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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.
- ‘Bring it on,’ EU MP says of trade fight over palm biofuel phase-outPosted by Hans Nicholas Jong on October 15, 2019 at 12:36 am
BRUSSELS — The European Parliament will proceed with phasing out palm oil-based biofuel by 2030 despite threats of retaliatory action by Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s biggest producers of the ubiquitous vegetable oil. The policy was adopted earlier this year to curb the use of crops that cause deforestation in transportation fuel, over concerns that […]
- $65 million deal to protect Congo’s forests raises concernsPosted by John Cannon on October 14, 2019 at 12:25 pm
On Sept. 3, the Republic of Congo secured a stream of funding aimed at protecting forests and peatlands. The signatures of French President Emmanuel Macron and Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso finalized a $65 million agreement outlining a set of strategies that the Central African Forest Initiative, or CAFI, which brokered the deal, says will […]
- British armed forces supplied by Brazilian meat firm linked to Amazon deforestation, corruption: ReportPosted by daniel on October 14, 2019 at 10:07 am
The British military has for years sourced beef for soldiers’ ration packs from scandal-plagued Brazilian meatpacker JBS despite its history of corruption, poor environmental record and links to human rights abuses, research by NGO Earthsight has found. Ration packs supplied to the UK armed forces between 2009 and 2016 were found to be manufactured by […]
- Education, compensation, and spiritual outreach protect threatened whale sharksPosted by Sue Palminteri on October 14, 2019 at 9:30 am
In the 1980s and 1990s, whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) were being slaughtered by the hundreds in the waters off the coast of Gujarat, a state in western India famous for being the last refuge of the Asiatic Lion. While the lions were protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972, the whale sharks were […]
- Expansion of a famous elephant park holds out hope for Africa’s big tuskersPosted by terna gyuse on October 14, 2019 at 5:05 am
DURBAN, South Africa — There is a scene at the start of the film Last of the Big Tuskers where a man is having his upper arm tattooed. As the artist puts the finishing touches to the work and dabs away blood, the camera pans out and an inky face with enormous tusks emerges. Elephants […]
- Rare songbird recovers, moves off endangered species listPosted by Shreya Dasgupta on October 11, 2019 at 8:44 pm
The recovery of a rare bird species that was close to extinction five decades ago is now being heralded as a conservation success story. The Kirtland’s warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii), also known as the jack pine warbler, a small songbird that nests only in young jack pine forests in northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario, was never […]
- Deforestation continues to rise in the Brazilian AmazonPosted by Rhett Butler on October 11, 2019 at 7:43 pm
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon continues its upward trajectory according to data released today by the country’s national space research institute INPE. Monthly deforestation alert data showed that 1,444 square kilometers of forest in Brazil’s “Legal Amazon” — or Amazonia — were cleared during the month of September, bringing the area chopped down through the […]
- Saving an island from the worst oil spill in the Philippines: The case of GuimarasPosted by Mike Gaworecki on October 11, 2019 at 1:52 pm
On August 11, 2006, the oil tanker M/T Solar 1, hired by Petron Corporation, sank off the coast of Guimaras, an island province in the Philippines, spilling more than 2.1 million liters (about 555,000 gallons) of bunker fuel. It is still known as the worst oil spill in the Philippines’ history. The oil that contaminated […]
- Bali mangrove bay is now a conservation zone, nixing reclamation planPosted by Basten Gokkon on October 11, 2019 at 11:03 am
JAKARTA — Bali’s mangrove-rich Benoa Bay is now legally off-limits for any reclamation or development activities, following the government’s designation of the area as a maritime conservation zone. Spanning some 1,400 hectares (3,460 acres) in southern Bali, the bay was in 2014 rezoned from a conservation area to a public zone under a decree by […]
- In other news: Environmental stories from around the web, October 11, 2019Posted by John Cannon on October 11, 2019 at 10:53 am
Tropical forests A rainforest in Mexico is home to a newly discovered antibiotic (Science Alert). Researchers call for a coordinated effort to stamp out cocaine trafficking and deforestation in Central and South America (The Verge). An app shows farmers where they can plant crops without cutting down forest in the West African country of Côte […]
- Madagascar calls for assistance as fires imperil its protected areasPosted by malavikavyawahare on October 11, 2019 at 8:50 am
Fires razed more than 1,300 hectares (3,200 acres) of forestland in Madagascar’s Ankarafantsika National Park in August and September — four times the size of New York City’s Central Park. By now, the worst appears to be over, an official said. “Currently, there are some fire points around the park, and the field team works […]
- ‘Witnessing extinction in the flames’ as the Amazon burns for agribusinessPosted by Morgan Erickson-Davis on October 10, 2019 at 1:24 pm
TRIUNFO DO XINGU, Brazil — The rolling hills of the Triunfo do Xingu protected area in northern Brazil are a patchwork of vibrant emerald green and deep burnt orange. Dark plumes of smoke dot the jungle landscape stretching beyond the sprawling pastures, where cattle graze. Alongside the dirt roads crisscrossing the region, tree stumps jut […]
- Seeking justice against palm oil firms, victims call out banks behind themPosted by Hans Nicholas Jong on October 10, 2019 at 12:55 pm
AMSTERDAM — Hemsi has been in jail three times since 2006 and filed pleas with 13 government institutions in Indonesia during that period — all in an effort to fight off the oil palm company he alleges is stealing his land. A farmer from Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi province, Hemsi has also traveled to the capital, […]
- Food is biggest stumbling block on zero-waste nature tourPosted by Sue Palminteri on October 10, 2019 at 11:57 am
While guests on a recent tour through Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA ate dinner in the lodge, an unexpected guest joined the group: a five-gallon green compost bucket where the travelers put food scraps at the end of the meal. It may not be the most appealing addition to the bustling dining atmosphere filled […]
- Toxic river: Mining, mercury and murder continue to plague Colombia’s AtratoPosted by daniel on October 10, 2019 at 11:00 am
Snaking its way through Colombia’s northwestern department of Choco, for centuries the Atrato River has been the lifeblood for Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities living along its banks. But decades of internal conflict have fueled an unprecedented surge in illegal mining, decimating the river basin and provoking an environmental and humanitarian crisis in one of the […]
- Seven elephants found dead as Sri Lanka’s human-wildlife conflict escalatesPosted by dilrukshi on October 10, 2019 at 3:49 am
ANURADHAPURA/COLOMBO — Wildlife authorities in Sri Lanka have launched an investigation after seven elephants were found dead late last month in the north-central district of Anuradhapura. Four of the elephants were found dead near the city of Habarana on Sept. 27, and three more on the following day. All except one were female, and all […]
- Legal and illegal trade negatively impacting survival and wellbeing of Africa’s wildlife: ReportPosted by Mike Gaworecki on October 9, 2019 at 5:13 pm
A new report finds that both legal and illegal trade are detrimental to the conservation of Africa’s iconic wildlife. Released last week by the London-based NGO World Animal Protection to coincide with World Animal Day, the report looks at the “Big 5” and “Little 5” most-in-demand species and how trade in those animals impacts their […]
- Madagascar: Opaque foreign fisheries deals leave empty nets at homePosted by Rebecca Kessler on October 9, 2019 at 1:13 pm
TOLIARA AND MORONDAVA, Madagascar — When fishers on the west coast of Madagascar arrive home after a day at sea, children often poke their heads into the pirogues to see what’s inside. People here say that it’s not what it used to be: their catch is declining. Rightly or not, they blame industrial shrimp trawlers […]
- Philippines freezes climate studies loan over scrutiny of Duterte drug warPosted by leilani on October 9, 2019 at 12:21 pm
MANILA – Negotiations over a $36 million loan on climate change studies in the Philippines, one of the countries most at risk from the impacts of global warming, have bogged down as President Rodrigo Duterte lashes out against international scrutiny of his human rights record. The loan was committed by Germany, one of 18 countries […]
- Suspicions of murder in death of Indonesian environmental activistPosted by Basten Gokkon on October 9, 2019 at 11:05 am
MEDAN, Indonesia — Environmental activists in Indonesia have raised suspicions over the death this week of a human rights defender who was a staunch advocate of communities threatened by oil palm plantations. Golfrid Siregar, 34, a member of the legal advocacy team for the North Sumatra chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), […]