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Mongabay Newscast

News and inspiration from nature’s frontline, featuring inspiring guests from scientists to authors discussing global environmental issues like climate change, biodiversity, rainforests, wildlife conservation, animal behavior, marine biology and more.
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Jan 31, 2023

It's tough to fund conservation, and deciding exactly how (and where) funding gets used is even trickier. However, researchers recently identified where and when to “get the most bang for our buck,” in a newly published study.

Many of the highest-conservation-priority areas identified fall within lower-income tropical countries. While substantial international funding is likely needed to conserve and restore forests, securing Indigenous peoples' land rights could be a low-cost, and equitable solution, since 80% of the planet's biodiversity lies within Indigenous peoples' territories. 

Listen to the popular article from Liz Kimbrough: Protecting global forests with a limited budget? New study shows where and when to start

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See all our latest news from nature's frontline at Mongabay's homepage: news.mongabay.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by searching for @mongabay.

Photo Credit: Tiger Leg Monkey Tree Frog (Phyllomedusa hypochondrialis). Image by Rhett Butler.

Please send feedback to submissions@mongabay.com, and thank you for listening.

Jan 24, 2023

A decline in botany degree programs, paired with a growing lack of general plant awareness, has scientists concerned about society's ability to tackle existential threats like biodiversity loss and climate change, so Leeds University Ph.D. researcher Sebastian Stroud is our guest on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast. 

While humans depend upon plants for many critical everyday needs, our ability to identify them seems to be decreasing as fewer educational programs continue to study them. Stroud joins us to discuss a recent study he co-authored about this and how we can combat the lack of plant awareness. 

Related reading:

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Image: Orange orchid with magenta spots. Torajaland, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett Butler. 

Jan 16, 2023

The Paru State Forest is the world's 3rd-largest sustainable-use tropical forest reserve, and is home to a tree standing 30 stories tall.

But in October of last year, its home state of Pará was the 5th-most deforested in Brazil, alarming experts and environmentalists that its giant trees (including the massive red angelim) are at risk.

Listen to the popular article from Sarah Brown, Amazon’s tallest tree at risk as deforestation nears, by clicking the play button. 

Please invite your friends to subscribe to the Mongabay Newscast wherever they get podcasts or download our free app in the Apple App Store or in the Google Store to gain instant access to our latest episodes.

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Photo Credit: The Amazon’s tallest tree grows in the Paru State Forest and is one of several giant trees in the region. Each one can sequester up to 40 tons of carbon, nearly as much as a hectare (2.4 acres) of typical forest. Image © Havita Rigamonti/Imazon/Ideflor.

Please send feedback to submissions@mongabay.com, and thank you for listening.

Jan 11, 2023

In December, Mongabay's Montreal-based editor Latoya Abulu attended the 15th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity, where the historic Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework was signed by nearly 200 countries.

While the agreement was lauded by scientists, advocates, and Indigenous leaders, others say that there are some concerning omissions from the text, and worrying inclusions of "biodiversity credits" sought by corporations. Click play to hear Latoya share details from her time in the conference halls, what was included in the final text of the agreement, and what was left out.

Related reading on the event:

Nations adopt Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework

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Jan 2, 2023

Reintroducing rescued anteaters from hunters in northern Argentina into the country's Iberá reserve is no small task. However, In 2007, the first pair was reintroduced by the Conservation Land Trust (now known as the Rewilding Foundation).

14 years on, the program has taken this success and used it as a framework for subsequent reintroduction of other native species.

Click the play button to hear the popular Mongabay article by Oscar Bermeo Ocaña aloud: 

Giant anteaters lead biodiversity resurgence in Argentina’s Iberá

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Photo Credit: The giant anteater paved the way for many other reintroduction programs in Iberá. Image courtesy of the Rewilding Foundation.

Please send feedback to submissions@mongabay.com, and thank you for listening.

Dec 27, 2022

After 6 years and nearly 160 episodes, podcast host Mike Gaworecki is putting his microphone down. The show will go on, but we will miss his expertise and command of conservation science's myriad facets!

One of his favorite topics to cover on the show has been bioacoustics, the use of remote acoustic recording technology to study the behavior, distribution, and abundance of wildlife.

For his final time hosting the Mongabay Newscast, Mike shares an array of his favorite bioacoustics interviews that illustrate the breadth and potential of this powerful conservation technology.

Listen to his bittersweet farewell thoughts, and a range of recordings—from forest elephants to the Big Apple’s dolphins—that he shares, and hit play on these episodes for more goodness:

• How listening to individual gibbons can benefit conservation

• What underwater sounds can tell us about Indian Ocean humpback dolphins

• The superb mimicry skills of an Australian songbird

• The sounds of tropical katydids and how they can benefit conservation

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Dec 20, 2022

We all send our recycling somewhere for proper handling, but the operations of one such handling center in Poland makes one ask, is it being done right, or at all? 

The European Commission estimates that the illegal handling of such waste represents around 15-30% of the total EU waste trade, generating EUR 9.5 billion in annual revenues.

So in part 3 of our investigative podcast series, the team dispatches Outriders journalist Eva Dunal to visit one such recycling facility in the pretty town of Zielona Góra close to the Polish-German border, and finds out just how unpopular it is with the neighbors, and especially the city council. They also speak with Jim Puckett, the 'James Bond of waste trafficking' at Basel Action Network, who reveals that much recycling is being 'laundered' via the Netherlands and shipped on to countries where such resources are often dumped, not recycled.

In a three-part, “true eco-crime” series for Mongabay’s podcast, our hosts trace England’s – and Europe's – towering illegal waste problem: investigative environmental journalists Lucy Taylor and Dan Ashby follow this illegal 'waste trail' from their quiet English town to the nearby countryside and as far away as Poland and Malaysia.

Please invite your friends to subscribe to the Mongabay Newscast wherever they get podcasts, from Apple to Spotify, or download our free app in the Apple App Store or in the Google Store to get access to our latest episodes at your fingertips.

This episode is "The Wastelands" and is part three of the investigative podcast series, "Into the Wasteland," developed with the support of Journalismfund.eu.

Banner image: The shuttered Eurokey plant in the town of Zielona Góra. Image by Eva Dunal/Outriders.

If you enjoy the Newscast, please visit www.patreon.com/mongabay to pledge a dollar or more to keep the show growing, Mongabay is a nonprofit media outlet and all support helps!

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Dec 13, 2022

The U.K.’s Environment Agency calls waste crime — where instead of delivering recycling or rubbish for proper disposal, companies simply dump it in the countryside — “the new narcotics” because it’s so easy to make money illegally. It’s estimated that one in every five U.K. waste companies operates in this manner ('fly-tipping'), and the government seems powerless to stop it: it’s so easy to be registered as one of the government’s recommended waste haulers that even a dog can do it — and at least one has, as this episode shares.

In part 2 of our new investigative podcast series, the team also speaks with a lawyer who describes her year-long campaign to get the government to deal with a single illegal dump site, but they fail to act before it catches fire, in an emblematic 'trash fire' for this whole issue. They also speak with a former official at Interpol who shares that his agency also lacks the resources to tackle the problem.

In a three-part, “true eco-crime” series for Mongabay’s podcast, our hosts trace England’s towering illegal waste problem: investigative environmental journalists Lucy Taylor and Dan Ashby follow this illegal 'waste trail' from their quiet English town to the nearby countryside and as far away as Poland.

Please invite your friends to subscribe to the Mongabay Newscast wherever they get podcasts, from Apple to Spotify, or download our free app in the Apple App Store or in the Google Store to get access to our latest episodes at your fingertips.

This episode is "The Jungle" and is part two of the podcast series, "Into the Wasteland," developed with the support of Journalismfund.eu.

Banner image: The U.K.’s recyclables, plastic packaging and waste soils the countryside across the country and as far away as Turkey (pictured). Image courtesy of Caner Ozkan via Greenpeace Media Library.

If you enjoy the Newscast, please visit www.patreon.com/mongabay to pledge a dollar or more to keep the show growing, Mongabay is a nonprofit media outlet and all support helps!

See all our latest news from nature's frontline at Mongabay's homepage: news.mongabay.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by searching for @mongabay.

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Dec 6, 2022

The British countryside is increasingly under siege from a scourge of illegal waste dumping – polluting both water and air – but one man is bravely taking the criminals on, staking out their sites with night vision goggles, drones and more.

In a three-part, 'true eco-crime' podcast series for the Mongabay Newscast, investigative environmental journalists Lucy Taylor and Dan Ashby trace this illegal 'waste trail' from their quiet English town to the nearby countryside, and as far away as Poland.

Threatened, chased, but undeterred, waste investigator Martin Montague has also established a website, Clearwaste, to document incidents of 'fly-tipping' as the practice is known, and people use it daily to report tens of thousands of incidents all over the country, where illegal landfills are also on the rise.

Episodes two and three will air in the coming weeks and take the issue to a wider European scope, discussing it with Interpol and visiting a destination for U.K. waste in Poland.

Banner image: A mountain of UK plastic waste near Wespack Recycling Factory in Malaysia, via Greenpeace Media Library.

Please invite your friends to subscribe to the Mongabay Newscast wherever they get podcasts, from Apple to Spotify, or download our free app in the Apple App Store or in the Google Store to get access to our latest episodes at your fingertips.

This episode is "The Waste Mountain" and is part one of the podcast series, "Into the Wasteland," developed with the support of Journalismfund.eu.

If you enjoy the Newscast, please visit www.patreon.com/mongabay to pledge a dollar or more to keep the show growing, Mongabay is a nonprofit media outlet and all support helps!

See all our latest news from nature's frontline at Mongabay's homepage: news.mongabay.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by searching for @mongabay.

Please share your thoughts and feedback! submissions@mongabay.com.

Dec 1, 2022

Host Mike G. speaks with Mongabay reporters whose new investigations reveal a major and illegal shark finning operation by one of China’s largest fishing fleets, and the role of a giant Japanese company, Mitsubishi, in buying that fleet’s products.

Through an exhaustive interview process with deckhands who worked throughout the company’s fleet, Mongabay's Phil Jacobson and Basten Gokkon revealed that Dalian Ocean Fishing's massive operation deliberately used banned gear to target sharks across a huge swath of the western Pacific Ocean.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission is currently meeting to discuss policies that would crack down even further on use of this gear, and we speak with Jacobson who is there covering the event.

We also speak with Japan-based reporter Annelise Giseburt who was able to verify that the illegal operation benefited greatly from selling a massive share of its tuna catch to the Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi.

The investigations:

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Nov 22, 2022

In a nation gripped by currency depreciation, harsh economic fallout and civil unrest, the Shouf Biosphere Reserve endures as a rare conservation success story in Lebanon.

Previously protected by landmines and armed guards, the region (a UNESCO biosphere reserve) forges ahead with community engagement in tree-planting projects while providing the community with food, fuel, and jobs.

Click the play button to hear this popular article by Elizabeth Fitt aloud: 

From land mines to lifelines, Lebanon’s Shouf is a rare restoration success story

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Photo Credit: Farid Tarabay, forest guide, under the Lamartine Cedar, one of the oldest in the reserve. Image by Elizabeth Fitt for Mongabay.

Please send feedback to submissions@mongabay.com, and thank you for listening.

Nov 16, 2022

Healthy ecosystems are often noisy: from reefs to grasslands and forests, these are sonically rich places, thanks to all the species defending territories, finding mates, locating prey, socializing or perhaps just enjoying their ability to add to life's rich chorus.

Recording soundscapes in such places is one way to ensure we don't forget what a full array of birds, bats, bugs, and more sounds like, and it couldn't be more important, as the world witnesses a decline in many such kinds of creatures, due to the biodiversity crisis. Soundscape recordings provide a kind of sonic baseline which researchers can also pull data from.

On this episode of the podcast, host Mike G. plays a diverse selection of forest soundscapes from South America and Africa and discusses them with their creator, sound recordist George Vlad, who travels the world and shares the acoustic alchemy of nature via his impressive Youtube channel.

Join us to explore these sonic landscapes with Vlad and get inspired to find the richness of natural sounds near you.

Episode artwork: A writhed hornbill, a Philippines endemic species, singing. Image via Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).

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Nov 8, 2022

On Costa Rica's Carribbean coast, sloths are losing their habitat to houses and roads, forcing them to cross between forest patches on the ground, making them vulnerable to traffic incidents and dog attacks. 

However, the Sloth Conservation Foundation, created by British zoologist Rebecca Cliffe, is trying to change that by building rope bridges to allow these famously slow-moving animals to safely cross cleared patches of forest.

Read the popular article written by Monica Pelliccia and translated by Maria Angeles Salazar here:

Bridges in the sky carry sloths to safety in Costa Rica

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Photo Credit: Baby three-toed sloth hugging a stuffed panda in a Trio Indigenous community. Suriname, 2012. Image by Rhett Butler.

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Nov 2, 2022

“Ecuador had not declared community protected area management by Indigenous peoples until Tiwi Nunka Forest. This area is the first of its kind in Ecuador, and one of the few in the entire Amazon,” says Felipe Serrano on this episode.

His organization Nature and Culture International recently helped the Shuar Indigenous community in Ecuador win a historic victory to protect its ancestral territory from cattle ranchers, loggers and miners, and he discusses how the community succeeded on this episode.

We also speak with Paul Koberstein, editor of the Cascadia Times, an environmental journal based in Portland, Oregon, who with Jessica Applegate recently published "Deep Cut," an article at Earth Island Journal that details the flawed basis for the U.S. State of Washington’s new and flawed climate solution: cutting down forests.

Episode artwork: Members of the El Kiim community. Photo courtesy of Nature and Culture International.

Please invite your friends to subscribe to the Mongabay Newscast wherever they get podcasts, from Apple to Spotify, or download our free app in the Apple App Store or in the Google Store to get access to our latest episodes at your fingertips.

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Oct 25, 2022

Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa is a spectacular new-to-science fish species and the first that has been named by a Maldivian scientist. Ahmed Najeeb, a biologist from the Maldives Marine Research Institute, named the fish, which means "rose" in the local Dhivehi language.

Fairy wrasses such as this are known for their elegant and colorful appearance with new species often being described. Read the popular article written by Liz Kimbrough, here: Spectacular new fish species is first to be named by Maldivian scientist.

This species, while new-to-science is already being traded. Many aquarium-traded fish are caught unethically. Read Robert Wood's 2019 commentary on buying aquarium fish ethically

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Photo Credit: A male rose-veiled fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa) from the Maldives. The species name ‘finifenmaa’ means ‘rose’ in the local Dhivehi language, a nod to both its pink hues and the Maldives’ national flower. Photo by Yi-Kai Tea © California Academy of Sciences

Please send feedback to submissions@mongabay.com, and thank you for listening.

Oct 19, 2022

"It might be the highest density of trout species on Earth," our guest Ulrich Eichelmann says of a suite of European rivers slated for damming to generate electricity – rivers which also host a vast wealth of birds, bats, bugs and beauty – plus a deep cultural heritage.

Rapid biological surveys are a well known way to establish the richness of an ecosystem and advocate for their conservation, and a corps of scientists have used this conservation solution to repeatedly prove that the rush to build hundreds of new hydroelectric dams threatens to drown this heritage, with impressive results:

A proposal to dam the last free-flowing river in Europe (the Vjosa) was halted in part on the basis of one such survey conducted by Scientists for Balkan Rivers which Eichelmann coordinates, after the team identified species new to science, in addition to great overall biodiversity.

The group has since turned its focus to other threatened rivers in the region, and he describes their activities, plus which rivers' ecologies they are investigating now.

Episode Artwork: The biodiversity of Balkan rivers is now becoming more widely known, and also their beauty, such as Kravice Waterfalls on the Trebižat river in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Photo by Goran Safarek for Riverwatch/EuroNatur.

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Oct 11, 2022

Nine leading forest and climate experts defined 10 principles for equitable and transformative landscapes in a "playbook" for ecosystem restoration.

The playbook authors say these steps could be game changing if followed. The plan outlines climate change and forest loss as political, economic and social problems, not just biophysical or environmental.

Hear more about the playbook by listening to this reading of the original popular article by Liz Kimbrough, New restoration “Playbook” calls for political, economic, and social change.

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Photo Credit: A toco toucan (Ramphastos toco) by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay

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Oct 4, 2022

In a historic move, The European Commission recently announced the protection of an area half the size of Belgium in the North Atlantic from bottom trawling, a fishing practice widely known as being the most destructive, particularly for deep-sea biodiversity and delicate marine ecosystems, such as cold water corals upon which other marine life (and humans) depend.

Activist and Goldman Environmental Prize winner, Claire Nouvian, joins the Mongabay Newscast to talk about this and her organization’s 7-year journey that led to a French ban on bottom trawling, and a later EU-wide ban.

She discusses not just the importance of deep-sea marine life but the effectiveness of grassroots activism and how consumers can avoid bottom trawling and support legislation to ban the fishing gear. 

Related reading:

Episode Artwork: A deep-sea coral, Paragorgia johnsoni, with a large, brisingid sea star on its base, pictured in the New England Seamount chain. Image © The Mountains-in the Sea Research Team, IFE, URI-IAO, and NOAA.

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If you enjoy the Newscast, please visit www.patreon.com/mongabay to pledge a dollar or more to keep the show growing, Mongabay is a nonprofit media outlet and all support helps!

See all our latest news from nature's frontline at Mongabay's homepage: news.mongabay.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by searching for @mongabay.

Please share your thoughts and feedback! submissions@mongabay.com.

Sep 27, 2022

What's a climate-friendly and profitable way to farm? Some investors (and many farmers) say it's agroforestry, which combines trees & shrubs with annual crops for mutual benefits: shade-grown coffee or bird-friendly chocolate, for instance.

So why have the agriculture sectors of the U.S. and E.U. largely ignored it? That's a question Ethan Steinberg and his partners at Propagate Ventures sought to answer, and then raised $1.5 million in seed funding to help farmers in eight U.S. states transition from conventional agriculture to agroforestry. 

Hear more about this growing trend in sustainable agriculture by listening to this audio reading of the popular article Investors say agroforestry isn’t just climate friendly — it’s also profitable by Stephanie Hanes on this latest episode of Mongabay Reports.

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Photo Credit: A model rubber agroforestry forest garden, incorporating animal husbandry (silvopasture). Illustration courtesy of Kittitornkool, J. et al (2019).

Please send feedback to submissions@mongabay.com, and thank you for listening.

Sep 20, 2022

Tropical forest news is coming fast lately, and we've got a top expert to discuss it with, beginning with the deforestation rate of the Brazilian Amazon in 2022 which is on pace to match the dismal heights of 2021; however, the upcoming Brazilian presidential election between incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and former president Luis Inacío Lula da Silva (Lula) could change forest conservation prospects.

Mongabay's CEO and sought after tropical forest news commentator, Rhett Butler, joins the Mongabay Newscast to share his analysis of how former president Lula could (once again) significantly decrease deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, like he's done in the past.

Rhett also shares his insight into a historic legislative move by the European Parliament to block 14 commodities linked to deforestation from entering the EU. The bill places the onus on the buyer to prove any 'dirty commodities' entering the EU are not linked to deforestation, whether legal or illegal. Rhett also discusses the renewed REDD+ agreement between Indonesia and Norway, which was canceled in 2021 when Norway failed to issue payment. 

Related reading from Mongabay: 

To hear our early 2022 conversation with Rhett, listen to Mongabay Newscast episode 136 here:

Podcast: The 411 on forests and reforestation for 2022

Episode artwork: Amazon rainforest canopy in Brazil. Image by Rhett Butler.

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Sep 13, 2022

Can an albatross detect illegal fishing vessels? Findings from published research say yes: over the course of six-months, 169 albatrosses fitted with radar-detecting trackers covered 47 million square kilometers of the southern Indian Ocean found radar signals from 353 ships.

Many of these vessels had no AIS signal, which is an indicator that a ship has switched it off in an attempt to remain hidden, but little did they know that the albatrosses revealed them.

Science journalist Shreya Dasgupta reported on the study for Mongabay in 2020, here:

Any illegal fishing going on around here? Ask an albatross

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Episode Artwork: A wandering albatross chick on its nest on Possession Island in the Crozet archipelago of the southern Indian Ocean. The species is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. Image by Alain Ricci via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

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Sep 6, 2022

There's less than 10 years remaining to save Sumatran elephants, says guest Leif Cocks, founder of the International Elephant Project, so we followed up with him to learn what is being done to save the critically endangered species' shrinking habitats, and to discuss the growing movement to recognize their 'personhood' and thereby ensure their interests are considered in development decisions.

Leif also shares his thoughts on a planned hydropower dam in North Sumatra, sited in the only habitat where the last, critically endangered Tapanuli orangutans live. This project has also, tragically, claimed the lives of 16 workers in less than 2 years. 

Related Reading via Mongabay:

To hear our previous conversation with Leif on Sumatran elephants, see season 2, episode 6 of the Mongabay Explores podcast, here:

Podcast: With just 10 years left to save Sumatran elephants, what can be done now?

Episode artwork: Sumatran elephants play in water. Image by vincentraal via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

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Aug 30, 2022

Just kidding, you really shouldn't eat this.

Last February, researchers described a new-to-science species of frog literally unearthed in the Peruvian Amazon during a rapid inventory of the lower Putamayo Basin. The image of the frog circulated on Twitter where it was likened to the chocolate frogs as seen in the Harry Potter film franchise. One user described the frog as a 'smooth lil fella.'

The full scientific description of the tootsie-roll resembling amphibian is available here in the journal Evolutionary Systematics.

This episode of Mongabay Reports, features the popular article Chocolate frog? New burrowing frog species unearthed in Amazon’s rare peatlands.

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Photo Credit: Synapturanus danta by Germán Chávez.

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Aug 23, 2022

Since 2020, the "Prints for WIldlife" campaign has raised over 1.75 million for conservaiton funding for NGO, African Parks through a collaborative photography based initiative selling over 15,000 unique wildlife prints.

Normally in competition with each other, 100+ wildlife photographers have come together to participate in this campaign. Joining the Monagabay newscast is one such photographer, Marcus Westberg, to discuss the unique collaborative nature of this campaign, and ethical wildlife photogrpahy practices. 

Related Reading:

African Parks secures $100M for conservation in Africa

Episode artwork: Two Grauer’s gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, DR Congo. Grauer’s gorillas are the world’s largest primates, and highly threatened, their population having declined close to 80% in just a few decades. Image by Marcus Westberg

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Aug 16, 2022

Cricket One is one of the world's largest cricket farms, and it's serving up an impressive palette of insect protein. Vietnam-based reporter Mike Tatarski reports on companies cashing in on the insect protein wave: coupled with the fact that insects (like crickets) use far less feed than cattle, and produce no methane, there is potential for the industry to replace animal-based protein sources.

Could delicacies such as the scorpion skewers served at Bugs Cafe in Cambodia make their way to the West?

This episode of Mongabay Reports features the popular 2020 story as read by Mike DiGirolamo. Find the full article here:

From scorpion skewers to cricket flour, bug protein is becoming big business

Please invite your friends to subscribe to the Mongabay Newscast wherever they get podcasts, or download our free app in the Apple App Store or in the Google Store to have access to our latest episodes at your fingertips.

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Photo Credit: Bugs Cafe in Siem Reap aims to turn insects into artfully presented cuisine, like this scorpion skewer. Image by Rishabh Malik for Atmos/Mongabay.

Please send feedback to submissions@mongabay.com, and thank you for listening.

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