Mongabay’s What-to-Watch list for May 2023

Mongabay’s What-to-Watch list for May 2023

  • Mongabay’s April videos covered stories about pollution affecting food sources in India, the relaationship between gold and Indigenous communities in Brazil, farmers’ plight in Cambodia, sustainable civet coffee in the Philippines, and more.
  • In Japan, a reforestation method practiced by the fishing community for decades has just been proved to work by the scientific community. More farmers in India are opting natural farming and agroforestry methods to adapt to climate change.
  • In the wildlife videos, watch how the most endangered ape in the world, the Tapanuli orangutan, is losing habitat to a development project in Indonesia. Technology in wildlife is helping us understand shark pregnancies and katydid mating practices better.
  • Get a peek into the various segments of the environment across the globe. Add these videos to your watchlist for the month and watch them for free on YouTube.

In April, Mongabay released videos covering the Indigenous action in conservation in Brazil and the Philippines, farmers’ stories in India and Cambodia, microplastic pollution, the role of technology in wildlife conservation, and more.

In Brazil, a gold database with samples obtained from different parts of the country is helping the Federal Police determine the origin of seized or suspicious gold. In an unrelated reporting, Indigenous leader Junior Hekurari Yanomami explains why people worldwide should stop buying gold.

Rice and subsistence farmers around Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia lost their rights to farm on their lands in 2021. How will the upcoming elections in the country change this situation?

In India, scientists have found microplastics in the most relevant of ingredients — salt. Especially sea salt. Artisanal fishermen in Tamil Nadu, who have fished in their waters for generations, are now fighting off pollution from industrial shrimp farms. In Madhya Pradesh, farmers from 60 villages have opted natural farming protect their crops from climate impacts.

Japan’s old practice of reforestation with “fish forests,” practiced by local fishing communities, has always been believed to have worked. And now, scietific studies have proved them right.

Villagers from next to a forest in the Philippines are changing the way civet poop coffee is consumed — the beans they collect are from the wild, and the civet population in the forest remains healthy.

Technology advancement in wildlife conservation ranges from underwater in the deep oceans to tiny insects chirping around us. Scientists are monotiring pregnant sharks in the Galápagos to understand their reproduction, while katydids in India were fitted with radio telemetry so scientists could learn more about their ecosystem.

Add these videos to your watchlist for the month and watch them for free on Mongabay’s YouTube channel.

‘Gold library’ helps Brazil crack down on Amazon’s illegal mining

Launched in 2019, the Ouro Alvo program is creating a gold database with samples obtained from different parts of Brazil. The information is allowing the Federal Police to create a chemical fingerprint of each sample, which they can then use to cross-reference the origin of seized or suspicious gold. This strategy could be complemented with other methods, including physically tagging the gold and tracking transactions using blockchain.

Read more: ‘Gold library’ helps Brazil crack down on Amazon’s illegal mining


Indian scientists find microplastics in sea salt

Plastic may find its way into your meals in the form of seasoning. Studies across India have established the presence of microplastics in sea salt. Estimates suggest that an adult could consume about 2,000 microplastic particles each year through their salt intake.

Read more: Varying levels of microplastics detected in sea salt produced across India

Artisanal fishers struggle as shrimp farms flourish

Shrimp farms near the coast of Rameswaram are posing a threat to artisanal fishermen. Fishers allege that the presence of shrimp farms has affected their near shore fishing activities. This has directly affected their livelihoods. Farmers and pastoral communities also report a threat to their occupations due to seepage of effluents from the shrimp farms into the agricultural fields and grazing lands. The villagers of Ariyankundu today depends on private supply of water as its groundwater has been affected by the shrimp farms.

Read more: Artisanal fishers of Rameswaram resist the polluting shrimp farms on the island


Villages adopt natural farming methods to brave climate impacts

Farmers of 60 villages of Madhya Pradesh have adopted natural farming methods to protect their crops from climate impacts. They were encouraged to adopt natural farming methods through the ‘Climate-Smart Villages’ project, initiated by the state government.

Read nore: Natural farming methods help the ‘climate-smart’ villages of MP brave climate impacts


Rice farmers left in limbo after conservation crackdown in Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake

Rice farmers in the flood plains of Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake were evicted from their land after a government conservation crackdown in 2021, but ahead of the upcoming national election, officials are backpedaling, returning land to some farmers while leaving others uncertain of their fate.

Read more: Small farmers in limbo as Cambodia wavers on Tonle Sap conservation rules

Fight for survival: The battle to save the last Tapanuli orangutans

In 2017, the Tapanuli orangutan was identified as a new species of great ape — and immediately became the most endangered great ape on the planet, with a total population of less than 800. A 2021 study found that the great apes have lost almost 97.5% of their habitat over the past 130 years.


Saving forests to protect coastal ecosystems in Japan

“Fish forests,” a type of protection forest in Japan, conserve watershed woodlands and offer benefits to coastal fisheries, including shade, soil erosion reduction, and the provision of nutrients. Beginning in the late 1980s, fishers across Japan started planting trees in coastal watersheds that feed into their fishing grounds. New research using environmental DNA metabarcoding analysis confirms this works.

Read more: Saving forests to protect coastal ecosystems: Japan sets historic example


“Don’t buy Brazilian gold,” says Indigenous leader Junior Hekurari Yanomami

When asked if he had a message for the world, Junior Hekurari Yanomami was emphatic: “Don’t buy Brazilian gold.” Junior, 36, from the Surucu community on Brazil’s largest and most famous Indigenous land, the Yanomami, met Mongabay for an interview last March.

Read more: ‘Don’t buy Brazilian gold’: Q&A with Indigenous leader Júnior Hekurari Yanomami

Philippine tribe boosts livelihoods and conservation with civet poop coffee

In the forests of Mount Matutum, B’laan villagers have found a balance between improving their livelihoods and conserving the environment. The secret to their success comes from a surprising source – Asian palm civet poop. In Mount Matutum the civets roam free and villagers collect the coffee bean-filled civet poop from the forest floor.

Read more: Philippine tribe boosts livelihoods and conservation with civet poop coffee


Female katydids risk their lives for love

In the first-ever radio telemetry study on insects in India, a canopy-dwelling katydid was fitted with a radio transmitter, and behavioural experiments were then conducted in the natural habitat of the katydid and bat. Females moved more often and farther than males for the purpose of mating and egg-laying. This makes female katydids more vulnerable to predation.

Read more: Flying is riskier for female katydids, finds India’s first insect radio telemetry study

New research to identify pregnant sharks in Galápagos

In a bid to understand the reproductive state of sharks, a team of scientists developed and deployed new techniques for conducting underwater ultrasonography and collecting blood samples. The researchers collected blood samples while they swam with whale sharks in the Galapagos, and used a portable imaging system to take the ultrasound readings.

Read more: Uterine implants and underwater ultrasounds aim to demystify shark births


Mapping deforestation and sustainable development in central India: Ruth deFries

Mongabay-India spoke to the environmental geographer, Ruth deFries, on central India, mapping deforestation, land management, and people-centric conservation and development. The researcher who has extensively worked in the tropics to unpack deforestation using satellite data and field surveys, says understanding local drivers and the context of deforestation is crucial to reduce deforestation.

Read more: [Interview] Scientist Ruth DeFries on deforestation: There isn’t one driver, there’s a different context in different places

Studying India’s shrinking glaciers and water security: Anil Kulkarni

Glaciers in the western Himalayas are “actively under the degradation phase.” Glaciologist Anil Kulkarni says communicating about the uncertainties attached to glaciers with policymakers is one of the most challenging tasks. The remote sensing models developed by Kulkarni help understand the Himalayan cryosphere and also estimate glacier mass balance.

Read more: [Interview] Glaciologist Anil Kulkarni on shrinking glaciers and effective policy-level communication

Banner image: A katydid in Kerala, India. Image by Challiyil Eswaramangalath Vipin via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Mongabay’s What-to-Watch list for April 2023

This story first appeared on Mongabay

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