Region: Africa


Interview

A Grassroots Effort to Save
Africa’s Most Endangered Ape

by john c. cannon
The Cross River gorilla population in equatorial Africa has been pushed to the brink of extinction. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, a Nigerian scientist working to save the gorillas describes how local villagers are vital to protecting these apes.
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On the River Nile, a Move to <br />Avert a Conflict Over Water

Report

On the River Nile, a Move to
Avert a Conflict Over Water

by fred pearce
Ethiopia’s plans to build Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam on the Nile have sparked tensions with Egypt, which depends on the river to irrigate its arid land. But after years of tensions, an international agreement to share the Nile’s waters may be in sight.
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In Kenya’s Mountain Forests, <br />A New Path to Conservation

Report

In Kenya’s Mountain Forests,
A New Path to Conservation

by fred pearce
Kenya’s high-elevation forests are the source for most of the water on which the drought-plagued nation depends. Now, after decades of government-abetted abuse of these regions, a new conservation strategy of working with local communities is showing signs of success.
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Giving Local Women a Voice <br />In Grass-Roots Conservation

Interview

Giving Local Women a Voice
In Grass-Roots Conservation

by diane toomey
As “gender advisor” at Conservation International, Kame Westerman seeks to include local women’s perspectives and priorities into the planning of projects in developing countries. This approach, she says, can be critical in determining whether a project succeeds or fails.
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Badru’s Story: Early Warnings From <br />Inside an Impenetrable African Forest

e360 Video

Badru’s Story: Early Warnings From
Inside an Impenetrable African Forest

"Badru’s Story," which documents the work of researchers in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, is the first-place winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest. Filmmakers Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele trek along with scientist Badru Mugerwa and his team as they monitor the impact of climate change on one of Africa’s most diverse forests and its extraordinary wildlife.
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Africa’s Vultures Threatened <br />By An Assault on All Fronts

Report

Africa’s Vultures Threatened
By An Assault on All Fronts

by madeline bodin
Vultures are being killed on an unprecedented scale across Africa, with the latest slaughter perpetrated by elephant poachers who poison the scavenging birds so they won’t give away the location of their activities.
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In a Troubled African Park, <br />A Battle Over Oil Exploration

Report

In a Troubled African Park,
A Battle Over Oil Exploration

by fred pearce
Congo's Virunga National Park has long been known for its mountain gorillas and for the lawless militias that operate there. But the recent shooting of the park warden and plans to begin oil exploration in the park have sparked concern about the future of this iconic World Heritage Site.
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In South Africa, Renewables Vie <br />With the Political Power of Coal

The Future of Coal: An e360 Report

In South Africa, Renewables Vie
With the Political Power of Coal

by adam welz
Although coal has dominated the South African electricity sector for decades, the country’s abundant solar and wind resources offer a promising renewable energy alternative. But entrenched political interests connected to the ruling party are fighting to expand coal’s role in the national economy.
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People or Parks: The Human<br /> Factor in Protecting Wildlife

Report

People or Parks: The Human
Factor in Protecting Wildlife

by richard conniff
Recent studies in Asia and Australia found that community-managed areas can sometimes do better than traditional parks at preserving habitat and biodiversity. When it comes to conservation, maybe local people are not the problem, but the solution.
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Poaching Pangolins: An Obscure <br />Creature Faces Uncertain Future

Report

Poaching Pangolins: An Obscure
Creature Faces Uncertain Future

by richard conniff
The pangolin does not make headlines the way elephants or rhinos do. But the survival of this uncharismatic, armor-plated animal is being threatened by a gruesome trade in its meat and its scales.
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On a Remote Island, Lessons <br /> In How Ecosystems Function

Analysis

On a Remote Island, Lessons
In How Ecosystems Function

by fred pearce
Transformed by British sailors in the 19th century, Ascension Island in the South Atlantic has a unique tropical forest consisting almost entirely of alien species. Scientists say that what has happened there challenges some basic assumptions about ecosystems and evolution.
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The War on African Poaching: <br /> Is Militarization Doomed to Fail?

Report

The War on African Poaching:
Is Militarization Doomed to Fail?

by adam welz
African countries and private game reserves are engaging in an increasingly sophisticated arms race against poachers, yet the slaughter of elephants and rhinos continues. Some experts argue that the battle must be joined on a far wider front that targets demand in Asia and judicial dysfunction in Africa.
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Our Overcrowded Planet:<br /> A Failure of Family Planning

Opinion

Our Overcrowded Planet:
A Failure of Family Planning

by robert engelman
New UN projections forecast that world population will hit nearly 11 billion people by 2100, an unsettling prospect that reflects a collective failure to provide women around the world with safe, effective ways to avoid pregnancies they don't intend or want.
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The Surprising Role of CO2 in<br /> Changes on the African Savanna

Report

The Surprising Role of CO2 in
Changes on the African Savanna

by adam welz
Recent studies show that many of the world’s savannas, including famed southern African landscapes, are experiencing significant change as rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere favor the growth of trees over grasslands.
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Will Huge New Hydro Projects<br /> Bring Power to Africa’s People?

Analysis

Will Huge New Hydro Projects
Bring Power to Africa’s People?

by fred pearce
A giant new hydro project on the Congo River is only the latest in a rush of massive dams being built across Africa. Critics contend small-scale renewable energy projects would be a far more effective way of bringing power to the hundreds of millions of Africans still without electricity.
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For Africa’s Solar Sisters,<br /> Off-Grid Electricity is Power

Interview

For Africa’s Solar Sisters,
Off-Grid Electricity is Power

by diane toomey
U.S. businesswoman Katherine Lucey is working with a network of women entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa to sell inexpensive, household solar energy systems. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Lucey explains how solar electricity can transform lives, particularly those of rural women and girls.
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Long Outlawed in the West,<br /> Lead Paint Sold in Poor Nations

Report

Long Outlawed in the West,
Lead Paint Sold in Poor Nations

by rebecca kessler
A new study finds that household lead paint — banned for years in the U.S. and Europe because of its health effects on children — is commonly sold in the African nation of Cameroon. Is lead paint the latest case of Western companies selling unsafe products in developing countries?
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The Scientist as Guardian:<br /> A Tool for Protecting the Wild

Analysis

The Scientist as Guardian:
A Tool for Protecting the Wild

by william laurance
An expanding body of evidence shows that the presence of field biologists and their assistants is playing an important part in deterring poaching, illegal logging, and other destructive activities in the world’s parks and wildlife reserves.
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Biodiversity in Logged Forests<br /> Far Higher Than Once Believed

Analysis

Biodiversity in Logged Forests
Far Higher Than Once Believed

by fred pearce
New research shows that scientists have significantly overestimated the damage that logging in tropical forests has done to biodiversity, a finding that could change the way conservationists think about how best to preserve species in areas disturbed by humans.
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To Catch a Rhino: Capturing<br /> Animals in Order to Save Them

Photo Essay

To Catch a Rhino: Capturing
Animals in Order to Save Them

Six white rhinos were captured recently at a reserve in South Africa for eventual relocation to neighboring Botswana, which has lost its entire rhino population to poaching. E360 contributor Adam Welz joined the operation and produced a photo essay that documents the harrowing process.
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The Perils and Rewards of<br /> Protecting Congo’s Gorillas

Interview

The Perils and Rewards of
Protecting Congo’s Gorillas

by christina m. russo
Virunga National Park, home to one of the last remaining populations of mountain gorillas, has witnessed years of war and civil strife. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, the park’s warden describes the lethal threats faced by his rangers and the remarkable survival of the park’s gorillas.
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The Dirty War Against<br /> Africa’s Remaining Rhinos

Report

The Dirty War Against
Africa’s Remaining Rhinos

by adam welz
The killing of rhinoceroses has escalated dramatically, especially in South Africa, which is home to 75 percent of the world’s rhino population. The slaughter is being orchestrated by brazen, highly organized gangs that smuggle the rhinos' horns to black markets in China and Southeast Asia.
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The Next Pandemic: Why<br /> It Will Come from Wildlife

Analysis

The Next Pandemic: Why
It Will Come from Wildlife

by david quammen
Experts believe the next deadly human pandemic will almost certainly be a virus that spills over from wildlife to humans. The reasons why have a lot to do with the frenetic pace with which we are destroying wild places and disrupting ecosystems.
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Shining a Bright Light on<br /> Africa’s Elephant Slaughter

Interview

Shining a Bright Light on
Africa’s Elephant Slaughter

by christina m. russo
Fueled by a rising demand for ivory, the mass killing of African elephants has reached extraordinary levels. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman discusses his in-depth investigation of the deadly ivory trade, which involves the U.S.-backed military forces of several African nations.
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Beyond Big Dams: Turning to<br /> Grass Roots Solutions on Water

Report

Beyond Big Dams: Turning to
Grass Roots Solutions on Water

by fred pearce
Mega-dams and massive government-run irrigation projects are not the key to meeting world’s water needs, a growing number of experts now say. For developing nations, the answer may lie in small-scale measures such as inexpensive water pumps and other readily available equipment.
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In Ghana’s Forests, Should<br /> Chainsaw Loggers be Legalized?

Analysis

In Ghana’s Forests, Should
Chainsaw Loggers be Legalized?

by fred pearce
The West African nation of Ghana prohibits small operators using chainsaws from logging its forests, but it permits the export of timber cut at large sawmills. Now, some analysts are questioning whether such laws simply benefit powerful business interests without helping local communities or the forest.
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The Imperative of Thinking Big<br /> In Global Conservation Efforts

Interview

The Imperative of Thinking Big
In Global Conservation Efforts

by fen montaigne
In his 12 years as president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Steven E. Sanderson oversaw major projects in Gabon, Chile, South Sudan, and elsewhere. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Sanderson explains why conservation groups need to better coordinate work across large, human-influenced landscapes and more effectively marshal science to fight their battles.
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The Pollution Fallout From<br /> Zimbabwe’s Blood Diamonds

Report

The Pollution Fallout From
Zimbabwe’s Blood Diamonds

by andrew mambondiyani
The regime of President Robert Mugabe has been accused of profiting from the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe, garnering illicit funds that could be used to bolster his oppressive security forces. Now critics are alleging the government is failing to stop mining-waste pollution that is sickening livestock and local villagers.
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Global Scarcity: Scramble for<br /> Dwindling Natural Resources

Interview

Global Scarcity: Scramble for
Dwindling Natural Resources

by diane toomey
National security expert Michael Klare believes the struggle for the world’s resources will be one of the defining political and environmental realities of the 21st century. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he discusses the threat this scramble poses to the natural world and what can be done to sustainably meet the resource challenge.
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Africa’s Ambitious Experiment<br /> To Preserve Threatened Wildlife

Report

Africa’s Ambitious Experiment
To Preserve Threatened Wildlife

by caroline fraser
Five nations in southern Africa are joining together to create a huge conservation area that will extend across their borders and expand critical territory for elephants. But can these new protections reverse decades of decline for area wildlife while also benefiting the people who live there?
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A Kenyan Woman Stands Up<br /> Against Massive Dam Project

Interview

A Kenyan Woman Stands Up
Against Massive Dam Project

by christina m. russo
Ikal Angelei is helping lead a campaign to stop construction of a major dam in Ethiopia that threatens the water supply and way of life of tens of thousands of indigenous people. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, she explains what she believes is at stake in the fight against the Gibe III dam.
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Hopes Fade for Cleanup<br /> In Nigeria’s Oil-Rich Delta

Report

Hopes Fade for Cleanup
In Nigeria’s Oil-Rich Delta

by fred pearce
The Ogoniland region of Nigeria has long been badly polluted by decades of oil production that has fouled the delta and contaminated drinking water. A United Nations report has recommended a massive recovery initiative, but so far the Nigerian government has shown few signs it will agree to the cleanup project.
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Digital Defenders: Tribal People<br /> Use GPS to Protect Their Lands

Report

Digital Defenders: Tribal People
Use GPS to Protect Their Lands

by fred pearce
From the rainforests of central Africa to the Australian outback, indigenous people armed with GPS devices are surveying their territories and producing maps they can use to protect them from logging and other outside development.
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How a Gold Mining Boom is<br /> Killing the Children of Nigeria

Report

How a Gold Mining Boom is
Killing the Children of Nigeria

by elizabeth grossman
It is a pattern seen in various parts of the world — children being sickened from exposure to lead from mining activities. But the scale of the problem in Nigeria’s gold-mining region of Zamfara is unprecedented: More than 400 children have died and thousands more have been severely poisoned by exposure to lead dust.
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Busting the Forest Myths:<br /> People as Part of the Solution

Analysis

Busting the Forest Myths:
People as Part of the Solution

by fred pearce
The long-held contention that rural forest communities are the prime culprits in tropical forest destruction is increasingly being discredited, as evidence mounts that the best way to protect rainforests is to involve local residents in sustainable management.
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In Fast-Track Technology, Hope<br /> For a Second Green Revolution

Report

In Fast-Track Technology, Hope
For a Second Green Revolution

by richard conniff
With advances in a technique known as fast-track breeding, researchers are developing crops that can produce more and healthier food and can adapt and thrive as the climate shifts.
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Monitoring A Grim Rise<br /> In the Illegal Ivory Trade

Interview

Monitoring A Grim Rise
In the Illegal Ivory Trade

by christina m. russo
For two decades, TRAFFIC’s Tom Milliken has tracked the illicit ivory trade that has led to the continued slaughter of Africa’s elephants. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Milliken talks about the recent increase in ivory seizures and the criminal gangs that supply Asia’s black market for ivory.
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Solar Power Off the Grid:<br /> Energy Access for World’s Poor

Opinion

Solar Power Off the Grid:
Energy Access for World’s Poor

by carl pope
More than a billion people worldwide lack access to electricity. The best way to bring it to them — while reducing greenhouse gas emissions — is to launch a global initiative to provide solar panels and other forms of distributed renewable power to poor villages and neighborhoods.
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A Development Expert Relies<br /> On the Resilience of Villagers

Interview

A Development Expert Relies
On the Resilience of Villagers

by keith kloor
Geographer Edward Carr has worked extensively in sub-Saharan Africa, where climate change and other environmental threats present a growing challenge. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Carr talks about why any outside aid to the developing world must build on the inherent capability of the local residents.
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Can ‘Climate-Smart’ Agriculture<br /> Help Both Africa and the Planet?

Report

Can ‘Climate-Smart’ Agriculture
Help Both Africa and the Planet?

by fred pearce
One idea promoted at the Durban talks was “climate-smart agriculture," which could make crops less vulnerable to heat and drought and turn depleted soils into carbon sinks. The World Bank and African leaders are backing this new approach, but some critics are skeptical that it will benefit small-scale African farmers.
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The Crucial Role of Predators:<br /> A New Perspective on Ecology

Analysis

The Crucial Role of Predators:
A New Perspective on Ecology

by caroline fraser
Scientists have recently begun to understand the vital role played by top predators in ecosystems and the profound impacts that occur when those predators are wiped out. Now, researchers are citing new evidence that shows the importance of lions, wolves, sharks, and other creatures at the top of the food chain.
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A Huge Oil Palm Plantation<br /> Puts African Rainforest at Risk

Report

A Huge Oil Palm Plantation
Puts African Rainforest at Risk

by rhett butler and jeremy hance
As global agricultural companies turn to Africa, a U.S. firm is planning a massive oil palm plantation in Cameroon that it says will benefit local villagers. But critics argue that the project would destroy some of the key remaining forests in the West African nation and threaten species-rich reserves.
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In Arid South African Lands,<br /> Fracking Controversy Emerges

Report

In Arid South African Lands,
Fracking Controversy Emerges

by todd pitock
The contentious practice of hydrofracking to extract underground natural gas has now made its way to South Africa’s Karoo, a semi-desert known for its stark beauty and indigenous plants. But opposition is growing amid concern that fracking will deplete and pollute the area’s scarce water supplies.
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Phosphate: A Critical Resource<br /> Misused and Now Running Low

Report

Phosphate: A Critical Resource
Misused and Now Running Low

by fred pearce
Phosphate has been essential to feeding the world since the Green Revolution, but its excessive use as a fertilizer has led to widespread pollution and eutrophication. Now, many of the world’s remaining reserves are starting to be depleted.
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Using the Power of the Web<br /> To Protect Africa’s Wildlife

Interview

Using the Power of the Web
To Protect Africa’s Wildlife

by christina m. russo
Paula Kahumbu runs a conservation organization with a distinctly 21st-century mission: Posting field blogs from conservationists to attract global support for wildlife protection. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Kahumbu talks about her group’s triumphs and struggles as it battles to preserve Africa’s magnificent animals.
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By Barcoding Trees, Liberia<br /> Looks to Save its Rainforests

Report

By Barcoding Trees, Liberia
Looks to Save its Rainforests

by fred pearce
A decade after a brutal civil war, the West African nation of Liberia has partnered with the European Union on a novel system for protecting its remaining forests — marking every harvestable tree so it can be traced to its final destination. But given Liberia’s history of conflict and corruption, will it work?
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An African Success: In Namibia,<br /> The People and Wildlife Coexist

Report

An African Success: In Namibia,
The People and Wildlife Coexist

by richard conniff
Shortly after gaining independence in 1990, Namibia turned ownership of its wildlife back to the people. By using a system of community-based management, this southern African nation has avoided the fate of most others on the continent and registered a sharp increase in its key wildlife populations.
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As Larger Animals Decline,<br /> Forests Feel Their Absence

Report

As Larger Animals Decline,
Forests Feel Their Absence

by sharon levy
With giant tortoises, elephants, and other fruit-eating animals disappearing from many of the world’s tropical woodlands, forests are suffering from the loss of a key function performed by these creatures: the dispersal of tree seeds. But a new experiment shows that introduced species may be able to fulfill this vital ecological role.
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Agribusiness Boom Threatens<br /> Key African Wildlife Migration

Report

Agribusiness Boom Threatens
Key African Wildlife Migration

by fred pearce
The Ethiopian region of Gambella is home to Africa’s second-largest mammal migration, with more than a million endangered antelope and other animals moving through its grasslands. But the government has now leased vast tracts to foreign agribusinesses who are planning huge farms on land designated a national park.
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Climate’s Strong Fingerprint<br /> In Global Cholera Outbreaks

Report

Climate’s Strong Fingerprint
In Global Cholera Outbreaks

by sonia shah
For decades, deadly outbreaks of cholera were attributed to the spread of disease through poor sanitation. But recent research demonstrates how closely cholera is tied to environmental and hydrological factors and to weather patterns — all of which may lead to more frequent cholera outbreaks as the world warms.
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Africa’s Flourishing Niger Delta<br /> Threatened by Libya Water Plan

Report

Africa’s Flourishing Niger Delta
Threatened by Libya Water Plan

by fred pearce
The inland Niger delta of Mali is a unique wetland ecosystem that supports a million farmers, fishermen, and herders and a rich diversity of wildlife. But now, the country’s president and Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi have begun a major agricultural project that will divert much of the river’s water and put the delta’s future at risk.
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When The Water Ends:<br /> Africa’s Climate Conflicts

e360 Video

When The Water Ends:
Africa’s Climate Conflicts

As temperatures rise and water supplies dry up, semi-nomadic tribes along the Kenyan-Ethiopian border increasingly are coming into conflict with each other. A Yale Environment 360 video report from East Africa focuses on a phenomenon that climate scientists say will be more and more common in the 21st century: how worsening drought will pit groups — and nations — against one another
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Spurred by Warming World,<br /> Beetles Threaten Coffee Crops

Report

Spurred by Warming World,
Beetles Threaten Coffee Crops

by erica westly
Coffee production has long been vulnerable to drought or excess rains. But recently, a tiny insect that thrives in warmer temperatures — the coffee berry borer — has been spreading steadily, devastating coffee plants in Africa, Latin America, and around the world.
READ MORE

Does Egypt Own The Nile?<br /> A Battle Over Precious Water

Report

Does Egypt Own The Nile?
A Battle Over Precious Water

by fred pearce
A dispute between Egypt and upstream African nations has brought to the fore a long-standing controversy over who has rights to the waters of the Nile. The outcome could have profound consequences for the ecological health of the river and for one of the world’s largest tropical wetlands.
READ MORE

Turning to Greener Weapons <br /> In the Battle Against Malaria

Report

Turning to Greener Weapons
In the Battle Against Malaria

by sonia shah
Insecticides such as DDT have long been used to combat the scourge of malaria in the developing world. But with the disease parasite becoming increasingly adept at resisting the chemical onslaught, some countries are achieving striking success by eliminating the environmental conditions that give rise to malarial mosquitoes.
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Out of the Demographic Trap:<br /> Hope for Feeding the World

Opinion

Out of the Demographic Trap:
Hope for Feeding the World

by fred pearce
In Africa and elsewhere, burgeoning population growth threatens to overwhelm already over-stretched food supply systems. But the next agricultural revolution needs to get local — and must start to see rising populations as potentially part of the solution.
READ MORE

In the Mountains of the Moon,<br /> A Trek to Africa’s Last Glaciers

Report

In the Mountains of the Moon,
A Trek to Africa’s Last Glaciers

by tom knudson
The shrinking ice cap atop Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s most famous glacier. But the continent harbors other pockets of ice, most notably in the Rwenzori Mountains of western Uganda.  And as temperatures rise, the Rwenzori’s tropical glaciers — located as high as 16,500 feet — are fast disappearing.
READ MORE

Why Africa’s National Parks<br /> Are Failing to Save Wildlife

Opinion

Why Africa’s National Parks
Are Failing to Save Wildlife

by fred pearce
The traditional parks model of closing off areas and keeping people out simply may not work in Africa, where human demands on the land are great. Instead, what’s needed is an approach that finds ways to enable people and animals to co-exist.
READ MORE

Madagascar’s Political Chaos<br /> Threatens Conservation Gains

Report

Madagascar’s Political Chaos
Threatens Conservation Gains

by rhett butler
Since the government's collapse after a coup last March, Madagascar's rainforests have been plundered for their precious wood and unique wildlife. But now there are a few encouraging signs, as officials promise a crackdown on illegal logging and ecotourists begin to return to the island.
READ MORE

Bringing Hope to Copenhagen<br /> With a Novel Investment Idea

Opinion

Bringing Hope to Copenhagen
With a Novel Investment Idea

by orville schell
Governments from the developed world will never come up with enough money to help poorer nations adapt to global warming and implement renewable energy technologies. The solution may lie in using a modest allocation of government funds to spur private sector investment in green energy projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
READ MORE

The Spread of New Diseases<br /> and the Climate Connection

Report

The Spread of New Diseases
and the Climate Connection

by sonia shah
As humans increasingly encroach on forested lands and as temperatures rise, the transmission of disease from animals and insects to people is growing. Now a new field, known as “conservation medicine,” is exploring how ecosystem disturbance and changing interactions between wildlife and humans can lead to the spread of new pathogens.
READ MORE

The Growing Specter of<br /> Africa Without Wildlife

Report

The Growing Specter of
Africa Without Wildlife

by richard conniff
Recent studies show that wildlife in some African nations is declining even in national parks, as poaching increases and human settlements hem in habitat. With the continent expected to add more than a billion people by 2050, do these trends portend an Africa devoid of wild animals?
READ MORE

Finding New Species:<br /> The Golden Age of Discovery

Report

Finding New Species:
The Golden Age of Discovery

by bruce stutz
Aided by new access to remote regions, researchers have been discovering new species at a record pace — 16,969 in 2006 alone. The challenge now is to preserve threatened ecosystems before these species, and others yet unknown, are lost.
READ MORE

Zimbabwe’s Desperate <br/>Miners Ravage the Land

Report

Zimbabwe’s Desperate
Miners Ravage the Land

by andrew mambondiyani
Hard-pressed by economic straits, illegal panners are tearing up Zimbabwe’s countryside in search of gold and diamonds. They leave behind a trail of destruction: devastated fields and forests, mud-choked rivers, and mercury-tainted water. Andrew Mambondiyani reports from eastern Zimbabwe.
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Opinion

Has the Population Bomb Been Defused?

by fred pearce
Paul Ehrlich still believes that overpopulation imperils the Earth’s future. But the good news is we are approaching a demographic turning point: Birth rates have been falling dramatically, and population is expected to peak later this century — after that, for the first time in modern history, the world's population should actually start to decline.
READ MORE

Analysis

Water Scarcity: The Real Food Crisis

by fred pearce
In the discussion of the global food emergency, one underlying factor is barely mentioned: The world is running out of water. A British science writer, who authored a major book on water resources, here explores the nexus between water overconsumption and current food shortages.
READ MORE

Opinion

The Ethics of Climate Change

by richard c. j. somerville
When it comes to setting climate change policy, science can only tell us so much. Ultimately, a lead report author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change writes, it comes down to making judgments about what is fair, equitable, and just.
READ MORE

e360 digest

RELATED e360 DIGEST ITEMS


Interview: A Grassroots Effort to
Save Africa’s Most Endangered Ape

The Cross River gorilla population, with fewer than 300 individuals, has been pushed to the brink of extinction in equatorial
Inaoyom Imong
Inaoyom Imong
Africa. At the center of the fight to save this beleaguered ape population is Nigerian scientist Inaoyom Imong, who comes from the region and knows its forests — and its people — intimately. In a Yale e360 interview, Imong describes the various pressures that have reduced populations of this gorilla subspecies and explains how a few thousand people living in rural Nigeria and Cameroon hold the key to saving this magnificent ape.
Read the interview.
PERMALINK

 

Canine Conservation: Using Dogs
In War Against Poachers in Kenya


In Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy — home to some of the most endangered subspecies of rhinoceros — officials are deploying a new weapon to combat rampant rhino poaching: highly trained K-9 dogs. Six Belgian Malinois tracking and attack dogs are now working with Kenyan rangers to protect tiny populations of northern white rhinos and eastern black rhinos, which have been hunted to near-extinction by poachers seeking rhino horn for supposed medicinal purposes. Overseen by a former military dog instructor with the U.K. Royal Army Veterinary Corps, the K-9 units are being deployed not only in Ol Pejeta but also in a Tanzanian park that has been plagued by poaching.
Read the article.
PERMALINK

 

28 Jan 2015: Camera Trap Records Rare
Glimpse of African Golden Cat Hunting

An African golden cat, one of the least known and most elusive wild cats on the planet, has been filmed hunting in

African golden cat
Kibale National Park, Uganda, for the first time, scientists say. In the video, which was recorded by a camera trap, an African golden cat darts toward a group of red colobus monkeys feeding on a tree stump. The cat's attack is nearly too fast to be seen in real-time, but viewing the footage in slow-motion highlights the cat's swiftness and accuracy — even though its ambush failed to land a meal. The African golden cat is found only in the forests of central and West Africa, and it is threatened across its range by intensive bushmeat hunting and habitat loss. Researchers say the video provides important details about the African golden cats' hunting behavior that have never before been directly observed.
PERMALINK

 

27 Jan 2015: Pollinator Loss Could Put
Poor Nations at Risk for Malnutrition

Declining pollinator populations could leave as many as half of the people in developing countries facing nutritional deficiencies, according to researchers from the University of Vermont and the Harvard School of Public Health. In the study — the first to link pollinator declines directly to human nutrition — researchers collected detailed data about people's daily diets in parts of Zambia, Mozambique, Uganda, and Bangladesh. They found that in Mozambique, for example, many children and mothers are barely able to meet their needs for micronutrients, especially vitamin A, which is important for preventing blindness and infectious diseases. Fruits and vegetables were an important source of that nutrient for many people in the study, and those crops are highly dependent on pollinators, researchers say — for example, yields of mangoes, which are high in vitamin A, would likely be cut by 65 percent without them. Pollinator losses might also lead to folate deficiency, they say, which is associated with neural tube defects.
PERMALINK

 

23 Jan 2015: South Africa Relocates Rhinos
After Record Number Were Poached in 2014

Unable to curb poaching of rhinos within its borders, the South African government has relocated 100 rhinos to

A white rhino in Kruger National Park.
neighboring countries in an effort to stem the illegal slaughter of the animals, Reuters reports. For security reasons, officials did not reveal to which countries the rhinos had been relocated. An additional 56 rhinos were moved from poaching hotspots within South Africa's Kruger National Park — where two-thirds of the killings happen — to an "intensive protection zone" within Kruger, officials said. Poachers killed a record number of the animals in South Africa last year — 1,215 rhinos, up 20 percent from the 2013 total — and 49 have been killed so far this year. The animals are hunted intensely because their horns, which some Asian cultures incorrectly believe contain medicinal properties, are worth an estimated $65,000 per kilogram on the black market.
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12 Jan 2015: Maasai Group Plans to Sell
Biogas Made From Slaughterhouse Waste

A group of Maasai farmers in southwestern Kenya has developed a profitable way to convert animal waste and

A Keeko Biogas cylinder prototype
blood from a local slaughterhouse into biogas that can power the facility as well as other local businesses, Reuters reports. The Keeko Biogas project plans to start bottling the fuel and selling cylinders of it in March, once safety testing has been completed, project leaders say. At roughly $8 per 6-kilogram cylinder, the biogas is about half the price of liquefied petroleum gas, and it can be up to 40 percent more energy efficient than propane or butane, says the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute, which is providing technical support for the project. The facility will be able to produce 100 to 300 cylinders of biogas per week, organizers say. The project will not only offset the costs of waste management for the slaughterhouse, it will also likely help prevent deforestation in the region. "We cut down a lot of trees for charcoal and we hope to reduce that,” the chairman of the slaughterhouse told Reuters.
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Interview: Giving Local Women
A Voice in Grass-Roots Conservation

The roles of women in traditional societies can be quite different from men’s, and their knowledge of the
Kame Westerman
Kame Westerman
natural world and the way in which conservation projects affect them may also be different. But these variables aren’t necessarily taken into account when developing such projects. The results can range from missed opportunities to project failure. Earlier this year, Conservation International began piloting guidelines to help integrate gender considerations into its community projects — an initiative that Kame Westerman, the "gender advisor" for that organization, helped develop. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Westerman discusses these guidelines, as well as the perils of ignoring gender when planning conservation initiatives.
Read more.
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24 Nov 2014: Record Number of Rhinos Poached In South Africa, Government Says

South African officials have announced that 1,020 rhinos have been killed so far in 2014 — a total that

White rhino in South Africa
surpasses last year’s record slaughter of 1,004 of the endangered animals. Poaching has been on the rise in South Africa, home to the world’s largest population of rhinos, since 2007, when only seven rhinos were killed. The sharp increase is occurring despite steps by the government to improve enforcement and introduce new technologies and intelligence-gathering methods to curb poaching, Mongabay reports. As of 2010, South Africa was home to more than 18,000 white rhinos — over 90 percent of the global population — and nearly 2,000 black rhinos. The animals are being killed for their horns, which are in high demand in China and Vietnam for their supposed, but unproven, medicinal qualities.
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07 Nov 2014: Organized Chinese Crime Behind Tanzania's Elephant Slaughter, Report Says

Chinese-led criminal organizations have been conspiring with corrupt Tanzanian officials to traffic huge amounts

Poached elephant skull in Selous Reserve
of ivory — a trade that has caused half of Tanzania’s elephants to be poached in the past five years — according to a report by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency. In some cases, Chinese military officials appeared to be complicit in the illegal activities, the report says, and in other instances, prominent Tanzanian businessmen and politicians helped protect ivory traffickers. Tanzania is the largest source of poached ivory in the world, and China is the largest importer of smuggled tusks, according to EIA. Tanzania’s famed Selous Reserve saw its elephant population plunge by 67 percent in four years, from 50,000 animals to 13,000. Tanzania appears to have lost more elephants to poaching during this period than any other country, EIA said.
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E360 Video Winner: Intimate Look
At the Bighorn Sheep of the Rockies


“Peak to Peak,” the third-place winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest, focuses on a herd of bighorn sheep in Montana and features remarkable scenes of lambs as they gambol along the slopes of the northern Rockies. Produced by Jeremy Roberts, the video follows a field biologist as he monitors the sheep and talks about the possible impact of climate change on the animals’ future.
Watch the video.
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23 Sep 2014: Food Security Issues Often
Neglected After Extreme Weather Events

Extreme weather events — the sort likely to arise with increasing frequency as the planet warms — took a heavy toll on Russia and East Africa in 2010 and 2011, in large part because governments and authorities were ill-equipped to address resulting food shortages and other fallout, according to researchers at the University of Oxford. Russia experienced a heat wave that led to food hoarding and price-fixing of staple crops by speculators, according to the report, which was commissioned by Oxfam. A drought in East Africa in 2010 through 2011 was tied to an uptick in armed conflicts in the region, which interrupted international and domestic aid for six months. Crop prices reached record levels in several markets, including wheat in Ethiopia, maize in Kenya, and red sorghum grain in Somalia, the report notes. Investing in additional health facilities, establishing pre-positioned food supplies, and other tactics aimed at mitigating the effects of future heat waves, droughts, and floods, could help to blunt the effects of climate change on the poorest and most vulnerable populations, the researchers say.
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19 Sep 2014: Global Population on Track to
Reach 11 Billion by 2100, Researchers Say

A new analysis of United Nations global population data finds an 80-percent probability that the number of

Enlarge

Global population trend
people in the world, now 7.2 billion, will increase to between 9.6 and 12.3 billion in 2100. Published in the journal Science, the study counters the widely accepted projection that global population will peak at roughly 9 billion by 2050, then gradually decline. The new study instead finds a 70-percent likelihood that population will grow continuously throughout the century to reach 10.9 billion by 2100. Researchers attribute the higher projections, in part, to increasing fertility rates in sub-Saharan Africa, where population growth had been predicted to continue slowing. The Guardian notes that many widely cited global policy assessments, such as recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, assume a population peak by 2050.
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03 Sep 2014: Mobile Phone Networks Can
Help Monitor Global Rainfall, Study Says

New research shows that mobile phone networks, which cover 90 percent of the world's population, can help track rainfall events — a task that has proven difficult for both advanced satellite systems and ground-level observation networks. By compiling data on signal disruptions from mobile phone networks in Burkina Faso in West Africa, a team of researchers was able to calculate with 95 percent accuracy both the location and volume of rain that fell, even during short-lived storms, according to a report in Geophysical Research Letters. Mobile phone companies maintain detailed records on signal disruptions, which can occur when water droplets block and deflect signals between antennae, to determine whether their networks are functioning properly. By tapping into those records, researchers could distill data on rainfall events at extremely fine spatial and temporal scales. As mobile phone networks expand across the globe, such data could be used to create highly accurate rainfall maps, researchers say, although gaining access to records could prove difficult.
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24 Apr 2014: Browning of Congo Rainforest
Is Depicted in NASA Satellite Data

Persistent drought has taken a major toll on Africa's Congo rainforest, with large-scale browning intensifying and affecting a growing portion of the forest over the past decade, an analysis of NASA satellite data shows. A

Click to Enlarge
Browning of Congo rainforest

Browning of Congo rainforest
browning trend significantly dwarfed smaller areas of "greening" — a satellite-derived indicator of forest health — during April, May, and June each year from 2000 to 2012, according to research published in Nature. The browning of Congo's rainforest is significant, researchers said, because most climate models forecast that tropical forests may face increasing stress and rainfall shortages in a warmer and drier 21st century. A continued drying trend might alter the composition and structure of the Congo rainforest, affecting its biodiversity and carbon storage, according to the study. "Recent climate anomalies as a result of climate change and warming of the Atlantic Ocean have created severe droughts in the tropics, causing major impacts on forests," a NASA researcher said.
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08 Apr 2014: 'Living Fences' Dramatically
Cut Livestock and Lion Killings in Tanzania

A novel, low-tech idea is helping Tanzania's lion population rebound: So-called "living fences" — which enclose livestock and are constructed of actively growing trees and chain-link fencing — have cut lion
“Masai
A Masai villager installs a living fence.
attacks and retaliatory killings by more than 85 percent in the areas they've been installed, the Guardian reports. Traditionally, the Masai have built livestock enclosures out of thorny acacia trees, but those fences are relatively fragile. Chain-link fencing alone is more durable, but leopards and small lions can scale the fences, and hyenas can tunnel in below. By interweaving actively growing African myrrh trees with the chain link fencing, the Masai have created a barrier that lions can't climb over, and their root systems prevent predators from digging under the fence. Because livestock predation has been cut, communities that had been killing six or seven lions annually now kill, on average, less than one, leading to a rebound in lion populations.
PERMALINK

 

07 Feb 2014: Chimpanzee 'Mega-Culture'
Documented in Remote Forest in Congo

Researchers have documented a huge population of chimpanzees in the Democratic Republic of Congo — a community of perhaps tens of thousands of individuals with its own unique customs and behaviors, the Guardian reports. The so-called "mega-culture," which spans 50,000 square kilometers of virtually untouched

Watch Video
Chimps in DRC

Chimps are thriving in a remote Congo forest.
forest, is thought to be the largest population of chimps in Africa and one of the last remaining continuous populations of chimpanzees in the wild, the scientists report in the journal Biological Conservation. The researchers first reported on this community in 2007, but their new survey includes detailed videos of the thriving population and its unique behaviors, which include feasting on leopards, using tools to harvest giant African snails and swarming insects, and building ground nests far more frequently than other chimps. While the find is heartening in terms of chimpanzee conservation, the researchers and wildlife advocates fear the population could be decimated by habitat loss and poachers, who stand to make huge profits in the bushmeat trade.
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06 Feb 2014: Maps Show Tropical Corridors
Important to Wildlife As Climate Changes

A new set of maps highlights the importance of habitat corridors in helping wildlife deal with the effects of climate change and deforestation. The series of maps shows more than 16,000 habitat corridors— swaths of

Click to Enlarge
South America habitat corridors

Protected areas and corridors in South America
land that connect forests or protected areas and allow animals to move between them — in tropical regions of Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America. High-resolution data on biodiversity, endemism, and vegetation density allowed the researchers, led by Patrick Jantz of the Woods Hole Research Center, to determine which corridors are most important for maintaining biodiversity under changing climate conditions. The maps also highlight which corridors are most important for sequestering carbon and averting carbon emissions associated with deforestation. Researchers hope the findings will help guide wildlife protection plans and serve as a framework prioritizing the conservation of habitat corridors.
PERMALINK

 

17 Jan 2014: More Than 1,000 Rhinos
Poached in 2013, South African Officials Say

More than 1,000 rhinos were illegally killed in South Africa last year, a record total and an increase of more than 50 percent from 2012, South African officials say. South Africa is home to nearly all of the
Black rhino
Adam Welz
world's 20,000 rhinos, which are targeted by poachers because their horns are highly valued and believed to contain medicinal properties. Although those claims are scientifically unfounded, demand from increasingly wealthy consumers in China and Vietnam has driven the price of rhino horns to over $65,000 per kilogram — more valuable than gold, platinum, or cocaine. South Africa has tried to stem the crisis by training park rangers to use arms, drones, and helicopters, but those anti-poaching efforts have shown limited success. Rhino poachings in 2012 also increased by 50 percent over 2011 totals, and 37 have been poached so far in 2014, officials report. Most of the killings are taking place in South Africa's Kruger National Park, where 606 rhinos were killed last year and 425 in 2012.
PERMALINK

 

15 Jan 2014: West African Lions Are
Critically Close to Extinction, Study Says

West African lions are close to extinction, and vulnerable populations could be wiped out in the next five to 10 years, according to new research led by the wild cat conservation group Panthera. West African lions, which are genetically distinct from other African lions, once numbered in the tens of thousands. Now the
West African lion
Philipp Henschel/Panthera
Male West African lion
population has been reduced to around 400 individuals spread across 17 countries, largely due to habitat loss, a shortage of prey, and poaching, according to the study published in PLOS ONE. Of the remaining lions, only about 250 are mature enough to reproduce, but in many cases those individuals are spread too far apart to breed. West African lions are now present in only 1.1 percent of their original habitat and should be considered "critically endangered," according to the study. Running low on habitat and prey, the lions sometimes kill livestock. Villagers then kill the lions in revenge. "It's become very complicated for this carnivore at the top of the food chain to find enough space and food to survive," one scientist told Reuters.
PERMALINK

 

02 Dec 2013: Poachers Killed 22,000
Elephants in Africa Last Year, Group Says

Poachers slaughtered 22,000 elephants in 27 African countries last year, according to a new report. Officials with The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and two conservation groups said that 15,000 elephant
Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay
A herd in Namibia
deaths from poaching were officially reported in Africa and that another 7,000 deaths went unreported. Although that number is a slight decrease from the 2011 estimate of 25,000 poaching deaths, CITES officials warn that poaching rates are far too high and could soon lead to local extinctions. Africa, which is currently home to roughly 500,000 elephants, could lose a fifth of its elephant population over the next 10 years, CITES says. "The estimated poaching rate of 7.4 percent in 2012 remains at an unsustainably high level, as it exceeds natural population growth rates (usually no more than 5 percent)," the report says.
PERMALINK

 

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