Elephant and giraffe graze on the banks of the Chobe River in Chobe National Park, Botswana. Wildlife hotspots like this grow ever scarcer as human societies strive to meet the needs of what will soon be nine billion people. As WCS’s David Wilkie and Joshua Ginsberg write in National Geographic News Watch, “Wild places with intact assemblages of native species, interacting at ecologically meaningful densities largely in the absence of human influence, may now cover a mere 10 percent of the planet’s lands, rivers, lakes and seas. Unless we invest in their protection, most of these oases of nature will likely become degraded or disappear in the next 20 years.”
"For the Truth," Ben Franklin wrote to his daughter in 1784, "the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage."
Thus Franklin expressed his lonely support for the turkey as our national symbol over the bald eagle, a species he perceived as lazy and of "bad moral character." But Washington, Adams, and others prevailed, and the lazy bald eagle endures as our National Symbol. It should be noted for the record that a 1786 painting of our symbol now hanging in St. Paul's Chapel, New York City, over Washington's pew, looks vaguely turkey-like in an eagle pose. Read Steve Zack's blog on the Huffington Post to learn more about turkeys >>
Imagine you're out on a routine forest trek to survey wildlife, when you spot this: an ancient cave drawing. It happened to a team of researchers working in Brazil’s Pantanal and Cerrado biomes. While the team was collecting data on white-lipped peccaries, they discovered thousand-year-old works of art made by hunter-gatherer societies. The discovery is not only an exciting archaeological achievement, but it emphasizes the importance of protecting these landscapes for both their natural and cultural heritage.
Industrial development in Alberta, Canada is displacing many of the animals that call the Eastern Slopes home. Among the wildlife in danger are grizzly bears, wolverine, and native trout – all ranked as highly vulnerable. According to WCS scientists, the proposed parks and regional plan from the Alberta government are not strong enough to help support these key areas. They recommend increasing conservation standards in these locations to help protect the region’s threatened natural heritage and treasured headwaters. Read the press release >>
The Indonesian military made strides to protect tigers this month in the town of Takengon in Aceh Province. Authorities have fined and jailed two soldiers convicted of possessing a pair of stuffed Sumatran tigers and one stuffed sun bear. As the first successful prosecution of wildlife crimes in Aceh, the sentences send the message that Indonesia is serious about prosecuting wildlife crime – the largest threat to critically endangered Sumatran tigers. Read the press release >>
Three cheers for bison! The Senate passed a resolution that officially recognizes November 2nd as National Bison Day. This is great news, as it will help spread the word about how bison have shaped not only a great American landscape (the Plains), but also contributed to our nation’s history, economy, and culture. Read the full press release here >>
Long-tailed sea ducks are known for their distinctive feathers and very unique yodel-like calls. The native breeding ground for this handsome—and vulnerable— species of sea duck is near arctic tundra and coastal habitats throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. WCS works to protect the wetland habitat in Arctic Alaska for these and many other migratory birds, and two chicks have been successfully raised at Central Park Zoo.
The Victoria crowned pigeon is much different than the average pigeon you see flocking the streets of New York City or Milan. This blue bird is the largest of all living pigeons—as tall as a turkey—and gets its name from the crest of feathers on its head. Crowned pigeons’ unusual calls range from a threatening rumble to a loud boom returned by flock members.
As a longtime haven for humpback whales, Madagascar has become a popular location for ecotourists to watch the acrobatic marine mammals. After commercial whaling nearly wiped out their populations, a moratorium helped the species recover, but their future isn’t certain. WCS conservation projects focus on identifying at-risk populations of humpback whales in order to manage and protect their environments from human impacts. Scientists and managers work to protect the diversity of whale environments through legislation and learn more about potential threats to these social creatures.
Imagine you’re scrolling through your camera’s photo library when all of a sudden you discover this shot. That’s what happened to Linda Kerley of the Zoological Society of London, who runs a camera trap project to monitor for endangered Siberian tigers in the Russian Far East. Her remote camera snapped three images of a golden eagle capturing a young sika deer over a two-second period. The deer’s carcass was found two weeks later, just a few yards from the camera, initially puzzling researchers.The paper and images appear in the September issue of the Journal of Raptor Research. Jonathan Slaght of WCS co-authored the paper with Kerley. He noted that golden eagles have a long history of eyebrow-raising predation attempts. Learn more in the press release.
Elephants & Hippos – Saving Wildlife
Hoofed Mammals – Saving Wildlife
Ocean Wildlife – Saving Wildlife
Africa – Saving Wild Places
Latin America and the Caribbean