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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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




Caiman close-up



(06/29/2010) A baby caiman at Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

Continue reading: Caiman close-up




Baby sloth with its stuffed animal



(06/22/2010) An orphaned baby three-toed sloth lies on top of a stuffed panda. The sloth was being kept in a Trio indigenous community in Suriname. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2008.

Continue reading: Baby sloth with its stuffed animal




White-nosed coatis on the move



(06/21/2010) A group of white-nosed coatis are on the move in Costa Rica. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

Continue reading: White-nosed coatis on the move




A multitude of unidentified species



(06/16/2010) Unidentified bee approaching an unidentified bird of paradise flower. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

At mongabay.com we love to take photos. However, sometimes it proves difficult to decipher what species we're photographing. If you have any information on these mystery species or those below please contact me.

Continue reading: A multitude of unidentified species




Snakes in trouble



(06/15/2010) A salmon-bellied snake (Mastigodryas melanolomus) slips through the undergrowth in Costa Rica. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

A new study has found evidence that snake populations may be declining rapidly worldwide. Looking at 17 distinct snake populations on three continents the study found that 64 percent of the populations saw precipitous drops, while only one population rose. Declines began in 1998, the warmest year on record, pointing to climate change as a possible cause for the population drops. But herpetologists say more research is necessary.

Snakes play a vital role in agriculture by controlling pest populations, especially of rodents. Some animals also depend on them as prey.

Continue reading: Snakes in trouble




Crazy-eyed capuchin monkey



(06/14/2010) Capuchin monkey in Suriname shows off. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2008.

Continue reading: Crazy-eyed capuchin monkey




Little bee-eater in Zimbabwe



(06/13/2010) A little bee-eater alights on a branch over the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe. Photo by: Tiffany Roufs, 2009.

Continue reading: Little bee-eater in Zimbabwe




Yak traffic jam



(06/10/2010) Along the Karakoram highway in the Xinjjiang province of Western China, men drive their yaks. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2006.

Continue reading: Yak traffic jam




Common woolly monkey at rehabilitation center



(06/09/2010) A common woolly monkey at a rehabilitation center in Colombia for animals trafficked in the pet trade. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2010.

The common woolly monkey (Lagothrix lagotricha) is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List due to habitat loss from agricultural expansion, including illegal crops like coca for cocaine production, and hunting. As evidenced from this photo the pet trade is also a problem.

Continue reading: Common woolly monkey at rehabilitation center




Empowering people by saving orangutans



(06/06/2010) The lives of over 200 people have been linked to orangutans for 40 years. The people are biologists, firefighters, carpenters, veterinarians, drivers, artists and nurses. The orangutans are the only great apes in Asia, highly intelligent and highly endangered. The location is Borneo, Indonesia, and the mission is the save the orangutans from extinction. The leader is Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas.

Orangutan Foundation International has its beginnings in 1971, when a young Galdikas, a graduate student from L.A., came to study the poorly-known red apes of Borneo and Sumatra. She was anthropologist Dr. Louis Leakey’s ‘Last Trimate’, his third protégée after Dr. Jane Goodall and Dr. Dian Fossey. Galdikas’s project in Tanjung Puting National Park, South Borneo, quickly recognized the threat to the orangutans and became the Orangutan Research and Conservation Project (ORCP). At first, Galdikas, her first husband and a couple of local assistants collected data on orangutan sociality, diet, movement, behavior, and forest ecology at the Camp Leakey research station. Simultaneously, they rehabilitated the occasional confiscated and surrendered orangutan orphans into the surrounding forest.

Despite the swarms of malarial swamp mosquitoes, the long and exhausting orangutan follows, and the rice and sardines diet, for Galdikas those were the carefree days.

Slowly but surely, the illegal loggers grew in numbers and resources and moved into the national park. Palm oil plantations spread their monoculture green desert across much of coastal Borneo’s biodiverse rainforests. The ORCP grew, hiring local Indonesians, valuable for their tracking, climbing and observation skills, as research and rehabilitation assistants, but also as forest patrols.

Continue reading: Empowering people by saving orangutans




Hippo rising



(06/03/2010) Like some prehistoric beast, a hippo rises from a mudflat on the Chobe River that it shares with dozens of other hippos. Photo by: Tiffany Roufs, Botswana, 2009.

Continue reading: Hippo rising




Frog survives dinosaurs, comets, ice age, but may not survive New Zealand government



(06/02/2010) Archey's frog. Photo courtesy of: Phil Bishop.

Archey's frog is a marvel. Listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, this New Zealand amphibian—which sports a number of prehistoric attributes—is basically indistinguishable from amphibian fossils 150 million years old, making Archey's frog a window into the Earth's deep evolutionary past.

Yet, while this species has survived the age of the dinosaurs, the comet that brought about mass extinction, the ice age, and continental drift, it may not survive a New Zealand government plan to open up a number of protected areas to mining—including the last habitat of Archey's frog.

The good news is that New Zealanders are pushing back against the government plan including a march that brought out 40,000 protestors and a comment period that saw 35,000 comments sent to New Zealand's federal government.

Will Archey's frog survive humans? Only time will tell.



Continue reading: Frog survives dinosaurs, comets, ice age, but may not survive New Zealand government




Big birds spreading seeds far and wide



(06/01/2010) A white-throated toucan (Ramphastos tucanus) female captured in Ecuador. Photo by: Kimberly Holbrook.

New research shows that the toucans of South America and the hornbills of Asia and Africa are vital seed dispersers for tropical forests. Now known to be marathon fliers, these big fruit-eating birds are capable of bringing seeds to new areas, spreading genetic diversity and aiding burgeoning populations. Unfortunately deforestation and hunting has put these special species—as well as other seed dispersers—at risk.

Continue reading: Big birds spreading seeds far and wide




Unidentified Chinese rodent



(05/26/2010) An unidentified rodent from Xinjiang, China. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2006.

Continue reading: Unidentified Chinese rodent




Rough skinned newt in California



(05/23/2010) A Rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa) in Big Basin State Park, California. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2007.

This species is known for its poison, tetrodotoxin, a strong toxin that causes paralysis and death in predators. However some species of garter snake can consume this newt without ill affect, suggesting co-evolution between the species.



Continue reading: Rough skinned newt in California




Climate change battering the world's lizards



(05/19/2010) An Oustalet's chameleon wanders across a sandy landscape near Isalo, Madagascar. This species is one of the world's largest chameleons. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

A new study finds that lizards are vanishing due to the impact of a warmer world. Unless effective action is taken to lower carbon emissions the study warns that 20 percent of the world's lizard could vanish forever by 2080. The study found that lizards in Madagascar, home to about half of the world's chameleons, are especially vulnerable.

Continue reading: Climate change battering the world's lizards




Hamadryas butterfly



(05/18/2010) A Hamadryas butterfly in Honduras, 2004. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

These butterflies are also known as Cracker butterflies, because males make a cracking noise to attract females.

Continue reading: Hamadryas butterfly




Chad's elephant wars



(05/17/2010) French conservationist, Stephanie Vergniault stands between two soldiers in the central African nation of Chad. Before them lies the skull of a poached elephant. Photo courtesy of: Stephanie Vergniault.

Amid all the human tragedy of Chad, a hidden war is occurring between poachers and the nation's dwindling elephant population, which has dropped from 20,000 to just 3,000 individuals in thirty years. Well-armed foreign poachers appear are using high-tech equipment to track down and kill elephants. Witnessing the slaughter, election-expert and screenwriter Stephanie Vergniault has started an organization—SOS Elephants—to work with Chad's government and locals to stop the killing before the great animals vanish entirely from the country.



Continue reading: Chad's elephant wars




Eight lions in Kenya poisoned with pesticide



(05/13/2010) A black-maned lion in Kenya. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Frustrated Kenyan herders are lacing corpses of cattle with poison to kill lions in revenge for the great cats attacking their livestock. Using a highly-toxic pesticide—banned in both the US and EU—called carbofuran, the Kenyans often end up killing other animals as well, including scavenger birds and hyenas. Conservationists are warning that the revenge-killings are depleting an already low lion population and will eventually hit Kenya's important tourism market.

Continue reading: Eight lions in Kenya poisoned with pesticide




Protected reserves essential for Congo Basin's megafauna



(05/11/2010) A group of western lowland gorillas in the Congo Basin. Photo courtesy of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

A new study in PLoS ONE shows that protected areas are essential for saving three key species in the Congo Basin: western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, and forest elephants. The study finds that these species are particularly dependent on National Parks and strong anti-poaching efforts. Two of the species, gorillas and elephants, are found in logging concessions, but only if those concessions are adjacent to protected areas and also have strong anti-poaching measures.

Continue reading: Protected reserves essential for Congo Basin's megafauna




Eight-legged shower friend



(05/09/2010) A tarantula invades our shaving cup in the coastal rainforests of Suriname. Photo by: Tiffany Roufs.

Continue reading: Eight-legged shower friend




White-naped cranes with their first chick



(05/05/2010) Mated white-naped cranes practice calling behavior as their first chick scampers below them at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo. Photo by: Julie Larsen Maher.

Calling behavior means that mated cranes call in unison while standing upright with their heads pointed to the sky. The behavior is thought to help build the pair-bond. The 21-year-old male in this photo is named Wingman, his 18-year-old mate is named Crystal. They have been mated for less than a year, but have produced their first chick.

Native to Asia (from Russia to China to Japan), white-naped cranes Grus vipio are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List; they are threatened by habitat loss, mostly due to draining of wetlands for agriculture and development. Total population is estimated at 6,500.

The WCS Bronx Zoo uses incubation and hand-rearing to build a strong captive population to help ensure the species' survival.

Continue reading: White-naped cranes with their first chick




Wasps crowd a leaf



(05/03/2010) In the rainforests of Suriname, dozens of not-yet-identified wasps crowd a leaf. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Continue reading: Wasps crowd a leaf




Triplet lion cubs



(04/30/2010) Triplet African Lion Cubs. Julie Larsen Maher © Wildlife Conservation Society.

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo today debuts triplet lion cubs.

The cubs, born January 27, 2010, can be spotted with their mother, Sukari, and father, M’wasi, at the zoo’s African Plains habitat, from 10am to 1pm daily.

Continue reading: Triplet lion cubs




Tomorrow is the second annual Save the Frogs Day!



(04/29/2010) A green bright-eyed frog (Boophis viridis) from Madagascar. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

Tomorrow, April 30th, is the second annual Save the Frogs Day with events on six continents. Currently a third of the world's amphibians are threatened with extinction due to a variety of human impacts, including habitat loss, pollution, herbicides and pesticides, climate change, and a devastating amphibian-fungal disease, chytridiomycosis, which has played a large role in declining frog populations worldwide and in several cases extinction. Scientists believe that over 120 species have likely vanished in the past thirty years alone.

Save the Frogs Day is a call to action through education, celebration, and for the first time ever even peaceful protests. To find events near you or even via the Internet: Save the Frogs Day Events.

Continue reading: Tomorrow is the second annual Save the Frogs Day!




African elephant greets the sunset



(04/28/2010) Along the Chobe River in Botswana, the white-hot sun of Africa falls behind an elephant feeding in the grasses. Photo by: Tiffany Roufs.

Continue reading: African elephant greets the sunset




Architects of the forest: the great hornbill



(04/27/2010) Asia's great hornbill Buceros bicornis. Photo by: Shumpei Kitamura.

Hornbills are big and beautiful birds, but they are also key species in Asia's fragmented rainforests. As long distance seed-dispersers, hornbills are able to connect tree populations from one fragmented forest to another. While hornbills are vital to rainforest diversity, they face a wide variety of threats including hunting for meat, forest loss, and the pet trade.

Continue reading: Architects of the forest: the great hornbill




Baby silver leaf langur born at the Bronx Zoo



(04/26/2010) Silver leaf langur baby in the Bronx Zoo’s JungleWorld exhibit. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS.

The silver leaf langur baby has a striking orange color in comparison to its parents’ silver coats and will continue to stand out until its fur changes color somewhere between three to five months of age. Its mother, Ruby, has kept her very close and has been caring for the new youngster in the trees of JungleWorld at WCS’s Bronx Zoo making it difficult for keepers to determine the baby’s sex.

Native to Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia, nearly 80 percent of the langur’s diet consists of leaves. Silver leaf langurs are listed as “near threatened” by IUCN and are part of the Species Survival Program (SSP).

The Bronx Zoo has the largest captive breeding population of silver leaf langurs in North America. Less than 50 silver leaf langur have been born in captivity world wide.

Continue reading: Baby silver leaf langur born at the Bronx Zoo




Baby brown lemur born at the Bronx Zoo



(04/26/2010) aby brown collared lemur clinging to its mother's back in the Bronx Zoo’s Madagascar! exhibit. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS.

The Bronx Zoo has put a recently-born, female brown collared lemur on display at the Bronx Zoo’s Madagascar! exhibit.

The baby lemur is has yet to be named and is the second born to her parents, Jean Luc and Vera. She is one of less than 50 brown collared lemur born in captivity world wide.

The brown collared lemur is listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss.

Continue reading: Baby brown lemur born at the Bronx Zoo




Malayan water monitor (Varanus salvator)



(04/25/2010) A clouded monitor lizard (Varanus bengalensis nebulosus) in Laos. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

This big lizard is adept at tree-climbing and can reach 1.5 meters in length. The IUCN Red List has yet to evaluate the status of this species; however it is poached in much of its range for its meat.

Continue reading: Malayan water monitor (Varanus salvator)




Barn swallows



(04/20/2010) A barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) takes off while another watches on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. The barn swallow is present on every continent except Antarctica. Photo: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

Continue reading: Barn swallows




Golden mantella



(04/19/2010) Listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, the tiny golden mantella (Mantella aurantiacais)is native to Madagascar. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Continue reading: Golden mantella




Tufted Puffin



(04/15/2010) A tufted puffin glides peaceably in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2007.

Continue reading: Tufted Puffin




World's largest rodent



(04/14/2010) Weighing well-over 100 pounds, the capybara is the world's largest rodent. It is present in much of South America, including the Amazon rainforest and flooded savannahs. This photograph was taken in the Tambopata rainforest in Peru. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler

Continue reading: World's largest rodent




Surfing pelicans



(04/13/2010) A flock of brown pelicans flying (Pelecanus occidentalis) over crashing surf on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

Continue reading: Surfing pelicans




50 years after Jane Goodall's pioneering work with chimpanzees



(04/12/2010) A wild chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) feeds on canopy fruit in Kanyanchu forest, Kibale Forest National Park in Uganada. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2006.

Chimpanzees have become a globally symbol of the world conservation movement, largely due to the dedication and passion of Dr. Jane Goodall who has studied humankind's closest relative for decades. Now fifty years since Goodall's first steps onto Lake Tanganyika in what is now Tanzania’s Gombe National Park, she has become one of the world's leading voices on conservation issues and the need for sustainability. Mongabay recently interviewed Dr. Jane Goodall about her recent book and her assessment of the state of biodiversity today.

Continue reading: 50 years after Jane Goodall's pioneering work with chimpanzees




Baby baboon



(04/07/2010) An infant Chacma Baboon (Papio ursinus) in Chobe National Park in the south African nation of Botswana. The baby baboon and his family played on the edge of the Chobe River and were photographed during a three hour river-boat ride where we saw elephants, hippos, African buffalo, and Nile crocodile. Photo by: Tiffany Roufs, 2009.

Continue reading: Baby baboon




Photo: The World's Smallest Monkey



(04/03/2010) The pygmy marmoset is the world's smallest monkey. Photo taken by Rhett A. Butler, March 2010 in Amacayacu National Park, Colombia, near the border with Peru.

Continue reading: Photo: The World's Smallest Monkey




Spectacular orange flag-footed bug in Colombia



(04/02/2010) This insect hit me directly in the eye as I was hiking in the Darien region of Colombia, near Spazurro on the border with Panama. I believe it is Anisocelis flavolineata, a type of flag-footed bug.

Continue reading: Spectacular orange flag-footed bug in Colombia




Hopping penguin receives good news



(04/01/2010) The southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) are so-named because they hop from place to place rather than slide on their belly or waddle. Photo by: Brodie Ferguson, 2006.

The species, threatened by fishing nets and pollution, is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. But a newly created marine and coastal reserve in Argentina hopes to aid the southern rockhopper penguin survival.

Continue reading: Hopping penguin receives good news




Fearsome fish



(03/31/2010) This fearsome looking fish is a freshwater species from Brazil. The predatory species—Chafalote (Rhaphiodon vulpinus)—was caught in Mato Grosso, the frontline of deforestation in Brazil. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

Continue reading: Fearsome fish




Woolly monkey in Colombia



(03/30/2010) This woolly monkey is just one of some 30 species of Colombian primates. Photo by: Brodie Ferguson, 2006.

A new study in the open access journal Tropical Conservation Science looks at over a hundred years of research on Colombian primates and finds that the woolly monkey is one of the most thoroughly studied. However many Colombian primates have been neglected by researchers, for one reason or another, including a number of endangered species. The paper makes several recommendations, including more research, especially on those species on the edge of extinction.

Continue reading: Woolly monkey in Colombia




The streaked tenrec



(03/29/2010) Madagascar is home to some strange and wonderful animals, but few stranger and more wonderful than the tenrecs. Belonging to the family of Afrotheria, the small shrew-like tenrecs are most closely related to elephants, sea cows, aardvarks, and hyraxes. Including some thirty species, tenrecs are omnivorous and eat a range of foods. While the majority of tenrecs survive on Madagascar, three species are known from Africa's mainland. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Continue reading: The streaked tenrec




Livestock and the environment



(03/28/2010) Cattle roam where once the Amazon rainforest stood in Brazil. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2008.

The world's livestock industry has tripled in thirty years according to a new report on the 'livestock revolution'. While a researcher contends that the livestock industry emits a smaller share of greenhouse gases than previously reported, other environmental impacts of the nearly 2 billion livestock in the world include land use, grain-consumption, deforestation, pollution, waste-management, and water issues. Currently, a quarter of the world's land is devoted to raising livestock. While livestock remains an important protein source in poor countries and provides vital small-scale income for many of the world's poor, its consumption is increasing in many parts of the world where incomes are on the rise, such as China and Brazil. The new report estimates that the livestock industry could double by 2050.

Continue reading: Livestock and the environment




Baby bat on a napkin



(03/22/2010) A baby bat in Brazil clinging to a napkin. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

Continue reading: Baby bat on a napkin




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