Results of a recent wildlife survey led by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in the Democratic Republic of Congo suggests there are twice as many Grauer’s gorillas in parts of Maiko National Park than originally predicted. This is especially welcome news given that Grauer’s gorillas are among world’s most-endangered apes and face numerous threats to their survival, with only a few thousand still remaining. Their population is estimated to have plummeted as much as 80 percent in recent decades.
The greatest threat to Grauer’s gorillas and other wildlife in the region is poaching, which is largely fueled by the illegal trade in conflict minerals. In 2010, legislation was passed which required U.S. companies to disclose whether their products contained conflict minerals. Just this last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment that would defund this “conflict minerals rule.” If this measure is passed by the Senate, it will bring additional pressure to this species’ survival.
“Maiko is a huge park — with more than 10,000 square kilometers — and it is critical habitat to the future conservation of Grauer’s gorillas and many other species of wildlife,” says Dr. Damien Caillaud, the Fossey Fund’s research director for Congo. “Recent reports suggested as few as 15 gorillas remained. We hoped that if we looked for more gorillas there, we might find them. And we did.”
In the relatively small portion of the park that researchers were able to survey, they located evidence of more gorilla groups than expected and now estimate at least 30 gorillas live in that area, with likely more living throughout other areas of the park that have yet to be surveyed.
Maiko National Park is one of only two formally protected areas within the Grauer’s gorilla range. However, Maiko had not been surveyed for gorillas for many years, primarily as a result of security challenges in the region and the difficult terrain.
“We surveyed less than 1 percent of the park and found evidence that more gorillas exist there than has been recently suggested. This is very exciting and demonstrates the critical need for more surveys to fully understand how many gorillas remain as well as more conservation support for the park”, says Dr. Tara Stoinski, Fossey Fund president and CEO/chief scientist.
The survey team also found signs of chimpanzees, okapi, buffalo, duikers, giant pangolin, monkeys and other rare wildlife, as well as evidence of poachers and mining activity.
The Fossey Fund works to protect Grauer’s gorillas in a core area of their range outside national parks, by working with local communities and traditional landowners, and training local people to become gorilla trackers, with five teams now working regularly from a permanent base north of the town of Walikale.
Collaborating with local communities and authorities
The Maiko survey represents a collaborative effort between the Fossey Fund, the Congolese national park authorities (ICCN — Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature) and the local community living around the park. Fossey Fund’s Congo program director, Urbain Ngobobo, and research and conservation program manager, Escobar Binyinyi, worked with Maiko chief warden, M.A. Boji Dieudonné, to survey gorillas and other crucial wildlife in a 100-square kilometer section of the park.
A team of nine Fossey Fund field staff, as well as monitoring officers from Maiko/ICCN walked for several weeks in extremely difficult terrain, measuring signs of gorillas along pre-determined transects. They found good, fresh signs of the presence of gorillas, such as night nests, foot prints and food remains, suggesting there are two to three Grauer’s gorilla groups just in this area, says Dr. Caillaud.
“A few years ago, it was unimaginable that the community surrounding southern Maiko could make a joint patrol with ICCN,” says Ngobobo. “The survey we did was a strong signal showing that we can count on the community to save the remaining extremely endangered Grauer’s gorillas both inside the national parks and in the community forests.”
These findings are especially heartening as the Fossey Fund celebrates its 50th anniversary on Sept. 24, marking the day in 1967 when Dian Fossey founded the legendary Karisoke Research Center. But they are also very critical, given the potential de-funding of the conflict minerals rule, which has brought some progress and international attention to the mining situation in Congo.
With the Fossey Fund’s daily mountain gorilla patrols and 50 years of research all based out of Karisoke, it is known that intensive protection can save endangered gorillas. Indeed, mountain gorillas are the only wild ape whose numbers are stable.
That’s why we are raising funds this month to protect the future of all gorillas! Because of this urgency, our board is matching all donations through Sept. 24, up to $20,000.
Do you have a favorite bird? Is it the bold blue jay, or the striking red cardinal? Perhaps it’s the mischievous raven, or the sweet singing sparrow? Maybe you don’t know what it’s called, or even what it looks like, but you know its song as it fills your ears with a familiar refrain. Birds connect us to nature, regardless of where we live; from city dwelling pigeons to dramatic California Condors, birds are an ever-present aspect of our lives, but their numbers are dwindling. You don’t have to be an avid birder to enjoy their presence, but if we fail to appreciate them in our everyday lives, then we risk taking them for granted and losing them forever.
Fostering a love of the natural world can take years, especially now when more of us live in cities than ever before. Programs like BirdNote cultivate a love of nature with a wide audience, helping to bring the outside into our homes and deliver the delights of nature in small, auditory morsels.
The BirdNote radio program has been engaging listeners of all ages for over ten years, sharing daily two-minute stories about birds and the environment with audiences all across the country. These uplifting little vignettes are just the right length for everyone to enjoy, and the perfect remedy to ‘news fatigue’.
BirdNote and Song Bird Coffee
Song Bird Coffee has been partnered with the American Birding Association for 20 years and together we have raised over $150,000 in support of the ABA and Partners in Flight, which funds ornithological studies of migratory birds in Central America. Together, we are making a difference by promoting citizen science, ecotourism, and sustainable Bird Friendly farming practices, and now we are proud to be reaching new audiences by sponsoring BirdNote.
By working together, Song Bird Coffee, the American Birding Association, and BirdNote are committed to making the world a better place, for us and for the birds.
What’s the best way to celebrate National Honey Bee Day? Raise awareness for the plight of the bees – and learn more about what you can do to help. Take a moment to read the Friends of the Earth bee action page on protecting our pollinators, and share it on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels. This is a great way to raise awareness and inform your friends. Continue to scroll through that page for more information on pesticides, and the way neonicotinoids are hurting our bees.
Bees and other pollinators are responsible for 1 in 3 bites of food we eat. Without them, grocery stores would run short of some of our most important and nutritious foods. Coffee? You’ll need to cut back. Nuts and berries for breakfast? I don’t think so. A yummy salad? Your bowl will be nearly empty.
Pollinators are in great peril; their populations are declining around the world. Friends of the Earth works to eliminate pollinator-toxic pesticides like neonicotinoids and glyphosate and shift to organic farming systems that are healthier for bees, butterflies, people and the planet.
Did you know that Thanksgiving Coffee Company has it’s own beehive now? Back in June, bees swarmed in our apple orchard, and members of the Bee Bold Mendocino and local Mendocino Coast Beekeeping group helped us guide the swarm into our own beehive. Take a look at the video below!
Going to camp and spending time in nature should not be a luxury afforded to the few, but the birthright of all Americans. More people live in cities now than ever before, and access to wild places is limited. We need the next generation to care about open spaces, clean water, and fresh air, even while they live in a city, which is why it is our responsibility to insure that kids from all walks of life have access to the great outdoors.
The Mendocino Woodlands, a registered National Historic Landmark, is one the original 46 Recreation Demonstration Areas planned and built as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. Today, it is one of only two RDAs still in operation, serving its original purpose of group camping and outdoor education, without interruption and virtually unaltered, since opening in 1938.
Each year, over 1,000 youths attend the various Mendocino Woodlands Camps. For many, this will be their first time exploring under a canopy of redwood trees, or seeing the night sky filled with stars. During their stay they will learn about flowers, and trees, and wild animals. They will sing songs, play games, make friends, and most of all, they will have happy memories of the great outdoors to cherish forever. Together, we must all be invested in the outdoor education of our kids, and now you, too, can lend a hand.
After many years and countless miles, the loyal Woodlands flatbed truck is ready for retirement. Without this vital piece of equipment, they will be unable to transport supplies in and out of the remote campground. The Mendocino Woodlands has served the community through thick and thin for almost 80 years, and now they need our help.
Thanksgiving Coffee is a proud supporter of the Mendocino Woodlands. In addition to their Cause Coffee, we are spreading the word about their fund-raising campaign for a new truck. We hope you will consider a small investment in the next generation by pitching in, or buying a bag or two of their Restore & Explore Cause Coffee. Lend a hand and raise your cup to the Mendocino Woodlands, a true American legacy.
May Gray. June Gloom. Fog-ust. Summer fog on the Mendocino Coast is so much more than an atmospheric condition; it’s a season. While some places may also experience seasonal fog, what happens here every summer begs to be experienced first hand in order to be truly appreciated. All visibility is completely obstructed behind the uniforming haze of grey, while the damp, heavy air smothers the breeze and mutes all sound. Standing in the middle a thick a summer fog is a disorientating form of sensory deprivation, and it’s no wonder how these conditions lead to what is considered to be the most significant shipwreck on the west coast.
On a foggy summer evening in 1850, a sailing brig named the Frolic struck the reef just north of Point Cabrillo, forever changing the fate of the California coast by leading to the discovery of the towering redwood forests. The lumber harvested in the years to follow would build the city of San Francisco and lead to the creation of towns and mills all along the Mendocino coast. But first, they would need a guiding light to prevent other ships from suffering the fate of the Frolic.
The Point Cabrillo Light Station was first illuminated in 1909, and it’s light shone bright thanks to a modern marvel known as the Fresnel lens. The creation of the Fresnel lens was an enormous technological breakthrough in its time, and one that we still see today. The Point Cabrillo Light Station houses one of only three Fresnel lenses in the United States made by the English firm Chance Brothers, and one of the few still in operation today.
Thanks to the stalwart commitment of Point Cabrillo Light Keepers Association, this beautiful and unique piece of history remains in full operation, but it’s no small task to keep the light on. Over it’s 100 year history, the lighthouse has been threatened with closure or decommissioning on more than one occasion, and each time the community has rallied in support of our shining light. Thanksgiving Coffee is proud to play a small role in preserving this priceless legacy with the Light Keepers Blend fundraising coffee. Clear away the morning fog with a cup of coffee, while supporting a lighthouse that does the same.
Happy National Lighthouse Day!
Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup.
Today is #NationalLighthouseDay and we are celebrating this piece of art along our Mendocino coastline: the Point…
When the body of an adult killer whale (Orcinus orca) washed ashore in 2015, the community of Fort Bragg was presented with a unique opportunity. In the wake of a tragic death, a project was born that could benefit the town and further our understanding of the sea creatures that live along our shoreline.
Beached orcas are exceptionally rare and their bodies are a treasure trove of valuable scientific information. In a combined effort between the Noyo Center for Marine Science, the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, the California Academy of Sciences, Humboldt State University, and California State Parks, scientists and volunteers acted quickly to perform a necropsy and recover valuable tissue samples. Two years later and the Noyo Center’s Orca Project is on track to reconstruct the 26 foot long skeleton this summer for everyone to enjoy.
Over the next four weeks, the rec center/basketball court behind Town Hall has been transformed into a marine mammal articulation workshop, led by master articulators Mike de Roos, Michi Main, and Lee Post from Alaska. People have come from far and wide to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity, and there is something there for everyone. Young kids attending summer camp are learning about marine mammals and ecosystems, while high schoolers assemble their own porpoise skeleton. Grad students are taking measurements and gathering data, artists are photographing and sketching bones, all the while locals and tourists walk among them, drinking it all in, amazed by all the activity.
It takes a village to raise a whale skeleton; from recovering, transporting, cleaning, and housing the bones, to assembling the skeleton and raising it up for all to see. Everyone has a role to play, including Thanksgiving Coffee, who is keeping everyone working on the project well caffeinated. We are so enthusiastic about this amazing endeavor that we have also created a special Orca Project fundraising coffee to help support the mission of the Noyo Center.
It seems that our whole community has coalesced around whalebones, and Thanksgiving Coffee is no exception. Upon its completion, our small town will host one of the largest and most complete Orca skeletons in the world; something that the whole community can take pride in, because it took the whole community to achieve.
For the Birds is a blog series from Thanksgiving Coffee Company, highlighting one of the 200 Neotropical migratory birds who rely on shade grown coffee during their winter migration. In January, we featured the Cedar Waxwing, in February, the Magnolia Warbler, March was the Blackburnian Warbler, and to celebrate the re-release of our Song Bird Decaf, we are featuring the Altamira Oriole!
Song Bird Decaf Medium Roast Coffee
The striking orange and black plumage of the Altamira Oriole (icterus gularis) graces the label of our newly re-released Song Bird Coffee Decaf, and with good reason. This delicious Smithsonian Migratory Bird Certified coffee is decaffeinated with a clean, all-natural mountain water process in the Chiapas region of southern Mexico, home of the Altamira Oriole.
The Altamira is a large oriole and builder of the longest nest of any bird in North America. In the United States their range is limited to the Rio Grande Valley of southern most Texas, but their nests are a common sight throughout Mexico and Central America.
The female bird uses the inner bark of trees, retama leaves, various grasses, and occasionally Spanish moss and plastic twine to create one of nature’s architectural marvels. Over the course of several weeks, she painstakingly weaves a two-foot long basket that hangs over an open space, road, or river, suspending her fragile eggs thirty feet above the ground.
While many species of birds specialize in hiding their nests from the eyes of predators, the Altamira Oriole takes a different approach by building a home that is wildly conspicuous, but impossible to reach.
All of Thanksgiving’s organically certified coffees are shade grown, and a select few carry the Bird Friendly gold seal of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. This certification ensures that tropical “agroforests” are preserved and migratory birds can find a healthy haven to eat and rest as they travel the hundreds of miles from your backyard to the coffee farms producing the beans you so enjoy every morning.
You don’t need binoculars to find a coffee that protects forests, helps wildlife and supports the efforts of the American Birding Association; just look for the Songbird Coffee with the Altamira Oriole on the front.
National Trails Day was just last week, but we never miss a chance to get outside and enjoy this gorgeous Spring weather. This Saturday is National Get Outdoors Day, and you don’t have to tell us twice! This weekend, we’re all about the Mendocino Woodlands. Just about six miles out from the village of Mendocino, you get a chance to step into a the Redwood forest.
The Mendocino Woodlands is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has been operating and maintaining the park since 1949. The Park is a National Historic Landmark built as a Recreation Demonstration Area by the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. The park boasts over 700 acres of redwood trees and accompanying wildlife, along Big River. This spot is actually the oldest group camping facility in the United States.
We created Restore & Explore as a Cause Coffee, benefiting this beautiful area. For every purchase, 25% is donated directly back to the Mendocino Woodlands, and helps keep this forest pristine.
Thanksgiving Coffee, an industry leader in social and environmental justice for over forty years, stands in defense of our wild horses. The vanguard of fair trade shade-grown coffee, Thanksgiving has helped their nonprofit partners raise much-needed funds to champion their missions through the Cause Coffee fundraising program. And now, Thanksgiving is proud to support the efforts of the American Wild Horse Campaign (AMWC) with the release of Wild Grounds Coffee.
Save Wild Horses
Today, both livestock and wild horses have the right to roam the range, but the political power of the cattle ranchers is stronger then the political power of wild horses. In the forty years since a bill was passed by congress to protect the wild horses, moneyed interests have worked tirelessly to chip away at it. Now, the use of our publicly owned grazing lands is being prioritized to create market value for ranging cattle, which only provides for 3% of America’s beef consumption.
Unable to cull the herds or sell them for slaughter, the BLM began to round up what they considered to be an excess population. Today 35,000 horses, more than their entire population in the 1970’s, are kept in government holding pens. Not to be killed, yet never again to be free; this is a terrible fate to befall the national symbol of perseverance and freedom.
“The whole thing is cruel and lacks any sense of the American Spirit”, says Paul Katzeff, CEO of Thanksgiving Coffee and Past President of The Specialty Coffee Association of America, “We just gotta do something about the suffering to restore our own sense of freedom. Can you imagine the conditions? Thirty-five thousand wild horses in shadeless pens in 100 degree heat waiting to die?”
The American Wild Horse Campaign
The American Wild Horse Campaign is a champion for America’s wild horses and burros and they have been calling on Congress to reform the current ‘holding pen’ policies. Not only would such methods keep these animals in the wild, where they belong, it would also save taxpayers millions of dollars annually by no longer funding the removal of wild horses from the range and stockpiling them in government holding facilities and paying for their feed and water and medical needs.
Thanksgiving Coffee Company, 2017’s Roaster of the Year, is sending Wild Grounds coffee out into the country with the mission to raise funds and educate others about the plight of our wild horses. Together, we will stand in defense of the mustangs who have an inalienable right to roam the western landscape, just as we stand up against those who would profit from their incarceration and eradication.
We invite you to join us. Stand up for America’s wild horses and the pioneer spirit we all share. Order a package of award winning Wild Grounds coffee and you are not just supporting the horses; you are also supporting fair trade for the farmers, organic shade-grown coffee that preserve rich jungles forests, and the ethical standards of a certified B corporation. Since 1972, we have been proud to bring you a beautiful cup of coffee that tastes just as good as it feels.
Today is Endangered Species Day, and we’re asking you to stand with Thanksgiving Coffee and our partner organizations to save our wild creatures. In honor of Endangered Species Day, send a package of these coffees to a friend, or sign up for a monthly subscription to keep your donations going.