Large swaths of Arctic sea ice shrink every summer in the northern ocean, but September 2012 showed the lowest amount of sea ice on record. Changes to the Arctic environment affect communities and species—especially ice-dependent animals like polar bears. WWF’s Rhys Gerholdt visited the frozen Arctic to see polar bears and reflects on the challenges ahead in this rapidly changing climate.
The communities and wildlife of the Northern Great Plains have not suffered the fate of the Dust Bowl on the Southern Plains. But threats loom—runaway oil and gas development, a changing climate, and agriculture policies that incentivize conversion of grasslands and wetlands to crops, regardless of expectations for crop success.
There are fewer than 100 Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River of Southeast Asia, and researchers fear the numbers are shrinking even further. But now the dolphins may have something to smile about. In September local government agencies in Cambodia agreed to work with WWF to conserve dolphins and minimize or eliminate deaths from gillnets.
A population increase for mountain gorillas is proof that the intense and innovative efforts of the conservation community are bringing positive change. A recent census by the Uganda Wildlife Authority identified 400 mountain gorillas in Bwindi National Park bringing the overall population estimate to 880, an increase from the 786 estimated in 2010.
WWF’s campaign to stop wildlife crime gained a powerful champion—U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On November 8, the U.S. State Department held an unprecedented event on illegal wildlife trafficking and conservation. In her remarks, Secretary Clinton called for an end to illicit wildlife trafficking, which she emphasized as a major foreign policy and security issue.
Crawford Allan, Regional Director, TRAFFIC North America, has translated his passion for the natural world into a long and fulfilling career. While he has seen the impact of illegal killing of rare species first hand and uncovered illicit wildlife trade in blackmarkets in dozens of countries, he remains hopeful.
The Mekong River’s spectacular biodiversity, rich fisheries and the livelihoods of millions are all at grave risk after the government of Laos broke ground on November 7, 2012 on a massive hydropower dam. The Xayaburi dam will be the first dam to span the entire mainstem of the lower Mekong River—home to more than 1100 freshwater fish species.
On November 6, 2012, the Government of Mozambique announced the creation of the second largest marine protected area in Africa. Made up of ten islands off the coast of northern Mozambique, this coastal marine reserve in the Primeiras and Segundas Archipelago will cover more than 4020 square miles and contains abundant coral and turtle species.
Record rains in 2011, coupled with a tradition of environmental leadership and citizen engagement, moved the city of Burlington, Vermont, to update its Climate Action Plan and join WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge. Hear their story and learn why Jennifer Green, the city’s sustainability coordinator, is determined to make a difference.
Camera traps have captured the first-ever photographic evidence of the Pallas’s cat in Bhutan’s Wangchuck Centennial Park (WCP). Also known as manul, this cat is a primitive species, defined by a strikingly flat head with high-set eyes and low-set ears that enable it to peer over rocky ledges in search of prey.
There is new and critical protection for wildlife and indigenous communities in one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. The government of Peru designated three new Amazon protected areas-encompassing nearly 1.5 million acres-securing a tri-national conservation corridor.
The ovulid sea snail boasts a remarkable ability to camouflage itself by taking on the appearance of its favorite food—corals. A new underwater survey by WWF and other scientists recently found at least 25 different species of these beautifully colored and patterned snails in an area of the Coral Triangle. The two-and-a-half-week survey was part of a scientific expedition to explore the underwater world of Tun Mustapha Park—a proposed marine protected area.
By the year 2050, our planet will be home to another two billion people. How and where we will we feed everyone has become one of the most pressing conservation issues of the 21st century. At WWF, we have identified eight steps, when taken together, could produce enough food for all and still maintain a living planet.
On October 18, 2012, Russia established the “Sredneussuriisky” Wildlife Refuge—covering nearly 180,000 acres—which will allow Amur tigers access between Russia’s Sikhote-Alin mountains and the Wandashan mountains in China.
There is new hope for conservation of the world’s oceans. Governments discussing the Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderbad, India, on Thursday, October 18, 2012 agreed on a way forward to protect oceans and initiated a process to improve conservation standards for marine areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The maize harvest is a crucial source of food for the Kakwenga family in but erratic rains and raids by elephants make a good harvest problematic. Farmers can’t guard their crops twenty-four hours a day so they have started using chili bombs—a mixture of ingredients which give off a spicy, pungent smell that offends elephants’ sensitive trunks and drives them away from crops.
The Sunda Banda Seacape in eastern Indonesia includes a wide variety of communities and provides critical habitat for many marine species. WWF is working with the Indonesian Government to create a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which will span thousands of square miles and help protect the ocean environment.
Indonesia is home to the only population of Javan rhinos left on the planet. Only about 40 of these rhinos exist there—making the Javan rhino one of the rarest mammals in the world. Because the Javan rhino population is so small and isolated, WWF and its partners are seeking wide agreement and political endorsement for a new, safe and healthy Javan rhino habitat.
On September 21, 2012, WWF and The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) announced a first-ever partnership with faith leaders from across Africa to unite against the killing of endangered species caused by illegal wildlife trade.