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.
IUCN, August 2016
Forests are high on the international stage and are being recognised as a key element in helping achieve the development agenda. But it doesn’t end there. How will governments, organisations, communities, indigenous groups, researchers, and everyone in between, put these goals into action?
It begins with knowledge and evidence, through discussion and agreement, to building partnerships that bolster tangible action. And ensuring we have the right tools to make it happen.
Following the Forest Journey at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai’i is your best opportunity to put these pieces together: spanning multiple workshops, knowledge cafés and pavilion events over the four days of the Forum, the Journey will bring together participants from across the public and private sectors, civil society, NGOs, students, media, and more.
22 August 2016
[Myanmar] Zalone designated a conservation zone
By Kyi Kyi Sway, Myanmar Times, 22 August 2016
Zalone Mountain is to be declared a conservation zone, MPs have been informed. In response to a question from Sagaing Region MP U Khin Maung Win (NLD; Sagaing 7), Conservation Minister U Ohn Win told the Amyotha Hluttaw on August 15 that the move would now go ahead.
U Win Naing Thaw, a senior official from the forestry department’s Nature and Wildlife Conservation Department, said it would take about a year to establish the zone, in which local residents would be able to make use of forest flora and fauna. However, he added, potential land ownership disputes would also have to be cleared up.
[Peru] Welsh charity helps protect part of Amazon rainforest
By Steffan Messenger, BBC News, 22 August 2016
An area of rainforest in South America, roughly the size of Wales, is set to be protected with help of people in Wales.
The Size of Wales charity told BBC Wales it had raised enough donations to take on a new project in Peru.
Together with the charity’s work in Guyana, it means some two million hectares of rainforest in the Amazon basin will be secured.
It comes with the eyes of the world on the region for the Rio Olympics and Paralympics in Brazil.
[Philippines] ‘Protect Mindanao’s Enchanted River, Little Niagara Falls’
The Standard, 22 August 2016
Two of the country’s fastest-growing ecotourism havens–Enchanted River and Tinuy-an Falls–are being eyed for tagging as “protected natural parks” to preserve their unique physical and biological features and shield them from potentially destructive human exploitation.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel has filed House Bills 1903 and 2116, proposing to add the two wonders of nature, both located in his home province, to the national registry of 240 protected areas.
“No effort must be spared to conserve the magical river and the majestic falls, both of which are now clearly in danger of degradation on account of unchecked human activities, spurred mainly by the growing number of local and foreign visitors,” Pimentel, a member of the House committee on natural resources, said.
[Zimbabwe] Ford promotes regional wildlife conservation
CAJ News, 22 August 2016
The Ford Motor Company has approved a US$25 000 grant to the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (VFWT) in Zimbabwe to promote wildlife conservation throughout the region.
The project is located in the town of Victoria Falls in north-west Zimbabwe, named after the world-famous waterfall on the Zambezi River that forms the natural border with neighbouring Zambia.
Working with local communities and partners, conservation education is one of the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust’s main projects.
23 August 2016
What conservation isn’t: Eating endangered lemurs to save them
By Kim Reuter, Marni Lafleur, and Tara Clarke, mongabay.com, 23 August 2016
“I can get you a lemur if you want one,” said a sun-hardened Malagasy man after finishing up an interview, via translator, about his history of hunting lemurs. He could get us a dead crowned lemur in a week, tops. Shocked, we declined; there are less than 10,000 individuals of this species left in the wild.
Although we have each worked in Madagascar for years on various different projects that study aspects of the illegal trade of lemurs, we are constantly reminded of the fine line that divides those who collect data on the illegal wildlife trade to understand it, and those who collect data to expose it.
How you can start to change the world: Adopt an orphaned elephant
By Zubin Amar, The Jakarta Post, 23 August 2016
Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed for its ivory. This is a devastating statistic that has resulted in 100,000 elephants being poached between 2010 and 2012.
In the harsh plains of Africa, elephants are forced to overcome many daunting trials. They must struggle in order to find water, and must face predators and poachers along the way. In late 2013, my sixth grade class was assigned to create a project ranging from a documentary to a fundraiser, with the purpose of changing the world.
While other students looked into refugees, environmental sustainability, or the prospect of a universal language, I was intrigued by the idea of protecting and fostering endangered animals. Inspired by groups such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), I began to look into the “adoption” of endangered animals.
[Cambodia] PM: New Stance on Forests
Khmer Times, 23 August 2016
Admitting to past failures and turning a blind eye to the ever-growing deforestation issue in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday announced the official transfer of the fisheries and forestry department to the control of the Agriculture Ministry.
The premier said combining the two government branches will streamline each department’s functions and boost their effectiveness in preventing the destruction of more of the country’s natural resources.
In addition to the merger, Mr. Hun Sen said he wants government officials in the agriculture department to meet with civil society stakeholders every three months, and once a year with the prime minister himself, to discuss forest and environment protection.
[India] Declaring a tiger as a man-eater has to be guided by Wildlife Act
The Hindustan Times, 23 August 2016
While teams from the Uttar Pradesh forest department and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are tracking the rogue tiger(s) in Lakhimpur Kheri that has reportedly killed seven persons in six months, the process of declaring the big cat as a man-eater is quite technical.
Usually, it is the state’s chief wildlife conservator who declares a tiger as man-eater. The declaration has to be backed by evidence that the tiger in question ambushed and killed humans not once but several times.
Former principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) RL Singh says, “Even if it is declared a man-eater, the first preference is to tranquilise the tiger and capture it. Such animals can be kept in the zoo. When attempts to tranquilise it fail, only then is the animal killed.”
[Tanzania] Condoms Filled with Chili Powder and Firecrackers Teach Elephants to Stay Away
By Kacey Deamer, Live Science, 23 August 2016
Conservationists are filling condoms with chili powder and firecrackers … to keep elephants away.
This scare tactic, part of a multistep alarm system, has been developed to protect farmland and villages from elephants, without harming the animals. Honeyguide Foundation, with support from The Nature Conservancy, has been training villagers to use the alarm system, and though unconventional, the chili condoms have already shown promise.
In northern Tanzania, the area around Tarangire National Park where elephants live has seen substantial civilization growth since the park was established in 1970. According to Matthew Brown, Africa region conservation director for The Nature Conservancy, the population density has more than doubled and much of the grasslands surrounding the park are being converted to farmland.
[USA] Protecting all creatures big and small
By Jordan Segundo, KITV, 23 August 2016
Two of Hawaii’s tiniest creatures are getting a big hand from the state. The native Kamehameha Butterfly and an endangered Hawaiian Tree snail, the Achatinella Lila are the focus of a new conservation effort.
“When you think about Hawaiian bio-diversity, its really the insets and the spiders, the snails that make up the bulk of Hawaiian bio-diversity,” said Dr. William Haines, DLNR Insect Ecologist.
Scientists with the The Department of Land and Natural Resources recently released 50 Achatinella Lila snails into the wild. The sails are the result of 20 years of rearing in the lab. Known as the “Gems of the Forest”, the rare and endangered Hawaiian Tree Snails are inching their way into a protected area in the Ewa Forest Reserve, it is only the second population of the sails in the wild.
24 August 2016
Study explores how new technologies can be linked to benefit conservation efforts
By Mike Gaworecki, mongabay.com, 24 August 2016
Habitat and biodiversity loss, poaching, and climate change are some of the most serious issues impacting protected ecosystems today — and they require more than just field surveys to be effectively countered, according to a study published in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation last month.
In the study, an international team of researchers makes the case that integrating multiple technologies could greatly increase our ability to study ecological patterns and processes across large landscapes and long timeframes, allowing for threats to protected areas to be better identified and mitigated.
Traditional field inventories and other sampling strategies will always be a crucial tool for ecologists seeking to understand local-scale processes and the functioning of ecosystems, the researchers note. But field surveys are costly, especially when maintained over many years, and they are difficult to do in the more remote regions of the world.
Why Some Countries Don’t Want to Do More to Protect Elephants
By Adam Cruise, National Geographic, 24 August 2016
That African elephants are in deep trouble has been widely publicized in recent years. They’re being poached at an unsustainable rate, and their numbers have dropped from 600,000 a decade ago to some 400,000 today.
That’s why next month’s meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is critical. CITES is the treaty signed by 182 countries that regulates wildlife trade across borders. In 1990 CITES banned the international trade in elephant ivory in an attempt to stem poaching, but the slaughter continues unabated.
Autumn for the Elephants: Combining Fashion and Conservation
The Phoblographer, 24 August 2016
Think about one of the coolest things in the world to–and how you’d feel if you got to photograph it. That’s pretty much what Jvdas Berra had the opportunity to do when he did a fashion shoot with elephants and models. This project is called Autumn for the Elephants, and tries to find a way to combine the raw power of nature with the refined beauty of fashion.
We’ve featured Jvdas on the site before, he’s a fashion photographer that combines aspects of fine art into his work and as you’ll see, also deeply cares about the environment.
Transforming Conservation in China with ‘Land Trust Reserves’
By Charles Bedford and Dr Jin Tong (The Nature Conservancy), National Geographic, 24 August 2016
In 2012 in China, the 27,325-acre Laohegou Land Trust Reserve, was designed to link several existing reserves in Sichuan’s Pingwu County—home to golden snub-nosed monkeys, Asian golden cats and the highest density of endangered giant pandas in the world.
But the Laohegou Reserve is significant not only for protecting the plants, animals and waters within its borders. It also signifies a new type of conservation, one modeled off the tools The Nature Conservancy has been using to protect 120 million acres over the past 60 years: the land trust and conservation easement. In the translation of “land trust” and “conservation easement” from English to Chinese, we ended up with a new term: “land trust reserve,” or she hui gong yi xing bao hu di.
[Malaysia] Sarawak sets out to Protect its Forests and Orangutans Better at Last
Clean Malaysia, 24 August 2016
Sarawak is moving ahead with plans to better protect the state’s forests and wildlife. Good news? Definitely.
Step 1: Come January next year, the Borneo state will have its own Department of National Parks and Wildlife. The new department’s tasks will include conserving local wildlife and rolling back illegal hunting, wildlife trafficking and bush meat selling. The department, says Sapuan Ahamad, director of Sarawak’s Forestry Department, “will in particular look after orangutans and the growing threat to humans from crocodiles threatened by food shortage and increasingly polluted rivers.”
Step 2: By 2020, the state will create several new totally protected areas (TPAs), totaling 1.3 million hectares. “We are in the process of creating another 31 new TPAs with a combined area of 451,819 hectares and the new department can play its part here,” Sapuan said. That the department should definitely do.
25 August 2016
Crossing the living boundary
By Thomas Lovejoy, The Guardian (The GEF Partner Zone), 25 August 2016
Humans are a curious species. We are remarkably adept at manipulating, even more so at communicating and thinking symbolically and analytically. The result is a multicultural fount of intellectual products – scientific, artistic, humanistic and more – all fostered by our innate social primate nature.
But there’s also a dangerous underside – an almost narcissistic and myopic focus on ourselves. We tend to be absorbed by mutual grooming, in various forms, while ignoring self-created environmental chimeras even to the point of crossing planetary boundaries – exceeding the conditions, basically, which nurtured the rise of our civilisation.
[Pakistan] ‘Govt to stamp out illegal wildlife trade’
The Express Tribune, 25 August 2016
Government is committed to stamping out illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan with an iron hand.
This was said by PML-N parliamentarian Moeen Wattoo on Wednesday at a national consultative policy workshop on “Tackling illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan through a national monitoring network”.
It was organised by the Ministry of Climate Change in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pak) and others.
He urged stakeholders to join the government’s efforts.
[Thailand] Farmers launch sting operation against elephant raids
Associated Press, 25 August 2016
To stop wild elephants rampaging through their crops, farmers often put up electric fences, set off firecrackers and even switch crops, from pineapples to pumpkins, which the jumbos don’t like much.
Trouble is, nothing much deters them. So, try Plan Bee.
In a pilot scheme run by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, farmers are deploying bees as a new line of defence, exploiting elephants’ documented fear of bee stings. The idea to play on the phobia came out of Oxford University research and has been used successfully for several years in Africa. It is now gaining a toehold in Asia.
The problem is quite severe in the eastern province of Chanthaburi, which has thick forests near farming communities that grow rice, cassava, pineapple and rubber.
26 August 2016
Critical Measures to be Debated at Global Conservation Event
By Andrew Wetzler, NRDC, 26 August 2016
In just a few days, I will be leading an NRDC delegation of lawyers, scientists, and policy experts to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, which will be held in the U.S. (Honolulu, Hawaii) for the first time in its 60-year history. The NRDC delegation will lobby for the passage of a series of resolutions aimed at saving some of the world’s most imperiled species.
The Congress is the world’s largest conservation event — bringing together more than 10,000 participants from all over the globe, including leaders from governments, environmental and conservation groups, businesses, UN agencies, and indigenous peoples. Together, they discuss and decide on solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental and development challenges. The IUCN, which hosts the conference and publishes the famous and influential “Red List” of threatened plants and animals, is the world’s main authority on the conservation status of species.
China is looking to the US as it builds its first national park system
By Carolyn Beeler, PRI, 26 August 2016
Throughout its 100-year history, US National Parks have served as a model for other countries trying to set up their own networks of protected spaces.
Now China is quietly planning its own national parks system.
And, like Costa Rica and India before them, the Chinese are looking toward America.
“They’ve visited several locations in the US, and they’re basically trying to get ideas on how US parks are managed,” said Beijing-based science journalist Kathleen McLaughlin.
China currently has what McLaughlin called in an article for Science magazine a “mishmash of national reserves, semi-protected forests and provincial parks.”
India’s wildlife conservation is suffering due to the Centre’s disinterest
By Valmik Thapar, Hindustan Times, 26 August 2016
If I look back at the last few years and the state of wildlife and tiger conservation in India, it is as if all innovative thinking on this issue is in the deep freeze. The Centre is neither interested nor involved in dialogue or innovation. After Machli’s death, I have been provoked into writing about the sorry state of conservation affairs.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is chairman of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). But he has not held even one meeting of the body. Has he asked for even one presentation on new ideas to deal with forest and wildlife management? Does he not believe that the natural treasures of this nation deserve as much respect and time as any other issue? After all this is where irreplaceable reservoirs of water, mineral wealth and biodiversity exist that will determine the future course of the nation. So no one can neglect or ignore it.
Indonesia seizes hundreds of frozen pangolins
Agence France Presse, 26 August 2016
Indonesian authorities have seized more than 650 critically endangered pangolins found hidden in freezers and arrested a man for allegedly breaking wildlife protection laws, police said on Friday.
Police discovered the pangolins, known as “scaly anteaters”, when they raided a house in Jombang district on the main island of Java after local residents became suspicious about the large number of freezers in the property.
Only three Sumatran Rhino left in Malaysia
New Straits Times, 26 August 2016
The clock is ticking for the critically endangered Sumatran Rhino with their numbers down to just three in Malaysia. Executive Director of Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) Datuk Dr John Payne said there were only one male rhino and two female rhinos in Sabah. He said conservationists were on a desperate mission to save the country’s remaining Sumatran rhinos. “The three Sumatran rhinos left were caught and have been placed in captive breeding programmes until today,” he said after a media preview screening on ‘Uncover Malaysia’ about the ‘Operation Sumatran Rhino’ documentary at Sunway Pyramid here, today.
Perspectives and Experiences in the Peruvian Amazon
Rainforest Trust, 26 August 2016
Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Sara and I am an undergraduate student at College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, ME) majoring in human ecology with a concentration in socio-ecological resilience and climate policy. This summer I interned for Rainforest Trust as their protected area conservation intern, where I assisted their long-standing partner, the Center for the Development of the Indigenous Amazon (CEDIA), with community projects in the Loreto district of the Peruvian Amazon. My overall objective of this field assignment in Peru was to learn about how organizations, like CEDIA, collaborate with local communities in the conservation of natural areas and to recognize the environmental, social and economic benefits of securing land rights for communities, which CEDIA has been doing since its inception in 1982.
A Singapore-based 10-year-old girl wrote an electro-rap album to help stop deforestation
By Daniel Peters, bandwagon.asia, 26 August 2016
Writing and recording an album at age 10 might hint at someone precocious and determined in her chosen field, but Miri Heal merely sees it as something part of a greater cause.
“I really want to stop animals and their habitats [from] getting destroyed,” says Miri, “I heard about tigers and other animals going extinct and I got upset. I have a dog and I like to ride horses.”
Animal Party, the first EP from the Singapore-based student, is part of the 10-year-old’s ongoing plan to help raise awareness about animal welfare and the dangers of deforestation…
While Miri is playing around with the idea of recording another album, her ambitions are still far away from touring and performing at Baybeats. “I just want to raise money for WWF (World Wildlife Fund). I hope they will give me a job when I’m older.”
27 August 2016
[Belize] $15.8 mil to curb illegal encroachment on Chiquibul
By Adele Ramos, Amadala, 27 August 2016
The Chiquibul Forest—the largest expanse within the Maya Mountain Massif—and particularly the area spanning the Belize-Guatemala border, has been under sustained pressure from illegal activities for over a decade, and today, the Government of Belize finally announced an “unprecedented investment” aimed at curbing the pillaging of Belize’s natural and cultural patrimony by Guatemalans who illegally enter into Belize to exploit the area.
Dr. Omar Figueroa, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, announced the launch of the Chiquibul Forest Investment Initiative (CFII) at formal ceremonies held at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza this afternoon, adding that they hope to have a measurable impact on the ground.
[Cambodia] Government Pledges Thirty Percent Boost in Forest Rangers by 2017
By Rayna Stackhouse, The Cambodia Daily, 27 August 2016
The government said this week it wanted to increase by at least 30 percent the number of forest rangers working next year in Cambodia’s wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and other protected areas to guard against encroaching logging, poaching and farming.
In a sprawling speech about the environment on Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said rangers provided a first line of defense in the country’s attempts to protect the environment, including its wildlife.
[Nepal] Link Chure conservation with people’s livelihood: Prez
By Pramod Kumar Tandan, The Himalayan Times, 27 August 2016
President Bidhya Devi Bhandari has suggested to the President Chure Tarai-Madhes Conservation Development Board to link the Chure conservation programme with the livelihoods of the general public.
The president had visited the Nadhiman Lake of Sarlahi District on Friday, which was managed and conserved by the President Chure Conservation Programme and then handed over to the locals in April 6 this year.
According to the President Chure Tarai-Madhes Conservation Development Board, after a briefing from the board and a visit to the lake, the president had made the suggestion to the board.
28 August 2016
This animated map shows why animals can’t survive climate change without our help
By Christopher Groskopf, Quartz, 28 August 2016
As the global climate gets hotter both people and animals will have to adapt to changes in their local environments. However, while people can shed clothes or turn up the A/C, animals have fewer options to maintain the conditions they need to survive. If their home habitats change too much, they’ll be forced to migrate in search of new territory. “Migration” sounds like a simple fix, and in some cases it might be, if not for one big problem: There are, literally, a lot of things in the way.
Nearly every path that animals would naturally travel is blocked by roads, fences, houses and other man-made barriers. According to research published earlier this year in PNAS (paywall), “only 41% of natural land area retains enough connectivity to allow plants and animals to maintain climatic parity as the climate warms.” In some parts of the eastern US, as little as 2% of the land remains well-connected.
To illustrate the problems this will cause, Nature Conservancy cartographer Dan Majka created an animated map of the paths animals would likely try to follow in order to stay within their ecological niches as the climate changes.
The tribes paying the brutal price of conservation
By John Vidal, The Observer, 28 August 2016
The Botswana police helicopter spotted Tshodanyestso Sesana and his friends in the afternoon. The nine young Bushmen, or San, had been hunting antelope to feed their families, when the chopper flew towards them.
There was a burst of gunfire from the air and the young men dropped their meat and skins and fled. Largely through luck, no one was hit, but within minutes armed troops arrived in a jeep and the nine were arrested, stripped naked, beaten and then detained for several days for poaching in a nature reserve.
Welcome to 21st-century life in the vast Central Kalahari game park, an ancient hunting ground for the San, but now off-limits to the people who forged their history there. The brutal incident took place last week, just days after Botswana’s wildlife minister Tshekedi Khama, the brother of President Ian Khama, announced a shoot-on-sight policy on poachers.
[Fiji] Logging concessions
By Luke Rawalai, The Fiji Times, 28 August 2016
Mount Navotuvotu in Solevu, Bua, which has been identified by Fiji’s National Protected Areas Committee as a high priority for conservation is under threat because of heavy logging.
Research by the Wildlife Conservation Society has established that 95 per cent of key biodiversity at Mount Navotuvotu is under some type of logging concessions.
WCS community engagement officer Akanisi Caginitoba said without management there would be a high risk that significant forest that had many different species of plant and animal life would be lost, including forest and freshwater endemic species.
[Philippines] Pag-asa Island, 3 others may soon become ecotourism destination
By Gracel Ortega, Update Philippines, 28 August 2016
Pag-asa Island and its adjoining islands of Parola, Kota and Panata may soon become a special ecological tourism zone. Collectively known as Pag-asa Island Cluster, the said islands are part of the Municipality of Kalayaan in West Philippine Sea.
Senator Sonny Angara filed Senate Bill No. 944 to declare Pag-asa Island Cluster ecotourism destination and protected area to promote and develop the said islands “as a tourist destination for domestic and international tourists while protecting its natural resources and diverse flora and fauna species.”
[Rwanda] Sustainable tourism and conservation concern us all
By Allan Brian Ssenyonga, The New Times, 28 August 2016
The Olympic Games finally came to an end with the marathon race where typically a Kenyan and an Ethiopian were ahead of the pack. East Africa was also happy to celebrate a silver medal for Burundi in the 800 meters while a Tanzanian coming fifth in the marathon was proof that the region sure does have talent outside Kenya.
What needs to be done now is to invest more in sports and tame the greed of the sports officials. I enjoyed watching the marathon and while doing so I noticed something else. The Brazilians were also using the race to show off their city with all those scenic views captured from drone cameras and helicopter shots. Moral of the lesson – do not waste any chance to promote your country.
That is a lesson that East Africa needs given the fact tourism is a key driver of our economies since a lot of money is earned each time people choose to visit us so as to experience our wildlife, cultures and even weather among other things. What is important to note though is how delicate some of our tourism products are and what we can do about it.