New snail species with semi-transparent shell discovered in Lukina Jama cave system in Croatia

The new cave-dwelling snail, Zospeum tholussum, discovered in Croatia’s Lukina Jama–Trojama cave system.

September 17, 2013 – In one of the 20 deepest caves in the world, and the deepest in Croatia, Lukina jama-Trojama, scientists from the Croatian Biospeleological Society have found a new snail species which has semi-transparent shell. The newly found snail species, named Zospeum tholussum, is considered to be a true eutroglobiont or cave-dweller, writes ibtimes.com. It is a very small snail with a translucent shell which lives in complete darkness, has no eyes and moves only a couple of millimeters or centimeters per week. “They only creep a few…

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Shocking – smugglers disguised elephant ivory into chocolate in China

Elephant tusks disguised as chocolate © WWF

China / August 15, 2013 – Custom officials in Macao, China grew suspicious last week when they saw 15 boxes of unusually heavy chocolate in a set of luggage. Further investigation brought a staggering find: After soaking in warm water, the chocolate melted away to reveal 583 elephant tusks. Between September and December of 2012, more than 90 ivory seals, known as name chops, were found concealed in chocolate packaging and recovered from South Africa to Taiwan. In another recent seizure, Hong Kong customs officials found 1,148 ivory tusks disguised…

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World’s top dolphin scientists urge NZ government to act now or Maui’s will be extinct in 20 years

A Maui's dolphin leaps from the water along the western coastline of New Zealand's North Island. © WWF-New Zealand

Auckland / July 4, 2013 – Some of the world’s leading whale, dolphin and porpoise scientists have expressed their ‘extreme concern’ about the survival of New Zealand’s Maui’s dolphin, urging the government to take immediate action to ensure ‘full protection of Maui’s in all areas throughout their habitat’. The Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) acknowledged in its 2013 report that Maui’s will decline to just 10 adult breeding females in six years and become functionally extinct in less than 20 years —unless their full range is protected…

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Industrialisation of the Great Barrier Reef denounced by World Heritage Committee

Corals (Corals); Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Queensland, Australia

The Australian Marine Conservation Society and WWF-Australia said today that Australia’s governments are putting the Great Barrier Reef at risk by failing to implement the World Heritage Committee recommendations around rapid industrialisation.  WWF- Australia’s Richard Leck, who has been attending the World Heritage Meeting as an observer, said Australia had been put ‘on notice’ by the World Heritage Committee. “Australian governments now have a firm deadline of June 2014 for action to avoid the global icon being placed on an international list of shame. This will be a crucial 12…

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Petition to Save Endangered Great Barrier Reef in Australia

A Blue Starfish (Linckia laevigata) resting on hard Acropora coral. Lighthouse, Ribbon Reefs, Great Barrier Reef

June 17, 2013 – In 2005, an international conservation organization WWF helped achieve a huge conservation success with an increase in the protected area cover of Australia’s famed Great Barrier Reef (GBR) from four to thirty-three percent, totalling 13 million ha, plus a zoning plan to ensure human impact on the GBR was sustainable. However, plans to build coal loading terminals, increase shipping and weaken coastal protection laws threaten the future of this iconic natural site. Even its World Heritage status is at risk, as is the US$6 billion reef-based…

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Hungarian Plane Tree Awarded the Most Lovable Tree of Europe in 2013

London plane tree (Platanus acerifolia) from Hungary, winner of the European Tree of the Year 2013

A 250 year-old London plane tree (Platanus acerifolia) from Eger, Heves region, Hungary, has been chosen as the European Tree of the Year 2013 scoring 14,205 public votes. People from all over the world voted for the trees in the European Tree of the Year contest from the 1st to the 28th February 2013 on www.treeoftheyear.org, and the winner was announced on March 1st. The aim of the contest was to increase awareness of European trees and the historical and natural heritage which they represent. The contest was organized by…

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26 elephants massacred in World Heritage site in Central African Republic

Since the poachers arrived no elephants have been seen at the Bai, which was described as an “elephant mortuary”.

Yaoundé, Cameroon / May 10, 2012 – At least 26 elephants were massacred in the Dzanga Bai World Heritage Site in the Central African Republic, after 17 individuals armed with Kalashnikov rifles entered one of Africa’s most unique elephant habitats on Monday, May 6. This is considered to be one of the biggest elephant massacres in the region since poachers killed at least 300 elephants for their ivory in Cameroon’s Bouba N’Djida National Park in February 2012. Jim Leape, WWF International Director General said that populations of this species have…

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New study shows importance of IUCN’s Red List of Ecosystems

This mountain pool is an example of a lentic ecosystem.

May 9, 2013 – A new global standard in assessing environmental risk, the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems, has been trialled on 20 ecosystems spanning six continents and three oceans. The development of this new risk assessment method is seen as a major scientific breakthrough for consistent environmental reporting. “By knowing which ecosystems are tracking well and which ones are in trouble, governments, industries and local communities will be well-positioned to make smart investment decisions for sustainable environmental management,” says David Keith, leader of the study, published in the Public Library…

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Tortoise Trafficking raging out of control in Madagascar

Ploughshare tortoise endemic to Madagascar.

NEW YORK / May 2, 2013 — Illegal trafficking of two critically endangered tortoise species from Madagascar has reached epidemic proportions, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Turtle Survival Alliance, Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership, Turtle Conservancy, Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund and other groups who urge authorities to clamp down on wildlife smuggling before some species are collected out of existence. According to the groups, more than 1,000 radiated and ploughshare tortoises have been confiscated from smugglers in the first three months of 2013 alone. In late…

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New Population of Rare Irrawaddy Dolphins Found in Palawan, Philippines

Some Irrawaddy dolphin populations are classified by IUCN as critically endangered.

Palawan, Philippines / April 27, 2013 – A new Philippine population of critically-endangered Irrawaddy dolphins was reported recently by WWF-Philippines. Spotted by chance off Quezon, Palawan in Western Philippines, this pod of rare marine mammals, locally called Lampasut, was observed displaying typical behavior, foraging for prey around lift net fish traps sitting approximately one kilometer offshore. WWF staff reported seeing at least 20 individuals in just one sighting. This is a relatively large sized pod for this uncommon species, where groups of fewer than six individuals are most common. Previous…

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