Mongabay, 4:51 am
A DNA database system is helping authorities prosecute and convict poachers and rhino horn traffickers in Africa. RhODIS, as the system is called, is built on a foundational database with genetic information from nearly 4,000 individual rhinos. By comparing the frequencies of alleles in confiscated horn and horn products with those in tissue from a poached animal, investigators can then come up with a probable match for where that horn came from.
Mongabay, 8:28 am
Camera traps have proven to be a powerful tool in conservationists’ arsenal for monitoring forests and wildlife. But the mountains of data they capture need to be sifted through in order to be useful, which often presents a significant challenge for cash-strapped conservationists and researchers. To meet this challenge, a team led by Anabelle Cardoso, a PhD candidate at Oxford University in the UK, has turned to citizen science.
Mongabay, 9:00 am
Several black rhinos in Tanzania’s Mkomazi National Park have had small, networked sensors embedded directly in their horns in order to allow park rangers to monitor the animals much more closely than in the past. The sensors make use of Long Range Wide Area Network technology, designed to allow low-powered devices, like sensors in rhino horns, to communicate with Internet-connected devices, like computers in a ranger station, over long-range wireless networks.
Mongabay, 10:26 am
Researchers using DNA barcoding technology found that over 70 percent of shark fins and ray gill plates, collected from sellers in multiple countries, came from threatened species. They determined the species of 129 dried commercial fin and gill samples. The study’s findings support the use of DNA barcoding as a tool to help enforcement agencies determine whether processed specimens derive from legal or illegal species.
Mongabay, 4:16 am
Remote sensing technology can provide useful intelligence to Ugandan park managers in forest monitoring, but must be combined with an understanding of its limitations. The near real-time alerts of likely deforestation could make forest patrols more efficient and effective, but rangers must still have proper training, incentives, and resources to properly integrate alerts into their regular functions.
Mongabay, 12:37 pm
An 8-pound monkey can cost $105 in Paris compared to $5.37 in Cameroon. In Europe’s biggest cities, demand for exotic delicacies or a “taste of home” drives a trade in African bushmeat that is as yet unquantified. African traffickers can get high prices for increasingly rare African species. The influx of bushmeat is small compared to the greater crisis in Africa. “Africa is eating its forests and we are looking at empty forest syndrome,” a stakeholder said. As African species get rarer and fetch a higher price abroad, Europe and the U.S. could become bigger bushmeat markets.
Mongabay, 1:34 pm
Ethiopia has failed to make the most of emission reduction projects that allow developing countries to sell certified carbon credits, a stakeholder said. Making carbon credits marketable requires time, substantial investment and resources. Even then, a prospective buyer might reject them. Proponents say the carbon trading projects can’t come soon enough. The country is losing five times more forest than it’s planting. If Ethiopia is strategic, it can sell abundant resources like water to help power industrialization, boost tourism, boost electricity generation and create a wealthy green economy. And it’s renewable.
Mongabay, 3:04 pm
Lemurs — small primates endemic to Madagascar — are among the most endangered mammals on Earth. A new computer-assisted recognition system — LemurFaceID — can use facial characteristics of lemurs from photos taken in the wild to identify them. The technology could remove many limitations of traditional identification and could do it faster, cheaper and more accurately than other traditional methods, researchers say. It could even help track lemurs taken from their natural habitat by wildlife traffickers.
Mongabay, 9:25 am
There’s a mistaken belief that Africa is a continent of empty, freely available land open for development. Companies investing in land in Africa feel they can cut a deal with the government, raze the land, and create vast plantations. “No land is unclaimed,” a stakeholder said. “Uprooting communities without their consent from their lands and traditional livelihoods creates conflicts and social unrest.” Most disputes involving private investments in Africa – 63 percent – relate to local people being displaced off their land. These disputes affect sugarcane and palm oil production, mining for gold, diamonds and coal, and green energy to harvest wind and solar power.