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Animals
Benjamin Tupper

10 Facts About Pangolins on World Pangolin Day

By Elly Pepper

Do you know what a pangolin is? Where it lives? Why it's so endangered?

Most people don't. But World Pangolin Day, which falls on Feb. 17, is a great place to start. So here are 10 facts—some fun, some not so fun—about one of the world's most vulnerable but least-known species.

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Female Bornean orangutan with offspring. Photo courtesy of Dr. Marc Ancrenaz

Ravaged by Deforestation, Borneo Loses Nearly 150,000 Orangutans in 16 Years

By Basten Gokkon

The world lost nearly 150,000 orangutans from the island of Borneo in the past 16 years due to habitat loss and killing, and is on track to lose another 45,000 by 2050, according to a new paper in the journal Current Biology.

The study, published Feb. 15, observed 36,555 orangutan nests across Borneo, an island that is shared between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, between 1999 and 2015. During that period, the researchers reported a steep decline in the number of nests they encountered over a given distance: the encounter rate more than halved from 22.5 nests per kilometer (about 36 per mile) to 10.1 nests per kilometer. That decline, they calculate, represents an estimated loss of 148,500 individual Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus).

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Toque macaques in Sri Lanka. Milos Kravcik / Flickr

It’s Time for a More Realistic Approach to Conservation

By Rajesh Rajaselvam

The tropics are home to the greatest diversity of plants and animals on Earth. Yet many of these hotspots are in war zones that disregard the rules of democracy and nurture an indefinite influence of corruption.

During the 10 years I've worked in tropical countries, I have seen the human toll on biodiversity both exaggerated and underplayed by scientists and media. Rare road kills of leopards in Sri Lanka have been mistakenly exaggerated as "organized poaching," and the systematic smuggling of reptiles in South America and Africa has been distorted as "random attempts."

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Animals

Suspected Poacher Eaten by Lions in South Africa

A suspected poacher was mauled to death and eaten by a pride of lions outside of South Africa's famed Kruger National Park, according to media reports.

The victim's remains were found over the weekend at a private game park near Hoedspruit in the province of Limpopo. The lions ate most of the body but left the head behind. A loaded hunting rifle was also found nearby.

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World-Renowned Ivory and Rhino Horn Investigator Killed in Kenya

The conservation world is mourning the loss of renowned rhino horn and elephant ivory trade investigator Esmond Bradley Martin, who was found dead Sunday at his home in Nairobi‚ Kenya.

The 75-year-old U.S. citizen had a stab wound in the neck. His wife, Chryssee Martin, reported the death.

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An anti-poaching unit patrols in Kenya's Chyulu Hills. Charlie Shoemaker

The Most Valued Anti-Poaching Equipment May Surprise You

By Heartie Look

In recent years, the battle against wildlife poaching in Africa has taken a high-tech turn. Night-vision goggles, body armor and unmanned aerial vehicles have all become part of the modern ranger armament. But for rangers on the ground, their actual requests are often more everyday—starting with a good pair of socks.

"It is not always the fancy kit that rangers need," said Keith Roberts, executive director for wildlife trafficking at Conservation International (CI). "It is rather the basics that can make all the difference."

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A Kenyan ranger guards poached elephant tusks in preparation for the destruction of 105 tons of ivory and a ton of rhino horn in April. Mwangi Kirubi / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Ivory Trade in China Is Now Banned

China's ivory trade ban is now in effect, making it illegal to sell and buy ivory in the country.

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Elephant at Réserve Africaine de Sigean. Pauline Guilmot / Flickr

Japan's Lax Regulations Threaten Chinese Ivory Ban

Japan's failure to prevent illegal ivory exports could weaken China's coming ban on domestic ivory trade, conservationists said Wednesday.

The warning—made by Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring group—comes just more than a week before the Chinese government will ban ivory retail sales and follows the closure of ivory factories in the country last March.

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A new mole species named Euroscaptor orlovi discovered in northern Vietnam. WWF

115 New Species Discovered in Greater Mekong

Not every newly-discovered species becomes a cartoon character. But the Vietnamese crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus vietnamensis) has achieved such fame as "Shini," a lizard who teaches the importance of protecting his species to local schoolchildren.

The lizard is just one of 115 species—including a snail-eating turtle and a horseshoe bat—discovered in the Greater Mekong region in 2016. That's an average of more than two new species found each week. A new WWF Report, Stranger Species, documents the work of hundreds of scientists around the world who have discovered previously unknown amphibians, fish, reptiles, plants and mammals in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

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