Mongabay feature published in ‘best science and nature writing’ anthology
Oct07

Mongabay feature published in ‘best science and nature writing’ anthology

Mongabay is pleased to announce that senior correspondent Jeremy Hance’s feature, The great rhino U-turn, has been published in ‘The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2019,” a highly regarded annual anthology that celebrates the best writing from the genre. This marks the first time that a Mongabay feature has been selected. When he heard the news earlier this year, Hance exclaimed, “The news that my article on Sumatran rhinos was going to be included [came] totally out of the blue, it’s a huge honor and I’m over the moon about it!” He added that, “I think it’s especially exciting since wildlife conservation writing sometimes takes a back seat to other environmental and hard science stories when it comes to recognition in the field.” The selected feature is part three of a four-part series on Sumatran rhino conservation, and details how researchers at the Cincinnati Zoo finally unlocked the mysteries of the species’ reproduction. This is key because there are very few of the animals left in the world, and captive breeding and reintroduction is one of the most viable strategies for saving the species. But it took 17 years of work to make captive breeding work, so Jeremy’s fascinating chronicle of this herculean effort serves as a valuable and inspiring example of dedication and good science in service to conservation. “My hope is that inclusion in this anthology will bring greater attention to the plight of Sumatran rhinos, a species that desperately needs the Indonesian government and conservationists to act, and act quickly if we’re not to lose the singing rhino,” he continued, referring to the creature’s charming habit of vocalizing musically, sounds which he likens to whale songs. The timing of all this is important, since a recent effort to breed one of the last remaining Sumatran rhinos looks unlikely to succeed again due to ‘bureaucratic quibbling’ on Indonesia’s part, as Mongabay’s Basten Gokkon recently reported. The book also features essays that first appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, New York Times Magazine, and others, and is now in bookstores around the U.S. Order a copy from an independent bookstore near you here. Read Jeremy’s story here and follow the links from there to parts one, two, and four. Mongabay’s entire series on Asian rhinos can be found here. Banner image: a calf born in 2016 in Indonesia’s Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary. Photo by Rhett A. Butler for...

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110,000+ signatures: Petition inspired by Mongabay story on a pristine but threatened PNG island keeps growing
Aug20

110,000+ signatures: Petition inspired by Mongabay story on a pristine but threatened PNG island keeps growing

A petition inspired by a Mongabay story has topped its goal of 110,000 signatures, and keeps growing. “Logging, mining companies lock eyes on a biodiverse island like no other” was published on July 31st by Mongabay and the online petition appeared about 10 days later after the story garnered much attention on social media platforms. In the story, writer Gianluca Cerullo explains that Woodlark Island sits far off the coast of Papua New Guinea and is swathed in old growth forests home to animals found nowhere else on the planet. However, the island and its inhabitants face an uncertain future: lured by high-value timber, a logging company is planning to clear 40% of Woodlark’s forests, and researchers say this could drive many species to extinction. The author reports that the company proposes to then plant large tree plantations, and he writes that a gold mine is being proposed for the island as well. The petition is aimed at the Papua New Guinea Forestry Authority and can be viewed here. Banner image via...

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Indonesia for Sale series honored with Society of Environmental Journalists award
Aug14

Indonesia for Sale series honored with Society of Environmental Journalists award

The Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) has given the second feature in the Indonesia for Sale series, “Ghosts in the Machine,” recognition under the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting as part of its annual awards for environmental journalism. Produced in partnership with The Gecko Project, the series has 3 main features so far plus a number of other assets including video and interviews. The SEJ judges wrote this about the story: “A remarkable example of brave, tenacious journalism, methodically unravelling systemic corruption in Indonesia extending to the highest levels of the judiciary. Few consumers in North America can fully appreciate the human and environmental toll exacted by the palm oil industry. In that sense, this story should make us all think more critically about the true cost of our actions, at home and around the world.” Read the winning story here, and here is a quick video description of it:   Find part 1 of Indonesia for Sale, about a politician who turned his district into a sea of oil palm for personal benefit here, and part 3, which dived into the secret dealings that stand to destroy another massive tract of rainforest, here. Banner image of an orangutan in Indonesian rainforest by Rhett A. Butler for...

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Mongabay Latam and El Deber win prestigious El Rey Award
Feb19

Mongabay Latam and El Deber win prestigious El Rey Award

Mongabay Latam and its partners at the major Bolivian daily newspaper El Deber have won the El Rey Award, also known as the King of Spain International Journalism Award. A top prize recognizing the best in Spanish and Portuguese-language journalism in Ibero-America since 1983, the awards are announced annually by Agencia EFE and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development. The Mongababy-El Deber team was recognized for Roberto Navia Gabriel’s investigative report on illegal trafficking in jaguar fangs, which was produced and published by both media outlets. When the reporter first learned of jaguars being killed for their fangs, it felt like a horror novel: “It seemed to me that it was a topic that journalism definitely had to address so that people in power [would] hear about it [and] look for a solution,” Navia Gabriel said. “Unfortunately, it is true that [Chinese citizens] are pulling fangs out of jaguars. They are selling them in China and other Asian markets at prices as high as gold or cocaine, exorbitant prices. I discovered that it was not isolated hunting, but a mafia who is entering this area and is earning thousands or maybe millions of dollars, that was a sad finding.” “For me the award means a big boost, something that makes me see that I was not wrong, that it was worthy to investigate,” continued Navia Gabriel. “And also, to establish a relationship with Mongabay has been terrific. This work wouldn’t have been possible without the important support of Mongabay, at a time when it is more difficult to do investigative journalism because there is a big lack of resources and time, so I’m grateful to El Deber, to Mongabay, to all the team that has been part of this great project,” he said. Speaking on behalf of Mongabay Latam, María Isabel Torres, Program Manager for the Lima-based Spanish language bureau of Mongabay.com, said, “At Mongabay Latam we believe that [it] is key to promote collaborative alliances between journalists and other media in different countries, not only to integrate resources and capabilities, but also to broaden the impact of our stories. Our partnership with El Deber is a great example of that.” Agreeing with Torres, Navia Gabriel‘s editor at Mongabay Latam, Alexa Eunoé Vélez Zuazo, said, “The award confirms how powerful and necessary alliances [are] between the media in Latin America [and] among journalists to unveil issues of great relevance, and put them on the radar of the authorities. Mongabay Latam has followed the problem of  jaguar trafficking in Bolivia since the first complaints began in 2016, but it was with El Deber that we worked on the first special stories.” Of Roberto Navia...

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Bioacoustics paper published in Science
Jan05

Bioacoustics paper published in Science

In 2017, Mongabay’s Conservation Effectiveness series looked at what the scientific literature tells us is working and not working in the field of conservation. The series produced award-winning reporting which generated wide-ranging discussions across conservation. One of the key conclusions from the project was that conservation studies generally haven’t been designed to rigorously assess effectiveness of projects, interventions, or strategies. After the series wrapped up, we kept thinking about this issue and whether there may be other ways to measure conservation outcomes. Zuzana Burivalova, the Princeton scientist we hired to oversee the academic research component of Conservation Effectiveness, uses bioacoustics in her field work. This prompted conversations about applying bioacoustics to evaluating conservation effectiveness and eventually spurred Burivalova, Mongabay Founder and CEO Rhett Butler, and Eddie Game from the Nature Conservancy to write a paper, which was published yesterday in Science: The sound of a tropical forest. “An increasing number of ecologists and conservation scientists are using bioacoustics in their research,” said Butler. “We argue that bioacoustics could be used to strengthen zero deforestation commitments, monitor biodiversity at scale, and provide a mechanism for evaluating the effectiveness of conservation projects and interventions. Our hope is that the paper raises visibility for everyone working on bioacoustics.” The paper calls out two opportunities: using bioacoustics to strengthen corporate zero deforestation commitments that are being adopted by companies in the palm oil, timber, and cacao sectors, among others; and creating a world-class central repository for bioacoustic data that can be used by researchers. “The dream is a scenario where zero deforestation companies are funding real-time monitoring of forests, with data fed into the cloud for use by scientists, giving us a better picture of what’s working and what’s not working in conservation and landscape restoration,” said Butler. “Combined with satellite data and networked camera traps, we’d have a much clearer picture for measuring trends in wildlife populations.” To date, the paper has attracted significant media attention, with more the 30 media outlets covering the study within 24 hours of publication. Butler also penned an op-ed for Singapore’s Straits Times about how bioacoustics could support zero deforestation commitments. And Mongabay covered the paper as...

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Mongabay Latam story generates multiple impacts in Peru
Oct23

Mongabay Latam story generates multiple impacts in Peru

For the residents of remote rural areas like the Peruvian Amazon, Mongabay provides a vital service by covering issues that the mainstream media have neither the editorial budgets nor perhaps the political space to report on. However, local and international NGOs, a core constituency of civil society, increasingly use our reports to share information with their communities and advocate for policy changes from governmental officials. One example from Peru is particularly illustrative of Mongabay’s role in enabling consensus building. In September 2017, six farmers were murdered in the district of Nueva Requena. Their bodies were found floating in a river; they had been shot in the head, and their hands and feet bound. The initial reports of this incident that reached the capital in Lima were inaccurate, yet no journalists traveled to the area to follow up in the immediate aftermath. However, one of Mongabay’s reporters went there five days after the crime to produce the story “Ucayali Forests: a booty for land traffickers” (English version here). The report detailed serious problems associated with land trafficking, the development of new roads into forests, and the complicity of local authorities in the nontransparent “legalization” of these schemes. The information published in that story was then included in an investigation by Peru’s Public Prosecutor’s Office into illegal land grabs in Ucayali by palm oil companies. A prosecutor specializing in environmental crimes later said, “Media like Mongabay-Latam contributes knowledge of the true situation of the environment. With the information they provide, which is evaluated and verified, officials can make decisions.” As a result of Mongabay’s extensive reporting, the National Organization of Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Women of Peru (ONAMIAP) republished the Mongabay-Latam story on its website to share the news directly with its community. Then in March 2018, National Geographic published a report on infrastructure development in Ucayali and cited Mongabay’s reporting in the region. Finally, the Environmental Investigation Agency requested GPS coordinates for the disputed area to monitor the progress of deforestation in this area which had not previously been mapped. The same request was made by the Andean Amazon Monitoring Project to establish, through satellite maps, the increasing forest loss in the area. Keep up with all of Mongabay-Latam’s coverage at the website, https://es.mongabay.com or on social media (Facebook: @MongabayLatam, Twitter: @MongabayLatam, Instagram: @MongabayLatam).  Banner photo depicting the area in question by Mongabay-Latam reporter Yvette Sierra...

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