The littlest rat catchers: New Zealand schoolchildren trap and kill 600 pests in 100 days

As part of an attempt to rid Stewart Island of the rodents, children as young as five have taken part in a rat catching competition, with remarkable results

In a tiny school on the southern-most tip of New Zealand, the children are lining up their kill.

Big brown rats with long tails, their stomaches caked in blood. Smaller rats, stiff from the refrigerator, tails in a tangle.

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Go wild in these countries: five exciting rewilding projects to visit

From Montana’s prairies to Kazakhstan’s steppes, vast tracts of land are being enriched. Here’s how to witness those changes

Mozambique’s civil war (1977-1992) and the poaching connected to it decimated wildlife in Gorongosa national park. Since 2006, the Gorongosa restoration project has set out to bring back nature, starting with buffalo, wildebeest, eland, zebra and other animals being trucked in.

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A&E for trees: pioneering clinic in India provides lifeline for poorly plants

An on-call team at Amritsar’s tree hospital nurses sick neems and gives new life to troubled banyans

Sahib Singh clambers up a portable ladder, reaches out and, with the help of a few tools, tugs at the banyan tree and successfully removes it. The uprooted plant, which had sprouted from a wall inside the living room, is placed in a plastic bag filled with fertilised black soil. “We will replant this on the hospital lawn,” Singh says over Skype, while climbing back down the ladder. The operation lasts barely 20 minutes.

The removal of the banyan tree, considered sacred in Hinduism, is the first of three calls attended by Singh in his tree ambulance on one day in May. He is a gardener and part of the team at the Pushpa Tree and Plant Hospital and Dispensary, in the northern Indian city of Amritsar, launched in January 2020.

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Wolverine fish and blind eel among 212 new freshwater species

Report from Shoal on 2021’s newly described species shows ‘there are still hundreds and hundreds more freshwater fish scientists don’t know about yet’

Scientists are celebrating 212 “new” freshwater fish species, including a blind eel found in the grounds of a school for blind children and a fish named Wolverine that is armed with a hidden weapons system.

The New Species 2021 report, released by the conservation organisation Shoal, shows just how diverse and remarkable the world’s often undervalued freshwater species are, and suggests there is plenty more life still to be discovered in the world’s lakes, rivers and wetlands.

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Indian spiritualist Sadhguru on 100-day motorbike mission to save soil

Yoga guru will visit dozens of countries en route from London to India to raise awareness of plight of one of nature’s greatest resources

One of India’s best-known spiritual leaders is embarking on a 100-day motorbike journey from London to India to raise awareness of one of nature’s most undervalued resources.

Sadhguru, or Jaggi Vasudev, is setting off on Monday on a 30,000km (18,600-mile) trip through Europe and the Middle East in an effort to “save soil”, meeting celebrities, environmentalists and influencers in dozens of countries along the way.

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‘Every time the tide recedes, it’s a new world’: Mumbai’s marine life revealed

A group of sea life enthusiasts is documenting a wealth of species thriving in the shadow of India’s most populous city, from glowing coral to octopuses

A hidden forest of algae sponges and hydroids photographed at low tide; a stunning night image of green button polyps under ultraviolet light; and a beautiful shot of a honeycomb moray eel stuck on a ledge on a rocky shore. Mumbai may be a bustling metropolis, but photographer Sarang Naik’s aesthetic and vibrant images of marine life show a different side of the city.

When Naik first started exploring the coast of urban Mumbai, India’s financial capital and home to Bollywood stars, he was astounded by the diversity of creatures that he came across – from hermit crabs, barnacles and a baby octopus to zoanthids (colourful disc-shaped relatives of coral) and prickly sea urchins. The intertidal zone or foreshore – where the land is exposed at low tide and is under water at high tide – is home to diverse marine life over different terrains, from mudflats to beaches and mangroves.

Clockwise from top: a honeycomb moray eel stranded at low tide at Breach Candy; a nudibranch sea slug on coralline algae; zoanthids glowing in UV Light at Malabar Hill rocky shore; squid babies inside an egg mass; an Elysia sea slug feeding on algae in a tide pool

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Animal crossings: the ecoducts helping wildlife navigate busy roads across the world

India’s tiger corridor and Australia’s possum ‘tunnel of love’ are among the myriad infrastructure projects providing safe passage

From a tiny railway bridge for dormice in the UK to elk, deer and bears benefitting from a slew of new animal crossings in Colorado, wildlife bridges are having a moment. As the human footprint on the planet continues to expand, a growing number of roads and railways include provisions for wildlife to pass through fragmented landscapes.

In January, we reported on Sweden’s plans to build a series of “renoducts” to help reindeer traverse the country’s main roads. The Swedish Transport Administration has since completed an ecoduct over the E6 in Skåne in southern Sweden, the third in the county. In southern California, work is due to begin on the largest wildlife bridge in the world in 2022, to connect isolated mountain lion populations north of Los Angeles that are becoming dangerously inbred. Joe Biden has earmarked $350m (£260m) of his $1.2tn infrastructure package for wildlife bridges to lessen the multibillion annual cost of collisions.

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Sri Lanka’s worst ever maritime disaster reveals the true cost of our identity crisis | Sandali Handagama

We must find a way to embrace shipping, the ocean and our place in the world without shackling ourselves to unpayable foreign debt

Growing up in Sri Lanka in the 1990s, it was drilled into me from an early age that my island was destined to be a maritime hub. At school, I was taught that Sri Lanka was once the heart of the maritime Silk Road, a network of trade routes that connected the east and west from 130BC to the mid-1400s.

My textbooks were filled with tales about how Sri Lanka’s strategic positioning and rich natural resources were so prized that it was consecutively colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and British empires for almost four centuries.

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Leaf blowers and beating branches: the fight to stop India’s forest fires

Thousands of blazes in Similipal national park threaten indigenous peoples and wildlife such as tigers, elephants and orchids

As the flames move fast, snaking quickly upwards in the treacherous terrain of Similipal national park and turning everything on the ground to smoky ash, the women are in hot pursuit. Throwing their dupattas over their shoulders, sweat dripping from their foreheads, they vigorously whack the flames with leafy branches to extinguish them. Nearby, a forest department official armed only with a leaf blower works to move the leaves fuelling the fire out of the way.

Finally, as the hills of Similipal, in the Indian state of Odisha, become too steep, the women fall back. “It’s very smoky and hot, but for the past two weeks, we have been helping put out the fires in any way we can,” says Sanjukta Basa, chair of local environmental NGO Sangram.

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Budget cuts and collapse in tourism revenue pose ‘severe’ threat to nature

Reduced environmental protections and conservation job losses could hit vital progress on climate and biodiversity, research finds

Job cuts in nature reserves and environmental rollbacks by governments during the Covid-19 pandemic could undermine global efforts to conserve biodiversity and tackle the climate crisis, according to new research.

Budget cuts and a collapse in ecotourism revenue have forced national parks and conservation organisations to make staff cuts and reduce activities such as anti-poaching patrols, with Asia and Africa severely affected.

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Gone fishing: the fight to save one of the world’s most elusive wild cats

With webbed feet and a tail for a rudder, Asia’s fishing cats face shrinking habitats. But conservation efforts in West Bengal are helping it swim against the tide

For more than a decade, wildlife biologist Tiasa Adhya has spent many a day (and night) in a small wooden boat, silently gliding through dense vegetation in the wetlands and mangroves of West Bengal, scanning the banks for signs of a rarely seen wild cat – the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).

Fishing cats are fascinating animals,” she says. “They have co-inhabited riverine deltas and floodplains alongside humans for centuries. Ancient cultures like the Khmer empire show evidence of fishing cats.” As co-founder of the world’s longest-running fishing cat research and conservation project, Kolkata-based Adhya is dedicated to this endangered felid, one of the least-studied and understood wildcats.

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From concrete to jungle: cartoonist puts Mumbai’s wildlife on the map

The Indian city is home to 20 million people but is also a place rich in biodiversity, with flamingos, leopards and black kites among its flora and fauna

An Indian Ocean humpback dolphin swims beneath an Indo-Pacific octopus close to the coast, a gargantuan atlas moth flutters above Sanjay Gandhi national park, while an Asian palm civet shins up a tree near Vasai Creek and a black kite soars over a banyan tree. All are part of a vibrant new map of Mumbai that showcases the Indian city’s rich biodiversity.

“Most people only think of Mumbai as a concrete jungle, with skyscrapers, slums and beach promenades, but scratch beneath the surface, and you will find a place of rich biodiversity,” says Rohan Chakravarty, an award-winning wildlife cartoonist from Nagpur famous for cartoons that deal with the environment, conservation and wildlife, and creator of the Mumbai map.

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‘Mind-boggling variety’: the food crusaders preserving India’s heritage

A rich range of native crops and seeds is being nurtured in an effort to halt the country’s rapidly vanishing food diversity

A small army of botanical heritage enthusiasts is spearheading a movement in India for the revival and preservation of the country’s rapidly vanishing food biodiversity by bringing back the rich crop varieties that thrived in the past, but are now on the verge of extinction.

Babita Bhatt, a 43-year-old former software professional, is just one of these crusaders, who are eschewing established careers and fat pay packets to become farmers, activists and entrepreneurs.

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India plans to fell ancient forest to create 40 new coalfields

Narendra Modi’s dream of a ‘self-reliant India’ comes at a terrible price for its indigenous population

Over the past decade, Umeshwar Singh Amra has witnessed his homeland descend into a battleground. The war being waged in Hasdeo Arand, a rich and biodiverse Indian forest, has pitted indigenous people, ancient trees, elephants and sloths against the might of bulldozers, trucks and hydraulic jacks, fighting with a single purpose: the extraction of coal.

Yet under a new “self-reliant India” plan by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, to boost the economy post-Covid-19 and reduce costly imports, 40 new coalfields in some of India’s most ecologically sensitive forests are to be opened up for commercial mining.

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Saving the Whanganui: can personhood rescue a river?

The Guardian travelled the length of the Whanganui in New Zealand to investigate whether new legal protections will make a difference

Adam Daniel wades waist deep through the glassy water. Pumice stones spiral in the shallow eddy, while the shrill whistles of a male whio (blue duck) echo upstream through the green canyon walls. The mountain stream’s deep current slows around a lone tree standing on a small rocky island before rushing toward the sea.

Like a doctor, Daniel spends the morning checking the pulse of the river’s upper arteries, taking temperature readings and drawing water samples to diagnose its vitality. Thirty kilometres to his south-east, the Whanganui River’s pristine headwaters begin in the internationally renowned Tongariro National Park, on the western flanks of three cone volcanoes, Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.

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