A new survey by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has highlighted the increasing risk in the density and distribution of forest elephants in Guinea’s Ziama Massif forest. This is the first time that such a survey has been attempted since 2004.
22 September 2017
The establishment of Grebo-Krahn National Park in southeastern Liberia was approved by the country’s legislature in August 2017. The 961-square-kilometer (371-square-mile) park is home to an estimated 300 western chimpanzees. There are about 35,000 Critically Endangered western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) left in the wild, and Liberia is home to 7,000 of them.
The Javan rhinoceros has been reduced to a single population of around 60 individuals in an area prone to natural disasters. Although the entire species now lives in a single national park, Javan rhinos are difficult to study and researchers are still working to understand the behavior of both individual animals and the population as a whole. Work to expand the existing habitat is underway, but experts agree establishing a second population is critical for the species' survival.
Abstract: "Climate change is a mounting threat to biological diversity, compromising ecosystem structure and function, and undermining the delivery of essential services worldwide. As the magnitude and speed of climate change accelerates, greater understanding of the taxonomy and geography of climatic vulnerability is critical to guide effective conservation action. However, many uncertainties remain regarding the degree and variability of climatic risk within entire clades and across vast ecosystem boundaries. Here we integrate physiological estimates of thermal sensitivity for 2,960 ray-finned fishes with future climatic exposure, and demonstrate that global patterns of vulnerability differ substantially between freshwater and marine realms. Our results suggest that climatic vulnerability for freshwater faunas will be predominantly determined by elevated levels of climatic exposure predicted for the Northern Hemisphere, whereas marine faunas in the tropics will be the most at risk, reflecting their higher intrinsic sensitivity. Spatial overlap between areas of high physiological risk and high human impacts, together with evidence of low past rates of evolution in upper thermal tolerance, highlights the urgency of global conservation actions and policy initiatives if harmful climate effects on the world’s fishes are to be mitigated in the future."
18 September 2017
Ecosystems with high biodiversity are more productive and stable towards annual fluctuations in environmental conditions than those with a low diversity of species. They also adapt better to climate-driven environmental changes. These are the key findings environmental scientists made in a study of about 450 landscapes harboring 2,200 plants and animal species.
17 September 2017
Glaciers in the high mountains of Asia are a crucial water resource, but are at risk from global warming. Modelling suggests that the glaciers will shed mass in direct proportion to the warming to which they are exposed.
Abstract: "Glaciers in the high mountains of Asia (HMA) make a substantial contribution to the water supply of millions of people1, 2, and they are retreating and losing mass as a result of anthropogenic climate change3 at similar rates to those seen elsewhere4, 5. In the Paris Agreement of 2015, 195 nations agreed on the aspiration to limit the level of global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius ( °C) above pre-industrial levels. However, it is not known what an increase of 1.5 °C would mean for the glaciers in HMA. Here we show that a global temperature rise of 1.5 °C will lead to a warming of 2.1 ± 0.1 °C in HMA, and that 64 ± 7 per cent of the present-day ice mass stored in the HMA glaciers will remain by the end of the century. The 1.5 °C goal is extremely ambitious and is projected by only a small number of climate models of the conservative IPCC’s Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP)2.6 ensemble. Projections for RCP4.5, RCP6.0 and RCP8.5 reveal that much of the glacier ice is likely to disappear, with projected mass losses of 49 ± 7 per cent, 51 ± 6 per cent and 64 ± 5 per cent, respectively, by the end of the century; these projections have potentially serious consequences for regional water management and mountain communities."
A new study published in Scientific Reports, a journal by Nature, shows that community-managed protected areas are often more effectively conserved than protected areas run by outsiders: Researchers compared deforestation and forest degradation rates in areas of the Peruvian Amazon that were unprotected to those protected through government and local management. They found, on average, locally led conservation initiatives proved more successful in preserving forests than those that are government-managed. The study adds to mounting evidence that letting local and indigenous communities officially manage their forests may often be a highly effective way to conserve them. However, official recognition of land rights often stands in the way of community-based conservation initiatives. The researchers urge the process be simplified so that more indigenous territories can be established and managed by the people who live in them.
Two rare white giraffes have been captured on video in the wild for the first time, reports a wildlife conservancy in Kenya. The giraffes, which are leucistic, meaning they have a genetic condition that inhibits pigmentation in skin cells rather than albino, or lacking melanin throughout their bodies, were first reported back in June by villagers near the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy in Garissa county in northeastern Kenya, according to a blog post from the conservancy.