First, the good news. Collaborative conservation efforts have brought "renewed hope" for mountain gorillas and two large whale species, according to today's update from the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
The mountain gorilla subspecies moved from "critically endangered" to "endangered" due to anti-poaching patrols and veterinary interventions. In 2008, their population dropped to as low as 680 individuals––but the new estimates reveal that the number of mountain gorillas has increased to more than 1,000 individuals—the highest figure ever recorded for the eastern gorilla subspecies, the IUCN said.
- World's Largest Gorilla Declared Critically Endangered - EcoWatch ›
- Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Back in July, the government-supported Marine Institute's SeaRover survey found a large school of blackmouth catsharks and what appears to be thousands of their egg cases, also known a "mermaids purses," at depths up to 750 meters (2,500 feet).
- Gillnet Fishing Blamed for Killing Up to 100 Baby Hammerhead ... ›
- 9 Facts That Will Change How You Think About Sharks ›
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.
By Morgan Lynch
The news came as lawmakers in the United Kingdom were considering a similar move, The Guardian reported earlier this month.
By Niki Rust
The smallest wild cat species in the Americas faces big problems as its habitat dwindles and it's targeted as a farm pest. But a new study shows it may be able to persist in a human-dominated world—if farmers and policymakers give it a hand.
The güiña (Leopardus guigna), also known as kodkod, weighs 2 to 2.5 kilograms (4.4 to 5.5 pounds), eats birds and rodents, and is only found in the temperate rainforests of Chile and western Argentina. It's listed as "vulnerable" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with habitat loss and illegal killing considered the major causes of its decline.
By Jason Bittel
The striped hyena gets a bad rap. Not only does much of the world mistake it for its cousin, the spotted hyena—which The Lion King taught us to despise—but its shaggy coat, skittish nature and nocturnal lifestyle have all contributed to the idea that this creature is spooky at best. And at worst?
It's been a big year for conservation.
Together we assured the world that the U.S. is still an ally in the fight against climate change through the We Are Still In movement, a coalition of more than 2,500 American leaders outside of the federal government who are still committed to meeting climate goals. WWF's activists met with legislators to voice their support for international conservation funding. And we ensured that Bhutan's vast and wildlife-rich areas remain protected forever through long-term funding.
By Jason Bittel
Scientists have discovered a new orangutan species in the mountainous forests of northern Sumatra. Of course, the Tapanuli orangutan has been here for quite a while—but it's new to us!
"Discovering a new species of great ape in this day and age just shows how little we know about the world around us and how much there still is to learn," said Erik Meijaard, a conservation scientist at the Australian National University and one of the authors of the new paper about the discovery, published online today in the journal Current Biology.
By William H. Funk
Proposed funding cuts to environmental programs in President Trump's proposed 2018 budget have drawn anxious attention from around the world. But while the biggest numbers deal with rolling back the Obama administration's climate change initiatives, more subtle withdrawals of federal support from lesser known international programs threaten the continued existence of some of the planet's most iconic animals.
President Trump's 2018 budget proposes a 32 percent across-the-board shrinkage of U.S. foreign assistance, affecting hundreds of sustainability, health and environmental programs.
By Rina Herzl
Picture an animal enrobed in a fiery, jigsaw-patterned coat. A creature of such majestic height that it towers amongst the trees. As your eyes make their way up its long neck that appears to defy gravity, you find crowned atop its head two Seussian, horn-like protrusions framing dark, curious eyes fanned by lashes. In its truest sense, the giraffe fits the description of a creature plucked from the pages of a fantastical story. Even its species name, Giraffa camelopardalis, comes from the ancient Greek belief that the giraffe is a peculiar camel wearing the coat of a leopard. Meanwhile, the Japanese word for giraffe and unicorn are one and the same.
Today, we continue to walk the Earth with these awe-inspiring creatures, which range across much of Africa. But giraffes are facing what many are calling a "silent extinction." Public awareness and global action is critically due. "These gentle giants have been overlooked," appeals Sir David Attenborough in BBC's Story of Life documentary series aired in late 2016, urging that "time is running out."
An 18-foot long whale shark washed up dead on Pamban South Beach in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday.
"The cause of death is found to be heavy internal injuries it has suffered when it either hit a rock or a big vessel," local wildlife ranger S Sathish told the Times of India.
By Jonathan Hahn
On President Trump's first Earth Day in the White House, he declared on Twitter that "we celebrate our beautiful forests, lakes and lands"—an amiable if blasé arm-punch to the planet from the leader of the free world.
By Clara Chaisson
What on Earth have you photographed?
This open-ended question, asked annually by the BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition, invites predictably diverse submissions: A leopard prowling around Mumbai's Aarey Milk Colony, a Chilean volcano's violent eruption, and the surprisingly peaceful relationship between a blackfish and a venomous Portuguese man o' war, just to name a few.
But out of some 5,000 images, it was White Rhino, by Maroesjka Lavigne of Ghent, Belgium, that snagged the grand prize.
"White Rhino," photographed by Maroesjka Lavigne in Etosha National Park, Namibia.Maroesjka Lavigne
"I love the camouflage and the texture—you can almost feel the cracked mud," wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas, who chaired the panel of expert judges, said in a press release. "This photograph also has a poignant, ghostly quality that reflects how rhinos are slipping away before our eye."
For the last six years, the number of rhinos poached for their horns has been climbing and the International Union for Conservation of Nature said poachers killed 1,338 of the endangered animals in 2015. The photo competition hopes that capturing the natural world's incredible variety on film will inspire us to save it in real life.
The "BigPicture" exhibit, on display at the California Academy of Sciences through Oct. 30, features 48 photographs from 27 countries. The judges this year awarded prizes in seven categories: Human/Nature; Terrestrial Wildlife; Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora; Aquatic Life; Winged Life; Art of Nature; and Photo Essay: Coral Reef.
Explore the prize-winning images below:
"Big Cat in My Backyard!" photographed by Nayan Khanolkar in Mumbai, India.Nayan Khanolkar
"The Courageous Crossing," photographed by Manoj Shah in Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve.Manoj Shah
"The Awakening: Landscape of Fear," photographed by Francisco Negroni in Comuna de Fresia, Region de los Lagos, Chile.Francisco Negroni
"Deep Sky," photographed by Eduardo Acevedo in Los Gigantes, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.Eduardo Acevedo
"Pelicans Composition," photographed by Marco Urso in Lake Kerkini, Greece.Marco Urso
"Microscopic View of Sulfar Crystals in Polarized Light," photographed by Peter Juzak in Wennigsen, Germany.Peter Juzak
"The Coral Triangle," photographed by Eric Madeja in Coral Triangle.Eric Madeja
Reposted with permission from our media associate onEarth.