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James Suter / Black Bean Productions / WWF-US

Only a little more than one-third of the world's 246 longest rivers remain free-flowing, drastically reducing the diverse benefits that healthy rivers provide to people and nature everywhere, according to a new study by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and partners.

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A monarch butterfly before migration to Mexico on Oct. 21, 2018 at the Mobile Botanical Gardens in Alabama. patricia pierce / CC BY 2.0

The yearly count of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico, released Wednesday, shows an increase of 144 percent from last year's count and is the highest count since 2006. That's good news for a species whose numbers had fallen in recent years, but conservationists say the monarch continues to need Endangered Species Act protection.

The count of 6.05 hectares of occupied forest is up from 2.48 hectares last winter. The increase is attributable to favorable weather during the spring and summer breeding seasons and during the fall migration. Monarchs have lost an estimated 165 million acres of breeding habitat in the U.S. to herbicide spraying and development.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A young female Sumatran Tiger. Steve Wilson / CC BY 2.0

China alarmed animal rights activists around the world Monday when it weakened a 25-year-old ban on the trading of tiger bone and rhinoceros horn, the Huffington Post reported.

China said the controversial parts would now be allowed to be used for medicine and research at certified hospitals. The government further said the parts would only be sourced from farmed animals, but conservationists say that it is hard to tell whether parts come from legal farming or illegal poaching.

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A hippo in Okavango Delta National Park, Botswana. Buena Vista Images / Stone / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Scientists from around the world issued a stark warning to humanity Tuesday in a semi-annual report on the Earth's declining biodiversity, which shows that about 60 percent of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have been wiped out by human activity since 1970.

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Terry Whittaker / WWF

This year's Living Planet Report shows that populations of animals—including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians—plummeted by 60 percent between 1970 and 2014. But those living in freshwater are experiencing a far more drastic decline: 83% since 1970. It's a sobering statistic and one tied directly to the ever-increasing pressures that people are putting on natural habitats.

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Greenpeace activists at the Suwung landfill in Bali, Indonesia. Jurnasyanto Sukarno / Greenpeace

The biggest food, drink and consumer brands—including Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Unilever and H&M—joined a global campaign on Monday to tackle plastic waste.

The "New Plastics Economy Global Commitment," spearheaded by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was "cautiously welcomed" by some environmental groups, who say the initiative does not go far enough to halt the planet's mounting plastic crisis.

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This gibbon is named after a certain Star Wars hero. Lei Dong

October 24 marks International Gibbon Day, a global celebration of these adorable, singing and acrobatic primates. This day is also important because they are the most endangered of group of apes, according the World Wildlife Fund.

There are 20 different species of gibbons and they are endemic to the tropical and subtropical rainforests of south Asia. This includes the Hainan gibbon—the rarest primate in the world and found only on Hainan Island in China. Their numbers dipped as low as 8 in the 1980s. But through conservation efforts, there are now 27 individuals in the wild, said Wenbo Zhang, who works with Cloud Mountain Conservation, an NGO that focuses on gibbon conservation in China.

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Russian and U.S. students carry bug spray for the mosquitoes, bear spray for the grizzlies and notebooks for the salmon science, while studying in Alaska's backcountry. John Simeone on behalf of WWF

By Amy McDermott

At the height of the Alaskan summer, a troupe of students hiked up the middle of a shallow creek. Undergraduates and grads from the University of Washington, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Kamchatka State Technical University in eastern Russia carried handheld clickers to count the multitudes of salmon thrashing upstream to spawn. Some of the students spoke English, others Russian, but they all came to see salmon: fish that their two countries share.

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A tiger in Dhikala, Nepal. Ranjith Kumar 2016 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, Nepal now has an estimated 235 wild tigers in the country, a nearly twofold increase from its baseline of 121 individuals in 2009, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) announced Sunday on the occasion of Nepal's National Conservation Day.

The South Asian nation is now on track to become the first country to double its tiger population as part of WWF's "TX2" goal to double the world's wild tiger population by 2022—the next year of the tiger on the Chinese zodiac.

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Ola Jennersten / WWF-Sweden

Yahoo Japan is the single biggest online platform for elephant ivory sales in Japan, according to a new TRAFFIC investigation, which recorded a staggering 4,414 ivory items plus 35 whole tusks for sale over a four-week period in June and July 2018.

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Some of the world's most prominent climate leaders will descend this week in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) hosted by California Gov. Jerry Brown.

The Sept. 12 to 14 gathering will feature numerous seminars, notable speakers such as former vice president Al Gore and former secretary of state John Kerry, and will culminate Friday with a call urging international governments to commit greater efforts in averting dangerous global warming under the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

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