Conservation Watch’s round-up of the week’s news on national parks, protected areas and conservation in the Global South.
For regular updates, follow @conserwatch on Twitter.
15 August 2016
Threats to protected areas jeopardize global freshwater supplies
By Sophie Bertazzo, humanature Conservation International blog, 15 August 2015
Where does our water come from? For nearly two out of three people on Earth, part of the answer is protected areas upstream from our homes. A paper published in the June edition of Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems presents a picture of the threats facing fresh water supplied by protected areas, and what that means for the billions of people who depend on it.
In this interview, Ian Harrison, the paper’s lead author, co-chair of the Freshwater Task Force of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas and Conservation International’s senior manager of freshwater science and policy, explains why it’s crucial that we reduce threats to freshwater ecosystems by improving management of protected areas.
NGOs call for total ban on ivory trade
By Huang Shan, China.org.cn, 15 August 2016
The Chinese government’s efforts to crack down on the illegal ivory trade in the domestic market have paid off, as demand and prices of ivory products in China have consistently decreased in the last two years, revealed an ongoing study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The preliminary research results from a feasibility report on banning commercial ivory trade in China were announced by Xu Yang, officer of wildlife trade for the WWF, in Beijing on Aug. 12. The research, co-launched by the WWF and the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (TRAFFIC), aims to provide technical references for the Chinese government in policy-making.
[Cayman Islands] Full National Conservation Law now in force
By James Whittaker, Cayman Compass, 15 August 2016
The final sections of the National Conservation Law, including a legal requirement for threats to the environment to be considered in planning decisions, came into force Monday.
The newly implemented legislation also includes provision for the National Conservation Council to require developers to carry out an environmental impact assessment at their own expense for certain major projects.
The implementation of Parts 5 and 7 mean that nearly three years after its unanimous approval in the Legislative Assembly, the full National Conservation Law is now substantially in effect. Since the law passed the House, the Department of Environment and National Conservation Council have been working behind the scenes to put the infrastructure in place to ensure it can be carried out effectively.
16 August 2016
Rhinos are among the species a meeting on illegal trade will focus on
By Pericles Anetos, Business Day, 16 August 2016
Five animal species will be the focus of the upcoming Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) meeting due to take place in Johannesburg at the end of September.
Elephants, rhinos, tigers, sharks and pangolins will be discussed at the meeting, where delegates will vote on 62 proposals to regulate the trade in specific species and agenda items aimed at boosting the fight against wildlife crime.
Colman O’Criodain, a wildlife trade policy analyst for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said at a media briefing in Johannesburg that while there were proposals to legalise the trade of rhino horn and ivory, this would not solve the issue.
17 August 2016
[Argentina] Puma On The Loose In Iguazú Leads To Brief National Park Closure
By Rachel Stone, The Bubble, 17 August 2016
Wilderness is “wilderness” because it is wild, and wild things by nature do not stay within their bounds. Most of the allure of exploring national parks and jungles comes from the proximity to the wildlife, the immensity of nature and the tiny bit of fear that at any minute the wilderness could swallow you whole. But when nature pokes its head out from the box we’ve put it in, we tend to lose our shit.
Tourists visiting the Iguazú Falls National Park in Misiones Province yesterday afternoon were surprised by the presence of an adult puma, which prompted park authorities to close off the park to visitors. While the large mountain cat has proved able to hide behind three synonymous names in the English language, it could not successfully camouflage itself within the jungle. The cougar was also seen early in the morning near the Sheraton Hotel, according to an article in Misiones Online, and on July 25th, a family from Buenos Aires spotted it while walking through the park’s Macuco Trail.
China completes plan for national panda park
Xinhua, 17 August 2016
A plan to build a national park for giant pandas has been completed and will be submitted to the central government for approval, authorities said Wednesday.
The provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu have determined the area for the park, said Yao Sidan, head of Sichuan’s provincial forestry department. Drafting of the plan began in April.
Can a new park save China’s big cats?
By Kathleen McLaughlin, Science, 17 August 2016
Feng Limin follows the lives of China’s scarcest wild cats like a soap opera fan. He has never encountered one, but thanks to a network of motion-sensing cameras in the forests along China’s borders with Russia and North Korea, the biologist has glimpsed a total of 27 Siberian tigers and 42 Amur leopards as they breed and prey on deer and wild boar. The spying has paid off for the big cats. What Feng and his colleagues at Beijing Normal University (BNU) have learned has helped convince the central government to create a 15,000-squarekilometer national park—60% larger than Yellowstone—that could save the cats from extinction.
[Costa Rica] Marine conservation award to be named after murdered conservationist Jairo Mora
By Michael Krumholtz, The Tico Times, 17 August 2016
A new award will honor the memory of Costa Rican turtle conservationist Jairo Mora, who was just 26 years old when he was murdered by poachers on Playa Moín in 2013.
The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) Marine Section announced Wednesday the creation of the Jairo Mora Sandoval Award, which will be given to marine conservationists who exemplify bravery in activism, public engagement or scientific education.
The annual award will include a cash donation to the organization associated with each year’s winner. Leaders of the SCB Marine Section said they hope this new honor can increase awareness about the persecution of conservationists.
[Kenya] CITES urged to quash possibility of legal ivory trade
By Gilbert Koech, The Star, 17 August 2016
Local and international wildlife NGOs have petitioned CITES to protest African elephants and extinguish any possibility of legalised ivory trade.
They have asked parties to the convention to list elephants on CITES Appendix I, therefore providing them the highest standard of international protection.
“With about 400,000 elephants remaining in Africa, strong action is needed now to save these animals,” they said, adding that nearly 100 African elephants are slaughtered each day for their ivory.
They noted that elephants in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe should be listed in this appendix in order to prohibit international commercial ivory trade.
Tanzania: Top Officials Involved in Poaching – Report
The Citizen, 17 August 2016
High-level corruption has aided wildlife poaching in East Africa as their trophies fetch good money in black markets overseas.
The inadequate number of skilled rangers to confront the heavily armed gangsters is also to blame for the escalating killings of wildlife, especially elephants. These are among a raft of findings by a committee responsible for natural resources and tourism with the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala).
The report which was tabled before the House for debate on Tuesday said corrupt officials, in Tanzania and Kenya in particular, could have been compromised through bribes to allow the killings of wildlife and the illegal export of trophies.
18 August 2016
How the African Wildlife Capital provides conservation finance
CNBC, 18 August 2016
African Wildlife Foundation’s Patrick Bergin talks about the need to balance economic growth with conservation in Africa.
[India] End near for Ranthambore national park’s famous tigress Machhli?
By Anindo Dey, The Times of India, 18 August 2016
Once the queen of all she surveyed at the Ranthambore national park, legendary tigress Machhli, or T-16, might just be on the last leg of her long journey. Machhli, probably the world’s most photographed tigress, has not eaten for the past five days and has been lying quietly on a ground on the fringes of the park.
“A team of the forest department along with a doctor has been posted on a constant watch over Machhli. We are trying to provide her some food too but she has not eaten at all,” said YN Sahu, field director, Ranthambore.
Sri Lankan mangroves respond to conservation plan
By Amantha Perera, SciDev.net, 18 August 2016
A year after Sri Lanka launched a mangrove conservation plan with funds from a U.S. conservation group about half of its 37,000 hectares of mangrove forests are in a various stage of revival, officials say.
With US$ 3.4 million from the California-based Seacology and manpower and other support from the Sri Lankan government, some 283 community organisations have been engaged in the work of conserving and replanting mangrove forests. The national conservation body, Small Fisheries Foundation, is the local implementing partner.
19 August 2016
Discovery Channel’s ‘Hello World’ Lets Music Stars Go Wild About Species, Habitats
By Marj Galas, Variety, 19 August 2016
Discovery Channel developed “Hello World” as a bid to shake up the nature-programming genre. The six-part series explores species and habitats through the eyes of six musical artists: Usher, Christina Aguilera, Steven Tyler, Ellie Goulding, Joan Jett, and Dave Matthews. Produced in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and Radical Media, the show uses the artists’ lyrics, music, and commentary as a soundtrack for footage of animals in the wild.
Girl, 12, branded ‘murderer’ after posing with giraffe and zebra she killed
By Ashitha Nagesh, Metro.co.uk, 19 August 2016
A 12-year-old girl has posted photos of herself hunting giraffes and zebras, sparking outrage online.
Aryanna Gourdin and her dad Eli travelled from Utah in the US to South Africa specifically to hunt big game.
While there, she posted a photo on Facebook of herself posing next to a dead zebra with a pink quiver and set of arrows.
‘One of my dream hunts for sure,’ she wrote.
From machetes to maps: How a ‘red line’ eased conflict in Bolivia’s Amazon
By Candido Pastor, humanature Conservation International blog, 19 August 2016
In a patch of Bolivian jungle, longstanding conflict over competing land claims had hit a boiling point, threatening to erupt into violence. A recent case study from Conservation International (CI), produced by CI’s Policy Center for Environment and Peace, shows how an explosive situation was calmed through willpower, trust and a simple map. CI’s Candido Pastor gives a firsthand account.
I remember the first time I made the four-day trek into the heart of Bolivia’s Carrasco National Park (CNP) 12 years ago like it was yesterday. I knew it would be a challenge to help communities agree on the boundaries of the protected area, given the high level of tension between indigenous communities, illegal migrant farmers and park authorities over land rights, but I was unprepared for just how intense our first meeting would be.
[China] Are Wildlife Trafficking Punishments Starting to Fit the Crimes?
By Richard Conniff, takepart.com, 19 August 2016
Get caught smuggling illegal wildlife in most countries in the world, and you can expect a slap on the wrist. A very gentle slap at that.
“Somebody could take an AK-47 and just shoot up a pod of pilot whales,” one frustrated investigator recently complained. “That’s the same as a traffic offense.”
It’s why wildlife crime has become a $10 billion–a–year industry: It’s safer than robbing a bank. It’s more lucrative than selling drugs.
So it should be big news that China, the leading market for wildlife trafficking worldwide, has just handed out jail sentences ranging from 21 months to 11 years to seven defendants caught smuggling hundreds of Madagascar’s critically endangered radiated tortoises.
[India] Once upon a time, a tiger called Machli ruled Ranthambore National Park
By Mohammad Hamza Khan, The Indian Express, 19 August 2016
She first caught the eyes of forest officials in the monsoon of 1997, impressing them with her majestic looks and feline agility.
Labelled T-16, she was usually found near the water bodies of Ranthambore National Park and soon inherited the title “Lady of the Lake” from her mother.
It was just one of the many titles she would earn over the next few years, apart from “legendary”, “iconic” and “queen mother”.
“Machli — a marking on her face gave her the name — would hear the noise of jeeps and come strolling,” said Rishikesh, a forest guard who cremated her on Thursday afternoon in the presence of top district officials.
[Malaysia] Sarawak establishes 2.2M acres of protected areas, may add 1.1M more
By Mike Gaworecki, mongabay.com, 19 August 2016
Sarawak is making good on last year’s pledge by Chief Minister Adenan Satem to prioritize the protection of Sarawak’s tropical forests and the orangutans that inhabit them.
The Malaysian state on the island of Borneo will open a Department of National Parks and Wildlife by January of next year, and is in the process of creating several new protected areas that encompass all of its orangutan habitat.
The Malay Mail reports that, according to State Forestry Department director Sapuan Ahamad, the department’s structure and organization have been prepared and will be presented to the government for formal approval.
20 August 2016
Harry’s Tusk Force One: Deep in the African bush, we track the Prince’s daring mission to thwart elephant poachers
By Barbara Jones, The Daily Mail, 20 August 2016
Swooping perilously low over the African savannah, Prince Harry brings the skill and courage he honed as a war-zone pilot to the battle to save elephants.
The daring Prince has been playing a key role in relocating the endangered species to a wildlife sanctuary in northern Malawi.
Our exclusive photographs show Harry, wearing khaki shorts, a dark green T-shirt and baseball cap, sitting in the co-pilot’s seat as the aircraft hovers above the vast Liwonde National Park.
[Malaysia] Sarawak Forestry identifies 19 crocodile removal zones in the state
By Lian Cheng, The Borneo Post, 20 August 2016
Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) has identified 19 crocodile removal zones (CRZ) in the state to minimise animal-human conflicts.
To ensure the safety of the residents of the areas, crocodiles found in CRZ are allowed to be removed through relocation or culling.
“Crocodiles are protected under the provisions of Section 29 of the Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998. The capture, killing, removal and/or disposal of crocodiles in the CRZ is sanctioned under Section 41 and 42 of the same ordinance,” said SFC Deputy General Manager, Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation Division, Oswald Braken Tisen.
[Philippines] Enchanted River, Tinuy-an Falls eyed as protected natural parks
The Manila Times, 20 August 2016
Two of the country’s fastest-growing ecotourism havens – Enchanted River and Tinuy-an Falls – are being eyed to be tagged as protected natural parks to preserve their unique physical and biological features.
Rep. Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur filed House Bills 1903 and 2116, proposing that the two wonders of nature in his home province be added to the national registry of 240 protected areas.
He said Enchanted River and Tinuy-an Falls should be the focus of aggressive conservation efforts for the future generations.
[Uganda] New Tech Increases Detection Of Illegal Acts In Protected Areas
By Ethan Harfenist, vocativ.com, 20 August 2016
A team of scientists has developed a new method of detecting illegal activities in protected areas by as much as 250 percent. Using a suite of software and training tools that allow for the monitoring and evaluation of ranger patrols within a particular site, the team was able to predict where illegal activities were happening and deliver resources accordingly.
The new methodology largely owes its success to the use of a tool called SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool), which improves patrolling methods by providing training materials, software, and patrolling standards to managers in protected areas. SMART is able to be downloaded for free and is increasingly being deployed around the world: it is being used in 43 countries and more than 120 protected areas already.
For example, in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth Protected Area, the country’s most popular national park, detections of illegal activity such as wildlife poaching and cattle encroachment have increased by as much as 250 percent—with no change in ranger resources.
21 August 2016
The threat to the world’s largest wild animals is much greater than we thought
By Peter Lindsey, The Conversation, 21 August 2016
A group of leading conservationists has declared that an extinction crisis is facing the world’s largest wildlife. In a new report titled “Saving the World’s Terrestrial Megafauna”, they found that 59% of the world’s largest carnivores, including big cats, and 60% of the world’s largest herbivores, face dramatic population and range losses. The Conversation Africa’s Samantha Spooner spoke to one of the authors, Peter Lindsey, about the findings.
An African safari in Kenya is easier and safer than you think
By Chris Quinn, cleveland.com, 21 August 2016
My wife and I stood gape-jawed earlier this month as we watched a mother cheetah stalk and chase a Thompson’s gazelle – unsuccessfully – while her two cubs watched from atop an abandoned termite mound.
We saw a young lion leap from a thicket into a pack of three dozen impalas, to the surprise of the lions as much as the to the impalas. And we saw days-old elephants and hippos nuzzle their mothers and frolic in Kenyan parks.
We went on an African safari and had an experience so rich and memorable that we think everyone should try it, and we put together this package of information to make it easier for anyone to plan.
[Nepal] Encroachment unchecked: Citwan National Park
The Kathmandu Post, 21 August 2016
More than 1,200 hectares of forest land belonging to the Chitwan National Park (CNP) has been encroached upon at various places, according to park officials.
Former chief conservation officer Kamaljung Kunwar said park land is being encroached upon at the behest of spiritual leader Swami Kamalnayanacharya. Some swathes of land in the buffer zones also have been encroached upon, he said, adding several infrastructure such as concrete houses, cowsheds and walls have been erected in around 10 hectares of land that falls in the protected area.
The Triveni-based Gajendramoksha Dham along the Narayani river has been considered a religious site since the 1970s where Swami Kamalnayanacharya started his activities in 1999. “Construction of schools, ashrams and roads by clearing forests has increased in the recent years,” said Kunwar.
[Nepal] Guidelines on conservation and reconstruction of heritages enacted
The Himalayan Times, 21 August 2016
The government has enacted the ‘Basic Guidelines on Conservation and Reconstruction of Heritages Damaged by Earthquake, 2016’ on the recommendation of experts to address the issues raised after the earthquake of April 25, 2015.
The earthquake and subsequent aftershocks had killed nearly 8,900 people and injured 22,000 others besides destroying or damaging tens of thousands of public and private structures. The devastating earthquake also caused a heavy loss to scores of historical and cultural heritages. According to the Department of Archaeology, more than 1,000 heritages of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Nuwakot and Gorkha, among other districts, suffered severe damage.
[Nepal] Three new Army posts for Babai Valley conservation
The Kathmandu Post, 21 August 2016
The Nepal Army has set up three posts in Babai Valley of the Bardiya National Park (BNP) for conservation of endangered wild species there. With this, the number of Army posts guarding the Babai valley has reached eight.
Five rhinos were translocated to Bardiya from Chitwan in March. Chief of the Rana Shardul Battalion Rajendra Panta said the soldiers were deployed to Chepang, Sodhkhola, Lamodamar, Ratamate, Gothi, Kalinara, Shivapur and Baspani areas.
[Peru] National parks must be for people, plants, pumas – not Big Oil
The Guardian, 21 August 2016
The creation of the 1.3 million hectare Sierra del Divisor National Park in the western Amazon in November 2015 generated considerable elation and Peruvian and international media coverage. Logging, gold-mining, coca cultivation and narco-trafficking were highlighted by some media as ongoing threats to the new park, but why such failure to acknowledge what is possibly, in the long-term, the most serious threat of all?
The sorry, alarming fact is that approximately 40% of the park is superimposed by an oil and gas concession run by a Canadian-headquartered company, Pacific Exploration and Production. This is despite Peru’s 1997 Law of Protected Natural Areas stating “the extraction of natural resources is not permitted” in parks, while 2001 regulations on Protected Natural Areas state “the exploitation of natural resources is prohibited.” In addition, Peru’s 1993 Constitution “obliges” the government “to promote the conservation of biological diversity and protected natural areas.”
[Philippines] Endangered ‘pawikan’ still at high risk
By AA Yaptinchay, Inquirer.net, 21 August 2016
Smuggling of Philippine wildlife has been in the news in Sabah. Twelve Filipinos were detained last month in Sandakan, Sabah, for trying to bring in 19,000 eggs of pawikan (marine turtles).
Romeo Trono, former head of the Pawikan Conservation Project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), says this is “probably the biggest haul of marine turtle eggs being transported by Filipinos and confiscated by the Sabah Marine Police during a single operation over the last 30 years.”
That’s about the length of time Trono, also a former country director of both the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines and Conservation International-Philippines, has spent working on marine turtle conservation issues in the country and in Southeast Asia.
[Rwanda] Kwita Izina gala dinner, auction to raise funds for conservation
The New Times, 21 August 2016
This year’s gorilla naming ceremony, commonly known as Kwita Izina, will comprise a fundraising gala dinner to raise funds for three very special conservation projects.
These are the Mountain Gorilla Skeletal Project, Imisambi Sanctuary for Grey Crowned Cranes and a Community Eco-Lodge on the outskirts of Akagera National Park.
According to the organisers, the objective of focusing on these projects is to have sustainable spaces for generations to preserve and learn about the once endangered species and the communities to become self-reliant. These conservation projects cut across the different aspects of Rwanda’s biodiversity.
Rwanda eyes tourism wealth from Gorilla conservation
New China, 21 August 2016
Rwanda has stepped up efforts to conserve endangered mountain gorillas in a bid to tap tourism revenues hinged on conservation.
The country is set to give names to 22 baby gorillas including a set of twins, born late last year and this year in an annual tourism conservation ceremony locally known as Kwita Izina.
The event slated for September 2, the 12th of its kind, expects thousands to witness the ceremony on the foot of the chilly volcanoes mountains, in Musanze District, Northern Province.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Belise Kaliza, chief tourism officer of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said that the annual event has been a success and continues to promote Rwanda’s tourism potential while conserving mountain gorillas.