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Survival of world's largest butterfly no longer dependent on a wing and a prayer

Brendan Montague

27th September, 2017

The Queen Alexandra's Birdwing - or Ornithoptera alexandrae - is the world's largest and most spectacular butterfly. But it is under threat from encroaching agriculture and logging. BRENDAN MONTAGUE reports on a new initiative designed to save the beautiful insect from extinction more...

Ecologist Special Report: Biological Annihilation on Earth is Accelerating

Robert J. Burrowes

1st August, 2017

Human beings are now waging war against life itself as we continue to destroy not just individual lives, local populations and entire species in vast numbers but also the ecological systems that make life on Earth possible. By doing this we are now accelerating the sixth mass extinction event in Earth's history and virtually eliminating any prospect of human survival, writes ROBERT J BURROWES more...

How South Africa's trade in captive-bred lions increases the extinction threat to wild tigers

24th July, 2017

Environmental Investigation Agency

Ahead of this week's 29th meeting of the CITES Animals Committee, in Geneva, Switzerland, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals how the legal trade in lion bones from captive-bred lions serves only to exacerbate and drive the illegal trade in wild tiger parts more...

UK Artists showcase the plight of the disappearing British bee

Gary Cook, Arts Editor

7th July, 2017

Ecologist Arts Editor, GARY COOK, visits a new exhibition showcasing the plight of the British bee - those species already sadly lost and those on the verge of extinction more...

Ecologist Special Report: World' rarest dolphin heading towards extinction

Christopher Pala

16th March, 2017

New Zealand's Maui dolphin, the world's smallest, is headed to extinction after a half-century of lethal encounters with fishermen's nets. Even as government-funded scientists detail its decline and opposition Labour and Greens call for net bans - which opinion polls show most Kiwis support - the ruling National Party, headed by a fishing magnate, denies there is any problem. CHRISTOPHER PALA reports ... more...
Sumatran elephant at Tangkahan, Sumatra, Indonesia. The species' native rainforest habit is fast giving way to thousands of square miles of palm oil plantation. Photo: Vincent Poulissen via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

The oilpalm connection: is the Sumatran elephant the price of our cheap meat?

Philip Lymbery / CIWF

28th March 2017

We may know that palm oil is wiping out rainforests worldwide, writes Philip Lymbery. But few realise that our factory farmed meat and dairy are contributing to the problem. As revealed in Philip's new book, 'Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were', palm kernels, left after pressing the fruit for oil, is a protein-rich livestock feed of growing importance. And nowhere is the impact greater than Sumatra, home (for now) to its own unique species of elephant. more...
Bisect this landscape with a wall, and how will the wildlife fare? Photo: Near the US-Mexico border in Arizona by Corey Taratuta via Flickr (CC BY).

Trump's 'beautiful wall' threatens 111 endangered species

Shonil Bhagwat, The Open University

20th February 2017

The 3,100km concrete wall Donald Trump plans to build along the US-Mexico border would be a disaster for the border zone's ecosystems, writes Shonil Bhagwat. Among the species at risk: ocelots, bears, Bighorn sheep, the US's last wild jaguars facing genetic isolation north of the border, and the Bald eagle, the US's national bird. more...
Monarch butterfly sipping nectar from milkweed. Photo: Sherri VandenAkker via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Monarch butterflies down over a quarter in one year

The Ecologist

10th February 2017

It's been another disastrous year for North America's Monarch butterflies, with the insect's population down 27% in a single year. The sudden decline is blamed on severe winter storms in Mexico, and the impacts of GMO crops, herbicides and insecticides on US farms. more...
Vaquita caught in a gillnet. Photo: Cristian Faezi & Omar Vidal via IUCN.

Vaquita going extinct as Mexico, China, dither

Aron White / EIA

6th February 2017

The world's smallest porpoise is fast heading to extinction, writes Aron White thanks to Mexico's failure to ban the use of gillnets in its range, and China's illegal imports of totoaba fish swim bladders, used in Chinese medicine. Without urgent and effective action the vaquita will soon disappear for good. more...
All four species of giraffe are now classified as 'Vulnerable'. Photo: Maarten Nijman via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

It's time to stand tall for imperilled giraffes

Bill Laurance, James Cook University

15th December 2016

The sudden shift from 'Least Concern' to 'Vulnerable' status for all four species of giraffe is a red flag for their survival, writes Bill Laurance. Hunted down by poachers with automatic weapons for their 'trophy' tails, their range fragmented by roads and mines, and their woodland habitat cleared for farms or burnt for charcoal, giraffes need our help, fast. more...
Gene drives could be used, for example, to attack fast-breeding pest species like aphids. But with what consequences on other species and wider ecosystems? Photo: Nigel Jones via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Biodiversity Convention call to block new 'genetic extinction' GMOs

GMWatch & The Ecologist

6th December 2016

160 global groups have called for a moratorium on new 'genetic extinction' technology at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Cancun, Mexico. Gene drive technology, they say, poses serious and irreversible threats to biodiversity, national sovereignty, peace and food security. more...
Amphibians are going extinct about 100 times faster than in the past. Rainforest tree frog, Costa Rica. Photo: Casey Atchley via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

The debate is over: Earth's sixth great extinction has arrived

Bill Laurance & Paul Ehrlich

18th November 2016

Limiting climate change is just the start of what we need to do to forestall a runaway cascade of species extinctions, write Bill Laurance & Paul Ehrlich. We must also reverse the destruction and fragmentation of key wildlife habitats, constrain our over-consumption of natural resources, stabilise human numbers - and elect leaders determined to prioritise these issues. more...

extinction: 1/25 of 118
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Once a rainforest ... land cleared for a palm oil plantation, Indonesia. Photo: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Privatizing nature, outsourcing governance: the economics of extinction

Margi Prideaux

7th November 2016

The 'Global Redesign Initiative', a project of the World Economic Forum, aims to replace UN-based intergovernmental decision-making with unaccountable 'multi-stakeholder governance' run by and for corporations, writes Margi Prideaux. What future for nature and people in this brave new world? Generate profits for investors, or face extinction or exclusion to the margins of existence. more...
The population merry-go-round has to stop somewhere. Photo: Marcelo deOliveira via Flickr (CC BY).

A Living Planet? Or endless population growth? We can't have both

Alistair Currie

27th October 2016

Today's Living Planet Report details the ongoing destruction of our natural environment, writes Alistair Currie. One solution that is necessary, realistic, ethical and ultimately unavoidable is to reduce the pressure on our planet caused by population growth. more...
Protestors march on the UK Prime Minister's Downing Street residence to demand a complete ban, in the UK and worldwide, on the trade in antique ivory. Photo: Paul Nicholls Photography.

Elephants: ten years left, and counting ...

Anneka Svenska

27th September 2016

Poaching of elephants and rhinos for their ivory tusks and horn is fast pushing these beautiful animals to extinction, writes Anneka Svenska. Decisive action is needed at the 17th CITES congress in South Africa to ban all international trade in these products, matched by equally strict laws at a national level. more...
Who ate all the pies? Robin redbreast on an English farm. Photo: John Bennett via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

'State of Nature' 2016 report shows continued loss of Britain's biodiversity

Susan Clark

14th September 2016

The 2016 'State of Nature' report, published today, offers many small victories to celebrate, writes SUSAN CLARK, but overall it's not good news: 15% of our native species are under threat of extinction, while 53% are in decline. With intensive farming the main cause of the damage, and climate change a serious long term problem, turning the tide of wildlife attrition will be a long and challenging task. more...
Durham Wildlife Trust volunteers surveying invertebrate populations at Stanley Moss, Sunniside, England. Photo: Dougie Nisbet via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

'State of Nature': a labour of love by Britain's conservation heroes

Dr Mark Eaton

14th September 2016

The 'State of Nature' report, published today, is the apex of a vast pyramid of loving and heroic toil by many thousands of volunteer naturalists, writes Dr Mark Eaton - hard at work in all seasons in our marshes, forests, mountains, swamps and farmland. But do we have the young recruits to keep this wonderful tradition going? more...
Sunset at Papeete, French Polynesia. Photo: Pilottage via Flickr (CC BY).

ALERT: Critically Endangered Species: Homo sapiens

Willemijn Heideman

11th May 2016

The IUCN has mysteriously placed Homo sapiens outside its systems of thinking when defining the criteria for Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable Species, writes Willemijn Heideman: our collective inability to tackle our existential crises makes our survival on this planet a highly uncertain prospect. more...
Emerald ash borer is a saproxylic beetle native to Asia which feeds on Ash. Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr (CC BY)

The fungus and the beetle: ash trees face wipeout from disease double whammy

Steve Woodward & Eric Boa

29th April 2016

Britain's ash woods are under threat from a fast-spreading 'dieback' disease, write Steve Woodward and Eric Boa. With 3% of ash trees resistant to the fungus, the species should just be able to survive. But now scientists fear the arrival of the Emerald ash borer beetle, already infesting forests in the US and mainland Europe. Could the two combine to push our ash trees into extinction? more...
Banggai Cardinalfish in their natural habitat. Photo: Fondation Franz Weber.

From coral reef to 'aquarium filler': the beauty of tropical fish is their doom

Monica Biondo / Fondation Franz Weber

15th April 2016

Gorgeous coral fish are to be seen everywhere, writes Monica Biondo, decorating aquariums in restaurants, doctors' offices and living rooms. The coral fish trade is booming! But it's destroying the reefs themselves, and driving many species to extinction. The Banggai Cardinalfish is among those unlikely to survive as this evil trade lays waste to them and their precious habitat. more...
How long before the entire Great Barrier Reef goes this way? Bleached coral at the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: John Howell via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Great Barrier Reef die-off - the latest harbinger of a global mass extinction?

James Dyke

12th April 2016

Large areas of the Great Barrier Reef are dying in what may be its greatest ever 'bleaching' event, writes James Dyke. The mass loss of the photosynthetic algae that sustain the coral is the result of this year's massive 'El NiƱo' perturbation to Pacific weather patterns, and global warming. Australia's response? The government has just approved leases for the world's biggest coal mine. more...
Mother and daughter: bison in the Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Bill Lile via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Buffalo slaughter in Yellowstone and the death of a spirit animal

Louise Willcox

5th April 2016

North American buffalo are officially 'vulnerable to global extinction', writes Louise Willcox, yet the US National Parks Service and Montana are intent on their wholesale slaughter. In place of a complete ecosystem with wild-roaming buffalo and grizzly bears, wildlife managers are systematically favoring the over-abundant elk that drive the politically powerful hunting industry. more...
Koala bears, like this one at Arcadia Bay, Queensland, Australia, are among the many species suffering from the state's large-scale land clearance. Photo: Richard Gifford via Flickr (CC BY).

Queensland's land clearance is costing Australia and its wildlife dear

Martine Maron, Bill Laurance & colleagues

22nd February 2016

Australia's rainforest state, Queensland, is destroying well over 100,000 hectares of native vegetation a year, and rising, write Martine Maron, Bill Laurance & colleagues, including 'at risk' habitats and Koala bear forests. This is more than reversing the entire nation's eco-restoration programs and pushing endangered species ever closer to extinction. more...
Still from video footage taken by a Brazilian government task force during a chance encounter with a Kawahiva tribe member in his rainforest home. Photo: FUNAI.

Brazil must save Amazon's Kawahiva tribe from genocide

Lewis Evans

8th February 2016

The Kawahiva, an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon rainforest, face extinction unless Brazil's government acts to secure their legal rights to land, security and to remain undisturbed by outsiders, writes Lewis Evans. The decree that would achieve this vital goal has been sitting on the Minister of Justice's desk since 2013. Let's make sure he signs it soon, before it's too late. more...
In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Green Leaves, Dead Leaves, Red Mushroom. Photo: John Britt via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

A Wild Liberty

Grant A. Mincy

18th January 2016

The world we inhabit is a miracle of billions of years of evolution as life has unfolded in its full beauty and diversity, writes Grant A. Mincy. But human activities - deforestation, mining, urbanisation, pollution, climate change - are tearing away at the functioning fabric of the living biosphere. A mass extinction is under way, and it must be halted, and reversed. But how? more...

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