Biodiversity Media Alliance

Linking Journalism with the Web of Life

Mike Shanahan's Blog (63)

2016 Biodiversity Story Grants

Internews’ Earth Journalism Network is offering reporting grants to support the production of in-depth stories that highlight previously untold threats to global biodiversity or explore new conservation-based solutions.
Read more here:…

Added by Mike Shanahan on January 27, 2016 at 10:25 — No Comments

The empty forest where 100+ bird species are feared extinct

In the latest study to report rapid loss of wildlife, researchers estimate that 106 bird species have disappeared from an area of forest. Continue reading at Under the Banyan

Added by Mike Shanahan on February 24, 2015 at 10:11 — No Comments

If we cook these tiny wasps, we put the heat on hundreds of other species

From the wings of tiny creatures hang the fates of hundreds of bird and mammal species, and perhaps even entire rainforests. They are fig wasps and they play a disproportionate role in the grand drama of life on Earth. They shape our own story too because of this. But new research warns that these insects could be “extremely vulnerable” to global warming.

This matters because each of the 750+ species of fig tree (Ficus species) relies utterly on particular species of fig wasp…


Added by Mike Shanahan on April 3, 2013 at 9:05 — No Comments

Unhappy endlings: What tales of the last days of extinct and dying species can bring to our own story

They are all now dead and can never be replaced but at least they got names. Martha, Benjamin and Incas… Booming Ben and Lonesome George. They wer endlings, each one the last known member of its species. Their names remind us that we have epic tales to tell of the decline and fall of entire species.



Added by Mike Shanahan on April 3, 2013 at 8:59 — No Comments

What happens to forests when the wildlife disappears?

Last year I brought you the story of Lambir Hills National Park, a Bornean forest in which I used to live and work, where hunting and other pressures have forced into extinction much of the biggest wildlife species (see The near empty forest that proves conservation is failing).

It describes how recent surveys had failed to find 20 percent of the park’s resident bird species and…


Added by Mike Shanahan on March 18, 2013 at 11:29 — No Comments

King Bruno: A chimpanzee’s tale of tragedy and hope

On 23 April 2006, Issa Kanu died like no man should. His death was a tragic accident, but it had a root in rainforest politics.

Issa Kanu died because chimpanzees escaped from a sanctuary in Sierra Leone. The chimps needed that sanctuary because people had killed their parents and captured the youngsters to sell as pets. Poverty had propelled these people to hunt chimpanzees and widespread logging made it harder for the chimps to hide. Try explaining that to a child.…


Added by Mike Shanahan on February 4, 2013 at 13:01 — No Comments

A job for conservation’s keystone cops

Take the keystone away from an arch and down will tumble the whole structure. Take a keystone species away and — so the concept goes — other species will go extinct too. In his excellent recent feature for Nature, Ed Yong explains how biologist Bob Paine came up with the concept while he studied starfish in the 1960s.

Paine’s keystone species concept “would go on to be…


Added by Mike Shanahan on January 22, 2013 at 15:55 — No Comments

Who eats figs? Everybody

“The proper way to eat a fig, in society,” wrote DH Lawrence, “is to split it in four, holding it by the stump, and open it, so that it is a glittering, rosy, moist, honied, heavy-petalled four-petalled flower. … But the vulgar way, is just to put your mouth to the crack, and take out the flesh in one bite.”

I’m a vulgar fig-eater. Few things give me more pleasure than when I bite into a ripe one and eat it up. With the right fig, the flavours can be so intense, so rich that it seems…


Added by Mike Shanahan on January 22, 2013 at 15:52 — No Comments

An obituary for long-dead elephants

An obituary for long-dead elephants

My girlfriend and I found these four elephants framed in a photograph in a bar last week in London. It was clear to us that the animals had…


Added by Mike Shanahan on October 29, 2012 at 15:42 — No Comments

Why following the herd can be good for journalists

Banditry, robberies, infiltration of small arms, poaching in the region’s game reserves and national parks and frequent outbreak of livestock diseases are now being attributed to the uncontrolled movement of pastoralists and their animals.

This sentence, from a 2006 article in Kenya’s The Nation newspaper, encapsulates the way the country’s nomadic herders have been — and continue to be — portrayed in the media there. It echoes…


Added by Mike Shanahan on October 11, 2012 at 14:31 — No Comments

New tool to help join-up policies to cut poverty and conserve biodiversity

As thousands of delegates gather in India for the 11th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) next week, a new initiative will be unveiled to help countries meet some of their obligations under the legally-binding treaty whilst also reducing poverty.…

Added by Mike Shanahan on October 5, 2012 at 13:08 — No Comments

Journalists are dying to tell stories of environmental plunder

It’s a sad reflection of reality that my first reaction to the news of Hang Serei Oudom’s murder was not one of shock or surprise.

The Cambodian journalist’s body was found last week in the boot of his own car. He had apparently been axed to death just days after reporting on links between the military and illegal logging there.

Oudom’s story…


Added by Mike Shanahan on October 3, 2012 at 16:56 — No Comments

New group for COP11 in Hyderabad

Dear colleagues

I have created a new group on this site for anyone who will be at (or is especially interested in) the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity -- or COP11 -- which takes place in Hyderabad, India.

You can view or join the group here. The official COP11 page is here:…


Added by Mike Shanahan on October 1, 2012 at 16:53 — No Comments

Global leaders in sustainable development to speak at landmark IIED conference in Rio

Government ministers, heads of UN agencies, business leaders, senior scientists and other experts in sustainable development are set to show that a fairer, greener world is a realistic vision when they speak at a major conference convened by the International Institute for Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro on 16-17 June.


IIED has designed ‘Fair ideas: sharing solutions for a sustainable planet’ to share expertise, ideas and practical experiences from…


Added by Mike Shanahan on May 23, 2012 at 12:59 — No Comments

IIED conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro (16-17 June)

Working closely with partners in Brazil and elsewhere, IIED will host an information-sharing event on the 16 and 17 June. Fair ideas will open up a space for researchers and practitioners working for a greener, fairer world to add important knowledge, experience and momentum to the official summit.

To register (free) or read the full conference programme, visit the Fair…


Added by Mike Shanahan on May 16, 2012 at 14:30 — No Comments

Report Calls for REDD+ to Invest in Forest Communities

Press release

New Haven, Conn, USA: Income generated from REDD+ should be given to forest communities to invest in their future, recommends a new report by The Forests Dialogue (TFD). Investing locally in this way should be part of understanding REDD+ as integral to broader development among forest-dependent communities.

The new report Giving REDD+ Life, examines the relationship between REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest…


Added by Mike Shanahan on May 16, 2012 at 11:51 — No Comments

What trees tell us when we stand close and listen

Thirty years ago a small boy stood in the shade of a big tree and has his little mind blown. It was — and still is — the biggest tree on the planet.

The tree was a Sierra Redwood and it lived in California’s Sequoia National Park. I was there with my family on our first ever holiday to a foreign country, back in 1982 when I was just eight years old. That’s me in the photo alongside my nature loving Dad, who back then was a hard-working bus driver…


Added by Mike Shanahan on April 13, 2012 at 17:59 — No Comments

The humbling history of the tiny wasps that upset a Jurassic Park/Noah’s Ark narrative

It’s the land that time forgot, a remote island whose strange life forms have survived in splendid isolation since the time of the dinosaurs. Or is it? Because while biologists have long thought this, geologists disagree. Now, genetics detectives may have closed the case with a study of tiny wasps. Their findings are a reminder that we are just part of a much bigger picture and of a story that never ends.…


Added by Mike Shanahan on March 2, 2012 at 11:25 — No Comments

Rafts of rubber and a hotel for birds with spit that sells

While some people are finding new ways to make withdrawals from nature’s bank, for others conservation has come along and created credit limits to long-held livelihoods.  It’s a tough job to balance these two faces of a coin that no-one is quite sure how to count.

Read the rest of this post at Under the…


Added by Mike Shanahan on February 20, 2012 at 10:29 — No Comments

The near empty forest that proves conservation is failing

Boleh makan… Boleh… Boleh.” As I turned the pages of my copy of Mammals of Borneo to reveal more images of wildlife, Siba anak Aji said the same thing each time. “Can eat… Can… Can.”

It was 1998 and I was doing ecological research in Lambir Hills National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Siba, my research assistant, was explaining which of the wild species his Iban…


Added by Mike Shanahan on February 7, 2012 at 16:21 — No Comments

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