Animals
“Himalayan Viagra” — the World’s Costliest Fungus — Is Added to IUCN Red List

“Himalayan Viagra” — the World’s Costliest Fungus — Is Added to IUCN Red List

This week Shivani Azad reported in Times of India that the “world’s costliest fungus,” Ophiocordyceps sinensis, was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species as a “vulnerable” species. The fungus, better known as “Himalayan Viagra,” yields profits on the global market between $5 billion and $11 billion  — in traditional Chinese medicine, it is a panacea for a  wide variety of medical issues, including as an aid to sexual performance.

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North Atlantic Right Whale and Many Species of Lemurs Now Critically Endangered

North Atlantic Right Whale and Many Species of Lemurs Now Critically Endangered

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is the global authority when it comes to whether a species is at risk of extinction, yesterday added the North Atlantic Right Whale of the eastern U.S. to its list of Critically Endangered species (elevated from Endangered) that are on the brink of extinction.  The IUCN also “upgraded” 13 different species of lemurs to the Critically Endangered list along with 20 other lemur species at risk of imminent extinction.

Why This Matters:  These species are on the verge of going extinct not because of anything they did, but rather because of us humans.

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One Turtle Thing: Tsunami Finds A Home In St. Louis

We just love a tsunami with a happy ending!  The Georgia Sea Turtle Center on St. Simons Island had been rehabilitating Tsunami, an endangered green sea turtle that was hit by a boat in 2017, for years with the hope of setting her free in the ocean.  But her injuries were too severe to survive […]

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Here’s How the US Government Can Help Prevent the Next Pandemic

Here’s How the US Government Can Help Prevent the Next Pandemic

By Will Gartshore, Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s an old aphorism that still rings painfully true today. Long before Covid-19, the three deadliest pandemics in human history—the bubonic plague, Spanish influenza and HIV/AIDS—claimed more lives than all the […]

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One Gnawing Problem: Beaver Dams Melting Arctic Permafrost

One Gnawing Problem: Beaver Dams Melting Arctic Permafrost

We know the permafrost in the Arctic is melting fast, but a new study finds that one of the reasons for its rapid decline may be that beavers are actually damming it up — literally.  CNN reports that using satellite images scientists have observed that beavers are building dams way farther north than previously observed.  […]

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Scientists Take “Anthropause” to Better Study Urban Animals

Scientists Take “Anthropause” to Better Study Urban Animals

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, animals have enjoyed the freedom of a quieter world by venturing further into cities and suburbs. While this “anthropause” has made for thrilling YouTube videos, scientists have taken the opportunity to study the effects of human activity across geographic regions, ecosystems, their effect on species. Researchers have been tracking animal movements […]

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NOAA Delays Urgently Needed Right Whale Protections Again

NOAA Delays Urgently Needed Right Whale Protections Again

The Boston Globe’s David Abel reported on Twitter last week that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is, according to court filings, delaying new protections for critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whales even after a court found the agency in violation of the Endangered Species Act for its failure to take action to protect them.

Why This Matters:  There are fewer than 400 North Atlantic Right Whales remaining.
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How Do New Diseases Like COVID-19 Originate In Wildlife Markets?

How Do New Diseases Like COVID-19 Originate In Wildlife Markets?

As Ferris Jabr explains in frightening detail in The New York Times Magazine, bats are “planets unto themselves, teeming with invisible ecosystems of fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Many of the viruses multiplying within the bats had circulated among their hosts for thousands of years, if not longer, using bat cells to replicate but rarely causing severe illness.”

Why This Matters: The hunter, by snatching the bats from their cave and selling them as food, he gave the viruses inside the bats a whole new world to inhabit in humans. 

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COVID-19 Is Devastating Ecotourism and That Makes Another Pandemic Even More Likely

COVID-19 Is Devastating Ecotourism and That Makes Another Pandemic Even More Likely

Wildlife sanctuaries, game reserves, and national parks in Asia, Africa, and South America have closed during the COVID-19 pandemic as borders have been shut, visas restricted and quarantines enforced to limit the spread of the virus.

Why This Matters:  Globally this drastic reduction (80% in most places) translates into losses of trillions of dollars and millions of jobs to local communities for whom this is their only income, and these declines in travel are expected to last at least a year.

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Can New Technology Save the North Atlantic Right Whale? Yes, But Only If It’s Used

Earlier this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report on large whale entanglements, looking at data from 2007 to 2018, and found that entanglements are up significantly, with 80% of those involving fishing gear. 

Why This Matters:  Emerging technologies that eliminate the ropes in the water column have been developed — the “catch” is getting fishers to use it.

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One Cool Thing: Border Collies Help Relocate Birds from VA Construction Project

One Cool Thing: Border Collies Help Relocate Birds from VA Construction Project

As Chesapeake Bay Magazine recently wrote, the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Project needs to encourage birds that used to build nests on part of the connector to move to a new site. To make sure they don’t come back, the project has brought in a pack of working dogs to get the job done–border collies […]

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Trump Administration Moves to Ease Restrictions on Hunting Alaskan Bear Cubs and Wolf Pups

Trump Administration Moves to Ease Restrictions on Hunting Alaskan Bear Cubs and Wolf Pups

Yesterday, the Trump administration overturned an Obama-era ban on hunters in Alaska national preserves baiting bears or killing denning bear cubs and wolf pups and other practices that have been declared barbaric by environmental groups and the Obama administration. As Reuters reported, “Under the new National Park Service rule, effective July 9, hunting on natural […]

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