Satellites orbiting the earth are becoming an increasingly powerful tool for counting and monitoring wildlife populations and to answer a host of other questions about the natural world.
Grizzly bears once roamed much of North America and symbolized the continent’s untamed wilderness. But hunters and trappers nearly wiped them out across most of the Lower 48 states by the late 1800s.
There are an estimated 84,000 dams in the United States which impound 600,000 miles of river, or about 17% of the rivers in the country. Within the next 15 years, more than 90% of the world’s rivers will be fragmented by at least one dam.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the global authority for determining species’ vulnerability in the face of threats such as habitat loss and climate change. How widely a species can be found – its geographic range – is a key indicator used by the IUCN to assign an appropriate conservation status.
According to a new paper published in the journal Nature, global warming has damaged huge sections of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The authors of the paper warn that the resilience of the reef – which is the world’s largest living structure – is waning rapidly.
We recently brought you the rediscovery story of cave squeakers. These tiny frogs, known for their high-pitched whistling calls, were native to the mountainous region of eastern Zimbabwe but had not been seen since 1962. That all changed in late 2016, when researchers found four cave squeakers, confirming that after 58 years the species was not extinct. Cave squeakers remain critically endangered according to the IUCN’s Red List of Endangered Species.
Increasingly, conservation organizations are increasingly relying on satellite imagery to help save wildlife. The Jane Goodall Institute, a nonprofit focused on chimpanzee conservation, uses NASA’s and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Landsat satellite images to guide their chimpanzee conservation strategies.
Last year, tiger poaching in India jumped to its highest levels in 15 years. The spike was the result of killings by gangs of poachers, tigers being snared by locals trying to trap other animals for food, and by cutbacks in anti-poaching efforts because of budget cuts.
The flood of refugees from the Middle East and Africa has prompted governments in the Balkan countries to erect hundreds of miles of border fences. Countries like Slovenia have put up razor-wire security fences to stem the tide of migrants. These border fences are built with little if any consideration of the environmental impacts on wildlife.
Farmers in many places have found additional sources of income by allowing wind turbines to be built on their land. One example is the Amazon Wind Farm, which is a massive project of over 100 turbines near Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The 494-foot tall turbine towers scattered over 34 square miles are rising up above farms that grow corn, wheat and soybeans. It is the first utility-scale wind farm in the Southeast.
America’s National Parks are special places of incomparable beauty and fascination. When the National Park Service was first created 100 years ago, it was instructed to leave these places “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” We now live in a time when the changing climate is altering many aspects of the landscape including in many national parks. The parks are protected, but they are changing.
Utah’s Great Salt Lake is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere and is the largest body of water in the United States after the five Great Lakes. When the pioneers first arrived in the area back in the middle of the 19th century, the lake spread across about 1,600 square miles. Now, the lake covers an area of only about 1,050 square miles, a reduction of about 35%.
It is widely thought that we are in the midst of the 6th great mass extinction of species on Earth and, unlike the previous ones that were caused by things like asteroid impacts or ice ages, this one is caused by us. Our impact on the climate, on natural resources, on landscapes and habitats, and more, has wreaked havoc on ecosystems across the globe.
California’s trees are dying. According to the U.S. Forest Service, more than five years of drought in California has left 102 million dead trees across 7.7 million acres of forest. In fact, 62 million trees have died this year alone – a 100% increase from 2015.
According to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund, the world’s animal populations have suffered widespread population declines in the last half century. And thousands of species are now scrambling to survive.
Snow leopards are majestic animals native to Central Asia. They roam the region’s rugged terrain, from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan and Russia in the north, and to India and China in the east. Snow leopards are known for their thick white coat of fur with ringed black and brown spots. These markings help camouflage the animals from their prey. But the camouflage does little to protect snow leopards from one of their biggest threats: humans.
Poaching and illegal trafficking in exotic animals is a world-wide problem that most of us are aware of. What most of us are less aware of is that the most trafficked mammal in the world is the pangolin, which you may well have never even heard of.
One week from today many of us will head to the polls to make critical decisions about who will represent us in the White House, in Congress, and in state and local offices. And in several states, people will also vote on the humane treatment of animals.
Back in June, we talked about The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch foundation founded in 2013 by an 18-year-old named Boyan Slat, which is developing technologies to rid the oceans of the vast collections of plastic that have been accumulating over the past 50 years.