Nov 19

The latest update to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species highlights the loss of sea ice habitat due to climate warming as the single most important threat to the long-term survival of the polar bear.

The update also highlights habitat degradation as a main threat to many fungus species and over-fishing as the key driver of decline in marine bony fish. 

Polar bears on thin ice

The report, which is the most comprehensive assessment of sea ice and polar bear sub-population data to date, revealed that there is a high probability that the global polar bear population will decline by more than 30% over the next 35 to 40 years.

Based on the latest, most robust science, this assessment provides evidence that climate change will continue to seriously threaten polar bear survival in the future,” says Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. “Climate change impacts go far beyond this iconic species, and present a threat our planet has never faced before. Governments meeting at the climate summit in Paris later this month will need to go all out to strike a deal strong enough to confront this unprecedented challenge.”

Recent studies show that the loss of Arctic sea ice has progressed faster than most climate models had predicted, with September sea ice extent declining at a linear rate of 14% per decade from 1979 through 2011. As polar bears rely on sea ice to access their prey, such as seals, an annual ice-free period of five months or more will cause extended fasting for the species, which is likely to lead to increased reproductive failure and starvation in some areas.

Polar bears are important to the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples and, as apex predators, are essential to maintaining ecosystem balance in the Arctic region. Along with sea ice loss, other potential threats to the species include pollution, resource exploration and habitat change due to development. Oil development in the Arctic poses a wide range of threats, from oil spills to increased human-bear interaction.

Number of fungi on The IUCN Red List doubles

Twenty-nine species of fungi have been added to The IUCN Red List in this latest update, more than doubling current numbers. Fungi are an enormous group of organisms that are neither plants nor animals. They obtain nutrients through the absorption of decaying organic matter, recycling plant and animal waste into useful products.  The main threats affecting the species are habitat loss and degradation, mostly from changing land use practices.

Fungi are extremely important to humans as medicine and food and their conservation is vital for the health of the world’s ecosystems. Fungi have a symbiotic relationship with 80% of all plants and form a crucial part of the digestive system of ruminants such as sheep and cows.

Logging of the redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) which is listed as Endangered, is major threat to the fungus Leptonia carnea which has now been listed as Vulnerable.

Marine bony fishes at risk of extinction in the East Central Atlantic and Greater Caribbean regions

The latest global assessment of the 1,400 marine bony fishes of the Eastern Central Atlantic – covering the area from Mauritania to Angola – shows that 3% are threatened with extinction. In the Caribbean, 1,340 species were assessed, and of these 5% are threatened with extinction, including the golden tilefish (Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps) which is listed as Endangered.

The lionfish, which is an invasive species, is placing further pressure on marine bony fishes in the Caribbean.

The degradation of sensitive coastal habitats, pollution, overexploitation and destructive fishing practices are putting many species of marine bony fishes at risk of extinction.

Marine bony fishes are both ecologically and economically important, with the loss of these species posing a serious threat to food security and livelihoods of more than 340 million people in the regions assessed. The data from this latest assessment will be used to guide fisheries management and conservation priorities in the regions.

The IUCN Red List now includes 79,837 assessed species, of which 23,250 are threatened with extinction.

For more on the latest update visit The IUCN Red List website.

Learn more about climate change and ocean acidification on Arkive.

Sep 9

Communicate is the UK’s leading conference for environmental communicators, with around 150 delegates from over 80 different organisations attending for two days of inspiring content, interactive workshops and engaging discussion. This year’s Communicate takes place over the 10th and 11th of November in Bristol, UK in the At-Bristol Science Centre.

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This year’s theme, Challenging Partnerships, explores the possibility of collaboration between environmental groups and those from other sectors. The  urgency  of  the  threats  faced  by  the  natural  world  demands  new  ways  of  working  because these problems are too big and too complex for any single organisation to tackle alone. We must be open to collaboration, innovation and doing things differently – to partnerships of possibility. We must transcend the boundaries of our individual brands, sectors and ideologies to challenge the status quo and create a compelling, unified story for change.

Communicate 2015 will explore the following questions: How do we as communicators break beyond the environmental bubble of usual suspects and what can we achieve working with, rather than against, more unusual bedfellows? What can we learn from scientists, journalists, corporations and politicians to help us challenge our own preconception sand influence genuine positive change for nature in policy, evidence, attitudes and actions? How can we unify the sector to build a single, compelling, consistent environmental story?

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Visit for more information and to reserve your ticket or follow @Communicate_15 on Twitter to keep up to date with exciting programme additions!

Aug 17

The Wildscreen Exchange is a dynamic new conservation initiative by the creators of Arkive. Using some of the best filmmakers and photographers on Earth, Wildscreen are creating films and photos that tell the stories of some the natural world’s most overlooked yet beautifully unique species and the amazing people who have dedicated their lives to help them. Please help us tell their stories while we can still do it in the present tense.

You can vote once a day, every day (if you’d like to!) by writing ‘I #vote for @WildscreenEx #UpgradeYourWorld’ on Twitter or Instagram. Or you can vote on Facebook by tagging the Wildscreen Exchange Facebook page and writing the same phrase as above. Voting closes on August 23rd.

You can see some of the images created by Exchange photographers, alongside thousands of other images that have been kindly donated by some of the world’s best wildlife photographers, on our website. These images are freely available to conservation organisations to use in their non-commercial communications, saving vital resources, budget and time.

Watch the Exchange promotional video featuring Sir David Attenborough here.

Thanks in advance!

Jul 30

What comes to mind when you think of the word “drones”? It’s usually not conservation. Increasingly, however drones are being used as vital tools for conservation. Drones can provide stunning images of landscapes and wildlife from formerly impossible locations. However, a lot of questions arise when you think about how to use drones for conservation.

How does it work? Does it affect animals? How do you get started? If these are some of your burning questions then allow us to clarify.

The Arkive Team had the awesome opportunity to speak with wildlife conservation experts about the use of drones for conservation. We spoke with Annika Lieben from The Shadowview Foundation and Serge Wich from

Can you tell us the story behind the creation of your organization?

Serge: started in January 2011 when I met with Lian Pin Koh, a conservation ecologist and we began discussing the issue of forest loss in Southeast Asia. It is difficult to monitor a species like the orangutan. We thought it would be amazing to monitor species from the air. Piloted planes and helicopters were expensive to use so we settled upon the use of drones, since they are more cost-effective.


Bornean orangutan infant hanging from tree

Annika: Well, our co-founder Laurens de Groot used to work for Sea Shepherds. They were in Cape Cross, Namibia where a massive seal culling occurs every year. Laurens and the others were detected and had to get away. In 2012, Laurens and others returned to Namibia and used drones to document the seal culling. It worked quite well and because of its success Laurens decided to further pursue the use of drones for conservation.

How did you settle upon using drones for conservation?

Serge: Well, helicopters and planes are not always available when you need them. Furthermore when using helicopters you must fly relatively low; this is quite a risk, because if there is a glitch with the engine there is very little time to react. On the other hand using drones only requires effort and funding and does not put the life of individuals at risk. By using drones for conservation, you help encourage other conservation groups to use drones for this purpose.

Annika: The use of drones offers a lot of opportunities that traditional methods cannot. Drones are a versatile tool that can be used for scientific research and data collection.

Drone - Shadowview Foundation

Laurens de Groot (left) and team with drone (© Shadowview Foundation)

What are the benefits of using drones for conservation?

Serge: Drones are a great tool that allows you to capture high resolution imagery from a variety of sensors (RGB cameras, NIR cameras, thermal cameras) by flying over an area. Since drones do not have the availability restrictions of planes and helicopters, you can use them with greater frequency.  Additionally, it is more cost-efficient.

Drones 1 - Conservationdrones

Serge Wich (bottom right), Lian Pin Koh (top right) and team with drones (©

Annika: Drones are a new way of looking at conservation. It allows you to gather data in an efficient manner and they are much cheaper than using a helicopter or plane. Additionally, poachers are not used to a drone, which provides an advantage.

What would you say to people who are skeptical about the use of drones for conservation?

Serge: I would start by asking them, which aspect of drones causes them to be skeptical. Based on that I can explain to them how drones are used for conservation and then we can see if they remain skeptical. More generally I would tell people that because the learning curve for operating drones (particularly fixed-wing systems) can be steep, operators receive extensive training. After the training they are able to operate these systems in a safe manner. While there used to be an association of drones with the military, I think this perception is changing quickly. Drones are no longer solely for the military; they are now commonly used for humanitarian work, research and conservation.

Annika: Drones provide an additional method of creating a network for fighting wildlife crime and learning about species. It’s all about working together.

How can amateur filmmakers learn to properly use drones for wildlife filmmaking? What are the best practices?

Serge: I recommend they look into small companies that offer thorough training for operating drones. By doing this you reduce the risk of the loss of your drone. It is important to do flight training so you can properly operate the drone in the field. Get the proper qualifications and be aware of safety measures. Safety is key.

For best practices, in case anything should malfunction it is vital to have a fail-safe system.  You can program the drone to land by itself or come back to a designated start point if something goes awry. You can also set up a geo-fence which is a pre-determined area in which the drone is programmed to operate. If it goes outside this area it will either land or return to a starting point. Despite the drones ability to fly on autopilot, it is still very important to know how to operate it well.

Landscape -

Flight over orangutan re-introduction site in Jantho, Aceh (©

Annika: Foremost, to properly use drones one must be well-trained in how to fly a drone when in close proximity to animals. Learn how to safely fly drones when near birds, since birds sometimes identify drones as birds of prey.  Herd animals will also become spooked if one of their members starts to get agitated. It is always important to keep your distance from the species being studied or observed. If an animal becomes agitated because of the drone’s presence it is best to move away from the animal.

How do you maintain a safe environment for the species being filmed?

Serge: You should not fly drones too close to the species being studied. This is especially true for birds who might perceive drones as a predator and attempt to attack it. During your first flight you should fly fairly high and gauge the impact of the presence and/or noise on the behavior of the species. In this manner, you can determine which height is appropriate. You should also use a drone that has redundancy in its motors so that  it will land by itself if it loses one of its engines rather than simply crash.

Annika: In order to maintain a safe environment, it is important to do your research on the species in order to understand how it will react to a flying apparatus. Doing your research assists in providing the best approach for filming.

Landscape - Shadowview Foundation

Amazing aerial imagery (© Shadowview Foundation)

What have been the most meaningful successes of your organization?

Serge: I think the most meaningful successes have been the ability to detect orangutans and chimpanzees in remote areas. Also at the Chitwan National Park we trained WWF members and Nepali rangers to use drones in their anti-poaching efforts of rhinos. Recently we have also been successful in detecting habitat change which is a key component of conservation work.


Juvenile chimpanzee hanging in branches

Annika: In collaboration with an anti-poaching team, we assisted in the capture of rhino poachers operating in South Africa and in Malawi, we used one of our drones to guide rangers to the camp of suspected poachers. We also used drones to monitor and detect illegal fishing vessels in the Mediterranean with our project partner The Black Fish. We collected evidence that will be presented to the European Commission.

One of our recent projects involves using drones to protect elephants traveling along the Kasigau Wildlife Corridor in Kenya. Drones would be used to detect poachers, collect evidence, and increase the chance of catching poachers. It would create a network to defeat a network.


African elephants

What do you see as the future of your organization? 

Serge: We want to continue to use drones to do conservation work.  We also want to link up researchers and conservationists with the information they need in a successful way. We are working with universities to create data collection centers of the footage from drones.  One goal is to create software that will look through all the film and immediately pinpoint the footage, which includes a specific species of interest.

Annika: We are constantly looking for new technologies that will assist us in the fight against wildlife crime. We want to keep growing and we will try any method to stop poaching.

The conservation work being done by and The Shadowview Foundation highlight the versatility and utility of drones for research, data collection, and the prevention of wildlife crime.

Keep up the good work!

William Lazaro, Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

Jun 18

Do you love camels as much we do? The Arkive  Team had the wonderful opportunity to chat with the amazing folks at the Wild Camel Protection Foundation to learn all about what they do and their current essay competition with cash prizes!

Can camels drink saltwater? Did you know that you can help camel conservation right this second? Read on to find out more!


Wild Bactrian camel with newborn calf

Can you tell us the story behind the formation of the Wild Camel Protection Foundation?

In 1997, the Wild Camel Protection Foundation (WCPF) was founded after John Hare realised the wild camel was critically endangered. After several expeditions he made with scientists in Mongolia and three expeditions with Chinese scientists into Lop Nur – the former nuclear test area of China and the habitat of the wild camel – the global estimate of wild camels was found to be less than 1,000 remaining in the wild. In China they were totally unprotected. Co-founding the UK registered charitable foundation WCPF with environmental lawyer Kathryn Rae, the first aim was to establish a protected area for the wild camels in China. Working together with eminent zoologist Professor Yuan Guoying, the Chinese national, and regional authorities and later securing funding from the Global Environmental Facility in Washington, WCPF established a vast reserve – the Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve in Xinjiang province in north-west China. Comprising 155,000 square kilometres, it is one of the largest protected areas in the world and for the first time afforded protection to the remaining wild camels in China. WCPF is the only environmental organisation in the world which protects the wild camel in its remaining desert habitat.

As experts on the wild Bactrian camel, what are some of the most interesting facts and stories that you can share about this special species?

The wild camel in China survived 43 atmospheric nuclear tests of which over half were more powerful than the atomic bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima at the end of the second world war. It lives in China on salt water with a higher content of salt than sea water. No other mammal can do this – not even the domestic Bactrian camel. In 2008, after 5 years of genetic testing at the Veterinary University in Vienna it was discovered that the wild double-humped camel is a separate species of camel, one which evolved from a species of camel over 700,000 years ago.


Young wild Bactrian camel

Can you share some field stories about how the Wild Camel Protection Foundation protects the wild Bactrian camel and its habitat in the Gobi and Gashun Gobi deserts?

In China, the management of the Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve supervise the running of the reserve and undertake regular patrols in areas where the wild camels survive.  Checkpoints in the reserve were established with money raised by the WCPF. One of the greatest threats to the wild camel is illegal mining where prospectors go illegally into the desert in an attempt to discover minerals or oil. This greatly disturbs the wild camel which is a migratory species and follows set paths of migration every year. In Mongolia, the wild camel population (approximately 450) is within the Great Gobi Special Protected Area “A’. WCPF works closely with the Director of the protected area and the Mongolian Environmental Ministry. WCPF has established a successful breeding centre for the wild camel in the buffer zone of the park. This is supervised by the Park Director and funded entirely by WCPF. 

Dr. Jane Goodall is a world-renowned chimp champion yet she has dedicated herself to the Wild Camel Protection Foundation as Honorary Life Patron. How did this come about?

Dr. Jane Goodall has been a personal friend of John Hare for over 40 years and, although a primate scientist, she is dedicated to the cause of the wild camel. She greatly admires its tenacity to survive against all the odds in some of the harshest conditions on earth. WCPF worked with the Jane Goodall Institute to establish their Roots and Shoots programme in China.


Wild Bactrian camel standing in desert landscape

Looking at your Future Scientific Projects section, you list several critical focus areas for future wild camel conservation efforts. Which would you say has the highest priority?

The highest priority is to ascertain the carrying capacity of the desert areas in both Mongolia and China where the wild camel is found. The environment is extremely harsh with sparse desert vegetation and little water found only at water points. These water points change and dry-up so understanding how the desert habitat changes is crucial and would be part of a study to identify how many wild camels these two fragile habitats can support long term. Identifying ways to stop degradation of the desert habitat through mining both illegal and legal is also very important as it is a major problem for the survival of the wild camel in both countries 

What has been your favourite conservation success story at the Wild Camel Protection Foundation? And conversely, what has been your saddest conservation defeat?

Success: Discovering a hidden and unmapped valley in China which contained a naive population of wildlife which had never seen man. Defeat: Going back 7 years later to discover that the wildlife population had been exterminated and the water source polluted  by illegal gold miners. 


Herd of wild Bactrian camels walking in desert landscape

At Wildscreen, we strive to find multiple ways for our passionate audience to take action in support of the organisations we partner with. What specific actions can our readers take to support the conservation of wild Bactrian camels with the Wild Camel Protection Foundation?

They can become active members of WCPF for a small annual fee of £20 sterling or the equivalent in Euros/Dollars a year. They can buy the booklets about the wild camel which are available through the WCPF websiteAll money raised goes to fund the work in Mongolia. They can sponsor a camel calf. Young camel calves are born every year at the breeding centre in Mongolia and WCPF requires approximately $2,500 a year over three years for medicines, vet visits and hay to ensure each one of these young wild camel calves survive. Individuals can sponsor and name a young wild camel and have the opportunity to follow its development. Every year WCPF visits the protected areas in both countries and this is a major overhead cost for the Foundation.  Winter hay is essential for the 25 wild camels at the breeding centre in Mongolia and costs WCPF $15,000 a year. This money has to be raised annually by the WCPF. It should be noted that all the trustees work for the Foundation on an entirely pro bono basis.

Can you tell us a little about the essay competition you are currently running?

Every year we hold a fundraiser, with the aim of both raising awareness of the plight of the wild camel and its rare desert habitat and also to raise the funds necessary to feed the wild camels in our captive breeding centre, in Mongolia, over the winter. This year we are holding an essay competition, which is kindly sponsored by Cotswold Wildlife Park. The title of the essay is “Why should the critically endangered wild camel be protected”. The competition is open to everyone, with both an adult and a junior category. As well as knowing you are helping the wild camel and its habitat there is also the opportunity to win the top prize of £500 and you will get to name one of the calves born next year! The full terms and conditions can be found on our website


Wild Bactrian camel walking

We hope you enjoyed learning about the incredible work of the Wild Camel Protection Foundation. Can you pledge to take action to support their efforts? Click the “Wish List” below to log your support. Each doing our own small part, we can turn the tide for camel conservation!

wish list button

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA 


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