By Simon Cripps | January 4, 2021

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Ocean sunfish (Mola mola). Image by Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay.

[Note: a version of this story was published originally at Mongabay.]

The world is on the brink of an important break-through. At the upcoming meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), nations will soon pledge to expand the area of our oceans that must be covered by Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to at least 30 percent. This signifies a growing understanding of the need to manage the seas more sustainably and sensitively.

We need more than the current 10 percent protection target because species and their habitats continue to decline at an alarming rate. High profile examples include coral reefs (22 percent of corals on the Great Barrier Reef died in a 2016 bleaching event), sharks and rays, and innumerable commercial fish populations from Grand Banks cod to Mediterranean blue fin tuna, but also so much more. …

By Jonathan Slaght | January 4, 2021

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[Note: this story was originally published at Scientific American]

After weeks of delays, I’d finally reached the wild. I was in the Samarga River basin, a mountainous, roadless corner of the Russian Far East inhabited by indigenous Udege hunters, Amur tigers and-most importantly for me-Blakiston’s fish owls. These were the largest owls in the world; endangered giants that hunt for salmon in rivers and nest in enormous trees. Joined by Sergey Avdeyuk, an experienced woodsman, I was dipping my toe into my first year of fish owl fieldwork, the first of many. …

By Annie Mark | December 4, 2020

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[Note: this story was published originally by Mongabay]

As an American living in Germany and working for an international conservation organization, I find that most everyday people I speak with do not realize that in 2008, Chancellor Angela Merkel made a commitment of €500 million per year to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), with a focus on protected areas.

That was an extraordinary commitment by the German government — something worth knowing and to be proud of. …

November 25, 2020

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As 2020 draws to a close, let’s take a moment to thank one entity that rarely gets the full measure of gratitude it deserves: Nature. Nature-based solutions to the global environmental challenges we face are at the heart of WCS’s mission to save wildlife and wild places.

Strategies designed to keep nature intact and undegraded help it to continue performing the many ecosystem services so critical to our survival — from storing carbon and protecting biodiversity to containing pandemic disease and sustaining the livelihoods of people in communities across the globe.

Here are just 10 reasons to express appreciation for…

Bat Week 2020

By Sarah Olson | October 27, 2020

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A pair of Townsend’s big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii), a species found in the western U.S., show off the size of their ears which they use to locate insect prey (Credit: N. Fuller).

Bat Week represents an international effort to raise awareness and appreciation for the role of bats in our world. At a moment when bats have captured our attention because of their association with the viral disease spillover responsible for COVID-19, it is time for us to reimagine and build a healthier relationship with nature and these magnificent winged mammals.

The mid-twentieth century marked the historic end of WWII, and it was also the time when scientists think SARS-CoV-2 probably diverged from its closest-known bat virus relative. Since then, the world’s urban population has grown 600 percent, from 750 million to 4.2 billion. Globally, 9.5 …

By David Wilkie, Susan Lieberman & James Watson | October 19, 2020

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In northeastern DR Congo, as in many places around world, the forest produces a bounty of delicious and nutritious caterpillars that are a seasonally important food for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. Photo © David Wilkie/WCS

[Note: this story was originally published at Mongabay.]

Humanity today face multiple crises. A pandemic grips societies around the globe and with each passing year greed, poor governance, and naivete push us further toward a climate change forced sixth great extinction and the collapse of ecosystems.

It may already be too late to prevent the looming catastrophe of climate change. But there is an overlooked and undervalued blueprint for our survival. …

To reduce the likelihood of crises like COVID-19, a comprehensive national approach is essential

By Christian Walzer & John Calvelli | October 19, 2020

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Live animal market in Bali, Indonesia. Credit: Amilia Roso Getty Images

[Note: this story was originally published at Scientific American.]

It is no small task to predict which of the hundreds of thousands of unknown pathogens existing naturally in animals will spill over to people and cause the next pandemic. But one thing is clear: A major factor driving spillover events such as the current COVID-19 pandemic is the trade in live and fresh wildlife for human consumption (whether legal or illegal).

Removing wild animals from nature and transporting them to commercial markets where the close proximity of animals and people poses a significant public health risk is a practice that can no longer be tolerated. Zoonoses-the term for infectious diseases that pass between people and animals-affect millions of people each year, with three quarters of new human pathogens identified in the past three decades originating in animals. …

International Sawfish Day

By Jamia Rahman Khan Tisa & Elisabeth Fahrni Mansur
October 17, 2020

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Like most other rays and sharks, sawfish grow very slowly and have only few offspring. Their saw makes them particularly prone to getting entangled in fishing gear. Credit: ©WCS Bangladesh

Dhaka, Bangladesh

A saw is an essential tool in carpentry, but how can a saw be used for fishing? Sawfish use electro-receptors in their long saw-shaped snout to detect their fish prey living on the bottom of the sea. Then, they trap the fish on the bottom and kill it with their saw, sometimes breaking the fish in half before eating it.

This efficient way of catching fish has allowed sawfish, or “carpenter sharks” as they are widely known, to survive on Earth for about 60 million years — surviving the mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs. But even though sawfish outlived the dinosaurs, the question we must ask today on International Sawfish Day is whether they can survive the fishing activities of man. …


Boar found and freed from illegally set snare in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary

October 6, 2020

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Wild boar briefly trees WCS conservationist after the rescue CREDIT: WCS Cambodia

Mondulkuri Province, Cambodia

A dramatic video just released by the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Cambodia Program shows a team of three WCS conservationists releasing a wild boar (Sus scrofa) caught in an illegally-set snare in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary.

The team can be seen cutting down the snare attached to tree sapling. Then they remove the snare from the boar, which is seen breathing heavily. Eventually the boar jumps to its feet and chases one of the conservationists up a tree. The boar clicks its teeth and circles the tree before running into the forest. …

International Vulture Awareness Day 2020

By Rob Wallace | September 5, 2020

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Palca, an adult female Andean condor, launches into flight equipped with a satellite tag that is revealing the incredible ranging behavior of this culturally iconic and threatened species that is Bolvia’s national bird. Photo: Rob Wallace/WCS

[This week, an important analysis of the Andean condor was published in Spanish and English. “Saving the Symbol of the Andes: A Range Wide Conservation Priority Setting Exercise for the Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus)” presents the work of 38 specialists from seven countries participating in an in-depth systematization of studies carried out on the distribution, ecology, and conservation status of the species along the Andean mountain range — from Venezuela to Argentina and Chile. The objective is to promote a conservation strategy at a continental level that ensures healthy populations of condors and recognizes the importance of working across boundaries for the high-flying and wide-ranging condor. …


Wildlife Conservation Society

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.

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