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For Valentine's Day: Heart-shaped lichen in Madagascar




(02/14/2013) Heart-shaped lichen in Madagascar. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

I photographed this heart-shaped lichen in Madagascar's Ranomafana National Park in 2009. I don't know the species. Any ideas?

Continue reading: For Valentine's Day: Heart-shaped lichen in Madagascar





Happy Holidays from Mongabay




(12/25/2012) Red-eyed tree frog. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Happy holidays and best wishes for 2013 from all of us at Mongabay.com

Continue reading: Happy Holidays from Mongabay





Best of 2012 - Colorful tiger beetle in Java




(12/21/2012) Colorful tiger beetle in Java. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

A colorful beetle in Ujung Kulon National Park on the island of Java in Indonesia. I haven't identified the species. Any ideas?

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Colorful tiger beetle in Java





Best of 2012 - Voracious insect-killing machine in Borneo




(12/20/2012) Treefrog in the Borneo rainforest. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

While most people think of frogs as harmless, to their prey they are highly-effective killing machines. This treefrog, like virtually all other frogs, is carnivorous, feeding on arthropods in the rainforest of Borneo. I haven't yet identified the species — if anyone recognizes it, please let me know in the comments.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Voracious insect-killing machine in Borneo





Best of 2012 - Borneo rainforest




(12/20/2012) Borneo rainforest. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

Lowland rainforest in Sabah, on the island of Borneo. Most of Borneo's old-growth lowland rainforests have been destroyed since 1980. Most of the remaining forest in the lowland has been selectively logged, cleared, or converted for agriculture and plantations.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Borneo rainforest





Best of 2012 - Where rainforest meets the sea in Madagascar




(12/19/2012) Tampolo Marine Park. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

Tampolo Marine Park is located on Madagascar's famed Masoala Peninsula. Once a logging concession, the forest is now recovering and part of the protected area. The marine zone of the park has clear waters and coral reefs.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Where rainforest meets the sea in Madagascar





Best of 2012 - Conversion of lowland rainforest in Borneo for palm oil production




(12/19/2012) Conversion of lowland rainforest in Borneo for palm oil production. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

Aerial picture of forest clearing for an oil palm plantation in Malaysian Borneo.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Conversion of lowland rainforest in Borneo for palm oil production





Best of 2012 - Draco lizard hanging on a twig




(12/18/2012) Draco lizard at night in Sabah, Malaysia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

Draco lizard at night in Sabah, Malaysia.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Draco lizard hanging on a twig





Best of 2012 - Yellow land planarian




(12/18/2012) Yellow land planaria on Peucang Island, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

Yellow jungle planaria on Peucang Island, Indonesia

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Yellow land planarian





Best of 2012 - White sand beach in Indonesia




(12/16/2012) Beach on Peucang Island, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

White sand beach on Peucang Island, off the western tip of Java, Indonesia.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - White sand beach in Indonesia





Best of 2012 - Forest in Arizona




(12/16/2012) Forest in the West Fork of Oak Creek, Coconino National Forest, Arizona. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

Forest in Coconino National Forest, Arizona.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Forest in Arizona





Best of 2012 - Can you find the camouflaged frog?




(12/15/2012) Stream frog on Nosy Mangabe. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is a well-camouflaged frog on Nosy Mangabe, an island in the Bay on Antongil, Madagascar. Do you know the species?

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Can you find the camouflaged frog?





Best of 2012 - Baobab in Madagascar




(12/14/2012) Diego Suarez Baobab (Adansonia suarezensis) in Ankarana Special Reserve. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is a baobab tree in Ankarana Special Reserve.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Baobab in Madagascar





Best of 2012 - Mating frogs in the Borneo rainforest




(12/14/2012) Mating frogs in the Borneo rainforest. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

These frogs were in amplexus on the forest floor near the Kinabatangan River in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. I haven't identified the species. Any ideas?

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Mating frogs in the Borneo rainforest





Best of 2012 - Limestone cave in Bonito, Brazil




(12/13/2012) Abismo de Anhumas cavern. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is Abismo de Anhumas cavern near Bonito, Brazil.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Limestone cave in Bonito, Brazil





Best of 2012 - Backlit forest dragon in Borneo




(12/13/2012) Backlit forest dragon in Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is a forest dragon taken on a night hike at MESCOT on the Kinabatangan River.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Backlit forest dragon in Borneo





Best of 2012 - Canopy of a Banyan tree in Hawaii




(12/11/2012) Canopy of a Banyan tree in Hawaii. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is the view up the main trunk of a Banyan tree on the Big Island of Hawaii. Taken December 10, 2012.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Canopy of a Banyan tree in Hawaii





Best of 2012 - a cryptic gecko in Madagascar




(12/11/2012) Uroplatus gecko in Madagascar. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.



Continue reading: Best of 2012 - a cryptic gecko in Madagascar





Best of 2012 - Jungle river in Borneo




(12/11/2012) Kinabatangan River in Malaysian Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is the world-famous Kinabatangan River near its mouth. The Kinabatangan is renowned for its high density of wildlife despite large deforestation for oil palm in the surrounding area.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Jungle river in Borneo





Best of 2012 - Glowing red-orange fungi in Madagascar




(12/11/2012) Glowing red-orange fungi in Madagascar. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is some type of fungi on the Masoala Peninsular in Madagascar.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Glowing red-orange fungi in Madagascar





Best of 2012 - California redwood forest




(12/09/2012) Redwood forest in Muir Woods National Monument, Marin County, CA. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is the redwood forest of Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, California.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - California redwood forest





Best of 2012 - Male crowned lemur in Madagascar




(12/09/2012) Crowned lemur in Madagascar. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is a male crowned lemur in Madagascar's Ankarana Special Reserve.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Male crowned lemur in Madagascar





Best of 2012 - Snorkeling in the 'natural aquarium', a freshwater river in Brazil




(12/08/2012) The natural aquarium in Bonito, Brazil. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is the 'natural aquarium' in Bonito, Brazil. Bonito is famous for its clear water rivers, which are a product of the karst rock formations in the region. Rainfall is filtered through limestone, reducing sediment load.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Snorkeling in the 'natural aquarium', a freshwater river in Brazil





Best of 2012 - Forest dragon in Borneo




(12/07/2012) Forest dragon in Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is an agamid lizard in Danum Valley, an area of rich rainforest in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. I was in Sabah twice this year looking at logging and oil palm plantations.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Forest dragon in Borneo





Best of 2012 - Rainforest of Madagascar's Masoala Peninsula




(12/06/2012) Rainforest of Madagascar's Masoala Peninsula. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

Home to rainforests, coral reefs, and rich marine life in the Bay of Antongil, Madagascar's Masoala Peninsula is one of the most biodiverse places on earth. This picture shows a forest stream within Masoala National Park.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Rainforest of Madagascar's Masoala Peninsula





Best of 2012 - Giant day gecko in Madagascar




(12/06/2012) Giant day gecko in Madagascar. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is a Giant Madagascar day gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis) in Ankarana Special Reserve in northern Madagascar. The Giant day gecko is found widely in Madagascar. It is also commonly kept in the pet trade.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Giant day gecko in Madagascar





Best of 2012 - Emerging cicada in Java




(12/05/2012) Emerging cicada in Java. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is a cicada emerging from its nymph skin on Peucang Island, off the western tip of Java, Indonesia. Taken during a trip with the Rhino Patrol Unit to Ujung Kulon National Park in search of signs of the Javan rhino

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Emerging cicada in Java





Best of 2012 - Evidence of logging vs. conservation as seen above a river in Borneo




(12/05/2012) Where two rivers join in Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This image shows the stark contrast between two rivers: one muddy where logging occurs upstream; the other dark with tannins and borne of a pristine watershed.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Evidence of logging vs. conservation as seen above a river in Borneo





Best of 2012 - Female black lemur in Madagascar




(12/04/2012) Female black lemur on Nosy Komba, an island off northern Madagascar. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is a Female black lemur on Nosy Komba, an island off northern Madagascar. Today black lemurs area big draw for tourists to visit Nosy Komba, which lies between the island tourist hub of Nosy Be and mainland Madagascar.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Female black lemur in Madagascar





Best of 2012 - Sunset off the tip of Java




(12/04/2012) Sunset off the tip of Java. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is a view from Peucang Island, off the western tip of Java, Indonesia.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Sunset off the tip of Java





Best of 2012 - Borneo frog




(12/03/2012) Tree frog in Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is a tree frog I photographed in Danum Valley in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Does anyone recognize the species?

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Borneo frog





Best of 2012 - Cinnamon Roller in Madagascar




(12/02/2012) Cinnamon Roller (Eurystomus glaucurus). Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is a Cinnamon Roller in Ankarafantsika National Park. These birds are very common in the camp ground at the entrance of the park. They are quite vocal.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Cinnamon Roller in Madagascar





Best of 2012 - Nile River sunset in Aswan




(12/02/2012) Sunset over the Nile River in Egypt. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is the view from Aswan, Egypt in early January.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Nile River sunset in Aswan





Best of 2012 - Turquoise water of a collapsed cave in Brazil




(12/01/2012) Turquoise blue water of Bonito's Lagoa Misteriosa, a collapsed limestone cave. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

For the month of December, I'll be posting some of my favorite pictures from 2012. All of these photos were taken during the course of my reporting travels.

This is Lagoa Misteriosa, a collapsed limestone cave near Bonito, Brazil. The visibility here can exceed 40 meters.

Continue reading: Best of 2012 - Turquoise water of a collapsed cave in Brazil





Glow-in-the-dark mushrooms in Borneo




(11/11/2012) Glow-in-the-dark mushrooms in Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Glowing fungi are found in tropical forests around the world. They are common enough that their bioluminescence has a term: foxfire.

This particular mushroom, found along the Kinabatangan in the state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, is likely a species of Mycena, more than 30 types of which are known to be bioluminescent.

Continue reading: Glow-in-the-dark mushrooms in Borneo





Crowned lemur in Madagascar




(11/06/2012) Crowned lemur at a camp site in Ankarana National Park, Madagascar. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Continue reading: Crowned lemur in Madagascar





The minuscule leaf chameleon in Madagascar




(11/02/2012) Leaf chameleon (Brookesia species) in the hand of a forest guide on the Masoala Peninsula, Madagascar. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

This is a full grown chameleon. Brookesia are among the smallest lizards on the planet.

Continue reading: The minuscule leaf chameleon in Madagascar





The Fossa, Madagascar's largest carnivore




(11/01/2012) A captive fossa near Andasibe, Madagascar.

The fossa is Madagascar's largest carnivore. While it looks like a cross between a puma and a dog, the fossa is actually related to the mongoose. It is one of the few animals in Madagascar that hunts lemurs.

Continue reading: The Fossa, Madagascar's largest carnivore





Gorgeous Parson's chameleon




(10/31/2012) Parson's chameleon near Analamazoatra Reserve.

Continue reading: Gorgeous Parson's chameleon





Ankarana Sportive Lemur in Madagascar




(10/30/2012) Ankarana Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur ankaranensis) in Ankarana, Madagascar.

I just returned from 3+ weeks in Madagascar where I was looking into the illegal rosewood trade and other stories. I'll be posting a picture a day for the couple of weeks as a preview to the set that will eventually be online.

Continue reading: Ankarana Sportive Lemur in Madagascar





Jaguar skull




(10/15/2012) Jaguar skull in Guyana. Jaguars are the biggest cat in the Americas. Photo by: Tiffany Roufs.

Continue reading: Jaguar skull





A common sight: the grey squirrel




(10/09/2012) For those living in North America, this animal is one of the most commonly sighted: the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). It is also an invasive species in Britain, Ireland, Italy, and South Africa. Animal photographed in northern Minnestoa. Photo by: Jeremy Hance.

Continue reading: A common sight: the grey squirrel





Tarantula laying eggs




(10/01/2012) Tarantula laying eggs at night in Yasuni National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Continue reading: Tarantula laying eggs





Looking skyward in a bamboo grove




(09/27/2012) Bamboo forest in Haleakala National Park Maui, Hawaii.

Continue reading: Looking skyward in a bamboo grove





Sunrise on the Hana coast of Maui




(09/27/2012) Sunrise on the Hana coast of Maui.

Continue reading: Sunrise on the Hana coast of Maui





Rainforest canopy tree in Sumatra, Indonesia




(09/24/2012) Compass tree in the Indonesian rainforest on Sumatra.

The canopy is the richest region of the diverse rainforest, and ranges in thickness from 10-40 feet (3-12 m). Countless species usually thought of as ground dwellers have adapted to life in the canopy—including worms, crabs, frogs, kangaroos, anteaters, and porcupines—where they feed on the abundance of fruits, seeds, and leaves or the numerous animals that are attracted these foods.

This particular image is from North Sumatra's Gunung Leuser National Park, which is best-known for its orangutans, but also supports other endangered species like tigers.

Continue reading: Rainforest canopy tree in Sumatra, Indonesia





Baby sea turtle headed out to sea




(09/22/2012) Baby Olive ridley sea turtle headed out to sea in Costa Rica.

Between natural predators and hazards, baby sea turtles face steep odds — only one in 5,000-10,000 survive to adulthood. These odds are made worse by threats from humans: coastal development, fishing nets, garbage, pollution, and domesticated animals, to name a few.

Continue reading: Baby sea turtle headed out to sea





The Borugo, a rodent of unusual size from South America




(09/20/2012) Borugo in Colombia.

The Borugo or Mountain Paca is a large seed-eating rodent found in the montane forests of South America. It is commonly hunted for its meat.

Continue reading: The Borugo, a rodent of unusual size from South America





Green iguana on pink flowers




(09/20/2012) Young green iguana in Eastern Colombia.

When visiting Casanare in Eastern Colombia I noticed this young iguana in a flowering shrub. I couldn't believe my luck — the color contrast was stunning. And surprisingly, the iguana showed little fear, allowing me to approach for this closeup shot using a macro lens.

Continue reading: Green iguana on pink flowers





Tree-climbing lion of Uganda




(09/18/2012) Tree-climbing lion of Uganda.

The lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda spend an unusual amount of time in trees. It's unclear why they exhibit this behavior, but the park is now famous for its 'tree-climbing lions'.

Continue reading: Tree-climbing lion of Uganda





Blue Monkey on Mt Kenya




(09/17/2012) The blue monkey -- also known as Sykes' Monkey (Cercopithecus albogularis) -- on Mt Kenya.

The Kenyan government recently announced plans to build an electric fence around Mt. Kenya to discourage animals from venturing into farms and populated areas around Africa's second largest peat. Once completed the fence will be 400 km (250 miles) long and stand 2 meters (six-and-a-half feet) high.

Continue reading: Blue Monkey on Mt Kenya





Great Barrier Reef




(09/16/2012) Great Barrier Reef.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef, yet despite its size, scientists warn it is particularly vulnerable to human activities, including agricultural pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that are acidifying the ocean and raising temperatures.

Continue reading: Great Barrier Reef





Red Panda Day




(09/15/2012) Red panda.

Today is International Red Panda Day, which aims help to raise awareness about red pandas. Dozens of zoos around the world are participating in this year's event.

This Red Panda Day the Red Panda Network is working to mobilize support for the Red Panda Network Community Conservation Resource Center in Nepal.

"The goal of the Center is to educate visitors on the value of their local natural resources and the unique endangered species that call the region home, focusing on red panda," according to the Red Panda Network. "It hopes to be a demonstration site for innovative conservation technology that local villagers can implement in their own villages and homes."

Continue reading: Red Panda Day





African elephant in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park




(09/14/2012) African elephant.

An African elephant in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park. This elephant was blocking the road so we waited about 20 minutes until it went on its way.

Continue reading: African elephant in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park





The Magnificent Red-eyed Tree Frog




(09/13/2012) Red-eyed tree frog.

The red-eyed tree frog is one of my favorite animals. Contrary to popular belief, it is not toxic or dangerous.

The red-eyed tree frog lives in Central America and the Pacific coast of Colombia. It is bred widely in captivity for the pet trade and is not endangered.

This frog's red eyes are thought to be a defensive mechanism to startle predators.

Continue reading: The Magnificent Red-eyed Tree Frog





Resurrection of the nature photoblog




(09/12/2012) Forest on Sapi island off the coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

I've taken lots of photos in two years since I discontinued this section of mongabay — in fact I've posted more than 20,000 pictures during that time.

Starting today, I'm re-launching the inspire photoblog to highlight places, people, and wildlife I've photographed during my reporting trips for mongabay.com. I hope you enjoy.

Continue reading: Resurrection of the nature photoblog





Farewell to mongabay's photoblog




(09/12/2010) Dani tribesman in Papua. August 2010.

Effective today, mongabay will be discontinuing the inspire photoblog.

Launched as an experiment in February, inspire.mongabay.com failed to garner interest from the mongabay community, drawing less than 30,000 visitors in six months. However, this end also marks a new beginning: next month, mongabay will relaunch its blog after a two-year hiatus. The blog will include elements of inspire, including regular photo posting.

For those who did enjoy inspire, thank you for your support and I hope you like the more expansive blog launching in October.

Continue reading: Farewell to mongabay's photoblog





3D forest mapping with lasers reveals substantial climate impact of selective logging in the Amazon




(09/07/2010) A new high-resolution airborne and satellite mapping approach provides detailed information on carbon stocks in Amazonia. This image shows an area of road building and development adjacent to primary forest in red tones, and secondary forest regrowth in green tones. Image from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, Carnegie Institution for Science.

Scientists using a combination of satellite imagery, airborne-laser technology, and ground-based plot surveys to create three-dimensional high resolution carbon maps of the Amazon rainforest have documented a surge in emissions from deforestation and selective logging following the paving of the Trans-Oceanic Highway in Peru.

Continue reading: 3D forest mapping with lasers reveals substantial climate impact of selective logging in the Amazon





Collared Puffbird in the place with the world's highest biodiversity




(09/07/2010) Collared Puffbird (Bucco capensis)

Continue reading: Collared Puffbird in the place with the world's highest biodiversity





Peeking macaque




(08/31/2010) Fruit stuffed in its mouth, this long-tailed macaque peeks at the photographer from a rooftop in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Continue reading: Peeking macaque





Gecko meet insect




(08/30/2010) The giant leaf tailed gecko of Madagascar, Uroplatus fimbriatus, hangs out above a flying insect. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Continue reading: Gecko meet insect





Colombian cowboys on the move




(08/29/2010) Cowboys in Colombia herd cattle across a river in the Choco-Darien forests. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2010.

Continue reading: Colombian cowboys on the move





Micro frog discovered in Borneo




(08/26/2010) A new species of miniature frog was discovered in Borneo. Microhyla nepenthicola, shown here on the tip of a pencil, is about the size of a pea.

Continue reading: Micro frog discovered in Borneo





Frog shadow in New Guinea




(08/26/2010) Frog near Manokwari in West Papua, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler in August 2010

Continue reading: Frog shadow in New Guinea





Hanging out




(08/19/2010) Bats hang out in a limestone cave in Malaysia's Taman Negara National Park. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2006.

Continue reading: Hanging out





Loggers' church




(08/18/2010) A Christian church in a logging camp in Guyana. Photo by: Jeremy Hance, 2008.

Continue reading: Loggers' church





Red, magenta, orange, and yellow mystery insect from New Guinea




(08/16/2010) Katydid nymph in West Papua, on the island of New Guinea. Photo by Rhett A. Butler, August 2010.

Continue reading: Red, magenta, orange, and yellow mystery insect from New Guinea





Triple waterfalls




(08/15/2010) The Tad Lo waterfalls in Laos. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

Continue reading: Triple waterfalls





Hunting endangers even the most untouched regions of the Amazon




(08/12/2010) Hunters orphaned this baby giant anteater. Photo courtesy by Paul Rosolie.


There are places in the Amazon that remain almost untouched by any kind of development. Animals here, according to modern day explorer and guide Paul Rosolie, survive in their natural abundance. They also act differently: jaguars will sun themselves in plain site and peccaries will make as much noise as they please, showing little fear of human. Yet, even these last truly wild places are coming under increasing pressure by hunters seeking to fill a growing market for bushmeat, impacting wild populations and shifting animals' behavior.

Continue reading: Hunting endangers even the most untouched regions of the Amazon





Wooden effigies of the dead




(08/11/2010) Wooden effigies of the dead line cliff walls at Lemo on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Continue reading: Wooden effigies of the dead





Eaten to endangerment: the giant forest snail




(08/10/2010) The giant tropical land snail Archachatina bicarinata. Photo courtesy of Martin Dallimer.

The newest subject of our Forgotten Species series, Archachatina bicarinata is endemic to the islands of Sao Tome and Principe off the west coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea. The species has likely undergone a significant decline due to overharvesting for food says researchers Martin Dallimer. Regulations on the snail trade need to be put in place if this species is not to vanish.

Continue reading: Eaten to endangerment: the giant forest snail





The tiger longwing




(08/09/2010) A beautiful tiger longwing butterfly (Heliconius hecale) in Tayrona National Park in Colombia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2010.

First described in 1776, the species is found from Central America down through much of the Amazon rainforest.

Continue reading: The tiger longwing





Jaguar skull




(08/08/2010) The skull of America’s biggest cat in Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development in Guyana. Photo by: Tiffany Roufs.

The jaguar (Panthera onca) is classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List. The species is suffering from habitat loss and persecution.

Continue reading: Jaguar skull





Compounding threats--not just palm oil--put orangutans at risk




(08/06/2010) A female Sumatran orangutan in Gunung Leuser National Park in Indonesia. Photo taken by Rhett A. Butler in May 2010.

While palm oil gets most of the press coverage, orangutans face a variety of threats, including hunting by rural populations, says orangutan expert Erik Meijaard in an exclusive interview with mongabay.com.

Continue reading: Compounding threats--not just palm oil--put orangutans at risk





Toad in the hole




(08/05/2010) An unidentified ground toad peeking out in Mato Grosso, Brazil. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

If you have any information on this orb spider species please contact me.

Continue reading: Toad in the hole





Stunning blue and turquoise beetle in New Guinea




(08/04/2010) The stunning blue and turquoise Eupholus bennetti weevil in West Papua (Indonesia) on the island of New Guinea.

Continue reading: Stunning blue and turquoise beetle in New Guinea





Cheetah and African wild dogs go extinct in Cameroon




(08/03/2010) A cheetah rests on a termite mound in Kenya. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

A three year study has found that cheetahs and African wild dogs have vanished from Cameroon. In addition the nation's other big carnivores are in trouble in the central-west African nation. Numerous studies have shown that the loss of top predators results in changes across ecosystems, including population explosion of some herbivores, extinctions down the food chain, shifts in plant communities, and a general loss in overall biodiversity.

Continue reading: Cheetah and African wild dogs go extinct in Cameroon





Vezo children dancing on a sand dune in Madagascar




(08/02/2010) Two Vezo children dance on a sand dune in Tulear Arovana (Ankorohoke), Madagascar. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

The Vezo are a semi-nomadic people who live on the west coast of Madagascar. They rely wholly on fishing for their livelihood.

Continue reading: Vezo children dancing on a sand dune in Madagascar





The humble, sometimes helpful, sometimes deadly, fly




(08/01/2010) Unidentified red-eyed fly on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. If you have any information on this species please contact me. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Often despised at best as pesky and at worst as carriers of deadly diseases, flies are rarely favorites in the animal kingdom. Yet flies do play important roles in ecosystems: feeding on feces, dead animals, and other decaying matter flies act as natural decomposers. Some flies also act as pollinators. In addition, a number of other species depend on flies for as prey.

Continue reading: The humble, sometimes helpful, sometimes deadly, fly





Alpine forest to cool you off




(07/29/2010) Given that the last six months have been the warmest on record worldwide, here's an alpine forest in Brian's Head Utah to remember cold weather by. Consider it visual air-conditioning. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2008.

Continue reading: Alpine forest to cool you off





An acrobatic chacma baboon




(07/28/2010) We watched this wily gray-footed chacma baboon (Papio ursinus griseipes) for a good fifteen minutes as it posed for us in the Okavango Delta. Photo by: Tiffany Roufs, 2009.

Continue reading: An acrobatic chacma baboon





Unidentified orb spider hangs out in Colombia




(07/27/2010) An unidentified orb spider in Colombia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2010.

If you have any information on this orb spider species please contact me.

Continue reading: Unidentified orb spider hangs out in Colombia





Weird world of corals: they can hear!




(07/26/2010) Coral in Belize. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

As coral reefs are imperiled worldwide by rising temperatures and ocean acidification, researchers are just beginning to uncover their secrets, including the fact that corals actually 'listen' for a good spot to settle.

Continue reading: Weird world of corals: they can hear!





Planned road to sever Serengeti




(07/25/2010) African buffalo at sunset in the Maasai Mara, the Kenyan side of the world famous Serengeti plains. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

A planned road in Tanzania threatens to cut through Serengeti National Park, the southern end of one of Africa's greatest spectacles. While the government says the road will not impact wildlife, world-renowned conservationist Richard Leakey argues that the road will eventually 'kill the migration' of wildebeest and other animals that powers the savanna's ecosystem every year. The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has proposed two alternate road routes to save the Serengeti.

Continue reading: Planned road to sever Serengeti





Ladder to the rainforest canopy: a strangler fig in Indonesia




(07/23/2010) Strangler fig in Tangkoko Sulawesi. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2010.

Strangler figs starts life as a tiny seed in the canopy. The roots grow down to the forest floor where they take root and begin to take nutrients from the soil. Gradually the roots wrap around the host tree, widen, and slowly form a lattice-work that surround the host's trunk. The fig's crown grows foliage which soon overshadows the tree. Eventually, the host tree dies leaving the fig with a hollow trunk-which is easily climbed thanks to the many openings in the trunk. Figs are often the only tree species remaining after forest clearing since their knotted and twisted wood is shunned by loggers.

Continue reading: Ladder to the rainforest canopy: a strangler fig in Indonesia





Unidentified hornbill in Sumatra




(07/22/2010) An unidentified hornbill poses in Sumatra. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2010.

Continue reading: Unidentified hornbill in Sumatra





Indonesian farmer




(07/21/2010) An Indonesian farmer near Gunung Kawi in Bali. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2010.

Continue reading: Indonesian farmer





Infant crested black macaque




(07/20/2010) An infant crested black macaque (Macaca nigra). Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2010.

Endemic to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, the crested black macaque is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. The primate is threatened by habitat loss and hunting for bushmeat.

Continue reading: Infant crested black macaque





The surprisingly crafty margay




(07/19/2010) The small wild cat, the margay in Belize. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Researchers have stumbled on a surprising talent of this small predatory cat: while studying the pied tamarin (a small Neotropical monkey), researchers observed a margay mimicking the cries of tamarin babies in order to bring its prey closer. While the ploy worked—the tamarins were very curious—the margay was unsuccessful in its hunt.

Continue reading: The surprisingly crafty margay





The shy forest buffalo




(07/14/2010) The elusive forest buffalo in Gabon. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

While most people are familiar with the African buffalo or cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer), its forest-dwelling subspecies (Syncerus caffer nanus) is both lesser known and less-studied by scientists. The IUCN Red List estimates that 60,000 of this subspecies survive, but its population is in decline. Habitat loss and poaching are the major threats.

Continue reading: The shy forest buffalo





The cryptic courser




(07/13/2010) One of the few photos of Jerdon's courser, and probably the world's best. Photo by: Simon Cook/Birdlife International.

Jerdon's courser, listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, is one of India's rarest and most enigmatic birds. Surviving in a small habitat of scrub-jungle, the bird was thought extinct for 80 years. Given its nocturnal habits and its adept camouflage, such a long disappearance is not surprising. Researchers are working on studying the bird to save it before it vanishes again. Although more funds and support are likely needed to ensure its survival.

Continue reading: The cryptic courser





The last ocean




(07/12/2010) A killer whale surfaces in the Ross Sea. Photo courtesy of: David Ainley.

The Ross Sea is considered by marine biologists to be the last great marine waters untouched by humans. In other words, its ecological integrity remains intact: this is a place where penguins, a unique species of killer whale, seals, and fish as big as a man, all thrive in a complex and whole food chain. However, its pristine nature is under threat.

Given that so many of the world's fisheries have either collapsed or are under great stress from overfishing, we have now turned our sights on rich Antarctic waters. The Antarctic toothfish, a major slow-growing predator in the Ross Sea, has become a recent target of New Zealand fisheries. Conservationists fear that this species—like the cod, the bluefin tuna, and the orange roughy among others—will be overfished and that our last untouched ocean will soon become as ecologically broken as the rest.

Continue reading: The last ocean





The dragonflies of Borneo




(07/11/2010) PASIR PANJANG, Borneo – A forest is nothing if not a treasure trove. At no time is this as evident as in the early morning, when the green tapestry sparkles not only with crystal dew, but also with the delicate shimmers of dragonfly wings. These creatures range in color, size and form from the thread-thin pond damsels, to the meaty striped hunters that really are little dragons. When these animals surround one in such abundance, it’s hard not to observe their behavior, which is much more interesting than a pin-head brain might suggest; they perform complex synchronized mating dances over the water, and race each other from stem to stem. The red-winged ones do an odd, four-step, mechanical wing-twitch as soon as they land on a branch, and the blue ones never sit on anything but logs. There is a herd (what would you call a group of dragonflies?) that circles in front of the Care Center building every afternoon, with gorgeous golden black wings, but their hang-out is unknown to me, and so I’ve never managed a photo. The locals speak of a monster dragonfly (Capung in Indonesian, Sensibur in the local Dayak dialect) which only comes out at some elusive hour of the afternoon which I have yet to discover.

This is just one of the jewels that can be marveled at in a scrap of tropical rainforest. I say scrap because that is essentially what the 80 hectare piece of secondary swamp forest around OFI`s (Orangutan Foundation International) Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine, is. But a scrap that, apart from glittering with dragonflies, blooms with color, sings with the eerie, repetitive calls of tropical birds and overwhelms the nose with scents that range from heavenly to putrid. The fact is, the rich biodiversity that has drawn naturalists and biologists to the tropics for centuries still persists in the face of the diverse forces that threaten to wipe them out, and every surviving piece of jungle is a testament to that richness.

Orangutan Foundation International, based in southern Central Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), where your devoted author is currently volunteering, strongly believes in protecting tropical rainforests, whether there are orangutans living in them or nor. The greatest threat to the local forests is palm oil plantation development, and the associated clear-cutting.

We are currently in the middle of an ambitious project to buy and protect almost all remaining forest in the vicinity of the Care Centre, and create a private, strictly protected 6,000 hectare heath-swamp forest reserve.



Continue reading: The dragonflies of Borneo





Manado Tua volcano off northern Sulawesi




(07/09/2010) Manado Tua volcano off northern Sulawesi. Photo taken from Bunaken Island in May 2010 by Rhett A. Butler.

Continue reading: Manado Tua volcano off northern Sulawesi





Boy heading out to go spearfishing




(07/08/2010) A boy in Laos heads out with goggles and spear to go spearfishing. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

Continue reading: Boy heading out to go spearfishing





Just how smart is this bee?




(07/07/2010) A bumble bee ponders in Kenya. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Research over the last few years has overturned the idea that insects are instinctual automatons. Instead researchers are uncovering just how intelligent insects are, especially social ones such as this bee. Not convinced? It turns how bees can count, wasps remember faces, and some bumblebees even communicate through a complex 'waggle dance' that uses symbolic language to tell their compatriots where to find nectar.

In a recent interview with Dr. Lars Chittka, mongabay.com found out about the many exciting discoveries of insect intelligence: the bumblebee in your backyard will never look the same again.

Continue reading: Just how smart is this bee?





A last look and then goodbye: an island lizard goes extinct




(07/06/2010) A last look at the now extinct Selmunett lizard (Podarcis filfolensis ssp. Kieselbachi). Photo by: Arnold Sciberras.

Arnold Sciberras, a Maltese herpetologist, says the Selmunett lizard is gone. Native to the small island of Selmunett, the species was lost largely due to the introduction of rats on the island. The subspecies was one of four subspecies of the Maltese wall lizard.

Continue reading: A last look and then goodbye: an island lizard goes extinct





Critically Endangered: the hermit ibis




(07/05/2010) This hermit ibis in the Bronx Zoo is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2008.

'Critically Endangered' is the highest rating given to a species by the IUCN Red List until the species vanishes into extinction. Native to North Africa, the hermit ibis (Geronticus eremite), also known as the Northern bald ibis, is threatened by a variety of impacts including illegal developments, agriculture, hunting, firewood collection, and overgrazing. Most of the population remains in Morocco.

Currently 3,566 species are listed as Critically Endangered. However, the IUCN Red List has only evaluated a small portion of the world's known species (around 2 percent).

Continue reading: Critically Endangered: the hermit ibis





Practicing for the World Cup




(07/01/2010) Footballers in Botswana. Photo by: Tiffany Roufs, 2009.

Continue reading: Practicing for the World Cup





"I want to work with orangutans till the day I die"




(06/30/2010) Pak Sia giving afternoon milk to some of his charges. Photo by Janie Dubman.

At nineteen years old, young Sia defied his father’s wishes and began a job which he had wanted since elementary school. .

When Sia was 10 years old, Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas was already hiring Dayaks (natives of Borneo) for her Orangutan Research and Conservation Project in his home village of Pasir Panjang. Dr. Galdikas was Louis Leakey’s third primatologist protégée, following the footsteps of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey in studying wild great apes. The project’s original research site was (and still is) in Camp Leakey, at the heart of Tanjung Putting National Park, southern Central Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). Sia started work in 1989, when the ORCP has already established three rehabilitation centres in the national park where orangutans, orphaned by illegal loggers and miners, were being nurtured and trained for return to the wild. It was at one of these Sia started his orangutan career as carer and rehabilitation assistant. That year, there were six young orangutans at Tanjung Harapan Station.

Today, forty-year-old Sia is responsible for over 300 orangutans as Feeding Coordinator of OFI’s Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine in Pasir Panjang. His tasks of finding fruit and vegetables to feed the apes, balancing the food budget and overseeing the three times a day feeding are no small peanuts. When asked about the challenges of his job, he frowned for a while, clearly trying to find an answer for me, since his initial response of “Oh, I love everything about my job” didn’t satisfy me. Finally he nodded. “It’s very sad for me when we can’t give food to the orangutans on time. They get hungry like us and it isn’t their fault they are in cages, it’s people’s fault, so we are the ones that must feed and help them”.

In his twenty years with OFI Sia has helped orangutans in tanjung harapan as carer, in Camp Leakey as a forest research assistant, in Jakarta as a primate keeper in a zoo, and in the Care centre as all of the above and more. In fact, the father of three (soon to be four) children once proved his dedication when he informed his former wife that if she didn’t like his work with the orangutans (which she resented), she would be the one doing the leaving.

Indonesians are a very clean people. It is not uncommon to wash four times on a hot day. I asked him to recount his first day at work for me and he animatedly described how he bathed once in the morning, and then became progressively covered in the urine and feces of his clinging charges. Smirking I remarked that he must have had some second thoughts by nightfall. He said that he didn’t take a day off for the next three months because he couldn’t bear to hear the babies crying when he tried to leave.

Sitting on a fruit crate across from the Dayak with the deceptively fierce face, I wrap up with asking him what he intends to do next in his life. He replied simply “Nothing. I want to work with orangutans till the day I die”.

Continue reading: "I want to work with orangutans till the day I die"





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