Celebrate #WorldRhinoDay by leaving the forests alone and #Boycottpalmoil to save imperilled Sumatran & Javan Rhinos

Indonesia manage to conserve two of the world’s five rhinoceros species. Both the Javan rhino Rhinoceros sondaicus and the Sumatran rhino Dicerorhinus sumatrensis still exist today, uniquely only in the country. Extractive industries and large-scale palm oil plantations have transformed the landscape of Sumatra. As a result, the Sumatran rhino’s populations were driven to theContinue reading “Celebrate #WorldRhinoDay by leaving the forests alone and #Boycottpalmoil to save imperilled Sumatran & Javan Rhinos”

Anthropologist and author of ‘In the Shadow of the Palms’ Dr Sophie Chao: In Her Own Words

Dr Sophie Chao is an environmental anthropologist and environmental humanities scholar interested in the intersections of capitalism, ecology, Indigeneity, health, and justice in the Pacific.

Palm Oil Detectives is honoured to interview to Dr Sophie Chao about her research into the impacts of palm oil on the daily lives of Marind people and other sentient beings in West Papua.

​I wrote In the Shadow of the Palms because I wanted the world to understand how deforestation and industrial oil palm expansion are undermining Indigenous ways of being in West Papua.

Climate change is forcing human and non-human beings to become climate refugees

The definition of refugee or displaced person is someone fleeing a life-threatening crisis. The emerging refugees of this century are fleeing unliveable environmental conditions brought about by climate change and other complex interrelated factors including conflict, disease and famine. Humans and non-human beings alike are becoming climate change refugees. The choices are stark and clear – move and live or stay where you are and perish.

What elephants’ unique brain structures suggest about their mental abilities

Bob Jacobs, Colorado College Conservationists have designated August 12 as World Elephant Day to raise awareness about conserving these majestic animals. Elephants have many engaging features, from their incredibly dexterous trunks to their memory abilities and complex social lives. But there is much less discussion of their brains, even though it stands to reason thatContinue reading “What elephants’ unique brain structures suggest about their mental abilities”

Back from extinction: a world first effort to return threatened pangolins to the wild

The reintroduction of pangolins has not been easy. But it’s vital to prevent this shy, mysterious creature from being lost forever. Pangolins are one of the most illegally trafficked animals on the planet and are suspected to be linked to the current coronavirus pandemic. Pangolins are also one of the world’s most threatened species butContinue reading “Back from extinction: a world first effort to return threatened pangolins to the wild”

Chimpanzees once helped African rainforests recover from a major collapse

Most people probably think that the rainforest of central and west Africa, the second largest in the world, has been around for millions of years. However recent research suggests that it is mostly just 2,000 or so years old. The forest reached roughly its modern state following five centuries of regeneration after it was massivelyContinue reading “Chimpanzees once helped African rainforests recover from a major collapse”

Insect decline in the Anthropocene: Death by a thousand cuts

Although conservation efforts have historically focused attention on protecting rare, charismatic, and endangered species, the “insect apocalypse” presents a different challenge. In addition to the loss of rare taxa, many reports mention sweeping declines of formerly abundant insects [e.g., Warren et al. (29)], raising concerns about ecosystem function.

Nigeria’s nature reserves need more help to protect biodiversity

Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Environment recently nominated Finima Nature Park in River State as a Ramsar site: a wetland of international importance. Tajudeen Amusa, University of Ilorin These sites are designated under the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO. It aims to protect representative, rare or unique wetlands, or thoseContinue reading “Nigeria’s nature reserves need more help to protect biodiversity”

Primates are facing an impending extinction crisis – but we know very little about what will actually protect them

From lemurs to orangutans, tarsiers to gorillas, primates are captivating and sometimes unnervingly similar to us. So it’s not surprising that this group of more than 500 species receives a great deal of research and conservation attention. But despite this effort, more than 60% of primate species are threatened with extinction mainly due to humanContinue reading “Primates are facing an impending extinction crisis – but we know very little about what will actually protect them”

How do we protect the rapidly disappearing Javan Rhino?

With only 74 individuals left, the remarkable and beautiful Javan Rhino is on the brink of extinction and can be found on one of the most densely populated islands in the world – Java. Boycotting palm oil is how you can help them. Sunarto, Universitas Indonesia The Javan rhino was once found throughout many partsContinue reading “How do we protect the rapidly disappearing Javan Rhino?”

Ecocide: why establishing a new international crime would be a step towards interspecies justice

A movement of activists and legal scholars is seeking to make “ecocide” an international crime within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Stop Ecocide Foundation has put together a prestigious international panel of experts that has just proposed a new definition of the term. Heather Alberro, Nottingham Trent University and Luigi Daniele,Continue reading “Ecocide: why establishing a new international crime would be a step towards interspecies justice”

The mimics among us — birds pirate songs for personal profit

From Roman classics to British tabloids, humans have long celebrated the curious and remarkable ability of birds to imitate the sounds of humans and other animals. A recent surge of research is revealing how and why birds use vocal mimicry to further their own interests, as we discuss in Biological Reviews. Anastasia Dalziell, Cornell UniversityContinue reading “The mimics among us — birds pirate songs for personal profit”

A fascinating history of warrior turtles: from ancient myths, warships and teenage mutants

Ask anyone the identity of the world’s most famed turtles, and the answer is likely to be those legendary heroes in a half-shell, the Teenage Mutant Ninjas. Since first appearing in comic book form in 1984, the pizza-eating, nunchuk-wielding characters have shown the world the tougher side of turtles. Louise Pryke, University of Sydney PartContinue reading “A fascinating history of warrior turtles: from ancient myths, warships and teenage mutants”

How deforestation helps deadly viruses jump from animals to humans

Amy Y. Vittor, University of Florida; Gabriel Zorello Laporta, Faculdade de Medicina do ABC, and Maria Anice Mureb Sallum, Universidade de São Paulo Many pandemics originate from wildlife that jumps from animal to human. These leaps often happen at the edges of the world’s tropical forests, where deforestation is increasingly bringing people into contact withContinue reading “How deforestation helps deadly viruses jump from animals to humans”

Conservation activists suing Indonesian zoo could inspire global action on endangered species trade

In a court in rural Indonesia, an environmental group recently filed a lawsuit of global importance. Their case is against a zoo in North Sumatra that it’s alleged illegally exhibited threatened species, including Komodo dragons and critically endangered Sumatran orangutans. Images by Craig Jones Wildlife Photography. Jacob Phelps, Lancaster University The illegal wildlife trade isContinue reading “Conservation activists suing Indonesian zoo could inspire global action on endangered species trade”

Almost 90% of the world’s animal species will lose some habitat to agriculture by 2050

David Williams, University of Leeds and Michael Clark, University of Oxford Scientists know that biodiversity is declining across much of the world although less universally and dramatically than we feared. We also know that things are likely to get worse in the future, with a combination of habitat loss, climate change and overexploitation set toContinue reading “Almost 90% of the world’s animal species will lose some habitat to agriculture by 2050”

Deforestation can raise local temperatures by up to 4.5℃ – and heat untouched areas 6km away

Sally Thompson, The University of Western Australia; Débora Corrêa, The University of Western Australia; John Duncan, The University of Western Australia, and Octavia Crompton, Duke University Forests directly cool the planet, like natural evaporative air conditioners. So what happens when you cut them down? In tropical countries such as Indonesia, Brazil and the Congo, rapidContinue reading “Deforestation can raise local temperatures by up to 4.5℃ – and heat untouched areas 6km away”

Bonobos can inspire us to make our democracies more peaceful

Bonobos, sometimes called the “forgotten ape” due to their recent discovery and small numbers, titillate the democrat’s imagination. Before the 1970s, certain primatologists thought bonobos were strange chimpanzees because females govern in this primate society. Frans de Waal, the primatologist and popular writer, has done much to explain the fascinating lives of these “peace-loving apes”Continue reading “Bonobos can inspire us to make our democracies more peaceful”

Organized crime is a top driver of global deforestation – along with beef, soy, palm oil and wood products

Jennifer Devine, Texas State University Every year the world loses an estimated 25 million acres (10 million hectares) of forest, an area larger than the state of Indiana. Nearly all of it is in the tropics. Tropical forests store enormous quantities of carbon and are home to at least two-thirds of the world’s living species,Continue reading “Organized crime is a top driver of global deforestation – along with beef, soy, palm oil and wood products”

In the Atlantic Forest, the lowland tapir is at risk of extinction

Lowland tapir populations in the Atlantic Forest in South America are at risk of almost complete disappearance, scientists have estimated. Weighing up to 250 kg, the animal can adapt to most habitats in South America—but its populations continue to decline across its range. Today, its survival is seriously threatened: it can be found in justContinue reading “In the Atlantic Forest, the lowland tapir is at risk of extinction”