4 Rhino Calves Spotted in Indonesia Boosts Javan Population to 72
The global population of the critically endangered Javan rhinoceros has increased to 72 after four new calves were spotted in the past several months.
Rhino experts have welcomed the news of a rise in the population of the Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus), a species driven close to extinction by poaching and habitat loss. The only known remaining population of Javan rhinos is now confined to a single precarious habitat in Ujung Kulon National Park on the western tip of Indonesia's Java Island.
At the end of April this year, the estimated number of declined to 68 following the death of a juvenile male due to critical injuries believed to have been be inflicted by an older male. Since then, however, a survey using camera traps across the park has observed four new calves, officials said.
"We are excited to see new births taking place in Ujung Kulon," CeCe Sieffert, acting executive director of the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), said in a statement. "Surpassing a population number of 70 Javan rhinos is a significant milestone."
A camera trap recorded a female Javan rhino with her calf. Ujung Kulon National Park Agency
The Indonesian environment ministry said the new calves had different mothers, and all were spotted within the park's borders.
"Ujung Kulon National Park is considered safe from threats to the area so wildlife there can breed," Indra Exploitasia, the ministry's director of biodiversity, told Mongabay in a text message.
"There are also programs to maintain the habitat, such as clearing invasive plants that disrupt growth of vegetation that the rhinos eat," she added.
A decade ago, the Javan rhino population was estimated at no more than 50 individuals in the park, a protected area spanning just 787 square kilometers (304 square miles) of land. (There's also a marine protected area of 443 square kilometers, or 171 square miles.) Efforts by the Indonesian government and organizations from around the world to beef up security across the area from encroachment and poaching have been put in force for many years, and experts now say they have resulted in a stable increase in rhino numbers.
The IRF said there has been no poaching in the park in more than 20 years, and at least one new calf born every year since 2012. A new marine patrol is currently being trained and expected to start monitoring the coastline of the park in January, the group added.
"It is a testament to the commitment of government and park officials to the protection of the Javan rhino and their habitat," Sieffert said.
Even as its population grows, however, the species remains at risk from a range of threats — from infectious disease and human activities, to natural disasters. Experts also fear Ujung Kulon is at or near its carrying capacity for the species, limiting future population growth. These factors have prompted the government and conservation groups to work together to find a suitable second habitat in which to establish a new rhino population. The plan gained urgency after a tsunami struck Ujung Kulon in December 2018. No rhinos were harmed, the disaster highlighted the precariousness of their one and only sanctuary.
Despite the urgency of the situation, the task of finding a second habitat for the rhinos has been put on hold; instead, the Indonesian government has opted to expand the usable habitat inside the park.
Reposted with permission from Mongabay.
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By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
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As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.
We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
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