Soy King Blairo Maggi wields power over Amazon’s fate, say critics

first_imgBrazil’s Blairo Maggi made a fortune with vast Mato Grosso soy plantations in Legal Amazonia. Today, Amaggi Group, the family company, dominates the nation’s agribusiness sector — profiting from farm commodities, and the roads, railways, and industrial waterways that transport them.Maggi rose through Brazilian politics, becoming Mato Grosso’s governor, a senator, and today, the Temer administration’s agriculture minister. He is also a leader of the bancada ruralista, the agribusiness lobby, that dominates Brazilian government.Once known as the Soy King, Maggi has often pushed anti-environmental agribusiness policies, including those resulting in major Amazon deforestation, ending indigenous land demarcation, and harmful infrastructure projects putting biodiversity at risk. He has also, paradoxically, worked to end illegal logging and to reduce deforestation.On Monday, 17 July, Maggi will meet with the Trump administration to urge the U.S. to lift its ban on Brazilian beef, a ban prompted by scandal involving a corrupt federal meat inspection service overseen by his ministry. Maggi was recently accused of corruption by federal Lava Jato investigators. He continues to shape Amazon policies. President Michel Temer (left) with his Minister of Agriculture, Blairo Maggi. The cabinet minister strongly backs the agenda of Brazil’s ruralists, and is an influential leader of the bancada ruralista, agribusiness lobby. Photo by Antônio Araújo/MAPAThe life’s journey of controversial businessman and politician Blairo Borges Maggi has led him from a small family farm, to ruling over a vast international agribusiness empire. It saw Maggi rise from Mato Grosso state governor, to senator, to his current job — head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA), a position assumed under Brazil’s President Temer in 2016, upon the downfall of Dilma Rousseff.Maggi is a complex figure, not easily pigeonholed. The media once dubbed him the “Soy King” while environmentalists demonized him by awarding Maggi a Golden Chainsaw award for presiding over record Amazon deforestation in the early 2000s. More recently, he won praise from some conservationists for helping curb illegal forest clearing.Today, the minister sees himself as a champion of Brazilian agribusiness — a fantastically profitable commodities industry that continues to expand even as the nation’s economy falters. Maggi trumpets his and Brazil’s role in reducing world hunger, calling the nation’s soy producers “a vital part of the food chain.” But Maggi’s story is also dogged by charges of corruption, and by association with the bancada ruralista, Brazil’s agribusiness lobby — linked to land theft and Amazon deforestation.His current high position in the Temer government — administering Brazil’s agribusiness powerhouse, which has long coveted the Amazon — provides Maggi with extraordinary influence over the future of the rainforest. As such, he is a man environmentalists need to know and understand better.Even as President Temer faces a likely vote in the House of Representatives next week regarding serious corruption charges against him, Maggi plans to travel to the United States to plead with Trump administration Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to end a U.S. ban on Brazilian beef exports. The ban was prompted by a tainted meat scandal involving a corrupt federal inspection service overseen by Maggi’s ministry.A soy plantation stretches to the horizon near the municipality of Brasnorte, northwest of Mato Grosso. Photo by Marcelo Camargo / Agência BrasilAgribusiness beginningsBorn in 1956, Maggi was still a child when his father, André, first grew soybeans on a small property in São Miguel do Iguaçu, in Paraná state in the country’s south. The farm thrived, and in 1977 the family — which included Andre’s wife Lúcia; son, Blairo; plus four daughters — opened the Sementes Maggi company.International grain prices kept rising and so did Maggi family prospects, which then looked to the vast plains of the Brazilian Midwest. In 1979, André Maggi bought 2,400 hectares (5,930 acres) in Mato Grosso state.Today, the Amaggi Group (“A” as in André) is one of the world’s largest soy exporters and one of Brazil’s largest national grain producers. The diversified Amaggi Group is also heavily invested in the large scale government subsidized infrastructure projects needed to sustain the soy industry, including soy terminals, highways, railways and industrial waterways — projects over which Blairo Maggi wields significant influence as agriculture minister.Still, he remains a farmer at heart: “What really makes me feel happy is seeing the beans in the fields,” Maggi told The Guardian newspaper in 2008.In 2016, Amaggi Commodities’ net revenue from sales totaled US $3 billion, a 27.6 percent increase compared to 2015, according to business magazine Exame. Adjusted net income was US $126.8 million last year, against US $29.8 million in 2015.The group’s economic success is certainly due, in large part, to the founder’s entrepreneurial zeal (he died in 2001) and to his hardworking son, who helped build the company. But Amaggi’s fortunes also benefited significantly from Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1985), whose programs heavily favored the then emerging agribusiness class — the ruralistas — who continued receiving benefits under democracy. The bancada ruralista, agribusiness lobby, is, according to many experts, the most powerful single political force in the Congress and the Temer administration today.Mato Grosso soy silos and agribusiness facility owned by the Amaggi Group, a gigantic international commodities company run by Blairo Maggi’s family. Much of the region’s soy crop is marketed to Europe and Asia, including China. Photo by Thaís BorgesWinning big on an unlevel playing field“The Maggi business story has its origins in the agro expansion plans of the military dictatorship in the Cerrado and the Amazon,” explained geographer Sandra Costa, a University of São Paulo doctoral student whose 2012 master’s thesis is entitled The agrarian issue in Brazil and the rural caucus in the National Congress.A flood of federal money via military dictatorship initiatives such as POLOCENTRO — the Cerrado Development Program — funded agribusiness infrastructure (roads, grain storage and electrification), and subsidized rural credit, large-scale planting research, and technical support for new producers breaking into agribusiness.But there was much more: “The government handed out lands — then inhabited by peasants and indigenous people — to companies interested in producing commodities that would be traded on stock exchange markets,” Costa told Mongabay. “The areas were leased to large and medium-sized producers or sold at very low prices.”After the expiration of the original lease contracts, many producers, especially in the Amazon and Cerrado, manufactured fraudulent real estate deeds, often increasing the size of their holdings, said the geographer.“At this stage of agricultural colonization (1975-1984), small farmers,… [traditional] and indigenous people were ignored by [business-friendly] government policies.” Seen as obstacles to progress, poor rural people were dispossessed of their lands, forced to move to cities or take hazardous jobs in the countryside — often in slave-like conditions. This harsh reality contrasts sharply with the image projected by “so-called modern Brazilian agriculture,” said Costa.“Our agrarian reality is the result of a historical process from a patrimonial state, which does not distinguish boundaries between the public and the private, and in which big landowners have always been part of, and controlled the Executive, the Legislative, and even the Judiciary,” Costa asserted.Raised on a soy farm, Blairo Maggi has been a devoted champion of Brazilian agribusiness for his entire adult life and can be credited with major advances for the industry, often made at the expense of the environment. Photo credit: Senado Federal via Visualhunt / CC BYSoy King and governorIn the early 1990s, the Maggis entered politics. André, the family patriarch, founded Sapezal, a municipality in Mato Grosso, and became its first mayor. Blairo began as a substitute senator.“The creation of… Sapezal is anchored in a colonization proposal of the Maggi Group,” notes the municipality website, a statement that demonstrates the close ties between agribusiness and the communities they helped create in the Cerrado and Amazon. After a few years, André Maggi left his post; though not before initiating a commodities export corridor on the Madeira River.In 2002, Blairo Maggi was elected governor of Mato Grosso, with 50.6 percent of the vote. Brazil’s soy exports were experiencing an unprecedented boom then, and Maggi prioritized infrastructure investments during his tenure, paving 600+ miles of road and helping link Brazil’s soy-growing interior with the Atlantic coast and global markets.Maggi, for instance, got the controversial MT-235 road built through the Utiariti indigenous reserve, which enabled soy to be carried by truck to the Madeira River. This was very useful to Maggi — owner of 200,000+ hectares (494,000 acres) of soy by 2008 — and to other farmers too.Road building gained the governor great local praise: Maggi “always helped the region.… He opened roads for his own products, but then he let everyone use them. So why would anyone complain?” said Dal’Mazo, Sinop’s former mayor.New Amazon transportation routes and their agribusiness capacities. The numbers in black are each river port’s existing annual grain handling capacity in tons. Numbers in red are the port’s predicted annual handling capacity in 2026 after planned infrastructure investments and expansions. Blairo Maggi has long used his political clout to expand and improve grain transport from Brazil’s interior to the coast and foreign markets, helping turn the nation’s agribusiness industry into an economic powerhouse. Two Maggi promoted projects are the MT-235 and BR-163 shown on this map, both environmentally controversial. Source: Presentation by Cargill and SETRAN-PA 26 February 2016But Governor Maggi wasn’t praised by environmentalists. In 2003, his first year in office, the deforestation rate in Mato Grosso more than doubled. INPE, the agency that tracks Amazon deforestation, reported 10,088 square miles of forest loss in the region between August 2003 and 2004, of which 48 percent occurred in Mato Grosso.One of the strongest criticisms of Maggi at the time is found in The Independent newspaper, in an article entitled The rape of the rainforest… and the man behind it: “He is Blairo Maggi, the millionaire farmer and uncompromising politician presiding over the Brazilian boom in soya bean production,” reported the paper. “He is known in Brazil as O Rei da Soja — the King of Soy. Brazilian environmentalists are calling him something else — the King of Deforestation.”Maggi’s indifferent statements about the environment didn’t help his image: “To me, a 40 percent increase in deforestation doesn’t mean anything at all, and I don’t feel the slightest guilt over what we are doing here,” he told The New York Times, “We are talking about an area larger than Europe that has barely been touched, so there is nothing at all to get worried about.”Maggi received the Golden Chainsaw Award in 2005 from Greenpeace, the environmental NGO, for his contribution to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.Archer Daniels Midland soy silos in Mato Grosso along the BR-163 highway, where Amazon rainforest has largely been replaced by soybeans. Much of Mato Grosso’s agribusiness development arose out of Blairo Maggi’s focused political efforts as governor, senator, and now agriculture minister. Photo by Thaís BorgesReelectionThe governor’s negative image didn’t prevent him from winning re-election in 2006, this time with 65.3 percent of the vote, showing that his unpopularity with conservationists didn’t extend to Mato Grosso voters who saw him as bringing prosperity to their once remote state.Gradually, however, Maggi began to dialogue with his critics. He participated in climate conferences and hosted the XIV Katoomba Meeting, a Cuiabá event attended by scientists and environmentalists concerned with forest preservation.He courted environmentalists, working to curb illegal logging and deforestation by the farm sector. He lobbied to implement the carbon compensation mechanism, keeping farmers from cutting down forests while reaping tax revenue for Mato Grosso. Though the state’s deforestation rates remained high.Maggi’s second term (2007-2010) also saw him support the construction of hydroelectric dams in the Amazon basin, including the 256 megawatt (MW) Dardanelos dam on the Aripuanã river, and other small hydro projects (SHPs in English, or PCHs in Portuguese).The controversial Dardanelos dam cost roughly US $229 million, and was 65 percent financed by BNDES, Brazil’s gigantic national development bank. The project faced numerous legal challenges from environmentalists. The State Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPE) filed a civil lawsuit against the State Environmental Department (Sema) — created by governor Maggi in 2005 — stating that the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) presented “very serious legal problems.” According to the lawsuit, the EIA failed to include harm that would be done by the construction of transmission lines required for energy distribution. In 2010, the dam was occupied by indigenous protestors demanding compensation for destruction of burial sites.Two small hydroelectric plants in Mato Grosso, owned by Amaggi Energia, were completed in 2007. That same year, Sema authorized a route change to the Dardanelos transmission line, at an added government cost of US $153 million, saving Amaggi the expense of connecting the PCHs to the electric transmission system. Currently, Amaggi Group has five PCHs with a total output of 70 megawatts, used to support soy production. One of these projects threatened the livelihood of the Enawené-Nawé indigenous group, which is struggling hard to maintain its traditional way of life, and it was blocked by a federal prosecutor in 2008. However, governor Maggi took the case to the Supreme Court, which overturned the suspension order.An Amazon grain terminal at night. International and Brazilian agribusiness interests are pushing hard to turn the Tapajós basin at the heart of the Amazon into an industrialized commodities corridor so it can handle future soy production coming out of Brazil’s interior. The mega-project would require the building of dams and locks on rivers throughout the watershed — one of the wildest and most biologically diverse regions in the Amazon. Photo courtesy of Mayangdi InzaulgaratGlobal soyAs Blairo Maggi’s fortunes rose, so too did those of the Amaggi Group, which has evolved into an international juggernaut. In 2008, the company inaugurated Amaggi Europe based in Rotterdam, Holland, followed by the acquisition of a soybean crushing company in Fredrikstad, Norway, and the lease of 5,000 hectares (12,355 acres) in Argentina — the world’s third largest soy producer. China, Amaggi’s biggest customer, doesn’t have a subsidiary yet, but the group has said it intends to “be in the U.S. and Asia by 2020.”The conglomerate’s fast growth was paralleled by an increase in Blairo Maggi’s personal net worth. Between 2006 and 2010 his fortune rose from about US $10 million to US $46 million, reported to the Electoral Court when he was a candidate for the Brazilian Senate.In an interview with Veja magazine last March, Maggi played down his wealth: “I can have the title of billionaire, but my earnings are limited. [In] my family’s business, I only receive dividends, I can’t buy a luxury yacht, [or] do anything I want.”According to Forbes Brazil magazine’s list of the 50 largest Brazilian billionaires, Maggi in 2015 had a net worth of US $1.22 billion, while other family members also appeared in the ranking: his mother, Lúcia, for example, held another US $1.22 billion.Maggi the billionaire continues to see himself as a guardian of agribusiness: “I want more railways [and] paved or [new] highways,” he said recently, referring to his goal to repair and expand Brazil’s vast transport network.Among his big dreams is an industrial waterway that could move Amaggi soy and grain, and the commodities of other companies, from Mato Grosso along the Juruna and Teles Pires rivers, then to the Tapajós River and down the Amazon, to the Atlantic and ports in Europe and Asia. Scientists have expressed alarm at the potential environmental harm of these projects, calling it “a crisis in the making.”Traffic on BR-163 clearly demonstrates the need for expanded infrastructure to transport commodities. Photo courtesy of Agência BrasilWork proceeds on the BR-163, a project championed by Blairo Maggi for the primary purpose of transporting the Mato Grosso soy harvest of Amaggi (the Maggi family’s company), Cargill, Bunge and other international commodity corporations. BR-163 improvements have opened a wide swath of federally protected Amazon lands to land thieves. Photo courtesy of DNITMaggi also remains a vociferous advocate of improvements in the BR-163 highway, which links Mato Grosso with the Tapajós River and is seen by growers as a vital outlet to foreign markets for soy, beef, corn and other commodities. However, “Over the past decade the number of land thieves grew around the BR-163,” Imazon researcher Paulo Barreto told Mongabay. And even the establishment of new federal conservation units along the road didn’t stop the crime. “Today, the installed grileiros [wealthy land grabbers] react against the protected areas, [seizing control of federal lands,] a true degrading of the instruments of public policies.”Two days after leaving President Lula’s Ministry of the Environment in May 2008, Marina Silva declared that Mato Grosso Governor Blairo Maggi and Rondônia Governor Ivo Cassol had both put pressure on her to ease some of the measures implemented by the government to reduce deforestation in the Amazon.Rising political starIn 2010, Maggi’s star rose higher, with his election as a Mato Grosso senator, and he quickly revealed himself to be a gifted parliamentarian.In 2013, though opposed by left-leaning congressmen who support the environment, Maggi was elected by his fellows as the president of the Committee on Environment, Consumer Protection and Supervision and Control (CMA).Maggi, along with 27 other senators, presented a constitutional amendment to suspend the demarcation of indigenous lands, a process initiated by Brazil’s 1988 Constitution. This came as a huge shock to Brazil’s indigenous groups who, in good faith, had been pursuing the slow legal process for decades, but the move was also seen as a huge gain for the ruralistas, many of whom hope to grab lands claimed by Indians. The measure has yet to pass, but is still being considered by Congress.Another of Maggi’s contributions to the Senate was his defense of PEC 65/2012, a constitutional amendment that would streamline (critics would say “gut”) the environmental licensing process for large infrastructure projects, such as dams and roads. PEC 65/2012 states that upon the presentation of an initial environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), no future work on a project can be suspended or canceled.As rapporteur of the Constitution and Justice committee, Maggi stated in April 2016: PEC 65 “aims to ensure legal certainty in the execution of public works. It does not affect the right to an ecologically balanced environment.” Environmentalists oppose the amendment, which still awaits a vote.Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi (left) in an official meeting with Minister of Environment José Sarney Filho. Photo Carlos Silva/MAPAMeanwhile, Amaggi continued expanding. The conglomerate opened a division in Switzerland in 2013 (it sells corn and bran to Italy, Algeria and Morocco), and another in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, in 2014, which supplies European and Asian markets.But not everything went Maggi’s way. At the end of 2013, he and other officials were named in connection with the Federal Police Ararath Operation, an inquiry into undue advantages received by politicians; Maggi himself was not called in person before the federal Supreme Court (STF). “As governor, Blairo Maggi took loans from the BicBanco [bank], concealing his borrower’s condition[s] and [acted] with spurious intentions in Mato Grosso politics,” reported STF minister Dias Toffoli, authorizing continued investigation.Documents seized at the residence of former aides to the Mato Grosso governor “revealed that… Maggi obtained US $1.2 million in monetary advantage.” The money went to pay Alencar Soares Filho, councilor of the State Court of Auditors (TCE-MT) so he would retire early, leaving the vacancy for Sérgio Ricardo de Almeida, also from TCE, and likely a Maggi ally.In May 2016, Attorney General Rodrigo Janot requested to STF minister Dias Toffoli that the Operation Ararath investigation of Maggi be closed. Toffoli concurred, stating that the investigation failed to “achieve effective and conclusive proof of Maggi’s direct execution of, or participation in” acts of corruption. Two days later, Maggi was chosen minister of Agriculture by newly appointed President Michel Temer.Minister Blairo Maggi speaks at an Agro + Plan launch event in Porto Velho, Rondônia. Photo by Carlos Silva/MAPAProblems with meatSince taking office more than a year ago, the new MAPA chief has made his federal deregulation agenda clear. In a February 2017 interview reported by Telesur, Maggi said that “One of the things that most affects the results of producers is bureaucracy, rules passed years ago that make very little sense today and cost money to adhere to.… Leave the market freer so that it can run faster!”Early on, he announced his Agro + Plan, which includes 69 measures “for increased efficiency and reduction of bureaucracy in Brazilian agribusiness.” Maggi’s ministry reduced the stringency of commodities sanitary certification rules and ended re-inspections of shipments and ports by the Federal Inspection Service (SIF), and eliminated the requirement for the agency’s seal guaranteeing animal product quality.At the Agro + Plan launch, Maggi declared: “The state can no longer afford to hire hundreds of technicians for bureaucratic positions. We need to trust more the [agribusiness] companies… who invest millions of dollars in their productive chains. The state will only carry out occasional inspections. Who will penalize companies once caught in an infraction is… mainly the market.”The judgment of the market struck swiftly. In March 2017, the Federal Police revealed rampant corruption in the Brazilian meat industry and federal inspection service aimed at facilitating “the production of adulterated food by issuing sanitary certificates without any effective inspection.”Employees at Maggi’s Ministry committed crimes in Paraná, Goiás and Minas Gerais states in order “to protect business groups, to the detriment of public interest,” according to law enforcement investigators of the Weak Flesh Operation (a code name alluding to the phrase “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak“).Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi during a visit to a BRF meat processing plant after Federal Police in the Weak Flesh Operation found major inspection violations. Photo by Carlos Silva/MAPAFor at least the last three years, and well before Maggi arrived, Brazilian agricultural inspectors allowed expired and adulterated products from 21 meat processing plants to be sold and exported. In exchange, MAPA agents received bribes or even had their salaries paid directly by the meat processing companies, as was done by Seara, owned by JBS, Brazil’s largest meat packer — whose company co-owner recently implicated President Temer himself in corruption.The meat inspection scheme became so extreme that some MAPA inspector positions were allegedly filled by representatives of the meat processing companies. The personnel of one meat processing giant, BRF, even occupied inspectors’ tables inside the Ministry of Agriculture and issued sanitary certificates using MAPA agents’ passwords, according to police. In return, the meat companies heavily financed the election campaigns of ruling political parties.Over the last year, Maggi’s ministry has identified about 200 rules and regulations judged to be antiquated or inefficient. These are to be streamlined or eliminated to reduce costs to agribusiness producers.Minister Maggi visits an Aurora meat processing plant in Chapecó, Santa Catarina.Photo by Carlos Silva/MAPAMaggi’s defenseWith the meat scandal exploding at the heart of the ministry, Maggi took action. He accused the Federal Police of “technical errors,” suspended exports from units under investigation, fired inspectors and superintendents. He avoided mention of his own relaxation of inspection standards, saying instead that problems stemmed from a lack of agents supervising the processing plants, then added that MAPA didn’t have adequate funds to hire new agents.China, one of the largest importers of Brazilian meat (US $ 1.75 billion in 2016 according to the Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services), banned all meat products and demanded a government response, promptly provided by minister Maggi who took a Chinese delegation to visit a BRF plant in Rio Verde, Goiás. Brazilians, who consume 80 percent of the nation’s meat production, did not receive the same level of clarification.“The lack of answers from the government shows that the exporting agenda is more important than health and food security. Maggi shows all the time — including in his daily posts on Facebook — to be concerned only with the economic agenda. What matters is the external perception of the [meat] problem. He did not create this logic, but it has gained a radicalized version [under his leadership]. Maggi is the catalyst of forces that promote agribusiness at any cost,” said Alceu Castilho, editor of the De Olho nos Ruralistas, a website that serves as a watchdog of Brazilian agribusiness.President Temer (left) and Blairo Maggi share a confidential moment. Maggi is one of the president’s key advisors. Temer has been charged with corruption. In April, it was announced that Maggi and eight other ministers would be investigated for corruption by the federal Supreme Court (STF) as part of the Lava Jato, Car Wash Operation corruption investigation. Photo credit: Palácio do Planalto via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SAAgribusiness’ fiscal advantageThe exemption of agribusiness exports from federal social security contributions is another byproduct of Brazil’s “agribusiness at any cost” mentality.By law, agribusiness exporting companies are the only Brazilian businesses given such an advantage, which continues despite a crisis that threatens the collapse of the nation’s social security system, which had a US $70 billion deficit in 2016.The ruralistas and Maggi stand firmly against the taxation: “[A]gribusiness has contributed the most to the Brazilian economy and to the balancing of public accounts, so to penalize the ones who are efficient is crazy,” said the minister in defense of his industry.The ending of this special export exemption is one of the goals of the social security reform plan currently under discussion in Congress. According to estimates from the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA), if approved, the measure would generate an extra revenue of US $2 billion per year.Intense development pressures by agribusiness often result in wealthy land thieves stealing public lands, falsifying deeds, doing illegal cutting to clear the rainforest, then selling the now “improved” lands at high prices to ranchers, who may eventually sell the land to farmers. In the end, thriving ecosystems can be displaced over time by cattle, soy, corn and other crops. Photo by Sue Branford for MongabayAnd the deforestation…The ruralists cry of “agribusiness at any cost” extends to the environment too, say critics. Last March, Maggi stated that, “Brazil needs to be recognized as a country that promotes sustainable agriculture and preserves the environment. [But] no one in the world has laws protecting river banks and legal reserves ownership as it happens here,” a statement indicating the minister’s continued commitment to deregulation and the weakening of land protections.When questioned about the 3,088 square miles of Amazon deforestation occurring between August 2015 and July 2016, a 29 percent increase over the previous year, the minister replied: “These data do not have anything to do with soy or agriculture. Most likely, deforested areas have been transformed into fields of livestock farming. Meat processing companies are no longer buying meat from those who do illegal deforestation. I do not rule out the possibility that this has to do with [rural] settlements as well.”There is evidence against what Maggi claims, with much deforestation likely attributable to agribusiness, especially the cattle industry which often “launders” beef herds by raising them on illegally deforested lands, then by moving the herds to legal pastures just before slaughter.Márcio Santilli, one of the founders of the Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA), discounts the untarnished agribusiness image that ruralist politicians like Maggi present to the Brazilian and global community: “It’s a deceitful discourse and a strong shield. Maggi, like the ruralist sector, does not recognize that there is an organic relationship between agricultural production and deforestation.”Federal police officers leave the Ministry of Agriculture building in Brasília. Photo by Fabio Rodrigues-Pozzebom / Agência BrasilSince last year, the independent litigators of the Federal Public Ministry of Pará has been investigating the participation of Amaggi Exportação e Importação in a business endeavor that destroyed 115 square miles of Amazon forest, and allegedly involved illegal land appropriation and use of slave labor.Between 2012 and 2015, Amaggi, meat processor JBS and the Bom Futuro Group (whose partners are Maggi’s cousins) allegedly transferred US $5.3 million to cattle rancher AJ Vilela, the leader of a violent gang of illegal Amazon deforesters. The money was supposedly used to purchase grain and animals coming from illegally deforested areas. AJ Vilela was charged as part of The Flying Rivers Operation federal investigation.This is just one of the legal problems and corruption charges Minister Maggi faces today. This January judge Luis Aparecido Bertolucci of the Public Record Civil Action Court in Cuiabá, ordered the freezing of US $1.2 million of Maggi’s assets and the removal of councilor Sérgio Ricardo de Almeida from the State Court of Accounts (TCE-MT) for alleged purchase of a vacancy in the TCE. The judge ruled that the closing of the criminal investigation against Maggi in the Ararath Operation does not prohibit a civil action for administrative improbity. In March, the MAPA minister filed a petition alleging bias against judge Bertolucci.In April, it was announced that Maggi and eight other ministers of president Temer’s government would be investigated for corruption by the federal Supreme Court (STF) as part of the Lava Jato, Car Wash Operation investigation. According to the testimony of Odebrecht construction company executives, Maggi allegedly received US $3.6 million in illegal campaign contributions during his 2006 run for governor.Revelations regarding Maggi will likely continue to arise as various investigations progress, even as the Temer government totters on the brink (with new charges of corruption against the President reportedly forthcoming). In the meantime, the administration’s agriculture ministry, guided by Maggi, continues churning out new measures, often providing the ruralists with victories while putting Brazil’s environment and biodiversity at risk.Mongabay requested an interview with minister Maggi several times in April and May of 2017, but MAPA’s communications office did not respond to the requests.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.Commodities on the move on the much-improved BR-163 highway in the Brazilian Amazon. Photo by Roosevelt Pinheiro, courtesy of Agência Brasil Agriculture, Amazon Agriculture, Amazon Conservation, Amazon Dams, Amazon Destruction, Amazon Logging, Amazon People, Amazon Soy, Biodiversity Crisis, Cattle, Cattle Pasture, Cattle Ranching, Controversial, Corruption, Dams, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, Energy, Energy Politics, Environment, Environmental Crime, Environmental Politics, Featured, Forests, Green, Illegal Logging, Indigenous Cultures, Indigenous Groups, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Rights, Industrial Agriculture, Infrastructure, Land Grabbing, Land Rights, Land Use Change, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforest Logging, Rainforests, Rivers, Roads, Saving The Amazon, Social Justice, Soy, Threats To The Amazon, Traditional People, Tropical Deforestation Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Article published by Glenn Schererlast_img read more

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Some turtle embryos can influence their own sex, study finds

first_imgThe sex of some turtle species is influenced not by genes but by the temperatures they experience in the nests. Embryos of the Chinese pond turtle, however, can move inside the eggs toward cooler or hotter spots and influence their own sex, at least to some extent, a new study has found.This is good news because it means that, at least in theory, the turtles might be able to buffer some of the predicted shifts in the sex ratio because of climate change.But while the embryos seem to be influencing their sex under ideal conditions, researchers say that it may not be enough to counter the rapidly changing climate brought about by human activities. The sex of some turtle species is influenced not by genes but by the temperatures they experience in the nest. Eggs incubated at cooler temperatures develop into males, while those that face warmer temperatures turn out to be females. When temperatures fluctuate between cool and warm, the eggs produce a mix of male and female babies.The Chinese three-keeled pond turtle (also called the Chinese pond turtle) is one such species. But its embryos seem to have some control over their own sexual fate, according to a new study.The embryos can move inside the eggs toward cooler or hotter spots, researchers have found, influencing their own sex to some extent. This is good news because it means that, at least in theory, the turtles might be able to buffer some of the predicted shifts in sex ratio because of climate change. Since hotter temperatures produce only female babies, rising temperatures due to climate change could end up creating populations of mostly female turtles, scientists say, leading to population declines.“Our research shows that a reptile embryo is not just a passive victim of global warming, but may control their own sex fate to some degree,” Du Wei-Guo, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and corresponding author of the study, told Mongabay.A turtle embryo. Image by Ye et al./Current Biology.In previous research, Du and his colleagues had shown that embryos of the freshwater Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii), an endangered species, move inside eggs in response to temperatures. The significance of this behavior, though, remained unclear.To find out more, the researchers conducted experiments on Chinese pond turtle eggs both in the laboratory — using eggs collected from a private commercial turtle farm in China’s Zhejiang province — and in an outdoor pond where farm turtles had laid some eggs.When incubation temperatures are cooler than 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit), the turtle’s eggs all hatch male babies. When the temperature rises above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), every embryo is a female. At 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit), or the pivotal temperature, the eggs are known to produce a 50:50 sex ratio.The researchers used capsazepine, a chemical that blocks the eggs from sensing temperature, on half of both the laboratory and outdoor eggs, and monitored the embryos throughout their development. When the eggs hatched, the team found that the embryos inside the eggs treated with capsazepine did not move as much compared to those in eggs that hadn’t been treated. The treated eggs also produced all male babies when the incubation temperature was low, and all females when the temperature was high. Embryos in the untreated eggs, meanwhile, had moved around inside the eggs and hatched into a 50:50 mix of male and female turtles.“Until a few years ago, we thought that even given the choice, turtles would not be able to choose among temperatures in the egg,” Rory Telemeco, an assistant professor at California State University, Fresno, who was not involved in the study, told Mongabay in an email. “Then, thanks to earlier work by this laboratory, as well as myself and other colleagues, we thought that [embryos] could choose among temperatures, but may never be given the opportunity in nature. This study confirms that, at least in this species of turtle, both the choice of thermal environment and ability to choose among them can be available for embryos. Moreover, when available, embryos appear able to make the ‘good’ choice and choose the environment that will result in a more 50:50 sex ratio.”But a turtle embryo likely has very limited control over its own sex in the wild, researchers say. “The sexes of the baby turtles are most sensitive to conditions available in the environment and the mother’s nesting choices,” Telemeco said.The extent to which the embryos can counteract the effects of climate change also remains unclear.Telemeco said that while the embryos seem to be influencing their sex under ideal conditions, those conditions “might not be available much of the time, especially given climate change predictions.”“For embryos to meaningfully alter their temperatures within the egg, eggs must be large, near the surface, and average temperature during a 1-month window must be very close to the pivotal temperature for sex determination,” Telemeco said. “This study confirmed that this behavior only works under those conditions.“Most reptiles produce eggs that are too small, or buried too deep, or exposed to too extreme of average conditions for this behavioral response to have any effect. Therefore, we cannot consider embryo behavioral thermoregulation to be a panacea allowing this species or others to respond to climate change,” he added.Ideal conditions aside, Du agreed that the embryos’ power over their own sex may not be enough to counter the rapidly changing climate brought about by human activities.“However, the discovery of this surprising level of control in such a tiny organism suggests that in at least some cases, evolution has conferred an ability to deal with such challenges,” Du said.Chinese pond turtle. Image by Σ64 via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0).Citation:Ye, Y., Ma, L., Sun, B., Li, T., Wang, Y., Shine, R., and Du, W. (2019) The embryos of turtles can influence their own sexual destinies. Current Biology. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2019.06.038 Article published by Shreya Dasgupta Animals, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environment, freshwater turtles, Green, Herps, Reptiles, Research, Turtles, Turtles And Tortoises, Wildlife center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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Misuse of wildlife trade data jeopardizes efforts to protect species and combat trafficking (commentary)

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Animals, Biodiversity, Commentary, data, Editorials, Environment, Research, Researcher Perspective Series, Wildlife, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking Oversimplification of the interpretation of wildlife trade data jeopardizes the ability of policy makers to prioritize aiming limited resources towards those species that truly require protection from unsustainable trade and wildlife trafficking, which threaten species with extinction.In a recent study published in Science, the authors expressed a series of conclusions that are based on a gross misinterpretation of wildlife trade data.Wildlife conservation policy decisions should rely on the best available analyses of threats in order to respond most efficiently. The interpretation of data presented in this study show numerous flaws that may interfere with perceptions about where unsustainable and illegal trade is actually occurring and where limited resources should be directed to prevent wildlife extinction.This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay. This commentary is in response to Scheffers et al. (2019). Global wildlife trade across the tree of life, published in Science this month. A response to this commentary from the Science authors was published on November 8, 2019.Oversimplification of the interpretation of wildlife trade data jeopardizes the ability of policy makers to prioritize aiming limited resources towards those species that truly require protection from unsustainable trade and wildlife trafficking, which threaten species with extinction.In a recent study published in Science, the authors expressed a series of conclusions that are based on a gross misinterpretation of wildlife trade data.The authors stated that, “~18% (N = 5579) of terrestrial bird, mammal, amphibian, and squamate reptile species, are traded globally.” They further state that, “Traded species are in higher categories of threat compared with nontraded species, confirming wildlife trade as a driver of extinction risk.”Unfortunately, the methods described to reach these conclusions reflect an incomplete understanding of the many nuances of wildlife trade data and I urge readers to approach their conclusions with caution, until the data are corrected. I offer some insights from my experience of working with wildlife trade data for nearly two decades, which I hope will help to ensure that these common mistakes are corrected in future studies.Bullfrog trade. Photo by Jonathan Kolby.First, the authors assumed that all CITES-listed species are “traded” (see supplementary Table S10 in the study), but it is incorrect to assume that inclusion in the CITES Appendices automatically means that the species is being traded. There are species in the Appendices that are included for “look-alike” reasons or under a higher taxonomic listing, for which trade has never been recorded, and therefore should not have been reported by the authors as “in trade.”An example of this is the inclusion of Osgood’s Ethiopian toad (Altiphrynoides osgoodi). I examined the CITES trade database records, which are based on annual submissions of reports on trade in CITES-listed species submitted by the 183 Parties to CITES, and no records of trade exist for this species. In addition, the IUCN Red List assessment likewise states that this species is not present in international trade. A. osgoodi is listed in CITES Appendix I, which includes species that are threatened with extinction that are or may be affected by international trade. Many of the species have been included in Appendix I as a precautionary measure to prevent the emergence of commercial trade. Therefore, rather than looking at the list of species in the CITES Appendices and asserting that they are all traded, as described in the methods, the authors should have instead looked at the actual CITES trade data and only considered those species that are actually traded.I am also concerned that species that are possibly extinct are included in Table S10 as being present in trade. For instance, the Peru Stubfoot Toad (Atelopus peruensis) was included in this table based on the IUCN Red List assessment, which states that, “It has previously been reported in the pet trade, although this appears to have ceased.” The assessment further states that this species has not been seen after 1998 and is possibly extinct, likely due to an outbreak of disease from chytrid fungus. Species with only an anecdotal mention of trade in IUCN Red List assessments should not be considered as “in trade” with equal weight as current verifiable trade records in the CITES trade database. Including species in Table S10 that have not been seen or traded in 20+ years exaggerates the total number of species in international trade that are in need of attention as a result of illegal or unsustainable trade.I also note that the authors reference throughout the paper the need to develop strategies to “combat trade,” when in fact, they should be referring to illegal and/or unsustainable trade. If species are to be represented as “in trade,” then it is important to explicitly describe how far back the data goes and clarify whether they’re talking about present or historical trends or something in between. Is there value to including a species in Table S10 and reflecting it as being in trade, if it has not in fact been traded in 10, 20, or 30 years?Pangolin scale burn in Cameroon. Photo Credit: Kenneth Cameron/USFWS.Similarly, the same question of intent could be posed for the decision to include species where only one specimen has ever been recorded in trade, or where only specimens for scientific or conservation purposes have been traded. There are a multitude of ways that these data can be interpreted and expressed to help show different trends or threats, but when all data in CITES-listed species are lumped together and these nuances ignored, the conclusions are likely to spread misinformation. This study caused alarm because the authors stated that trade is a leading cause for extinction and “the proportion of traded animals is 40–60% higher than previous estimates had suggested,” but this fails to inform the public that species traded only to benefit conservation were also lumped into these figures.It’s disappointing to see that the purpose of trade was often mis-categorized by the authors despite the fact that the CITES trade database includes detailed information about the purpose and type of trade associated with every record. For example, the authors state that Giant Pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) are traded as pets and products. A more careful examination of the CITES trade records for this species show that these transactions involved the trade in diagnostic samples or live animals moved between zoological institutions for conservation or zoological purposes. By creating new categories and criteria for characterizing trade, the authors have misused the data attached to CITES trade records to assert the presence of activities that would be cause for conservation alarm.Lastly, any comprehensive study of the international wildlife trade should consider data from the trade database maintained by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, known as the Law Enforcement Management Information System (LEMIS). This database contains hundreds of thousands of records of international wildlife trade involving the United States, which are made publicly available upon request. A large proportion of these records document international trade in species that are not regulated under CITES. By stating that “Traded species are in higher categories of threat compared with nontraded species, confirming wildlife trade as a driver of extinction risk,” and not incorporating LEMIS information or other verified information on trade in non-CITES-listed species into the overall list of species considered, it remains possible that in this larger dataset, you may instead detect the opposite trend. Relying so heavily on the CITES Appendices and the array of species chosen to be evaluated by the IUCN, it appears as though the data are inherently biased toward species already in higher categories of threat.A more thorough review of the data in Table S10 may identify additional errors or misinterpretations included in this published work, despite passing peer review by Science.The concerns expressed in this commentary are neutral regarding the science and ethics underpinning the trade in wildlife. The single greatest point I wish to make is that wildlife conservation policy decisions should rely on the best available analyses of threats in order to respond most efficiently. The interpretation of data presented in this study show numerous flaws that may interfere with perceptions about where unsustainable and illegal trade is actually occurring and where limited resources should be directed to prevent wildlife extinction.Madagascar bright eyed frog. Photo by Jonathan Kolby.Editor’s note: A response to this commentary from the Science authors was published on November 8, 2019CITATIONS• IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2018. Atelopus peruensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T54539A89196220. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T54539A89196220.en. Downloaded on 15 October 2019.• Scheffers, B. R., Oliveira, B. F., Lamb, I., & Edwards, D. P. (2019). Global wildlife trade across the tree of life. Science, 366(6461), 71-76. doi:10.1126/science.aav5327Jonathan Kolby is a CITES Policy Specialist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service* and has nearly two decades of experience in wildlife trade data interpretation and analysis. He obtained his PhD at James Cook University and studied the international spread of amphibian chytrid fungus and the global amphibian extinction crisis. Jonathan is a conservation biologist, National Geographic Explorer, and founding Director of the Honduras Amphibian Rescue & Conservation Center (HARCC). He is also an active science communicator (@MyFrogCroaked) and produces films about wildlife disease and conservation.*The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Article published by Mike Gaworeckilast_img read more

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Indonesia’s new cabinet a ‘marriage of oligarchs,’ environmentalists say

first_imgConservation, Deforestation, Environment, Environmental Politics, Forests, Governance, Mining, Oil Palm, Palm Oil, Politics, Rainforests Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Basten Gokkoncenter_img Environmental activists have expressed disappointment with the new cabinet unveiled by President Joko Widodo for his second and final term in office.Among those staying on are the environment minister, widely criticized for failing to crack down on companies violating environmental laws, and the coordinating minister for maritime affairs, who has extensive business interests in the mining industry.The popular and effective fisheries minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, was replaced in favor of an aide to Widodo’s election rival, while the new energy minister has a record of championing fossil fuel and palm biodiesel projects.Activists warn that the new cabinet consolidates power in the hands of oligarchs, political elites, and military and police generals, making it likely that environmental protections will be unraveled and violations more common in the name of investment and growth. JAKARTA — Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has announced his new cabinet for his second and final term in office, naming controversial figures with strong ties to the extractive industries.Introducing the new ministers as part of his “Indonesia Advance” cabinet in Jakarta on Oct. 23, Widodo said his focus would be on boosting investments, developing human resources and creating jobs. He also reminded the ministers not to engage in corruption. Two ministers from his first term were arrested and charged in separate corruption cases, while two others have been implicated in other cases. (None of them were retained in the new cabinet.)“Everybody must be serious in their work. Otherwise, be careful, I might fire you midway,” Widodo said.President Joko Widodo, front row center, poses for a group photo with his new cabinet at the State Palace in Jakarta on Oct. 23. Image courtesy of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.Cabinet posts pertaining to the environment saw a mix of old and new faces. Popular fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti wasn’t retained, spawning the trending hashtag #WeWantSusi on social media. Instead, Widodo introduced the following lineup:Coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment: Luhut Binsar PandjaitanLuhut retains the portfolio he has held over the past five years, which oversees the management of natural resources onshore and offshore, including mines and palm oil. This time he has an additional mandate of “dealing with investment barriers, and realizing huge investment commitments,” Widodo said.A former military general and close confidante and business partner to the president, Luhut also has significant business holdings active in the natural resources, power generation, and agriculture sectors, through his Toba Sejahtra Group. The NGO Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) earlier this year published a report showing that Luhut’s coal-mining companies expropriated land from farmers in Borneo, leaving behind dozens of mining pits that they were legally obliged to rehabilitate.For the next five years Luhut will run point for the administration’s push to expand domestic consumption of palm oil biofuel under the B20 program (a blend of 20 percent biofuel and 80 percent diesel).“The president gave me a directive to resolve investment problems for petrochemical, B20, and to reduce gas imports,” Luhut told reporters in Jakarta on Oct. 22.Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. Image courtesy of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.Minister of Environment and Forestry: Siti Nurbaya BakarSiti is one of several ministers to retain her post, though her brief this time around seems to be less about enforcing environmental regulations than about loosening them to allow for ease of investment in extractive sectors. She said the president wanted her to ensure the implementation of a bulk deregulation package of 74 laws covering three key areas: investment, location and land, and environmental issues.“The environment ministry must improve on two of those — helping and supporting investment without abandoning natural preservation,” she told reporters in Jakarta on Oct. 22.Widodo said Siti would also be responsible for matters related to green industries, social forestry, carbon trading, and forest fires. Siti also said the president had asked her to guarantee environmental protection in the new planned capital city, which will be built in Borneo’s East Kalimantan province, Indonesia’s coal and oil heartland.Environmentalists, however, are unimpressed by Siti’s performance over the past five years, particularly in stopping forest fires and restoring burned land and peat forests.Siti Nurbaya Bakar. Image courtesy of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.Minister of Land and Spatial Planning: Sofyan DjalilSofyan also retains his post in the new cabinet, where he’s responsible for ongoing land certification and redistribution — a hallmark pledge from Widodo’s first term. Under the program, the government is supposed to grant title deeds to more than 90,000 square kilometers (34,750 square miles) of land, with indigenous and forest communities among the targeted recipients, but it’s only achieved a fraction of that figure to date.Under Sofyan’s leadership, the ministry also continues to stonewall on releasing information about right-to-cultivate permits for plantation and farming businesses, known as HGU permits, even after the Supreme Court ordered it to comply with a freedom-of-information ruling. The HGU documents are vital because withholding them enables land-grabbing, with companies often laying claim to community lands without showing their concession maps.Sofyan has also held top positions in coal companies, such as PT Berau Coal and PT Berau Coal Energy.Sofyan Djalil. Image courtesy of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources: Arifin TasrifArifin is a new face in the cabinet, replacing Ignasius Jonan. And while he told reporters his job would be to ensure the implementation of renewable energy and reduce oil and gas imports, his track record suggests otherwise. He most recently served as Indonesia’s ambassador to Japan, where he was instrumental in securing a deal between the two countries to develop the Arafuru Sea gas field, known as the Masela block. The agreement was 18 years in the making. Arifin was also a key part of former minister Jonan’s efforts to secure Japanese cooperation for Indonesia’s palm biofuel program.The $20 billion Masela project will be carried out by Japan’s Inpex Corporation and Royal Dutch Shell. In April, Luhut said he would meet a top Shell executive to discuss the development of the gas field, estimated to hold 18.47 trillion cubic feet of proved and probable gas reserves, or 3.2 trillion barrels of oil equivalent. Indonesia’s current gas production stands at about 1.2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.Before his 2017 appointment as ambassador, Arifin was chief executive at a slate of state-owned fertilizer companies, including PT Petrokimia Gresik and PT Pupuk Indonesia.Arifin Tasrif. Image courtesy of Embassy of Indonesia in Tokyo, Japan.Minister of Agriculture: Syahrul Yasin LimpoSyahrul is another newcomer to the cabinet, replacing Amran Sulaiman, the cousin of tycoon Andi Syamsudin Arsyad, popularly known as Haji Isam. The president said the minister would deal with food supplies, “incorporate farmers [into a collective],” and increase agriculture productivity.Syahrul was the first elected governor of South Sulawesi province, and served two terms, from 2009 to 2019. He’s a scion of the Yasin Limpo clan that has controlled top posts throughout the province, including as district heads and local legislative leaders. His sister, Dewie, was arrested on corruption charges by the anti-graft agency, the KPK, in the development of a micro-hydro power plant project.As governor, Syahrul pushed the Centre Point project in Makassar, the provincial capital, which was hailed at the time as “the first building complex in eastern Indonesia.” The project called for massive land-reclamation activities to create five artificial islands off the coast of Makassar. Local fishing communities have rejected — and attempted to physically blockade — dredging activities for the project, which they say will destroy their livelihoods. In January 2016, Syahrul was sued by the NGO Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) for issuing a permit in 2013 allowing the reclamation to commence despite the developers allegedly having failed to follow the correct procedures.Syahrul Yasin Limpo. Image courtesy of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries: Edhy PrabowoFormer minister Susi Pudjiastuti was widely hailed at home and abroad for her tough, no-nonsense approach to tackle illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Indonesian waters, including banning (and blowing up) foreign fishing vessels and unsustainable fishing gear. But for his second term, Widodo has chosen to go with Edhy Prabowo, the longtime right-hand man to Prabowo Subianto — Widodo’s rival in the last two elections. (Prabowo himself scored a cabinet post as minister of defense, in a move that has flustered Widodo’s supporters but that the president says is part of efforts to rebuild political unity after a divisive campaign.)At the time he met Prabowo, Edhy had been dismissed from the military academy for disciplinary reasons. He later served on the board of Prabowo’s paper company, PT Kiani Lestari Jakarta. From 2014 to 2019, he served in parliament as a member of Prabowo’s Gerindra Party, chairing the committee overseeing agriculture and fisheries affairs.Edhy Prabowo, left, and Prabowo Subianto. Image courtesy of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.Environmental activists in Indonesia have previously called for more stringent environmental laws amid the push for big investments under Widodo’s final term. But the makeup of his new cabinet, particularly the posts that pertain to the environment, has prompted concerns of further environmental destruction for the sake of economic growth.“It seems that there won’t be any new approach in making policies for tougher environmental protection,” Nur Hidayati, executive director of Walhi, told Mongabay by phone after the official cabinet announcement.She called on the environment minister to enforce tougher punishment against corporations found to be burning their concessions to clear land for planting — some of which are repeat offenders that have faced no serious consequences.Instead of pushing for investments in environmentally damaging extractive and plantation industries, Nur said there was a huge opportunity for investment in ecosystem restoration (such as burned peatlands or disused mining pits) and climate change mitigation projects that would benefit small and medium enterprises, as targeted by the president.“It’s the work of the ministers and everyone to influence the president to stop pushing for economic growth through business as usual,” Nur said, adding that the focus on big capital and monoculture had failed to boost growth in recent years, particularly for people in rural villages.The new cabinet has also raised red flags among environmental activists because of the mix of business and political oligarchs coupled with former military and police generals, said Merah Johansyah, the executive director of Jatam.He noted that other ministerial posts had been given to people involved in the energy industry, including Johnny G. Plate, who is now the minister of information and technology, and Airlangga Hartanto, the coordinating minister for economic affairs.Johnny is a close confidante of Riza Chalid, who was named part of Indonesia’s oil and gas “mafia”  and with whom Johnny founded an oil and gas company. Airlangga, meanwhile, has been implicated in a corruption case centered on the development of a coal-fired power plant in Sumatra’s Riau province. Airlangga also reportedly wrote a letter to the president in support of lobby groups that wanted an exemption from a peatland-development moratorium because they had already received a permit to plant on peat that was already drained.Merah also highlighted the appointment of Erick Thohir, a businessman and Widodo’s campaign chairman, as the minister of state-owned enterprises. Erick is the brother of Garibaldi Thohir, who founded Jakarta-listed PT Adaro Energy, which mines coal and indirectly owns a coal-fired power plant in Central Java’s Batang district.“The country will be open to any kinds of investment, particularly investment in the extractive industries,” Merah told Mongabay on the phone.He also questioned the appointment of former national police chief Tito Karnavian as the home affairs minister, saying there was a real danger of further repression of those critical or opposed to dirty and destructive investments.“A key element in attracting investment is security,” Merah said. “There will be a lot of criminalization of the people who resist investment. Tito could justify it by labeling someone as a radical.“The new cabinet is a marriage between oligarchs in politics, mining, military, and now the police,” Merah added.A protest banner on the Welcome Monument in Central Jakarta reads “Good People Choose Good Energy.” Image courtesy of Greenpeace Indonesia.The expansion of Luhut’s brief to include attracting foreign investment is a sign that Widodo is no longer focused on achieving his key pledge from his first term to make Indonesia a global maritime power, said Ahmad Marthin Hadiwinata, who heads the legal department at the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen’s Union.Marthin added that the appointment of Edhy, a political appointee, to replace Susi, an entrepreneur with a proven track record in the fisheries industry, indicated that fisheries policies in the future would serve more political interests.“The livelihoods of traditional fishermen, which make up 80 percent of Indonesia’s fisheries, must be made the top priority,” he said.On the morning before Widodo revealed his new cabinet, commuters passing by two Jakarta landmarks were treated to the unusual sight of giant banners put up by activists from Greenpeace Indonesia. The posters read, in Indonesian, “Fight Against Forest Destroyers” and “Good People Choose Good Energy.”Arie Rompas, forest campaigner at Greenpeace, said the protest was a call for Widodo’s new cabinet to reform Indonesia’s forest and coal sectors. Arie said he was disappointed by the reappointment of Siti, who he said had failed at stopping deforestation and forest fires, and of Sofyan, who has consistently refused to publish palm plantation maps.“It will be very challenging to save the forests in Indonesia, which continue to be threatened,” Arie told Mongabay. “Land-based investment continues to be the agenda in the country for the next five years, and as the oligarchs are now consolidated, it will be very smooth to profit from destroying forests in Indonesia.”Walhi’s Nur praised the protest led by Greenpeace, even as the activists were arrested by police. She said it was a great reminder for the people that the nation faces threats to its democracy and environment from oligarchs and elites.“The only answer is the people’s movement,” she said.A protest sign on the Dirgantara Monument in South Jakarta reads “Fight Against Forest Destroyers.” Image courtesy of Greenpeace Indonesia.Image banner of an intact rainforest in Indonesian Borneo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

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There’s a new fin whale subspecies in the North Pacific

first_imgAnimals, Environment, Genetics, Mammals, Marine Animals, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Conservation, Marine Mammals, Research, Taxonomy, Whales, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Mike Gaworeckicenter_img The northern fin whale subspecies was previously believed to include populations in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans, but a recent genetic analysis of more than 150 fin whale samples from both ocean basins and the Southern Hemisphere showed that the two populations actually qualify as two separate subspecies.By comparing DNA from fin whales in the North Pacific and the North Atlantic, researchers determined that the populations have been genetically distinct for hundreds of thousands of years.Improving our understanding of fin whale taxonomy can have important implications for the conservation of the species, which is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. A new subspecies of fin whale, the second-largest species on Earth after the blue whale, has been discovered by scientists in the Pacific Ocean.There are currently three recognized subspecies of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus): the northern fin whale (B. p. physalus), the southern fin whale (B. p. quoyi), and the pygmy fin whale (B. p. patachonica). The northern fin whale subspecies was previously believed to include populations in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans, but a recent genetic analysis of more than 150 fin whale samples from both ocean basins and the Southern Hemisphere showed that the two populations actually qualify as two separate subspecies.Though they are the second-largest whale species on Earth, fin whales are the fastest swimmers. They are known to primarily roam the open ocean, away from coastlines where they would be easier to study, which is why they are also one of the large whale species that scientists know the least about.Another factor in how little we know about the species is that fin whales’ sheer size makes them difficult to study in a laboratory environment. Scientists traditionally compare characteristic parts of an animal’s skeleton, such as the skull, in doing taxonomic work, but that’s not entirely feasible with fin whales. The whales can reach 60 to 70 feet long. Their skulls alone can measure 15 feet in length, and their skeletons can weigh hundreds of pounds. Research institutions would be hard-pressed to attain and store a large enough collection to allow for comparisons of different fin whale specimens from around the world.That’s why genetic analysis — which can be done using DNA extracted from tissue samples the size of a pencil eraser collected from animals in the wild — has proven so useful for the study of marine species like large whales.“It’s the only realistic way to do this, because you cannot get enough examples to determine the difference through morphology alone,” Eric Archer, a geneticist at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, said in a statement. Archer is the lead author of the study published in the Journal of Mammology last week that identifies the northern Pacific fin whale as a distinct subspecies.Fin whales are the second largest species of whale, sleek and streamlined in shape, and can be distinguished by their asymmetrical head coloration. The left lower jaw is mostly dark while the right jaw is mostly white. Photo Credit: North Pacific fin whale, NOAA Fisheries/Paula Olson.Archer and an international team of researchers used samples found in a collection of marine mammal genetic material at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) as well as samples obtained from other museums and collections to analyze fin whale DNA. By comparing DNA from fin whales in the North Pacific and the North Atlantic, they determined that the populations have been genetically distinct for hundreds of thousands of years.“Instead of digging through museum storage facilities for skulls to describe species or subspecies, genetic data unlock our ability to describe unique populations of whales across the globe,” study co-author Barbara Taylor, leader of the SWFSC’s Marine Mammal Genetics Program, said in a statement. “It is a new way of looking at these animals.”In naming the new subspecies, the researchers turned to the oldest name recorded for the North Pacific fin whale and came up with Balaenoptera physalus velifera, which is based on the Latin word “velifer,” meaning “sail-bearing.” They note in the study that “No description of the source of the name has been published,” but theorize that it refers to the whales’ large falcate dorsal fins.According to the study, B. p. velifera’s range “extends from the Gulf of California, along the western coast of the United States and British Columbia, Canada into the Gulf of Alaska, and along the Aleutians. They are found in the Bering Sea and into the Chukchi Sea up to approximately 70°N… In the western Pacific, they are found off of Kamchatka, Okhotsk Sea, and Japan. They also occur in the northern waters of Hawaii, although in lower numbers.”Improving our understanding of fin whale taxonomy can have important implications for the conservation of the species, which is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The US Endangered Species Act, for instance, allows for targeted safeguards for subspecies that need protection, even in cases where other members of the species aren’t threatened or have already recovered. There are about 14,000 to 18,000 fin whales in the North Pacific who now belong to the subspecies B. p. velifera, the study states, and their numbers are believed to be increasing.Archer said that the discovery of the new fin whale subspecies is just one of numerous advances in marine mammal taxonomy being made by scientists today.“The increasing study of cetacean genetics is revealing new diversity among the world’s whales and dolphins that has not been previously recognized,” Archer said in a statement. “There are other new species and subspecies that we are learning about thanks to the technology that has made this possible. It is changing the field.”A fin whale surfacing in Greenland. Photo by Aqqa Rosing-Asvid, licensed under CC BY 2.0.CITATION• Archer, F. I., Brownell Jr, R. L., Hancock-Hanser, B. L., Morin, P. A., Robertson, K. M., Sherman, K. K., … & Panigada, S. (2019). Revision of fin whale Balaenoptera physalus (Linnaeus, 1758) subspecies using genetics. Journal of Mammalogy, 100(5), 1653-1670. doi:10.1093/jmammal/gyz121FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

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Black-market anchovies: Report details Peru’s illegal fish meal industry

first_imgConservation, Environment, Fish, Fishing, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Conservation, Oceans, Overfishing Peru is the world’s leading producer of fish meal, made from anchovetas (Engraulis ringens) and used primarily as feed for aquaculture and livestock.It’s unclear precisely how much of the substance it makes because a sizeable portion appears to be off the books.Some 22,000 tons of fish meal are produced annually by illegal factories located in the Pisco province of southern Peru, according to a report by the NGO Oceana.The report identified three illegal mechanisms currently operating in Peru to produce fish meal for export and domestic use. Peru is the world’s leading producer of fish meal, but it’s unclear precisely how much of the substance it makes, given that a sizeable portion appears to be off the books. The industry is based on the anchoveta (Engraulis ringens), a silvery little member of the anchovy family that teems in massive schools in Peruvian waters. The fish, subject to natural boom-and-bust population cycles compounded by overfishing, support on their tiny backs the world’s largest single-species fishery, Peru’s $1.5 billion fish meal industry and tens of thousands of jobs.Official figures showing that Peru exports more fish meal than it produces hint at the fishy production. The country exported 867,000 tons but produced just 800,000 tons, on average, each year between 2012 and 2016, according to 2016’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Statistical Yearbook, put out by the Ministry of Production (PRODUCE).The scale of this illegal trade is substantial: Recently, producers in Peru have each year churned out around 90,000 tons of fish meal worth $130 million, according to a report by Apoyo Consultoría, a Lima-based consulting firm, for the country’s National Bank and Insurance Inspectorate.“Since much of the harvest used in this way is not declared, even though the volume in relation to the anchoveta population isn’t very big, it does represent an important distortion to the monitoring and biological management of this species,” Juan Carlos Sueiro, director of fisheries for the Peruvian branch of the international marine conservation NGO Oceana, told Mongabay via email.Sueiro co-authored an investigation for Oceana released in February 2019 that identified three illegal mechanisms currently operating in Peru to produce fish meal for export and domestic use. These are factories operating without installation permits or appropriate operating licenses; businesses that claim to produce food for human consumption but instead systematically divert anchovetas to fish meal factories; and drying fields, where anchoveta remains are dried in the sun in a labor-intensive, unsanitary and highly illegal way.The global market for aquaculture and livestock feed is driving increased production of fish meal and fish oil in places like Peru, West Africa, and India. But critics say the sector encourages the indiscriminate harvest of marine life without regard for ecological impact and takes seafood out of domestic food supplies, often in very poor and food-insecure countries. The use of fish meal in aquaculture has drawn particular fire as an inefficient use of marine resources. The cultivation of salmon or shrimp, for instance, requires more than six times as much wild fish, pound per pound, according to a recent report by the Netherlands-based Changing Markets Foundation.The aquaculture industry counters that there is little demand for wild forage fish like Peruvian anchoveta, so it makes sense to feed them to more marketable fish like salmon. Numerous efforts are afoot to develop alternative feeds and markets for species, such as tilapia, that require less fish in their diets. For the moment, however, global demand for fish meal is only rising.Mechanism one: Illegal fish meal factoriesThe Oceana investigation identified 10 illegal fish meal factories in the coastal province of Pisco in southern Peru. With no installation permits or operating licenses, these unmarked factories are located in agricultural areas and are difficult to access. They each process between 10 and 90 tons of mainly fresh anchovetas every day, or other species if necessary. Illegal fish meal factories in Pisco, according to the marine conservation NGO Oceana. Image courtesy of Oceana.The fish are brought directly from the artisanal fishing docks in the district of San Andrés and La Puntilla Fishing Complex 11 kilometers (7 miles) to the south, passing through around 10 different intermediaries along the way. “That’s where we lose track of them,” said Renato Gozzer, a fisheries engineer with the Peruvian NGO REDES and a co-author of the investigation. “The intermediaries’ world is pretty closed and dangerous. They are very territorial, dividing up the ports and acting like the Mafia,” he said.Since 2000, industrial fish meal factories have modernized their equipment in line with new environmental norms. The owners sold off the old machinery as scrap. “This equipment hasn’t been destroyed; it has been recycled and that’s what these illegal factories are using,” Gozzer said. Even with out-of-date machinery, the illegal factories can process up to 15 tons of feedstock per hour, three times more than a legal residual fish meal factory (one that processes otherwise unusable fish or fish parts) is authorized to process.The illegal factories use machinery discarded by the legal factories. Image courtesy of Oceana.Oceana estimates that each year these plants produce 22,000 tons of high-protein fish meal and 5,000 tons of fish oil with a total value of $32 million. And this is just a portion of Peru’s black-market fish meal industry.Mechanism two: Diverting anchoviesWhen an anchoveta is caught in Peruvian waters, its destination depends on the type of boat that catches it. If an artisanal fishing vessel catches it, it goes to a factory that handles fish categorized for “direct human consumption” to be processed and preserved by freezing or canning. The head, tail and intestines are removed and only part of its body will end up on the dinner table.The leftovers, which can legally comprise up to three-quarters of an anchoveta’s body, go to the so-called residual fish meal factories. This fish meal is of much lower quality than conventional fish meal made by factories that process whole anchovetas caught by industrial vessels.Anchoveta-fishing vessels along the Peruvian coast. Image by Andre Baertschi/Oceana.Oceana’s investigation found that whole anchovetas destined for the direct human consumption plants are systematically diverted to the residual fish meal plants. “[A] truck simply enters [an unmarked garage], holds the anchovetas for a while until they are no longer fit for human consumption and must be sent to the fish meal factories,” Sueiro said. A direct human consumption factory suspected of diverting whole anchovetas to residual fish meal plants, which are only supposed to process fish heads, intestines, and other discarded parts. Image courtesy of Oceana.Oceana compared the official export and production volumes of cured anchovetas, known as curados. Exports were marginal, so most of the production, some 5,200 tons annually, should be available for consumption within Peru. The strange thing, according to Sueiro, is that “in Peru, we don’t eat anchovetas; we export them.”Despite the lack of a domestic market to consume the curados that are allegedly available, the number of factories that produce curados has increased recently, from 61 in 2011 to 73 today. Moreover, together only five of them produced nearly half of the country’s curado exports over the last five years. For Sueiro, this doesn’t make sense, especially given that they did so while possessing less than 6 percent of the total curado-processing capacity. One possible explanation, according to the Oceana report, is that some of the other 68 curado factories “systematically divert fresh anchovetas to factories that make illegal fish meal.”A comparison of catches (orange), production (gray) and exports (yellow) of cured anchovetas known as curados for the Peruvian department of Ancash. Exports of curados are marginal and there is no domestic market that justifies such high production rates. Image by Mongabay Latam based on official data from PRODUCE.Mongabay Latam asked PRODUCE and the Ancash regional government why they continue to award operating permits to curado factories if there is no market that justifies their production. However, neither organization responded by the time of this story’s original publication last February. According to the report, the residual fish meal factories, when processing complete anchovetas and not the leftovers, produce high-quality fish meal that is mainly sold internationally. The report identified two pathways for these sales: Conventional fish meal plants, the ones that process the catch from the industrial fishing fleet, purchase the fish meal and sell it as their own product. Or the residual fish meal plants, which export it directly through brokers who specialize in taking this fish meal abroad. A representative of the National Fishing Society (SNP by its Spanish acronym) told Mongabay Latam that it has “ensured that all factories that are associated [with it] comply with the IFFO RS certification so the customer has a guarantee for the traceability and origin of their products.” The SNP recommends that buyers only purchase fish meal from factories that hold that certification, one of the most common standards, which was set up by the Marine Ingredients Organisation, a London-based trade group for the fish meal and fish oil industry.But in Peru, the official records of the quantity of primary material received and the quantity produced from it are based on legal declarations that the factories send to the Ministry for Production. According to the Oceana investigators, that means there is no real-time system of traceability that would allow the correlation between the amount of fish received and the quantity of fish meal produced to be checked against concrete evidence. Fishing boats. Image by Andre Baertschi/Oceana.“[T]his weakness in controlling fish production statistics leaves a loophole for the directors of the factories for Direct Human Consumption that are engaged in the illicit diversion of anchovetas to illegal fish meal production to declare fictitious production quantities so the records show they are making the products they are authorized to produce,” the report states. The SNP representative confirmed that the group is aware of the problem and is implementing the Anchoveta Fishing Improvement Project “through which we aim to encourage scientific investigation and the management of this fishery,” including improving the traceability of anchoveta fishing by artisanal and small-scale fishers.Mechanism three: The drying plainsSince the residual fish meal plants are not processing the leftovers from the direct human consumption factories, drying plains have proliferated to fulfill this demand. Here anchoveta leftovers are spread out on the ground to dry in the sun; then they are ground by hand in a process that is both illegal and unsanitary.The drying plains also receive waste from the local markets and the fishing boats, as well as fish from the artisanal boats that is not accepted by the factories due to its advanced state of decomposition. When there is an excess anchoveta catch they also take fish that the factories lack the capacity to accept. Oceana identified more than 25 drying plains in the departments of Ica, Ancash and Piura.Fish leftovers drying in the sun on the drying plains. Image courtesy of Oceana.The product is often sold to residual or illegal factories, which use it to top up their stocks and lower costs. “The quality of the production on the fields is too low to be sold on its own, but if two tons of this fish meal is mixed with 20 tons of a better-quality fish meal, it’s fine,” Sueiro said.In Peru, the production of fish, poultry and livestock species that require a balanced diet is growing, and “fish meal is the main ingredient and one of the most important sources of protein in making these foods,” according to the Oceana report. However, the legally produced fish meal and the fish oils are almost entirely exported, leaving the growing domestic demand for fish meal unmet and incentivizing illegal production, the report says.Sueiro outlined to Mongabay several ways the illegal production of fish meal complicates sound management of the Peruvian anchoveta fishery and raises economic and nutritional issues for the country: it prevents managers from knowing the true volume of anchovetas removed from the sea; the illegal businesses pay no taxes and provide only precarious employment; illegal fish meal has no sanitary control, presenting a health risk to the animals that eat it; the sector also inhibits innovation in efforts to encourage people to eat anchoveta directly. The latter, Sueiro said, is something that groups like Oceana are keen to do to improve nutrition and develop more ecologically efficient uses for the fish. “[N]either the State, nor PRODUCE, nor the NGOs, nor the fisherman know where this is heading,” Sueiro said. “[W]hat we have done is shed light on the problem so we can understand how it works. Now the competent bodies need to do their work.”Mongabay Latam sought responses to questions from PRODUCE, but the agency did not respond. This story was first published in Spanish on Mongabay Latam on Feb. 12, 2019. Additional reporting by Rebecca Kessler. Article published by Maria Salazarcenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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Sandpipers on an arduous migration now have a rest stop all their own

first_imgCitations:  Zöckler, C., Syroechkovskiy, E. E., & Atkinson, P. W. (2010). Rapid and continued population decline in the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus indicates imminent extinction unless conservation action is taken. Bird Conservation International, 20(2), 95-111. doi:10.1017/s0959270910000316 Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Animals, Birds, Conservation, Critically Endangered Species, Endangered Species, Habitat, Interns, Research, Wildlife The Rainforest Trust and the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand recently purchased 8 hectares (20 acres) of shoreland in the Gulf of Thailand to protect a vital stopover site for spoon-billed sandpipers (Calidris pygmaea).Spoon-billed sandpipers fly annually from Russia to parts of Southeast Asia and depend on sites like the salty coastal wetland of Pak Thale for survival.The species is critically endangered, with only about 240 to 456 adults globally.This stretch of shoreland along the Inner Gulf of Thailand is also an important migrating and wintering site for other waterbirds passing through Thailand. For the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper, a tiny shorebird that makes an 8,000-kilometer (5,000-mile) migration each year, wetlands are vital stopover points. To boost the small bird’s population, the Rainforest Trust and the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST) have purchased a stopover haven in the Gulf of Thailand from two banks for the species’ winter migration.“The purchased land is currently an active salt pan which has supported a wintering population of spoon-billed sandpipers regularly every winter,” said Angela Yang, chief conservation officer of the Rainforest Trust.Spoon-billed sandpipers (Calidris pygmaea) have plummeted in number in recent decades. It’s estimated there are fewer than 200 pairs of these birds left in the world, and around 240 to 456 mature individuals, according to the IUCN Red List.Breeding in Russia and wintering in Southeast Asia, the spoon-billed sandpiper makes a perilous migration each year along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, a flight path used by millions of migratory waders and shorebirds. One of its wintering grounds lies in the salty coastal wetland of Pak Thale, in the Inner Gulf of Thailand.Pak Thale, in the Inner Gulf of Thailand, sees many species of migratory as well as local bird species throughout the year. Image by BCST.Recognizing the Inner Gulf’s importance for migratory birds like the spoon-billed sandpiper, the Rainforest Trust and the BCST bought 8 hectares (20 acres) of shoreline in Pak Thale in September 2019. The East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership has long designated Pak Thale as a “Flyway Network Site,” while BirdLife International deems it an “Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.”“Salt pans and salt ponds provide an ideal feeding and roosting spot for these birds,” Yang said. “Without such habitat, the birds can only feed on mudflats at low tide and must find a high-tide roosting spot. With salt pans, they can feed and roost both during low and high tides and the purchased land lies in the core wintering area of Spoon-billed Sandpipers in Thailand.”Conservationists hope to manage the area exclusively for shorebirds, Sayam U. Chowdhury, assistant coordinator of the International Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force, told Mongabay. This will allow the birds to use the area as undisturbed foraging and roosting sites.The spoon-billed sandpiper prefers mixed sandy tidal mudflats with an uneven surface and very shallow water. Image by Sayam U. Chowdhury.“Without Pak Thale, these highly threatened shorebirds may not find alternative areas to feed and roost at the Inner Gulf of Thailand,” Chowdhury said.The spoon-billed sandpiper is known to be picky about its habitat. The bird favors very shallow waters and uneven surfaces in mixed sandy tidal mudflats, found in the outermost parts of river deltas; it also prefers higher sand content with a thin mud layer on top, according to the IUCN. Residential developments, ports, fishing and aquaculture have imperiled the survival of these birds.“The loss of stopover sites during their long-distance migration (~15,000 miles, or ~24,000 km, round trip) is one of the main reasons for population decline,” Yang said in an email.The Rainforest Trust and BCST purchased the land from two banks on Sept. 6 last year, concluding a process that took nearly a year to finalize. The Rainforest Trust provided the bulk of the approximately $225,000 purchase price, and worked with the BCST to secure the remainder through crowdfunding both in Thailand and internationally.A spoon-billed sandpiper, center, forages among plovers at Pak Thale. Image by BCST.No local communities live on the purchased land, Yang told Mongabay. There are salt farmers, though, who use the land for salt production. They will be affected by the purchase as the BCST will have to maintain water levels in the salt pans for the birds rather than let them dry out. But managers are hoping to find a compromise.“The local community has long helped protect the birds by salt farming which provides a crucial habitat for spoon-billed sandpiper and other shorebirds,” said Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok, the BCST’s public relations manager. “Local salt farmers will be able to use water from the purchased land to continue producing salt in the nearby stretches and maintain the overall shorebirds habitat at Pak Thale.”The salt farming process they follow involves transferring the water from a water storage pond to two stages of evaporation ponds to a crystallizing pond.“Shorebirds can mainly feed in the water storage and first evaporation pond where salinity is not too high,” Yang said. “Our plot can serve the same function as these first two ponds in the salt farming system and salt farmers can bring water from our plot into their second evaporation pond and so on. Additionally, with the existing bird tourism and potential development of eco-tourism, there are opportunities for employment.”The BCST has also been educating and raising awareness about the importance of this habitat among local communities. The group is also working closely with Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) in managing an adjacent site.Currently, the Inner Gulf of Thailand only supports a population of around 10 spoon-billed sandpipers every winter. The number may seem low, but it still represents 2% of the total global population. Yang said the bird’s global population is falling rapidly: studies show an 88% decrease since 2002, with the population shrinking by 26% every year.Besides the sandpipers, Pak Thale is a suitable home for other threatened waterbirds, including the great knot (Calidris tenuirostris), the spotted greenshank (Tringa guttifer),the Far Eastern curlew (Numenius madagascariensis), and the Chinese egret (Egretta eulophotes), according to Chowdhury.Researchers have recorded both flagged and unflagged sandpipers visiting Pak Thale. Image by Sayam U. Chowdhury.Conservation groups regularly monitor Pak Thale’s birds, with birders visiting the site almost daily during the winter months of November to February to observe and record. “We receive records of spoon-billed sandpipers and other shorebirds regularly,” Yang said.The BCST also has a staff member at the site to carry out monthly surveys to record the numbers of all species of shorebirds visiting the purchased land and surrounding areas. The team has to date recorded at least six sandpipers visiting the purchased land, including three birds they identified from the colored bands, or flags, attached to their legs, and three unflagged birds.“One of our satellite tagged spoon-billed sandpipers … spent a few days at Pak Thale before it migrated to its main wintering grounds in Bangladesh,” Chowdhury said. “So, the site is important for both wintering and migrating spoon-billed sandpipers.” Article published by Maria Salazarlast_img read more

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[BGL Ligue] Jonathan Joubert et le F91 : « On est assez serein, mais bon… »

first_imgDudelange sera sacré s’il… fait un meilleur résultat que le Fola Esch, qui affronte dans le même temps le RM Hamm Benfica au Galgenberg. Jonathan Joubert sent arriver le titre. La force de l’habitude. Qui fait aussi dire au capitaine dudelangeois que, pour l’heure, «rien n’est encore fait».Vous qui commencez à avoir une petite expérience des titres de champion, pour celui-ci, c’est une question d’heures ou de jours?Jonathan Joubert : On va dire que c’est plutôt une question de jours. Tout le monde nous voit champion sûr et certain, mais tous ces matches contre des équipes en train de se battre pour leur survie, il faut les jouer, mais aussi les gagner. Et on va en affronter, des équipes qui veulent éviter de finir barragistes. Regardez le Fola, le mal qu’ils ont eu à battre Hostert! Alors oui, si on est concentré comme contre le Fola, on y arrivera. Si c’est comme contre Rumelange, par contre… Il y a quand même de quoi être serein, non?Oui, on est assez serein. Mais bon… Dans le vestiaire, on n’a encore pas parlé une seule fois du titre ni même de la fête. On va attendre d’être champion pour organiser quelque chose, parce que pour le moment, on ne l’est pas.Dino Toppmöller disait la semaine dernière qu’en cas de doublé, il s’agirait de loin de la meilleure saison de l’histoire du F91. Vous qui êtes là depuis 15 ans, êtes-vous d’accord?Eh bien oui, je suis d’accord, puisque avec le parcours en Europa League, ça le deviendrait très facilement.Même si, en termes comptables, vous êtes peut-être un peu plus laborieux cette saison? Après, on ne retient que les titres. Il est sûr que certains titres sont plus aboutis que d’autres et qu’il y a eu des titres bien plus faciles à conquérir que celui-là. La phase aller, cette saison, était d’ailleurs bien plus difficile qu’elle n’en avait l’air, surtout mentalement.Vous avez rarement pris autant de buts, d’ailleurs, en tant que gardien…Oui, très souvent, j’ai eu l’habitude de finir avec la meilleure défense du pays. Je pense que ce ne sera pas le cas cette fois. Et puis il arrive un moment où, quand on voit que l’on continue d’être perméable, on se contente de prendre simplement la victoire.Vous ne vous dites pas qu’il y aurait eu matière à faire d’aussi bons résultats en prenant moins de risques?On a un chemin de jeu que le coach veut appliquer. Quand on doit sortir du pressing, on prend pas mal de risques et des fois, derrière, ça fait but sur une perte de balle. Oui, ça nous est arrivé trop souvent cette saison. Mais chaque coach a sa philosophie, et nous, on se met tous au diapason de ce qu’il veut.Comment vous sentez-vous, à bientôt 40 ans (NDLR : il les aura le 12 septembre)?L’âge, ça n’a rien à voir. Tant que je n’ai pas de grave blessure ou de souci… Les qualités sont toujours là et j’ai la forme. Depuis que je suis revenu, fin décembre, j’ai beaucoup travaillé. Le stage de début d’année m’a fait énormément de bien et cela fait un bon mois que je ne ressens plus rien (NDLR : depuis sa fracture du tibia, en Europa League).Vous pensez tenir encore combien de saisons, à ce rythme?La suite, je ne sais pas. Il me reste encore une saison de contrat avec Dudelange et je me sens bien ici. J’entends et je lis beaucoup de choses, mais le fait est qu’il n’y a encore rien de fait. Vous parlez des rumeurs qui vous envoient au Swift en compagnie de Tom Schnell si le club monte en DN? Moi, un nouveau challenge, ça ne me dérangerait pas, mais il y a encore beaucoup de discussions à mener. En tout cas, une chose est certaine, c’est que je vais rester au Luxembourg, je ne partirai pas à l’étranger.Bref, vous allez fêter vos 500 matches en DN la saison prochaine si tout se passe bien (NDLR : il en est actuellement à 481)?Ah bon? Je ne sais pas. Franchement, tant que l’on me fait confiance, je continuerai. Ce n’est pas toujours évident de dire que je vais jouer, mais je vais partir du même principe qu’en sélection : tant que je reste n° 1… À moins que j’accepte de faire une saison de transition pour aider un jeune gardien, mais je ne suis pas sûr que cela soit mon truc de faire n° 2.Ce si joli groupe dudelangeois, avec les clubs du Swift, de Virton et de Kaiserslautern, qui sont déjà ou vont entrer dans la galaxie de Flavio Becca, va-t-il exploser?C’est ce que je lis dans les journaux, en tout cas, mais de mon côté, je n’en sais pas plus. Je suis un joueur du F91 et personne ne sait ce qu’il va advenir cet été ou, en tout cas, personne ne veut rien dire.Entretien avec Julien Mollereau Partagerlast_img read more

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Giro : le Slovène Primoz Roglic débute en rose

first_imgLes puncheurs attendus ce dimancheRoglic a eu le temps de savourer sa performance. Il a dû attendre près de trois heures la conclusion de l’étape, du fait de son choix de partir parmi les premiers comme la plupart des favoris qui craignaient une détérioration des conditions météo. Mais le temps est resté au beau sur Bologne, hormis un renforcement du vent qui a sans doute pénalisé Yates, le seul des prétendants à être parti parmi les derniers.Dimanche, le parcours de 205 kilomètres, qui relie Bologne à Fucecchio, traverse dans sa seconde moitié les paysages de Toscane jusqu’à l’arrivée dans la ville d’Andrea Tafi, le dernier vainqueur italien de Paris-Roubaix (1999).La route, très sinueuse, multiplie courbes et descentes dans le final, qui risque d’être compliqué par la pluie. Pour les puncheurs, c’est l’occasion de couper l’herbe sous le pied des sprinteurs (Ackermann, Viviani, Gaviria, Ewan, Démarre).LQ/AFPClassement de la 1re étape du Tour d’Italie :1. Primoz Roglic (SLO/Jumbo), les 8 km en 12:54 (moyenne: 37,199 km/h)2. Simon Yates (GBR/MIT) à 19.3. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/BAH) 22.4. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL/AST) 28.5. Tom Dumoulin (NED/SUN) 28.6. Rafal Majka (POL/BOR) 32.7. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR/INE) 35.8. Laurens De Plus (BEL/JUM) 35.9. Bauke Mollema (NED/TRE) 39.10. Damiano Caruso (ITA/BAH) 40.11. Pello Bilbao (ESP/AST) 41.12. Victor de la Parte (ESP/CCC) 45.13. Bob Jungels (LUX/DEC) 46.14. Richard Carapaz (ECU/MOV) 46.15. Tanel Kangert (EST/EF1) 47. Partager Premier chrono, première victoire : le Slovène Primoz Roglic a dominé le contre-la-montre inaugural du Giro, samedi après-midi à Bologne, pour endosser le premier maillot rose de sa carrière.Sur 8 kilomètres, Roglic a distancé tous ses rivaux. Même Simon Yates, le Britannique qui s’autoproclame “favori numéro un” de cette 102e édition, a cédé 19 secondes à l’ancien sauteur à skis, vainqueur pour la huitième fois d’un “chrono” et dominateur en 2019. Il a gagné trois courses par étapes d’avant-Giro (UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour de Romandie).Derrière lui, les écarts sont faibles entre les grands prétendants. L’Italien Vincenzo Nibali n’a lâché que 3 secondes à Yates, qu’il a rappelé à l’humilité après les propos du Britannique affirmant vendredi qu’à la place de ses adversaires, “il se ferait dessus”. Le Colombien Miguel Angel Lopez, 4e à 8 secondes de Yates, et le Néerlandais Tom Dumoulin ont terminé dans la même seconde. Le Luxembourgeois Bob Jungels se classe lui 13e, à 46 secondes.last_img read more

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Jans: “C’est quelque chose d’exceptionnel de marquer un but pour son pays”

first_imgTout n’a pas été bon. On a lâché à certaines périodes. La chaleur n’a pas aidé, mais voilà, on a eu des temps forts, des temps faibles, et on doit encore énormément progresser sur la gestion de ces moments. On devrait apprendre à mettre le bloc un peu plus bas pour mieux gérer quand ça ne va pas. Mais finalement, on fait 3-3 et on méritait mieux… Mais maintenant, il va falloir apprendre à jouer sur un synthétique, avec des appuis différents et une surface différente. Ce qui m’importe, c’est que moi, je me sens très, très bien. Les gens ont souvent tendance à faire des raccourcis et à penser qu’un joueur de foot qui joue peu n’est pas apte physiquement. Je pense que ce n’est pas vrai. On peut avoir du mal à rentrer dans un match, oui, mais physiquement, je travaille! D’ailleurs, tiens, les gens qui pensent ça, croient-ils vraiment que j’aurais poussé une action offensive jusque dans les arrêts de jeu si je n’avais pas été bien physiquement? Mon but prouve que je vais bien. À Malte (NDLR: le 22 mars 2018), le gardien m’avait sorti une parade incroyable. Mais c’est quand même quelque chose d’exceptionnel de marquer un but pour son pays. Et dans ma tête, ça ne m’a pas fait grand-chose, sauf que j’étais content que nous ayons réussi à tourner le score de ce match avant de partir en Lituanie. C’est important pour le moral. Mais là, maintenant, je me dis que si je ne marque qu’une fois toutes les cinquante sélections, je ne verrai peut-être jamais mon deuxième but… Le fait de jouer le dernier match de la saison contre Brest m’a beaucoup aidé. Je n’ai rien demandé au coach mais j’ai vraiment tout donné sur la dernière semaine d’entraînement parce qu’il était hors de question que je ne joue pas. Ce match contre l’autre promu, c’était un match de Ligue 1, devant un stade plein, cela allait être un vrai spectacle et laissait l’opportunité de finir sur une note positive. Entretien avec Julien Mollereau Surtout si vous lui permettez de mettre des buts comme celui qu’il a inscrit à la 2e minute… Laurent Jans a visiblement surmonté sa saison décevante avec le FC Metz. Ce dimanche 2 juin, on a retrouvé le capitaine des Roud Léiwen, offensivement efficace comme jamais contre Madagascar. Avec un premier but à la clef. Et, forcément, le plein de bonnes sensations qui va avec. Entretien. Et moralement? Comment allez-vous après cette saison tellement ambiguë? Très honnêtement, on ne s’attendait pas à vous trouver autant dans le bon tempo après autant de semaines à cirer le banc de touche messin. Et vous? Votre apport offensif a été énorme contre Madagascar. Commence-t-on lentement à toucher du doigt ce qui va devenir l’essence de votre boulot dans ce Luxembourg qui assume la possession de balle? Revenons à la sélection: la place de Vincent Thill est-elle devant vous, dans ce couloir droit, ou doit-il, à terme, être recentré ? Mais le coach demande qu’on le fasse! Que Leo puisse faire des courses dans le dos des défenseurs, pour ouvrir des espaces. Même pas besoin, forcément, de jouer des ballons. On peut créer sans ça. C’est comme cela que nous créons l’action qui manque de faire 2-0, par Dave Turpel. De ce point de vue-là, on commence à voir des automatismes. Il commence à devenir très important de savoir qui va faire quoi avant de recevoir le ballon. Ne pensez-vous pas que Leandro Barreiro devrait plus souvent venir prendre ce couloir pour permettre à Thill de recentrer ? C’est ce qu’on me demande, en tout cas. Et le coach veut que je pénètre encore plus dans les seize mètres et que je provoque encore plus de un contre un. On a d’ailleurs créé de belles choses, dimanche. Il vous a fallu attendre votre 55e sélection pour marquer un but… Avant la Lituanie, vous le sentez comment ? Difficile à dire. À Pau, il vient de faire toute la saison à droite, non? De la sorte, il peut rentrer sur son pied gauche, travailler en appui et quand il fait ça, c’est vraiment dur de défendre sur lui. Mais bon, Vincent, tu peux le mettre absolument partout. Et puis, même dans le couloir, il conserve cette volonté de défendre. Je lui rappelle à quel point c’est important et qu’il ne doit pas se laisser surprendre, jamais. Mais il veut apprendre à se placer et m’écoute toujours. Oui, mais c’est surtout son but qui est incroyable. Je me rappelle un but comme ça, avec Waasland-Beveren, contre Bruges, de Milosevic. Moi, je me contente de lui donner une petite passe et le gars, il tire de 35 mètres en lucarne! Mais le lendemain, c’était sympa: dans la colonne «passes décisives», il y avait mon nom. Là, c’est un peu pareil. Partagerlast_img read more

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