Virginia Democratic-led lawmakers passed a bill to block future oil and gas development off the state’s coastline
The bill prohibits infrastructure such as pipelines or gathering systems in state waters that could be used to transport oil and gas drilled in federal waters to Virginia’s shores. It also repeals a state policy to support U.S. efforts to explore for offshore oil and gas.
The first several eggs of 2020 arrived at the center, and keepers hope to see more throughout the month.
There are 14 condor pairs at the conservation center this year — more than any previous season.
California condor breeding programs are also operated at San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, the Los Angeles Zoo and the Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Idaho.
The California condor was one of the original animals included on the 1973 Endangered Species Act and is classified as critically endangered. In 1982, only 22 individuals remained in the wild and by 1987, the last condors were brought into human care in an attempt to save the species from extinction. Thanks to recovery programs like the Oregon Zoo's, the world's California condor population now totals more than 517 birds, most of which are flying free
The once-endangered Echo Parakeet has officially been downlisted to Vulnerable from just 12 birds in 1970 to 800 today
In this year’s Red List update, the Echo Parakeet moved from Endangered to Vulnerable – an impressive recovery for a species that once numbered just a dozen birds
In the 1970s, there were around a dozen Echo Parakeets (Psittacula eques) remaining.
Like its famous Mauritian cousin, the Dodo, it was heading for extinction.
Fast forward 40 years and the species has made a remarkable comeback, with nearly 800 birds now in the wild. This is the second species the organization has recovered so significantly, and shows that concerted and prolonged conservation work pays off.
The species has been ‘downlisted’ on the Red List twice this century, from Critically Endangered to Endangered in 2007, and then to Vulnerable in 2019.
Declared extinct in the wild for nearly 40 years, the bird was, in late 2019, classified critically endangered, according to a news update by animal keeper Erica Royer posted at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
The rail used to be common in Guam, with about 60,000 to 80,000 birds there during the late 1960s and early ’70s. There are now about 200 birds living and producing offspring on Rota
“[T]he species was almost lost entirely due to predation by the invasive brown tree snake,” Royer wrote. It’s believed the snake was accidentally introduced to Guam by military cargo ships after World War II.
Biologists from Guam’s Department of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources began an effort to save the Guam rail in the early 1980s, capturing the last 17 birds to start a breeding and recovery program. In 2010, 16 Guam rails were released on Cocos Island, a small, uninhabited daytime resort island 1 mile south of Guam, and the population of 60 to 80 Guam rails there is flourishing and considered self-sustaining.
Following Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase announcements, Wells Fargo rejects funding drilling in the Arctic
Wells Fargo has released an update to its environmental policy ruling out funding for oil and gas projects in the Arctic region, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The update does not make improvements to the bank’s other oil and gas financing policies. The 2019 Banking on Climate Change report lists Wells Fargo as the world’s top banker of fracked oil and gas, and the second largest funder of fossil fuels overall
The release of this change to the bank’s policy comes in the wake of similar announcements by Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, as well as more than a dozen global banks.
Brown University sells 90 percent of fossil fuel investments
Brown decreases their fossil fuel investments decrease from 6.5 to 0.9 percent of endowment
The process of selling investments in fossil fuel companies began in October 2017 and is due in part to the “accelerating decline in the cost of alternative energy sources” and “escalating uncertainty” in the economic future of fossil fuels that the Investment Office made the decision to sell these investments, Dietze wrote. “People know that this sector is dying, … and it’s just not a good long-term investment,” Paxson told The Herald. “It carries too much risk for the endowment.”
The Investment Office also thought that investment in fossil fuel companies did not align with the University’s Environmental, Social and Governance criteria. While these standards have been in place in financial and investment decisions for the past five years, their importance to University investments has increased over time, Paxson said. This decision “positions us to be actively engaged in pushing … the companies we invest in to be more socially responsible,” she continued.
Senators reach $2b deal to boost conservation, parks
Senate leaders have reached an election-year deal to double spending on a popular conservation program and devote more than a $1 billion a year to clear a growing maintenance backlog at national parks
The deal, announced Wednesday by senators from both parties, would spend about $2.2 billion per year on conservation and outdoor recreation projects and park maintenance across the country.
If approved by Congress and signed by the President the bill “will be the most significant conservation legislation enacted by Congress in nearly half a century,” said veteran Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
The program uses federal royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling to pay for conservation and public recreation projects around the country. The 55-year-old-fund is authorized to collect $900 million a year but generally receives less than half that amount from Congress.
The Endangered Species Act has been attacked over the last few years and Rep. Raul Grijalva sponsored a House bill that he said is needed to overturn rules by the departments of the Interior and Commerce that undermine the protections of the act. The bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee on a party-line vote after close to an hour of debate. Grijalva, who chairs the committee, said one of the rules his bill targets is the White House’s decision to exclude climate change when officials are considering how a species might fare in the future and whether it should be listed as endangered or threatened.
Scientists discovered a “lifespan estimator” and have estimated that Bowhead Whales live to be 268-years old
Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, Dr Benjamin Mayne, a molecular biologist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Canberra, said: “Bowhead whales are thought to be the longest living mammal, with one individual estimated as 211 years old. “It is rarely possible to follow long-lived species from birth to death as they would normally out live a generation of researchers. “Using our lifespan estimator and the bowhead whale genome, we estimated the maximum longevity of the bowhead whale to be 268 years. This lifespan estimate is 57 years more than the oldest aged individual to date.” The team also applied their lifespan clock to extinct species and discovered that the life expectancy of Neanderthals was 37.8. Likewise the Woolly Mammoth would have lived to 60, while the passenger pigeon which died out in 1914 had a lifespan of 28 years.
Harvard University faculty voted overwhelmingly to call on the school’s endowment managers to divest from fossil fuel companies, adding to escalating pressure on the school to take dramatic measures targeting climate change. The vote of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences does not compel the Harvard Management Co., which manages the school’s endowment, to act. But the results — 179 voting faculty supported the resolution and 20 opposed it — add considerable weight to calls from students and activists. The university’s international reputation and the sheer size of its endowment, which in the most recent report was valued at $40.9 billion, ensure that any decision by Harvard will be closely watched.
The Philippines is making roads and cement with plastic garbage
Philippine companies are using discarded shopping bags, sachet wrappers and plastic packaging to fire cement plants and build roads as the country embarks on an 8 trillion-peso ($157 billion) infrastructure push through 2022. San Miguel has laid down its first road combining plastic scraps with asphalt, it said in November. The surface material, developed with Dow Chemical Co., used 900 kilograms (1,984 pounds) of plastic to pave a 1,500-square meter (16,145-square foot) test site near the capital. “Nestlé is aiming for plastic neutrality, which is essentially recovering plastics equal to what we produce,” Kais Marzouki, chairman and chief executive officer of the Philippine unit, said in a statement. Initiatives to address the issue can have unforeseen consequences. Shredding plastic for asphalt and cement production breaks down waste to microplastics that are even more difficult to collect and reuse, said Beau Baconguis, GAIA’s regional plastic campaigner for Asia-Pacific. Feeding plastic into cement kilns releases toxic fumes, she added. Republic Cement’s Valencia says plastic-derived fuel involves less carbon emission than coal. Unlike incineration, which is banned in the Philippines, the higher temperatures in cement kilns leave behind no plastic ash, Valencia said.
Welsh Zoo welcomes critically endangered black rhino calf
After a 15-month pregnancy, Eastern black rhino Dakima gave birth to a healthy male calf on 16th January. Dakima is an eastern black rhino which is one of the rarest animals in the world. This new calf is one of only an estimated 40 eastern black rhinos to be born in the UK in the past 20 years. It is thought that the calf weighs between a healthy 30-45 kg. Folly Farm’s rhino keepers will monitor mum and baby closely over the coming weeks and will be back out in the enclosure in due course. There are thought to be fewer than 650 Eastern black rhinos left in the wild - and just eight in zoos across Europe.
Greece elected an Environmentalist as its first woman president
Top judge Katerina Sakellaropoulou, 64, won with an overwhelming majority and received 261 votes from members of parliament out of 300 seats, according to CNN. Sakellaropoulou, who became the first woman president of the Council of State, Greece’s top administrative court in 2018, chairs an environmental law society and is known to advocate for refugee rights. Sakellaropoulou joins such notable female environmental leaders as New Zealand’s Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern in 2017, Mexico City’s mayor Claudia Sheinbaum in 2018, and Finland’s Prime Minster Sanna Marin in December 2019.
Pelecanus NEWS #2 February 1, 2020
The stories we’ve collected today can be categorized as big planetary protections, wildlife, beyond fossil fuels and plastics, and the contribution of zoos to conservation.
Today is the beginning of a new era at Pelecanus… We’re launching a new podcast this week! PELECANUS NEWS will be twice-monthly episodes highlighting the positive conservation stories in the news. At around 10 minutes in length, each episode will be hosted by Taylor Parker focusing on a few recent exciting and inspiring news stories in conservation. We will still be releasing the long-form conservation conversations periodically, but we thought, why not highlight the awesome work being done around the world a little more often? We all need a little more positivity, inspiration, and wonder in our lives, especially when it comes to the natural world and how we interact with it. Our mission remains the same, to show that we can find optimism through science. In this episode we put the spotlight on Denmark making huge moves towards sustainable energy in 2019, the new calculation of the global price-tag of reaching 100% renewable energy, The Netherlands courts ordering a cut of GHG by 25% in 5 years, Copenhagen planting fruit trees, a boost in Grasshopper sparrow populations in Florida, Nene and ‘Io (Hawaiian Hawk) conservation efforts paying off, a baby rhino christmas miracle, endangered Storks being bred in captivity, and Svalbard Deer are doing better than expected after years of efforts.