The first national park that the Yale FES Rwanda Study Tour visited was Nyungwe, in the south of the country bordering Burundi’s Kibera National Park. A montane tropical forest spanning over a thousand square kilometers, Nyungwe is quite biodiverse, and while it used to host elephants, water buffalo, and leopards, many other mammals are still present in the forest, including thirteen species of primate. Of these, we were able to see eight: vervet monkeys, l’Hoest’s mountain monkeys, blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys, mona monkeys, a single olive baboon, and eastern chimpanzees. This was fairly lucky, as the only primates we missed were the owl-faced monkeys, which are shy and restricted to the bamboo groves in a remote part of the park, red-tailed monkeys, which I know nothing about, and three species of galago, which are very small nocturnal primates sometimes called bushbabies, of controversial cuteness. I’ve included some of my photos below:
After my first few nights at Chan Chich, I quickly learned that the jungle activity changes a bit in the night time. Bats swoop through the air, the sounds of howler monkeys reverberate off of the trees, and cane toads hop across my path.
So of course, when the opportunity arose to go on a night ride I was eager to see what would be in store for me. While I knew it would be foolish to hope for a jaguar sighting, I set out taking comfort in the fact that at least my chances would be higher than if I had stayed in for the night. What I didn’t count on, however, was my inherently poor ability to spot wildlife in the darkness.
In 2007, a family of wolves in Idaho’s Sawtooth National Forest killed nine sheep. Ranchers who owned the sheep asked government wildlife managers to kill the wolves; but local wolf supporters and conservationists protested, asking instead for a non-lethal solution. So began what became the Wood River Wolf Project, a landscape-scale, multi-year experiment in how ranchers, livestock, and wolves can live together peacefully. Continue reading
What he said:
Endangered pygmy elephants and orangutans threatened by scheme for Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary
David Attenborough and Steve Backshall have joined conservationists and charities asking officials in Borneo to reconsider a bridge that threatens one of the last sanctuaries of the rare pygmy elephant.
The New York Times’ always-appreciated Science section, once a Tuesday feature, has been joined by many features made possible by the wonders of modern technology, and the news organization has also responded creatively to the competition made possible by all that wondrous technology. This article by Nicholas St. Fleur is a good example of why we check in on the Trilobites feature of the website daily:
We appreciate the excellent science produced by employees of the federal government of the USA, both the theoretical and applied problems they tackle depending on their specialty. Thanks to those who deal with creatures like this, who have in common with their feline counterparts in some locations the misfortune of bumping up against human interests. Figuring them out and accommodating them humanely seems a worthy scientific cause:
by Rae Ellen Bichell
In the foothills of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, a gravel road leads to a 10-foot-tall fence. Type in a key code, and a gate scrapes open. Undo a chain to get behind another. Everything here is made of metal, because the residents of this facility are experts at invasion and destruction. Continue reading
I favor a walk in the woods where pumas feel naturally at home. That said, the world has been changing faster than we like, and faster than pumas can adapt. We have had so many wildcat stories in these pages since we started in 2011, it is impossible to count at this point; also not possible to link back to one that matches the content of Dana Goodyear’s wow piece in the upcoming issue of the New Yorker:
Are the city’s pumas dangerous predators or celebrity guests?
It was drizzling and gray, late fall, on the old Rickards Movie Ranch, high in the Santa Monica Mountains, in rural, red-state western Malibu. Continue reading
In times that try our souls in so many ways, it helps to know that organizations like this one are prepared, and worthy of your consideration for your support:
We rely on wilderness not only to inspire and enjoy but also to protect our watersheds, clean the air we breathe, and provide a home for the diverse species that enrich our world. Continue reading
For every redemption story there seems to be at least one more redemption puzzle. Conundrums. This is one of those. We want to love the scheme for some of its nobler aspects, but then realize it is impossible to do so unconditionally. And finally, simply, impossible:
Babcock Ranch, the brainchild of ex-NFL player Syd Kitson, aims to be a model of sustainability but campaigners fear it will be tragic for endangered panther
Edward Helmore in New York
Florida real estate has a bad habit of reflecting the boom-and-bust cycles of the US economy but Babcock Ranch, a new development opening early next year and designed to be the world’s first solar-powered town, is hoping it can provide the Sunshine state with a model for sustainable living. Continue reading
Thanks to the Guardian’s Environment section (and Reuters) for this news:
Wisdom, a Laysan albatross, is also world’s oldest-known breeding bird in the wild and has had a few dozen chicks Continue reading
Thanks to Anthropocene’s Brandon Keim for this story about a health care revolution for wildlife:
Containing much of the Peruvian Amazon’s greatest flora and fauna, Manú National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the world and allows for once-in-a-lifetime sightings of rare and exotic animals. The park is Peru’s biggest and consists of three parts: the “Cultural or Buffer zone,” where native communities live and tourists can enter unaccompanied, the “Reserved zone,” an area set aside for controlled scientific research and ecotourism, and the “Intangible zone,” the largest section that is strictly for flora and fauna preservation. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Manú offers adventurous travelers lush, untouched Amazon to explore and discover the unmatched beauty of virgin environments and unrestricted wildlife.
Many claim to tire of hearing about climate change, species extinction, threats from fracking and other environmental issues of great importance. Thanks to the Guardian for continuing to pay attention:
Almost two-thirds of proposed areas have higher biodiversity, valuable for functions such as pollination and pest control, analysis shows
Many of the areas that have been recently marked as potential sites for fracking are rich in wildlife that perform crucial functions from pollination to decomposition, researchers have found.
Scientists say that almost two-thirds of the areas that have been labelled as suitable for shale gas extraction have levels of biodiversity equal to or above the national average, according to a new analysis of records collected from across the country. Continue reading
In a world where economics often focus on the concept that “the customer is always right” it’s heartening to see even large companies re-evaluate policy, and make make changes in the face of facts.
Our work in India has often placed us face to face with the common practices of human-animal interaction written about below, and we don’t promote the “elephant rides” that are often on travelers’ agenda. Change occurs along with a shift in understanding, and our goal has always been to craft travel experiences that are both authentic and educational.
So “Bravo!” and a hearty welcome to any company willing to join us in achieving that goal!
TripAdvisor, the popular travel review website, and its ticket sales company, Viator, said Tuesday they no longer will sell tickets to hundreds of tourist attractions that are widely accepted as cruel to wild animals, reversing a policy under which the companies had resisted considering the welfare of animals when promoting trips.
The move to stop selling tickets to elephant rides, swim-with-dolphin experiences, and attractions that allow visitors to pet tigers and other exotic animals comes after a one-and-a-half-year protest campaign by the London-based animal welfare group World Animal Protection and reporting by National Geographic’s Wildlife Watch, which drew attention to TripAdvisor’s continued promotion of such attractions at a time when dozens of other tour and travel companies were moving away from them.
Such attractions have been shown to cause animals psychological and physical trauma that can shorten their lives. They also result in more animals being taken from the wild for tourism.
There was a time when we found portions of the hunting-to-support-conservation argument compelling. Our view is getting more and more firm against it. We applaud a small country teeming with wildlife for taking a firm stand:
By Alicia Graef
Last week, the Environment Ministry announced a total ban on trophy hunting of brown bears, wolves, lynx and and other wild cats, which is expected to save thousands of animals from being killed. Continue reading
We honestly knew little, perhaps nothing, about these creatures until very recently when they were in the news; and they were almost gone before we learned about them. Suddenly, thankfully, pangolins have been given the attention they deserve from the folks (including all of us) who may be able to help them survive as a species:
World’s most illegally trafficked mammal wins total ban on international trade in all species under the strictest Cites protection possible
Pangolins, the world’s most illegally trafficked mammal, were thrown a lifeline at a global wildlife summit on Wednesday with a total trade ban in all species. Continue reading
We love sheep, and sheep farmers, and shepherds, and wool, and so on. But we cannot read this without feeling more sympathy for the wolves, at this moment:
Norway’s recent decision to destroy 70% of its tiny endangered population of wolves shocked conservationists worldwide and saw 35,000 sign a local petition. But in a region dominated by sheep farming support for the cull runs deep
Elisabeth Ulven and Tone Sutterud in Oslo
Conservation groups worldwide were astonished to hear of the recent, unprecedented decision to destroy 70% of the Norway’s tiny and endangered population of 68 wolves, the biggest cull for almost a century. Continue reading
Bison meat is not the typical protein one finds on the dinner plate every night (especially not in my vegetarian household), but it is a meat product that is known for being healthier than beef and – possibly – more environmentally friendly. “How so?” you might wonder. According to Modern Farmer there are several components to bison farming that give it a “greener edge.”
It’s believed that bison cause less trampling and erosion damage to the plains than cattle, that their diet is higher in grasses and thus less damaging to the long-term chances of the plains environment, and that bison poop functions as a natural fertilizer to their habitats.
This all mostly stems from a general idea that bison, being not domesticated and technically, even when ranched, a wild animal, are more in tune with nature, more balanced in their impact than cattle. They are also native to North America, unlike cattle, which were domesticated from Old World animals. “Because bison are a natural part of the North American ecosystem, bison ranching can be a beneficial to the natural environment,” writes the National Bison Association, a promotional group, on its site.
Spider monkey encounters are commonplace at Chan Chich Lodge. Whether it be during an early morning bird walk or a late afternoon read on the porch futon, spider monkeys will likely make their swinging appearance from the tree top branches at some point during the day. They are curious, but daring creatures that will have no shame in shaking up a couple of branches above your head and letting fruits fall on you if they feel threatened (an inexplicable reaction in my mind when I humbly walk through the trails hoping to catch sight of a Tody Motmot).
Having been in Belize for over a month, I have several memorable anecdotes to share about spider monkeys, but I will share two that I believe encapsulate the magnificence of these intelligent creatures.
Unfortunately, we haven’t seen anything as exciting as a jaguar recently, but morning walks at the Lodge have been fruitful nonetheless. Mostly I look for birds, but any mammal spotted is one worth seeing – even a squirrel, given that the most common species here is one only found in Central America. I’m most used to the Eastern Gray Squirrel of the United States, as well as the smaller Variegated Squirrel of Costa Rica’s Central Valley and the cute Red-tailed Squirrel in the volcano regions. Here at Chan Chich, the Deppe’s Squirrel is a dark brown with frosted gray on the tail, and it is much more timid than the acclimatized suburban rodents of the East Coast in the US.