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Analysis and Comment (17)

Had his chips? Had his chips? Galyna Andrushko/shutterstock

The grizzly outlook for hunted bears in Canada

This month marks the re-opening of the controversial trophy hunt for at-risk grizzly bears in the province of British Columbia, Canada. Scrutiny of this hunt was ramped up last year with new evidence that…
Emus, as depicted after being seen on the 1800-04 Baudin voyage. Emus, as depicted after being seen on the 1800-04 Baudin voyage. Charles-Alexandre Lesueur/F. Lambert/Wikimedia Commons

Should Australia’s biodiversity be written into the Constitution?

Environment minister Greg Hunt’s pledge to appoint a threatened species commissioner is a bright spot on an otherwise pretty bleak conservation landscape. Hunt described the “deep challenge” of species…
Not a new idea, as this map from 1885 shows, but no less controversial. Not a new idea, as this map from 1885 shows, but no less controversial. Meyers Konversationslexikons

Canal carved through Nicaragua will destroy rainforests, communities and wildlife

The Nicaraguan government has granted a concession to a mysterious Chinese company owned by Jing Wang, a little-known Hong-Kong based businessman, to build an inter-oceanic canal. This would provide an…
Not useful for carrying lunch, unfortunately. Not useful for carrying lunch, unfortunately. Sam Weber

Frigatebird’s return shows even severe losses can be reversed

The rich biodiversity of the UK’s far-flung overseas territories was highlighted recently by a Parliamentary report. Scattered throughout five oceans, these 14 islands account for much of the species biodiversity…
After China, which way will Hong Kong turn? After China, which way will Hong Kong turn? Vincent Yu

Stockpiling seized ivory lends it undeserved legitimacy

Hong Kong’s Endangered Species Advisory Committee meets today to decide whether to follow China’s lead and destroy its own (33-tonne) stockpile of contraband ivory. This is welcome news, but the destruction…
A ex parrot: one of the few Night Parrots collected in the 1870s in South Australia. A ex parrot: one of the few Night Parrots collected in the 1870s in South Australia. Marie Meister, Museum of Zoology, Strasbourg

Found: world’s most mysterious bird, but why all the secrecy?

The Night Parrot has been called the “world’s most mysterious bird”. First discovered in 1845, it was rarely seen alive for most of the next hundred and seventy years, but it has been rediscovered in 2013…
Working dawn till dusk to turn $10 billion into dust. Working dawn till dusk to turn $10 billion into dust. US FWS Mountain Prarie

Crushing billion-dollar ivory stockpile is an empty gesture

Confiscated ivory taken from smugglers, traders and tourists by US authorities was crushed to chippings last week, The stockpile of more than six tonnes, amassed since the 1989 international embargo on…
Problems breeding captive pandas shouldn’t distract from the problems faced by those in the wild. Problems breeding captive pandas shouldn’t distract from the problems faced by those in the wild. Andrew Milligan/PA

Price of captive pandas may be borne by those in the wild

When the Chinese authorities in Chengdu showed off their 14 giant panda cubs last week, it again raised questions about the role of panda breeding in zoos outside China, and whether it is a help or hindrance…
Neither laws nor guns are stopping the poachers. Neither laws nor guns are stopping the poachers. Grø Åmert/Flickr

Misguided ‘war on poaching’ will not save the wild beasts

Rhinos, elephants and the big cats like lions and tigers are all at risk of extinction as a result of a resurgence in the illegal trade of their body parts. Newspapers in recent days have been filled with…
This is what a dysfunctional ecosystem looks like: central Asia’s Aral Sea. This is what a dysfunctional ecosystem looks like: central Asia’s Aral Sea. PhillipC/Flickr

Identifying ecosystems at risk – the new IUCN Red List

We know quite a lot about which species around the world are most endangered. The Red List of threatened species, developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), identifies…
The passing of Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island Tortoise, is emblematic of the mass extinction of species the earth is currently experiencing. The passing of Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island Tortoise, is emblematic of the mass extinction of species the earth is currently experiencing. Flickr/A Davey

Extinction: just how bad is it and why should we care?

“Dad, the world is missing amazing animals. I wish extinction wasn’t forever”. Despite my wife and I working as biologists, our five-year-old son came to make this statement independently. He is highlighting…
The lack of biological information about some species may be keeping them off the IUCN critically endangered list. The lack of biological information about some species may be keeping them off the IUCN critically endangered list. Mariana Campbell

Protecting endangered species we don’t know much about

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) uses set criteria to define species extinction risk. At the pointy end of the wedge, species are classed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable. Overall…
Australian freshwater mussels are under threat from habitat erosion. Australian freshwater mussels are under threat from habitat erosion. Crawford River/Photo by MW Klunzinger

In muddy waters: the plight of Australia’s threatened freshwater mussels

Freshwater mussels, like other freshwater animals, are disappearing at an alarming rate. They are invertebrates, and while invertebrates may account for 95-99% of animal biodiversity, they are scarcely…
The demand for shark fins has pushed threatened shark species from 15 in 1996 to 180 in 2010. The demand for shark fins has pushed threatened shark species from 15 in 1996 to 180 in 2010. Choo Yut Shing

Small win for big fish: convention moves to protect sharks

Each year around 100 million sharks are killed for their fins. The sharks are often pulled from the water, their fins are sliced off and they are thrown back in to drown. The industry is built on the high…
Plastic is a major threat to our seabirds and marine life - this bird has filled its stomach with plastic during the 80-90 days it lived. Plastic is a major threat to our seabirds and marine life - this bird has filled its stomach with plastic during the 80-90 days it lived. Ian Hutton

Plastic and politics: how bureaucracy is failing our forgotten wildlife

Seabirds: the poster children for ocean health. Fishers use them to identify fishing hot spots. Environmental and marine scientists use them as indicators of the condition of the ocean environment due…
Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary in the Kimberley is one of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s properties. Who else is privately conserving biodiversity? Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary in the Kimberley is one of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s properties. Who else is privately conserving biodiversity? dracophylla/Flickr

Private land is an important piece of the conservation jigsaw

There is general agreement that the Commonwealth and state governments lack the commitment, and hence funding, to preserve Australia’s biodiversity. Professor Tim Flannery addressed these issues in his…
Public attitudes are shifting against government shark culling programs. Public attitudes are shifting against government shark culling programs. Athel D'Ombrain Collection, University of Newcastle

The great shark debate: to cull or not to cull?

The great shark debate continues in Australia as summer approaches. Shark bites on bathers and surfers are a particularly sensitive reality. These are personal and community-wide tragedies that implore…

Research and News (2)

Research Briefs (5)

Monitoring wildlife to extinction?

Many international wildlife programs may be monitoring endangered species to extinction, often without taking necessary action…

New slow loris found

Scientists working in Borneo have found a new species of slow loris (Nycticebus). Facial fur markings provided the clue that…