Save The Elephants: How DNA revealed the 3 cartels behind most of Africa’s ivory smuggling

Science writer Ed Yong has an amazing whodunit at The Atlantic on how genetic science can help stop elephant poaching. Read the rest

Magical hummingbird slow-motion video shot on a smartphone

Conservationist, entomologist, and photographer Phil Torres recorded this enchanting slow-motion video of hummingbirds in the cloud forest of Sumaco, Ecuador. He used Moment lenses Read the rest

This punk turtle that breathes through its genitals is going extinct

The Mary River Turtle (Elusor macrurus), seen in this marvelous photo by Chris Van Wyk, calls Queensland, Australia its home. It's a fantastic creature with a green mohwawk of algae strands. The Mary River Turtle can stay underwater for up to 72 hours as it breathes through glands in its reproductive organs. Unfortunately, it's also one of the latest animals that the Zoological Society of London's EDGE conservation group added to its list of endangered species. From National Geographic:

The Mary river turtle waddled its way on the list for a number of reasons: it's the only member of its genius, and according to EGDE's website, it became evolutionarily distinct 40 million years ago. Forty million years of Earth's changes, however, wasn't enough to prepare them for 100 years of human intervention.

Their habitat... has been disrupted from dam construction, and the species was widely bought and sold in the pet trade.

Today it's protected by the Australian government, and conservation groups are working to make sure its habitat is preserved.

Read the rest

Scientist finds shimmering blue moths last seen in 1887

A Polish entomologist has observed and recorded footage of a bee-like moth called the Oriental blue clearwing. Read the rest

Conservationists offer $150K to buy a forest, government sells it to loggers for $40K less

Indiana’s Yellowwood State Forest is a scenic forest that Indiana's Department of Natural Resources put up for sale. But after conservationists gathered $150,000 to preserve the forest for another 100 years, the government sold it to a local logging company for $108,785. Read the rest

Last-ditch plan to save 30 remaining vaquitas, earth's tiniest porpoises

Vaquita CPR is the international effort to save the "pandas of the sea," critically endangered and super-cute vaquitas, the earth's smallest species of porpoises. Only 30 are believed to live in their range in the northern Gulf of California. Read the rest

Fantastic trailer for new Jane Goodall documentary

I can't wait to see Jane, the new National Geographic documentary about the inspiring primatologist Jane Goodall who famously lived with chimpanzees in Tanzania for decades and has worked tireless on conservation and animal welfare issues her entire adult life. The film, containing unseen footage of Jane in the jungle, was directed by Brett Morgen (Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck) with music by minimalist master Philip Glass!

This photo below of Jane Goodall observing chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, taken by her mother Vanne Morris-Goodall, was encoded on the Voyager Golden Record launched into space 40 years ago:

Read the rest

Hundred-year-old fruitcake found in Antarctica is in "excellent condition"

Researchers from the Antarctic Heritage Trust turned up this 100-year-old fruitcake in a Cape Adare hut. From their report: Read the rest

Watch these adorable rescued sea lions get released back into the wild

Buoy and Canoe were in bad shape when they were rescued, but they bounced back thanks to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Watch this heartwarming footage of the pair getting released back into the ocean. Read the rest

Rescued elephants get giant knitted sweaters

Indian conservation group Wildlife SOS has a team of knitters that could put your grandma's afghan-making skills to shame. They create these colorful knitted sweaters for elephants in their care. Read the rest

Record 3.5 tons of pangolin scales seized in China

Pangolin scales, like rhinoceros horns, are just made of keratin, but that doesn't stop traditional medicine practitioners from claiming they cure cancer and what-not. It's why pangolins are the most trafficked animals in the world. China stopped a shipment worth around $2 million that required killing around 7,500 of the cure little anteaters. Read the rest

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: "Are we ready for 'Bigfoot" or the Loch Ness Monster?"

In 1977, the US Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service published a fascinating document asking what the government would do if Bigfoot or something like the Loch Ness Monster were to be found? The paper goes on to explain the laws and regulations in place to deal with such a discovery, and also mentions 20th century discoveries like the Komodo dragon and cryptozoology's darling, the coelacanth. From the document:

Finding a Loch Ness monster or Bigfoot is still a possibility, and the discovery would be one of the most important in modern history. As items of scientific and public interest they would surely command more attention than the moon rocks. Millions of curiosity seekers”and thou- sands of zoologists and anthropologists throughout the world would be eager to “get at” the creatures to examine, protect, capture, or just look at them....

Under U.S. Law, the Secretary of the Interior is empowered to list as threatened or endangered a species for 120 days on an emergency basis. For endangered species in the United States, the Secretary can also desig- nate habitat that is critical to their survival. No Federal agency could then authorize, fund, or carry out any activities which would adversely modify that habitat.

So long-term Federal protection of Nessie or Bigfoot would basically be a matter of following the same regulatory mechanisms already used in protecting whooping cranes and tigers.

“Under normal situations,” said Keith Schreiner, then Associate Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “we must know a great deal about a species before we list it.

Read the rest

China plans to ban ivory trade “within a year or so.” US official: Yes it's a “huge” deal.

During his visit to Washington last month, China's President Xi Jinping vowed to stop the commercial trade in ivory in his nation, but didn't say much about when or how. Read the rest

You probably need more Tasmanian imps in your life

Baby Tasmanian devils are called imps. There's a big push underway to breed the ornery marsupials in captivity due to a facial tumor epidemic ravaging wild populations. Upside: lots of baby pictures. Read the rest

Ivory smuggling route tracked via fake tusks with GPS

National Geographic reporter Bryan Christy commissioned two fake elephant tusks embedded with GPS, then planted them to track ivory smuggling routes from the Central African Republic into Sudan. Read the rest

Drone footage of gray whales and calves

Photographer Mark Carwardine got this lovely drone footage of a pod of gray whales frolicking off the coast of Baja California. Unfortunately, the boaters then approach and touch the whales. Read the rest

Free PDF book includes amazing satellite shots of protected places

The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies has released a free PDF anthology of images of earth's protected wonders, like development right up to the edge of New Zealand’s Mount Egmont National Park. Read the rest

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