strange behaviors

Cool doings from the natural and human worlds

  • Richard Conniff

  • Reviews for Richard Conniff’s Books

    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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Posts Tagged ‘community based conservation’

Is Focusing on Human Needs Like Saying “Yes’ to Extinctions?

Posted by Richard Conniff on February 15, 2014

My latest for Takepart (the web site of the movie company Participant Pictures):

When modern conservationists seem to put human welfare ahead of the needs of wildlife, are they betraying the movement’s central tenets? That’s the argument made by the authors of a new editorial in the journal Biological Conservation. In fact, it’s less an argument and more like an angry accusation, relying heavily on the phrase “great moral wrong.”

The editorial taps into a growing uneasiness among some conservation biologists about the direction of the conservation movement as it struggles to find the most effective role in an era, the so-called Anthropocene, in which human expansion seems to be having a devastating effect on almost every species and landscape on the planet—via habitat destruction, poaching, bush-meat hunting, pollution, and climate change.

Prominent environmental groups—among them The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International—have responded to this change with an increasing emphasis on how deeply human survival depends on the things nature provides: “ecosystem services” like clean water, crop pollination, flood control, putting oxygen into the atmosphere and pulling carbon dioxide out, wildlife habitat, and recreation.

This shift in emphasis means that environmental groups now often work side by side with old adversaries, from indigenous communities crowding around conservation areas to Fortune 500 companies looking to clear-cut, mine, harvest, or otherwise exploit the landscape. The shift to a more human-oriented approach has sometimes resulted, notably at Conservation International, in an exodus of species-oriented biologists.

What gets lost in the process, according to the editorial, is the defining environmental belief that Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Conservation and Extinction, Environmental Issues | Tagged: , , , | 17 Comments »

Saving Sea Turtles by Eating Their Eggs

Posted by Richard Conniff on August 19, 2013

A local harvests sea turtle eggs in Costa Rica’s Ostional National Park. (Photo: Olivier Blaise/Getty)

A local harvests sea turtle eggs in Costa Rica’s Ostional National Park. (Photo: Olivier Blaise/Getty)

It is one of nature’s great spectacles. On certain nights of the year, huge numbers of olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) mass in the Pacific Ocean just off the beach at Ostional, Costa Rica. Next, tens of thousands of females come clambering ashore over two or three nights to lay their eggs in the sand. These mass nesting events, called arribadas, may occur a half-dozen times over the course of a year on the beach of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. And each time, for the first two days, local villagers come out to harvest and sell as many eggs as they can lay their hands on. And it is entirely legal.

The harvest may seem particularly shocking given that Costa Rica has carefully cultivated a reputation as a green destination. On the opposite coast, moreover, a conservationist was murdered earlier this year while trying to prevent poachers from raiding the nests of another sea turtle species. (Police recently arrested suspects, said to be known turtle egg poachers, in that killing.)

But Ostional is different, and for its many supporters, it constitutes … to read the rest of this article, click here.

Posted in Conservation and Extinction, Cool Tools, Environmental Issues | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »