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Frontline Dispatches – July 2024


NORTH AMERICA

Erin Braatens / Dancing Aspens Photography/ AP

A Sacred Sign: White Buffalo Calf Born in Yellowstone!

Source: AP

A rare white buffalo calf has made its extraordinary entrance into Yellowstone National Park, fulfilling a sacred prophecy of the Lakota tribe. Chief Arvol Looking Horse describes this miraculous birth as both a “blessing and a warning.” The white buffalo symbolizes hope and better times ahead, but it also serves as a reminder of the urgent need to live in harmony with nature. The tribe held a special naming ceremony, but the calf’s name remains a mystery for now.

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Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/TNS

Goat Grazing: Colorado’s Secret Weapon Against Wildfires!

Source: Denver Post

Ever thought goats could save your town from wildfires? Colorado is turning to these eager eaters to tackle the problem of overgrown vegetation. After a devastating fire in 2021, municipalities are hiring goat grazing companies to manage grass and brush. These goats’ large appetites help clear out the plants that fuel wildfires.

By devouring the grass and brush, the goats create natural firebreaks, making it harder for flames to spread. This simple yet effective solution is helping to keep communities safer from wildfires. It’s a win-win: the goats get a feast, and the towns get better fire protection!

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T. R. Shankar Raman, Wiki commons

Maui’s Unexpected Invaders: Hawaii’s Battle with Axis Deer.

Source: The Wildlife Society

Ever thought goats could save your town from wildfires? Colorado is turning to these eager eaters to tackle the problem of overgrown vegetation. After a devastating fire in 2021, municipalities are hiring goat grazing companies to manage grass and brush. These goats’ large appetites help clear out the plants that fuel wildfires.

Maui’s breathtaking landscapes are under siege by an unexpected foe – the axis deer. These invaders have been running rampant since their arrival in 1959, with no natural predators to keep them in check. The result? Major ecological havoc. But Hawaii isn’t backing down. In a daring move, local agencies are now opening up public lands for deer harvests to combat this growing crisis. These voracious eaters are not only devouring plant communities but also causing soil erosion that’s spoiling pristine ocean waters. This united effort is all about restoring balance and preserving the island’s stunning natural beauty.

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Shutterstock

Wyoming’s Bold Step: $500K to Keep Wildlife Safe and Roads Clear.

Source: Wyoming Game and Fish Commission

Imagine driving through Wyoming and knowing that mule deer, elk, and moose are crossing safely thanks to a brilliant new initiative. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has pledged an additional $500,000 to create and expand wildlife corridors between Wind River and the Grand Tetons. These corridors are designed to keep these majestic animals on the move while reducing vehicle collisions by up to 90%. This impressive effort not only helps preserve Wyoming’s wildlife but also ensures safer travels for everyone passing through these areas. Learn more about Wildlife Corridors!

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Marty Clemens, The Narwhal

Reconnecting Roots: How Indigenous Youth Are Rediscovering Their Heritage.

Source: The Narwhal

In the heart of British Columbia, the Lake Babine Nation’s Guardian Program is weaving together the past and the future by connecting indigenous youth with their ancestral land. This inspiring initiative sees elders and experienced hunters guiding the young generation in firearm safety, cultural values around hunting, and the sharing of cherished family stories. By bridging the gap between tradition and modern life, the program fosters a deep sense of community and belonging among the youth, ensuring that the rich heritage of the Lake Babine Nation continues to thrive.

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Shutterstock

Why Do Some Primates Have Larger Brains?

Source: ScienceDaily

Ever thought about why some primates have larger brains? For years, the theory was that bigger brains helped them find food, but recent research tells a different story. A groundbreaking study has revealed no connection between brain size and food-finding skills. So, what’s the secret behind those big brains?

Scientists can now explore other intriguing factors. Could the real reason be superior memory, the use of tools, or living in sophisticated social groups? Picture a primate mastering the use of tools or navigating the complexities of social life—these activities might just hold the answer. This exciting discovery is opening up new avenues in our understanding of primate evolution and intelligence.

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Shutterstock

Estes Park on Edge: Unusual Elk Aggression Sparks Urgent Warnings.

Source: Colorado Sun

Estes Park, Colorado, is on high alert as a wave of unexpected elk attacks has officials scrambling to issue urgent warnings. In the past two weeks alone, there have been three alarming incidents where elk have aggressively targeted people, including children riding bikes and playing in parks. This unusual behavior has park officials puzzled and concerned, as elk cows are known to defend their young during calving season, but this level of unprovoked aggression is unprecedented.

In a bid to protect the public, park officials are urging everyone to keep a safe distance from elk, especially during this sensitive time of year. The sudden spike in elk aggression has cast a shadow over the usually peaceful interactions between humans and wildlife in Estes Park, leaving many to wonder what could be causing these majestic creatures to act out so violently.

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UA Jaguar and Ocelot Monitoring Project

Arizona’s Jaguars at Risk: Critical Habitat Protections Removed.

Source: FWS

Following a recent lawsuit settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has removed the critical habitat designation from 64,797 acres, leaving a swath of jaguar territory without protection. Jaguars, already a rare sight in the U.S., primarily come from a core population in Mexico. This change raises questions about the future of these majestic big cats in the region.

Despite this setback, there’s a glimmer of hope. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remains committed to working with international partners to support jaguar recovery efforts on the remaining 640,124 acres of critical habitat. The challenge now is to ensure that these areas are effectively protected and managed to provide a safe haven for the few male jaguars that traverse the border.

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AFRICA

Shutterstock

Do Elephants Call Each Other by Name?

Source: Scientific American

A groundbreaking transboundary survey along the Zambezi River by Zimbabwe and Zambia found that hippo populations are declining. The likely culprits are shortages of grazing caused by drought along with human disturbance. The study is expected to guide the management of human-hippo conflict and the development of hippo conservation strategies.

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Shutterstock

Giraffe DNA Reveals Secrets to Preventing Extinction.

Source: The Conversation

Women reshape the safari guide profession across Africa by offering a unique and previously absent perspective. Rising above stereotypical beliefs and the challenges of working in remote conditions, women taking advantage of these emerging opportunities are a source of community pride and development.

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Wendy Turner

Namibia’s Drought Crisis: Wildebeests and Zebras Struggle to Survive.

Source: TWS

In Namibia, a harsh two-year drought has thrown the lives of wildebeests and zebras into turmoil. These majestic animals, once adept at migrating to find water, now face unprecedented challenges. Recent research has revealed how dry conditions, human development, and fences are altering their survival strategies. Traditionally, both wildebeests and zebras would journey to wetter areas during droughts. Today, zebras have found a lifeline in human-made wells, adapting to their changing environment. Wildebeests often continue their desperate migrations, only to find their paths blocked and their efforts in vain.

The consequences have been devastating. In just one month, nearly a quarter of the monitored wildebeest population perished. These deaths contrast sharply with the usual disease-related fatalities that occur during the wet season, which have declined during this drought. Namibia’s wildlife story highlights the complex interplay between nature and human development. As zebras adapt and wildebeests struggle, the need for thoughtful conservation strategies becomes ever more urgent.

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EUROPE

Shutterstock

Bison Return to Portugal: A Bold Rewilding Move.

Source: Geographical

A new chapter in Portugal’s wild history is about to unfold! In a bold move, Rewilding Portugal is introducing eight European bison to the lush landscapes of the Greater Côa Valley. This ambitious project aims to breathe new life into this biodiversity hotspot and boost wildlife tourism, following the successful reintroduction of aurochs (see “Cattle cave art brought to life” in the May 2024 Dispatches).

But this rewilding effort isn’t without its controversies. Some argue that European bison never roamed the Iberian Peninsula, while others point to evidence of ancestral steppe bison in the region. As these magnificent creatures settle into their new home, the debate heats up, weaving together threads of history, science, and conservation.

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WORLD

Dan Stiles, Patrol

Social Media Fuels Wildlife Trafficking: Who’s Responsible?

Source: Patrol

An analysis of 665 metrics to assess conservation success across 186 studies shows that global conservation efforts are paying off. Overall, 45% of these metrics showed an improvement in biodiversity and 21% had at least slowed the decline in biodiversity. Removing invasive species and protecting habitats are among the most effective strategies, suggesting that the remaining barrier to further progress is funding.

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The Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Indonesia

Breaking News: Harshest Punishment for Wildlife Crime in Indonesia.

Source: Mongabay

In a landmark ruling sure to send shockwaves through the wildlife trafficking world, an Indonesian poacher has received a record-breaking 12-year prison sentence for killing critically endangered Javan rhinos. Investigations revealed that since 2019, poachers have slaughtered up to 26 of the approximately 70 Javan rhinos left in Ujung Kulon National Park. Among them, one notorious poacher was held responsible for the deaths of at least six rhinos. This unprecedented punishment is the harshest ever for a wildlife crime in Indonesia, marking a significant victory in the battle to protect these majestic creatures.

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Soumyajit Nandy, Wiki Commons

How Media Can Help Save Tigers.

Source: Mongabay

Save Vietnam’s Wildlife is using radio tracking to monitor rehabilitated pangolins rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. By inserting transmitters into the animals’ scales, the organization gains valuable insights into the behavior and needs of these elusive creatures. This insight is key to funding research, as financial commitments often depend on publishable results rather than pangolin survival.

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Wikicommons

Indigenous Wisdom Reveals Hidden Conservation Efforts.

Source: ScienceDaily

In the quest to protect 30% of our planet by 2030, a groundbreaking discovery is changing the game. Scientists, teaming up with indigenous communities, have revealed that much more land is being conserved than previously thought. By tapping into indigenous knowledge, an international research team has uncovered that conservation isn’t just happening through traditional means. Surprising pathways like indigenous lands, sustainable production areas, and even military training zones are playing a crucial role in preserving our Earth. This eye-opening find showcases the invaluable impact of indigenous wisdom on global conservation efforts.

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Shutterstock

When Wild and Domestic Animals Collide: A Dangerous Attraction.

Source: ScienceDaily

What happens when wild animals fall for their domesticated relatives? A new global study has uncovered the surprising and often tragic consequences of these interactions. When wild animals like guanacos attempt to mate with domesticated counterparts such as llamas, it leads to serious conflicts. These clashes can result in the deaths of both people and animals, economic losses for pastoralists, and the dilution of precious wild gene pools. This research highlights the complex and risky relationships between wildlife and domesticated species.

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Václav Šilha / Prague Zoo

Wild Horses Return to Kazakhstan.

Source: Smithsonian Magazine

In the quest to protect 30% of our planet by 2030, a groundbreaking discovery is changing the game. Scientists, teaming up with indigenous communities, have revealed that much more land is being conserved than previously thought. By tapping into indigenous knowledge, an international research team has uncovered that conservation isn’t just happening through traditional means. Surprising pathways like indigenous lands, sustainable production areas, and even military training zones are playing a crucial role in preserving our Earth. This eye-opening find showcases the invaluable impact of indigenous wisdom on global conservation efforts.

Read the full article