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The Week in Conservation for July 13, 2018

Iceland Accused of Killing Blue Whale in Hunt

Update on the whaling situation in Iceland. The whaling company has already slaughtered 22 whales to include the young male blue whale (identified by experts). However, the company claims this is a fin/blue whale hybrid and is “legal” according to them. Regardless this is horrific and pressure needs to be placed on Iceland and its government to stop the hunt of endangered fin and critically-endangered blue whales. #boycottIceland continues.

Humans Are Causing Animals & Plants to go Extinct 1000x Natura Rate

The death of Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino highlights the plight of many of Earth’s disappearing biodiversity. Extinction is a normal process and has been discussed on the podcast previously, see Episode 1. However, current extinction rates are 1000x a normal healthy ecosystem rate. Scientists are gravely considered at the current extinction crisis and rather than losing a few leaves here and there off the Tree of Life, we may end up losing entire branches. Again, we believe education and awareness are one of the main ways we can help our planet.

Humans are causing animals and plants to go extinct 1,000 times FASTER than their natural rate, warn scientists

 More Inclusive Ecological Planning Needed Argues Scientist

A team of researchers out of Australia published a paper arguing that instead of just setting aside natural areas a more inclusive approach is needed. They describe a shift is needed to a more ambitious ‘nature retention targets’ rather than the current model. In short, these targets would establish the baseline levels needed of for natural systems functions and then work towards supporting these.

Nature retention, not just protection, crucial to maintaining biodiversity and ecosystems: Scientists

Orcas Now Facing Extinction

Bad news coming out of North America with orca populations off the Pacific Northwest in decline. The diets of these Southern Resident Killer Whale populations are primarily Chinook Salmon, but as these salmon populations continue to decline, so are the orca populations. With a proposed gas pipeline leading to Vancouver, Canada, experts warn boat traffic will have detrimental effects on these whales.

Ocean ‘Icon’ in Danger: US Pacific Northwest Orcas Facing Extinction

Palm Oil Disastrous for Wildlife But Is the Best Oil We Can Produce

In an effort to feed over 7 billion people, palm oil is a major source of cheap oil consumed worldwide. In fact, it provided a third of the world’s vegetable oil from only 10% of the land used for oil-producing crops. The IUCN reports that palm oil plantations, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia are damaging over 190 threatened species. They also report ‘sustainable’ palm oil is not much better in preventing deforestation. Yet, they also report that other crops that can be used could be much more devastating for other wildlife. For example, soy or corn being grown in the Amazon basin. Therefore, strategies to ensure sustainable palm oil is in fact properly certified and maintained is strongly urged.

Palm oil ‘disastrous’ for wildlife but here to stay, experts warn

New Book on De-Extinction

A Swedish Science Journalist, Ms. Torill Kornfeldt has released a book about traveling the world and talking to scientist about their work in bringing back extinct animals. We have an incredible interview next week with a scientist who recently published a paper discussing opinions on de-extinction from conservation biologists. In the provided link is an interview about this book and the idea of ‘de-extinction.’

Jurassic World? Bringing back extinct animals with Torill Kornfeldt

New Species of the Week

Clistopyga crassicaudata Wasp

Whenu Hou Diving Petrel

The Week in Conservation for July 6, 2018

Honey Badger Takes on an Antelope, and It Does Not Go Well

Words cannot describe this. Be sure to catch Episode 10 Hijinks with the Honeybadger and then this series of images will make more sense. BTW the badger walked away with just wounded pride.

Link to Article HERE

Images created by Dirk Theron/Caters News

Giraffe Killing for a Trophy Sets Internet Ablaze

This week a Kentucky (USA) woman shared her image of an 18-year old male giraffe she had shot and killed on a trophy hunt in South Africa. Many shared the image, some defending her, but many condemning her. This brings up again the argument that trophy hunting of endangered species is actually good and leads to money being contributed to conservation of many species. However, in the case of trophy hunting in Africa this is far from true. In fact, very few gaming ranches actually do work and donate money to conservation. In a well referenced write up which will be posted below, the authors argue that ecotourism is far more valuable to helping conserve endangered species compared to trophy hunts. They go on to state many more compelling arguments on why trophy hunting does very little to conserve animals and is nothing more than a selling tag line. We actually visited this issue last November, which can be read HERE.

The Myths of Trophy Hunting

Kentucky Woman Branded ‘White American Savage’ After Posing with Dead Giraffe She Shot

Kenya Plans Death Penalty for Poachers

It is no secret that poaching of many endangered species within the African continent and around the world has only increased in the past two decades. In a bid to save their animals, and understandably to protect their valuable tourism industry, Kenya has proposed to sentence poachers to death for their crimes. The debate is now currently raging in many circles.

SOS Elephants: Kenya Summit on Poaching Crisis

Kenya’s death penalty plan for poachers has stirred a hornet’s nest

Critically Endangered Red Wolf May Lose Critical Protection

In a surprise move, the United States Department of Interior proposed to allow private land owners to shoot any red wolf that may wander on to their property in the state of North Carolina. We recently did a Red Wolf episode and we highly recommend you listen to it if you have not yet it is

Episode 28: Last Howl of the Red Wolf

Episode 29: Autumn Lindey and Red Wolf Conservation

There are less than 50 Red Wolves estimated to be left in the wild. This is clearly misguided judgement and we highly recommend you contact your political leaders (if in the USA) to record your displeasure in this measure.

Interior Department plans to let people kill endangered red wolves

Support the Red Wolf Coalition  and Defenders of Wildlife

NOAA Sending Out Sailing Drones

In a new era of technology and science, NOAA is launching 11 unmanned sailing drones to conduct oceanic research. The drones have multiple measuring capabilities such as temperature, salinity, fish populations using sonar and more. Such an incredible advancement.

Flotilla of saildrones deploy to Arctic and Pacific for earth science missions

Increase of Marijuana Farms Leading to Humbolt Marten Decline

In a story similar to that of the Black Footed Ferret, the Humbolt Marten is facing extinction. Not due to direct causes but by by-products of farmers using poisons to kill off rodents that may harm their crops and equipment. Many farmers in the region, particularly marijuana farmers protecting plastic irrigation tubes from rats and mice, are using anti-coagulant poisons to kill them off.  However, the Humbolt Marten eats these rodents as part of their diet and thus are dying off as well. Fortunately, the state of California is beginning to implement plans to help this species.

Sprawling Marijuana Farms are Driving this Adorable Little Creature to Extinction

Hogle Zoo Masks its Rhino

Jim Weinpress this week talked about one of the animals he used to care for, ‘Princess’ the white rhino. Apparently during the spring and summer Princess suffered from allergies and insects which resulted in irritating her eyes. The Hogle Zoo has worked with multiple agencies to develop a fly mask to help protect her eyes and she now wears it after months of training.

Hogle Zoo rhino ‘Princess’ gets royal treatment, custom mask made for eye irritation

New Species of the Week

Shieldtail Snake

Swire’s Snailfish






Conservation News for Week of June 29,2018

Iceland Begins Hunting the Endangered Fin Whale

This past week Iceland began hunting endangered fin whales after a two-year hiatus. This comes despite an international ban on hunting fin whales. The company responsible is Hvalur hf. owned by Mr. Kristjan Loftsson. Rather than export the whale meat due to such little demand for whale meat in Iceland and in Japan, the company plans on producing nutritional supplements, gelatin from the bones and whale blubber for “unspecified” medical purposes. This is truly horrifying and defies all logic. We suggest a boycott of any product this company may produce in the future and that people do not travel to Iceland or support them until they curb this practice. Hunting any endangered species is absolutely abhorrent.

Whale hunting to begin again in Iceland

Iceland whalers kill first fin whale of the season

Seagull Gets Prosthetic Legs

‘Gumpy’ the seagull was rescued in Charleston, South Carolina and sent to the South Carolina Aquarium. Veterinarian Dr. Shane Boylan had to amputate both legs due to damage caused by fishing lines. However, Dr. Boylan worked with the College of Charleston and they have 3-D printed Gumpy a net set of legs. The bird is recovering under the care of the South Carolina Aquarium and is adapting to his new life.

Gumpy the sea gull lost both his legs. But 3-D printing could get him walking again.

Jaguars on the Rise in Mexico

Scientists over the past 8 years have been using camera traps to count jaguars. During this time, a total of 400 remotely activated cameras throughout 11 Mexican states recorded over 4,500 photographs. Within these, 348 had images of 46 different jaguars. The scientists now estimate there are now 4,800 jaguars in Mexico, which have a worldwide population of around 64,000 animals.

The Wild Jaguars of Mexico have some good news to share

Canada Works to Protect their Oceans

The Canadian government has pledged over $167 million dollars to protect whales and other sea life off their coasts. The money is mainly to be spent on whale conservation and investigation of disturbances to their habitat. This is incredible news!

Canadian government announces $167.4 million initiative to help protect whales

Starfish on the Rebound

In 2013, starfish off the west coast of North America began to die in unprecedented numbers. Scientists believe these marine invertebrates were infected with the densovirus, which ultimately turned these living creatures into a pile of goo. Over 80% of these starfish populations have died. Also, researchers believe warming of the earth’s oceans had a devastating impact allowing the virus to spread. However, starfish populations have begun to rebound. DNA evidence points to the newer generation of these creatures having a natural resistance to this disease.

The amazing return of the starfish: species triumph over melting disease

Chefs for Sustainable Seafood

While Canada is working to improve the health of their marine life, in the United States the current government is looking to remove protections of fish and other marine creatures. This week the US government will vote on a bill removing many important protections that are in place to protect endangered fish and other species. However, in a surprise move, many chefs from around the country have banded together to vote the bill. They are voicing support for sustainable fishing practices, which help provide them with the fish they need to serve their customers. Incredible initiative for these men and women, bravo!

Unlikely advocates: Chefs call on Congress to defend sustainable U.S. fisheries

Return of the Przewalski’s Horse

Just this week the Czech military transported 4 more female Przewalski’s horses to Mongolia for release back to the wild. This bring the total to 31 aniimals transported from the Prague Zoo to this area for reintroduction. Again, if you have not listened to Episode 6 Truly Wild, The Przewalski’s Horse, please do. It tells the incredible story of these animals and how the Prague Zoo and many others worked to save this species.

Prague Zoo transported four more Przewalski’s horse mares to Mongolia

New Species Discovered

Goblin Spiders

Ruby Seadragon












Conservation News for week of June 22, 2018

This week Chris was joined with Jim Weinpress from the Seneca Park Zoo. If you have not yet listened to his interview please do. It can be found HERE

Amazon’s Critical Role in Combating Climate Change

A recent article in Nature highlights a very concerning trend in the Amazon rainforest’s ability in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Scientists reported a decline in tree productivity and survival rate over the last ~ 20 years. This is data outside of the already 750,000 sqkm (289,000 sq mile) of the Amazon that has been lost to agriculture since 1978. In this study, researchers looked at individual plots of preserved rain forest and concluded due to climate change and the incredible increase of carbon in the atmosphere that trees are growing bigger, faster, often resulting in their deaths earlier. Furthermore, productivity of new growth has leveled off. In summary, they report the Amazon has lost ~ 30% of its ability to sequester carbon from our atmosphere over the study period and is declining.

Long-term decline of the Amazon carbon sink

Comparison of carbon sequestration potential in agricultural and afforestation farming systems

Mass Extinction of Primates

A team of international primate experts warn that nearly two thirds of all primate species may go extinct by the year 2100. The team highlights four countries that house over two thirds of the world’s primates: Brazil, Madagascar, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of Congo.  Both in Indonesia and Madagascar, over 90% of all primates living here are in population decline. More worrying, Brazil is predicted to lose almost 80% of its natural habitat over the same time period, with predictions for Indonesia at 70%, Madagascar 60% and the DRC 30%. All due mainly to agriculture production, highlighting palm oil and sugarcane. The team argues that unless a global effort is launched to combat the decline, to include individual consumers, many of these species will be lost forever.

Chimps and orangutans among species in danger of being wiped out in imminent mass extinction of primates

10 things you need to know about sustainable palm oil

iOS sustainable palm oil app

Android sustainable palm oil app

Manatees on a Treadmill

Researchers out of Florida are using an underwater treadmill to evaluate manatee metabolism. Two manatees held under human care are participating in experiments to evaluate their normal body functions.  The manatees are harnessed with heart rate monitors and are trained to breath in a special hood that captures their exhaled gases. Understanding the basic physiology of manatees will go a long way in evaluating conservation strategies in protecting these special mammals.

Mote manatees measure metabolism on treadmills

 Aquarium staff participating in dolphin research

Scientists and staff from the South Carolina Aquarium are evaluating the health wild bottlenose dolphins. Studying these animals are giving researchers a good idea on our current ocean health. Sadly, their results are shedding a lite on the many pollutants that exist in our oceans. Specifically, they report that 90% of the dolphins evaluated had high levels of contaminants, specifically PFCs and PCBs in their blubber. Not only are these and other contaminants passed on to their offspring through their milk, it is believed these can have drastic affects on dolphin health and reproduction. We all need to do our part to protect our oceans.

Aquarium staff participate in dolphin study in Florida

Scientists discover world’s first known manta ray nursery

Researchers out of UC San Diego and Scripts Institute have announced the discovery of a manata ray nursery. These ocean dwelling animal’s wingspans can stretch almost 21 feet (6.5 meters) yet many young or juveniles are rarely observed. The recent discovery, roughly 50 miles south of Galveston, Texas will give scientists a greater understanding to these creature’s life cycles and work with conservation experts to protect these areas.

Scientists discover world’s first known manta ray nursery

Link to Marine Conservation Society Guide to Free Good Fish Guide Apps

Five new species of snail eating snakes discovered

In Ecuador, scientists have discovered five new species of snakes that specialize in eating snails. In even more incredible news, the same group rather than submitting their own names to honor their discovery, have instead auctioned off the naming rights to use that money to preserve these animals.

Scientists find new snail-eating snakes, auctioning naming rights to save them

New Species Discovered

A 2,200-year-old Chinese tomb held a new gibbon species, now extinct

Hobbit shrimp with hairy feet discovered living inside hole in Sea Squirt

Conservation News for week of June 15, 2018

Amur Leopard News

The Amur Leopard is the most endangered large cat on our planet. With an estimated less than 100 in the wild, and 200 housed under human care, this species is struggling to survive. This week the San Diego Zoo announced the birth of two FEMALE cubs. This has also been followed up with the announcement (a few hours after we recorded) of two MALE Amur Leopard cubs at the Brookfield Zoo.  Fantastic news for this animal.

San Diego Zoo Breeds Critically-Endangered Leopards, Producing Two Cubs

2 Healthy Amur Leopard Cubs Born at Brookfield Zoo

IUCN Information on Amur Leopard (under general Leopard)

Amur Leopard Fact Sheet

Technology Helping Fisherman Avoid Bycatch

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has developed an application that helps fisherman go to areas where their targeted fish are currently at. The software called EcoCast using advanced algorithms can predict based on weather and other oceanographic variables in predicting where the fisherman will find their fish. This helps them avoid general fishing where they might catch endangered species in their nets.

Smart Software Helps Fisherman Catch the Fish They Want, Not Endangered Species

EcoCast Details from NASA

Viewing Wildlife Documentaries Are Good For Mental Health

Research now indicates that viewing nature documentaries help improve a person’s mood and makes them happier. Scientists have compared the benefits as the same as those for people who mediate daily. Even listening to this podcast (we hope) should improve your mood and motivate you to make positive changes for Mother Earth.

Watching This Type of TV is as Healthy as Meditating

Watching Nature Programmes Make You Happier New Research Reveals

United Kingdom Mammals in Crisis

This week multiple news agencies are reporting on the current extinction crisis in the UK. Reports now indicate that 1 in 5 mammals in the UK are endangered and threatened with extinction. The Wildcat, Greater Mouse-eared Bat and the Black Rat are all listed as critically endangered. Even the beloved Hedgehog is listed as endangered suffering a 70% decline in populations in the last 20 years. However, populations of otter, pine marten, polecat, badger and red deer are increasing.

One in Five Britain Mammals at Risk of Extinction

Healthy Habits for a Healthy Planet

This week Angie highlighted the use of Shampoo bars. Let’s get rid of those plastic bottles. The bars can be found HERE.

Dave Mathews Band Fundraiser

Meet Dave Mathews at the Hollywood Bowl & Travel to Africa

Scientists Using Robots to Study Bird Behavior

Researchers are using any new tools they can to study animal behavior. This week we discuss the use of a “fembot” to observe Saige Grouse mating rituals. We highly recommend you view the video attached to the article.

Why Scientist Turned This Taxidermy Bird Into a Robot

New Species Discovered

Coming out of their shells: New turtle discovered in Mexico

New Species of Shrew Discovered in the Philippines Sky Island

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