years from around 135 to more than 700 today. While the numbers are improving, grizzlies are only present in four locations in the Rocky Mountains. This has raised concerns about the recovery of grizzlies, as the populations are still isolated from each other. This is one reason why Judge Dana Christensen, who put in a lot of research on the case, decided to put the bears back on the endangered list. As Judge Christensen explained, true recovery means expanding grizzly populations to regions outside of the Rocky Mountains. Related: Montana judge to rule on first grizzly bear hunt in 40 years While environmental groups and activists praised the ruling, wildlife officials were disappointed by the turn of events. Officials in Wyoming recently put in motion plans for a bear hunt later this year. Up to 22 individuals were granted licenses to hunt grizzlies when the season opened. Luckily, citizens and conservationists launched a massive campaign — including the Shoot’em with a Camera, Not A Gun initiative  — to stop the sport hunting of these beautiful creatures. The fight to keep grizzly bears on the endangered list is sadly not over. Experts believe that state officials will attempt to repeal the ruling at a higher court. The pro-hunting organization Safari Club International is also expected to make a push toward making grizzly hunts legal once again. We can only hope that Judge Christensen’s ruling stands the test of time, allowing grizzlies to make a true recovery in the wild. Via The Guardian Image via Neal Herbert / Yellowstone National Park

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Judge stops bear hunt and returns Yellowstone grizzlies to the endangered list

Deforestation in South America causes extinction of 8 bird species

September 5, 2018 by  
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The Spix’s Macaw, a bird many would recognize as the star of the animated film Rio, is officially extinct. The macaw has been listed among eight bird species that have gone extinct in South America in the last decade in a new study conducted by BirdLife International . While the majority of bird extinctions are associated with island species sensitive to invasive organisms and hunting, these new extinctions are linked to a growing problem in South America: deforestation . Stuart Butchart, a scientist who lead the BirdLife International study, said that the extinctions in South America are proof that a crisis is currently unfolding in places that have historically been free of such events — and it’s all because of the destruction of natural habitats. In the past, about 90 percent of bird-related extinctions have been isolated to species on remote islands. But as Butchart points out, the new study indicates a rise in extinction events on large continents that are “driven by habitat loss from unsustainable agriculture, drainage and logging.” As it currently stands, there are more than 26,000 species on the verge of extinction. With that number continuing to rise, scientists warn that humans could usher in another global extinction event. Half of the birds that recently went extinct were native to Brazil. The Spix’s Macaw was last sighted in the wild in 2000, though the bird is being raised in captivity. Scientists hope to reintroduce the bird at some point in the future. Related: Scientists say mass extinction warning signs exist — and they can be observed today But that is not the case for many of the birds who have disappeared. The Alagoas Foliage-gleaner, the Cryptic Treehunter and the Poo-uli, for example, will never be seen again. Apart from the eight bird species that have already gone extinct, there are 51 others that are “ critically endangered .” Butchart and his team hope that their findings will promote future conservation efforts to save these bird species from becoming extinct. + BirdLife International Via The Guardian Images via Daderot and  Rüdiger Stehn

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Mass poaching in Botswana leaves behind 90 tuskless elephants

September 5, 2018 by  
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Ninety elephants have been poached in Botswana in what is being considered one of Africa’s grimmest mass poaching sprees. The majority of the creatures poached for their valuable ivory were large bull elephants who carry heavy tusks, according to a statement by Elephants Without Borders on Tuesday. The group had been conducting an aerial survey of the animals over several weeks in tandem with Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks when it made the discovery. “We started flying the survey on 10 July, and we have counted 90 elephant carcasses since the survey commenced,” said Mike Chase, director of Elephants Without Borders. “Each day, we are counting dead elephants.” It is clear that the elephants were hunted for ivory, despite the recent revocations of new ivory imports by large markets. The killing is supplying still-open routes to Asia, where a demand for fresh ivory is bankrolling poachers up to $1,000 per kilo. The carcasses were found mutilated with their skulls “chopped open by presumably very sharp axes, to remove their tusks” according to Chase, who also noted that in some cases the trunks of the animals had also gone missing. Related: The world’s largest ivory market just banned ivory Botswana is widely considered an elephant sanctuary compared to neighboring Zambia and Angola, where the creatures “have been poached to the verge of local extinction,” Chase said. It is no surprise that poachers are now turning to Botswana, as the previous “shoot-to-kill” policy against poachers has gone out the window. Moreover, rangers have been disarmed under the government of Mokgweetsi Masisi after former-President Ian Khama, who was vehement in his protection of wildlife , stepped down. Jason Bell, vice president for the International Fund for Animal Welfare , said, “Until now, Botswana’s elephant herds have largely been left in peace, but clearly Botswana is now in the cross-hairs.” Tourism Minister for Botswana, Tshekedi Khama also weighed in on the coinciding ranger disarmament and mass slaughter. “I am very concerned, it’s a huge worry … because we had been spared poaching for a long time, I think now we are realizing the sophistication of these poachers,” Khama said. “Unfortunately, sometimes we learn these lessons the hard way.” Botswana is home to the largest population of elephants in Africa , with nearly 135,000 of the majestic beasts roaming its lands. These numbers account for almost a third of all the elephants in Africa since numbers have plummeted to about 415,000 in the past decade,  according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature . “The scale of elephant poaching is by far the largest I have seen or read about in Africa to date,” Chase said. Related: The Trump Administration decides to allow the import of elephant trophies after all With rhinos also being targeted in Botswana — six white rhinos having been found butchered and stripped of their horns in recent months — a change in policy must be made. Government officials have declined to comment on any future plans to rectify the ranger policies or prevent future incidents. Via The Guardian Image via Letizia Barbi

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Mass poaching in Botswana leaves behind 90 tuskless elephants

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