By Rachael Bale, ANIMALS Executive Editor
When most people think of poaching, they picture the slaughter of an African elephant for its ivory tusks or the butchering of a rhino for its horn. What many people don’t realize, however, is that poaching happens in our own backyard, too. Last month, a Pennsylvania man was sentenced to pay $250,000 after admitting to taking thousands of diamondback terrapins (a type of turtle) from a New Jersey marsh and illegally shipping them in unmarked packages to people who wanted them as pets.
Deer poaching is an ongoing problem. (Did you hear the one about the woman who bragged on a dating app about poaching a deer to a potential date, who turned out to be a game warden?) And in Florida, thousands of songbirds are illegally trapped each year for singing competitions and to become pets. Our reporter Dina Fine Maron covered that story over the summer. National Geographic’s project Wildlife Watch covers all these types of stories, both in the U.S. and around the world. Check it out here.
Do you get this daily? If not, sign up here or forward to a friend.
Exclusive poll: Americans want to save more endangered species
A National Geographic/Morning Consult poll finds overwhelming support for increasing the number of endangered species. By a 10-1 margin, the poll of 2,200 Americans supported adding more protected species rather than saying too many species were on the list. About 15 percent said the number was about right, and another 18 percent didn’t know or had no opinion.
Click on this interactive map to see an animal that is endangered in your state.
Today in a minute
Too smart for captivity? Charismatic and mediagenic, octupuses “are the ultimate nerd animals," says marine biologist James Wood. But Wood and other experts fear that too much enthusiasm may endanger two of the most dazzling species: the striped or wunderpus octopus (discovered in the 1980s) and its cousin, the mimic octopus (identified only in 1998).
A graveyard discovery. For animal species, cemeteries have provided an invaluable sanctuary. And, as National Geographic reports, an unexpected zone for discovery. The latest: A new beetle species has been found in New York City’s Green-Wood Cemetery. “We never expected to find something new to science,” said Marc DiGirolomo, a biological technician at the U.S. Forest Service. The wood-boring jewel beetle, smaller than a grain of rice, with an exoskeleton of olive green and red, was discovered in the cuttings of a European beech tree.
Learning from pigeons and rats. How do they survive in hostile urban habitats? What clues could they give humans who will have to endure climate change? Evolutionary biologist Jason Munshi-South acknowledges a dark reality ahead. “I don't want to call it capitulation,” he tells WIRED, “but it's kind of reconciling with our changed world."
Your Instagram photo of the day
Welcome in! This huge Galápagos giant tortoise is hanging out by a home in the highlands of the Galápagos Islands. During the dry season, tortoises often clamber far and wide for water, even around settlements. Read the story by Thomas Peschak on our Instagram page.
Are you one of our 124 million Instagram followers? (If not, follow us now.) +
The big takeaway
What does Jane Goodall consider a breakthrough moment in her life? “The chimpanzee I called ... David Greybeard taking a palm nut from my outstretched hand, dropping it, but then gently squeezing my fingers—that’s how chimpanzees commonly reassure each other. We communicated, perfectly. At that moment I knew I was committed to understanding and protecting chimpanzees for my life," Goodall says in our new book, Women: The National Geographic Image Collection.
Want a newsletter every day?
Tomorrow in the PHOTOGRAPHY newsletter, Whitney Johnson, our director of visual and immersive experiences, describes the combination of skills (including patience) required to create lasting images. If you’re not a subscriber, sign up here.
One last glimpse
Saved in the Amazon. Here a volunteer cradles Valentina, an anteater that had third-degree burns from the fires in the Amazon. Volunteers have been trying to save many animals from the devastation. Valentina emerged from a coma, resumed eating, and is on the road to recovery.