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A picture of the Knysna elephant roaming the forest. Lizette Moolman / South African National Parks

A sobering 15-month study on the declining population of the southernmost herd of African elephants has determined only one elephant, a mature female, is free-roaming in the Knysna forest in South Africa.

The analysis—titled And Then There Was One—was recently published in the African Journal of Wildlife Research.

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David Ledig / BLM

By John R. Platt

It's the last month of the year, which means holidays galore—and, of course, plenty of reasons to give (and receive) books. Here are our picks for the eight best new environmental books coming out in December, with titles covering a range of challenging topics, delightful creatures and painful histories. Whether you're giving or receiving (or just buying copies for yourself), these are all books that should help to inform and energize any reader for the coming year ahead.

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An upaved road in rural Congo, province of Equateur. guenterguni / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Morgan Erickson-Davis

Africa's Congo Basin is home to the second largest rainforest on the planet. But according to a new study, this may soon not be the case. It finds that at current rates of deforestation, all primary forest will be gone by the end of the century.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) in the U.S. who analyzed satellite data collected between 2000 and 2014. Their results were published Wednesday in Science Advances. It reveals that the Congo Basin lost around 165,000 square kilometers (approximately 64,000 square miles) of forest during their study period.

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The fishing vessel Vema, arrested for shark finning. Sea Shepherd Global

On Sept. 22, local authorities from the Central African island state of São Tomé and Príncipe boarded the Senegalese-flagged, but Spanish-linked, long-line fishing vessel Vema in a joint operation with Sea Shepherd marine conservationists and Gabonese law enforcement officers called Operation Albacore III.

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Residents stand in a long queue to fill water containers on May 27 in Shimla, India. Deepak Sansta / Hindustan Times / Getty Images

International Peace Day is Sept. 21. Mekela Panditharatne, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, submitted the following op-ed to EcoWatch in commemoration.

In drought-ravaged East Africa, the cracks in the plains echo the fault lines splitting tribes.

Across the globe, the devastation of deadly brawls is being exacerbated by tensions over access to water. Water crises, often worsened by governance failures, can portend warning signs for instability and conflict. This year, the World Resources Institute cautioned that water stress is growing globally, "with 33 countries projected to face extremely high stress in 2040." The effects of such water stress span the gamut from civil unrest to open warfare.

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Elephants in Botswana, Chobe National Park. i_pinz / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Update, Sept. 13: The bottom of this article has been updated with a statement from the Botswana government.

At least 87 elephants were killed for their tusks near the Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary in Botswana—the largest scale of poaching deaths ever seen in Africa, according to conservation nonprofit Elephants Without Borders.

They "discovered the alarming rate while flying the Botswana government aerial [elephant] census," the organization said in a Facebook post.

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