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Arctic lifeline could be cut by expanding offshore oil drilling

Not long ago, bowhead whales in the Barents Sea, between the Norwegian and Russian Arctic, were thought to be extinct because of whaling activities. But scientists discovered that a small number of bowheads still live in a biologically rich area known as the marginal ice zone. Despite prices for crude oil dipping into historic lows, this group of critically endangered whales faces a new threat as the Norwegian parliament decides in the coming weeks whether to expand oil drilling into the globally significant marginal ice zone.The marginal ice zone is the area where Arctic sea ice meets the open ocean. It stretches like a belt across the Arctic, thousands of kilometers long, as the extent of the ice expands and retreats throughout the year. This area has supported unique biodiversity such as phytoplankton, zooplankton, fish, polar bears, birds, seals and whales for millions of years. It is now under threat from climate change as the shrinking extent of the sea ice tempts oil producers …

Ups and downs of an eventful decade of rhino conservation in India’s Manas National Park.

After India went into a nationwide lockdown in March 2020, Forest Department staff continued their patrolling and monitoring of wildlife habitats despite challenges ranging from restrictions on their movements to shortages of essential supplies. It’s tough but essential work and in Manas National Park in Assam a monitoring team recently had a rewarding sight — a Greater One-Horned rhino calf. It was the third new addition this year providing much-needed hope and optimism at this tragic time.It was a very different story in the early eighties and nineties. Manas National Park was impacted by local conflicts from the late 1980s until early 2000s. During this period, the park’s previously thriving population of 85 to 100 rhinos was wiped out. With rhinos playing a critical role in maintaining the health of habitats in the park, the government of Assam decided to reintroduce rhinos in 2005 as part of an ambitious programme: the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV2020).I was there at the start a…