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Sanguila also stresses the importance of conserving what is left of Mindanao’s forests, especially now that we know what a special place it is. Although much of the original forest cover in the lowlands have been lost, she believes it is critical to establish new protected areas to halt the environmentally destructive harvest of natural resources, to promote societal environmental awareness, and to allow habitats to regenerate over several decades.
Siler hopes this paper is only the beginning of a bright future for biodiversity research in the area. He plans to continue working with the University of Kansas, graduate students from the program – many of whom have started their own programs in the United States – as well as their Philippine collaborators.
|Myanmar Army: The national armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw.|
|Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA): A multilateral agreement that calls for political dialogue between the Myanmar army and the country’s ethnic armed organizations. Signed on Oct. 15, 2015 by the Tatmadaw and eight armed groups.|
|Border Guard Forces (BGFs): Created by the Tatmadaw in 2009 and 2010. They were formed by integrating Tatmadaw soldiers with those from units originally with either ethnic armed organizations or militia groups. The BGFs have served as proxy forces for the Tatmadaw to exercise influence in areas not under their direct control.|
|Karen National Union (KNU): Formed in the late 1947, the KNU is Myanmar’s oldest ethnic armed opposition group. The KNU initially called for independence, but since 1976 has instead been seeking a federal system. Signed a bilateral ceasefire with the government in 2012 and is part of the NCA.
|Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA): Formal armed wing of the KNU. It was founded in 1949.
“When you do survey work on Mindanao, two main issues need to be addressed; security-related and local (within site) politics,” Sanguila said. Culturally, Mindanao is incredibly complex and diverse. The island is home to some two dozen ethnolinguistic groups speaking roughly 70 languages, who often have conflicting interests over how to use the island’s rich agricultural and natural resources. Proper precautions had to be taken before researchers could go into the field, including meeting with local authorities, tribal leaders, hunters, police and military for advice.
All that hard work is now paying off. “Having [Sanguila] down there and being one of the more active biodiversity researchers in the southern Philippines is a fantastic position to develop new conservation initiatives and awareness about biodiversity,” Siler said. In 2013, Sanguila came to the University of Oklahoma on a Fulbright scholarship to study genetic sampling techniques as well as the ins and outs of building and caring for a natural history collection. It was there, in collaboration with Siler, that the ambitious project to survey the reptiles and amphibians of Mindanao was born.
Another major goal of the research was to update outdated IUCN conservation status assessments by sorting out unresolved taxonomic questions. That work, the researchers say, has just begun. Many more long-term species surveys are needed to truly understand the diversity and conservation status of the reptiles and amphibians of Mindanao. That will require using modern genetic sampling techniques as well as input from more traditional taxonomists who perform the detailed work of teasing apart species relationships. According to Sanguila, 20 percent of the species recorded require “immediate systematic revisions” before informed decisions can be made regarding their conservation status.
- Guyana: The school where indigenous youth learn about their landPosted by Rebecca Kessler on February 15, 2019 at 3:15 pm
ANNAI, Guyana — It’s 8:30 a.m. and the main school building of the Bina Hill Institute’s Youth Learning Centre is strangely quiet. The classrooms are deserted, the newly built dormitories are empty, and the football field lies still. But behind the kitchen block is a hubbub of noise: the roar of a motorbike, the hum […]
- 10 reasons U.S. must hold Peru to trade deal and protect Amazon (commentary)Posted by Glenn Scherer on February 15, 2019 at 1:08 pm
Peru’s placing of its independent OSINFOR forest inspection agency in the Ministry of Environment – likely a U.S. trade agreement violation – is a serious setback in Amazon illegal logging fight. […]
- Latam Eco Review: Twilight for Darwin’s foxes, nightlife for jaguarundisPosted by Maria Salazar on February 15, 2019 at 12:42 pm
Jaguarundis caught on camera in Peru, hydropower choking Colombia’s Cauca River, and Darwin’s foxes on the brink of extinction were among the recent top stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay Latam. Caught on camera: Unexpected nightlife of jaguarundi in Peru They were following spectacled bears in northern Peru, but at night camera traps caught species […]
- In other news: Environmental stories from around the web, February 15, 2019Posted by John Cannon on February 15, 2019 at 10:45 am
Tropical forests A photographer snapped black leopards, which haven’t been seen in the wild in Africa since 1909, with a set of camera traps (The New York Times, National Geographic). A Nigerian presidential candidate has promised to develop a controversial superhighway through the country’s forested Cross River state (Channels Television). Deforestation in Brazil could be […]
- Nepal court blocks road construction in rhino stronghold of Chitwan ParkPosted by Isabel Esterman on February 15, 2019 at 9:15 am
KATHMANDU — Nepal’s Supreme Court has ordered the government not to construct any new roads inside Chitwan National Park without approval from UNESCO, park authorities and other stakeholders. Chitwan National Park is home the world’s second-largest population of greater one-horned rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) as well as a significant population of Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris), […]
- Sri Lanka gets its first data-based elephant distribution mapPosted by Shreya Dasgupta on February 15, 2019 at 8:34 am
For a large, charismatic and endangered species such as the Asian elephant, you might think scientists would have figured out where they hang out and when. But it turns out, there’s very little evidence-based information on their distribution across countries in Asia. Researchers in Sri Lanka, however, are filling in some of this information gap. By […]
- For Indonesian presidential hopefuls, burning coal is business as usualPosted by Hans Nicholas Jong on February 15, 2019 at 4:04 am
JAKARTA — Usman’s been glued to the TV news lately. A young fisherman living in Batang, along the northeastern coast of Indonesia’s main island of Java, Usman is closely following this year’s presidential race. While much of the country has been caught up in the daily trading of barbs between the campaign teams of President […]
- Few eco commitments and suspect funding for Indonesia presidential hopefulsPosted by Basten Gokkon on February 15, 2019 at 3:54 am
JAKARTA — Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo and his rival in this year’s election, Prabowo Subianto, are expected to address the issues of environmental protection and management during the second of their scheduled debates on Feb. 17. Nearly 200 million people are eligible to vote in a repeat of the 2014 election, when Widodo defeated Prabowo […]
- Invaded Uru-eu-wau-wau indigenous reserve awaits relief by Brazil’s new governmentPosted by Glenn Scherer on February 14, 2019 at 5:49 pm
A mid-January land grabber invasion of a Rondônia state indigenous reserve prompted urgent indigenous calls for Bolsonaro administration law enforcement assistance. […]
- A snapshot of camera traps reveals user frustrations and hopesPosted by Sue Palminteri on February 14, 2019 at 2:13 pm
Camera trapping has become an important conservation and research tool worldwide. Photos from remote cameras have afforded us insights into the lives of rare, shy, cryptic, nocturnal, or otherwise seldom-seen animals. Remote cameras can capture images of a variety of rare, cryptic, and shy animals that would otherwise be impossible to view in their natural […]
- Peru: Report reveals high rates of illegality in timber extractionPosted by Genevieve Belmaker on February 14, 2019 at 2:10 pm
According to a recent report by Global Witness, there is evidence of disarray and illegality in Peru’s timber industry. The report focuses on the regions of Loreto, Ucayali, and Madre de Dios, which are Peru’s three most important regions for timber extraction. According to the report, which is entitled “The Forest Avengers,” all three regions […]
- DRC’s Virunga to welcome visitors again after 8-month closurePosted by John Cannon on February 14, 2019 at 10:51 am
Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo will reopen its gates to tourists on Feb. 15 after officials closed them more than eight months ago. A spate of violence in the first half of 2018 led the park’s director, Emmanuel de Merode, to shutter its tourism operations to shore up security for […]
- Graphic anti-wildlife-trafficking campaign tackles Vietnam’s pangolin problemPosted by Genevieve Belmaker on February 14, 2019 at 9:50 am
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — On Jan. 28, a graphic new anti-wildlife-trafficking campaign called “Be Their Bodhisattva” launched at a major pagoda here in Vietnam’s commercial center. Under the branch of Mahayana Buddhism widely practiced across Vietnam, a bodhisattva is someone who delays reaching nirvana in order to save others from suffering. The campaign, […]
- ‘Beautiful legislation’ fails to protect PNG’s environment, landownersPosted by Isabel Esterman on February 14, 2019 at 7:33 am
Papua New Guinea is a canopy-covered country, with a substantial chunk of the world’s third-largest rainforest and some 7 percent of global biodiversity. It is home to many endemic species, from legless lizards to the amber-plumed Raggiana bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea raggiana), immortalized on the nation’s flag. These natural wonders are ostensibly safeguarded by laws that include […]
- The good luck black cat, revealed by camera trapsPosted by Sue Palminteri on February 13, 2019 at 5:47 pm
Sometimes, a black cat can bring good luck. A professional photographer, together with leopard researchers from San Diego Zoo and Kenya’s Loisaba Conservancy, used camera traps to document the presence of a melanistic (black) leopard in Laikipia County in northern Kenya. Field staff at Loisaba had received several reports of observations of a black leopard […]
- Massive pangolin seizure in Borneo smuggling operation bustPosted by John Cannon on February 13, 2019 at 11:30 am
Police and wildlife officials confiscated nearly 30 metric tons (33 tons) of pangolin carcasses, meat and scales, as well as dozens of the live animals, in Malaysian Borneo on Feb. 7, according to multiple media reports and the NGO TRAFFIC. A tip alerted the authorities to what they say is evidence of a “smuggling syndicate” […]
- Wisdom, world’s oldest known wild bird, is a mother again at 68Posted by Shreya Dasgupta on February 13, 2019 at 11:25 am
At nearly 70 years, Wisdom, a Laysan albatross, is the world’s oldest known wild bird. She’s also a mother once again. Wisdom was previously spotted at her regular nesting site in Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, located within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the northern Pacific, on Nov. 29 last year, according to the U.S. Fish […]
- Nicaragua crisis takes an environmental toll with plunder of turtle eggsPosted by Maria Salazar on February 13, 2019 at 8:00 am
Some 2,000 sea turtle nests were raided and at least six turtles killed in La Flor Wildlife Refuge on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast during the summer of 2018, according to a conservation NGO. Environmental and scientific organizations have condemned the scale of the raids, which were much larger than the usual episodes that occur on the […]
- Grasshoppers: They come, they eat, they … pollinate?Posted by Maria Salazar on February 13, 2019 at 6:51 am
Attitudes toward grasshoppers and other leggy insects were immortalized in popular culture with Disney Pixar’s 1998 animated hit “A Bug’s Life.” “They come, they eat, they leave,” a main character chants breathily, a mantra likely shared by farmers the world over as they wait for the villainous grasshoppers to take their cut of the harvest […]
- Tool innovation shows cultural evolution at work among chimpanzeesPosted by Isabel Esterman on February 12, 2019 at 2:44 pm
Imagine traipsing through a forest, growing thirsty, and stumbling on a small pool of water in the knot of a log. How would you drink it? If you had a straw, you might use that. A dipper cup would be handy. Or perhaps a sponge? Faced with this situation, wild chimpanzees employ a technique called […]