Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi

Philippine Eagles are classified as Critically Endangered due to enormous habitat decline and anthropogenic threats. There are estimated to be 180-600 eagles left in the wild. Forest destruction and fragmentation, through commercial timber extraction and shifting cultivation, is the principal long-term threat. Much of the land surrounding Davao has been converted from forest land to agricultural to grow banana, coffee, cacao, palm oil and another oil-producing plant called jatropha.

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.

Indigenous and local communities key to successful nature conservation

Indigenous and local communities are key to successful nature conservation and for protecting animals from extinction. Story via Eureka Alert and the University of East Anglia. Indigenous Peoples and local communities provide the best long-term outcomes for conservation, according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and partners in France. Lead author,Continue reading “Indigenous and local communities key to successful nature conservation”

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”

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”

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”

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”

Contagious yawns show social ties in humans and bonobos

Penny Orbell, The Conversation Most of us have experienced the overwhelming urge to yawn in response to another person yawning – but we’re not the only species to do this. Research published in PeerJ today shows bonobos – our closest evolutionary cousins – also experience “yawn contagion”, and, as in humans, the effect is influencedContinue reading “Contagious yawns show social ties in humans and bonobos”

How forest elephants move depends on water, humans, and also their personality

African forest elephants roam the dense rainforests of West and Central Africa where they subsist largely on a diet of fruit. They shape forests by dispersing fruit and seeds, browsing, and creating an extensive trail network. John Poulsen, Duke University and Christopher Beirne, University of British Columbia But because it’s difficult to track animals inContinue reading “How forest elephants move depends on water, humans, and also their personality”

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”

The Amazonian Royal Flycatcher: A flurry of feathers

September 3rd is Amazon Rainforest Day and The Nature Nook/Palm Oil Detective would like to celebrate. The Amazonian Royal Flycatcher is a member of a family of birds called the tyrant flycatchers, which occur throughout North and South America. This is the biggest family of birds in the world, with more than 400 species. AsContinue reading “The Amazonian Royal Flycatcher: A flurry of feathers”

Meet Chimbu, the blue-eyed, bear-eared tree kangaroo

Tree kangaroos are so unusual that when Europeans first encountered them in Australia in 1872, they were sceptical. Who would believe a kangaroo could climb a tree? The Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo is a threatened species found in forests in the Central Cordillera mountain ranges of Papua New Guinea, from sea level to high in theContinue reading “Meet Chimbu, the blue-eyed, bear-eared tree kangaroo”

Laughs, cries and deception: birds’ emotional lives are just as complicated as ours

Gisela Kaplan, University of New England Birds can certainly get very angry – and the owner of a galah or corella would be well advised not to get near this bird when the head feathers are raised — but birds can be joyful and playful, can get depressed and, as studies have shown, a neglectfulContinue reading “Laughs, cries and deception: birds’ emotional lives are just as complicated as ours”