Conservation in the news: 19-25 September 2016

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.

CITES CoP17 – what you need to know
Save the Rhino, September 2016
In the run up to the CITES CoP in September 2016, Save the Rhino has put together this handy guide with all you need to know about the landmark event in the conservation calendar.
What is CITES?
CITES, or “the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna” – to give its full title – is an international treaty, or voluntary agreement, between governments who chose to join its ranks.
In the 1960s, when environmental conservation was a relatively new concept, CITES was a ground-breaking agreement and came into force on 01 July 1975. Governments that join are known as “Parties” and, to date, CITES has 182 Parties from across the globe, all working together to regulate the international wildlife trade.

19 September 2016

Special Rapporteur | Environmental human rights defenders are critical to our future
International Service for Human Rights, 19 September 2016
The world faces ‘a truly global crisis’ in the numbers of killings of environmental human rights defenders, says the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in his new report to the UN General Assembly.
Highlighting the appalling risks faced by environmental defenders in many parts of the globe, he warns that the vision espoused in key international agreements such as 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change are ‘doomed to fail’ if frontline defenders are not protected.
The ‘shocking rate’ of killings is ‘only the tip of the iceberg’ of a disturbing trend of ‘increasing violence, intimidation, harassment and demonization’ of defenders, notes Mr Forst. He cites Global Witness findings showing an unprecedented 185 murders of defenders across 16 countries in 2015: a 59% increase from 2014.

Tourist killed by elephant in Kenyan national park
Xinhua, 19 September 2016
An Italian tourist was trampled to death by an elephant while photographing the animal at the Tsavo National Park near the Kenyan coastal town of Malindi on Sunday, police said.
Malindi police boss Muchangi Mutava said on Monday that the 66-year-old man was attacked by the elephant near the Swara Camp he stayed in on the Kulalu ranch in the park.

[Philippines] DENR Sec. Lopez backs Catanduanes Natural Park
Catanduanes Tribune, 19 September 2016
In a positive development for the island’s fragile environment, Congressman Cesar Sarmiento has secured the support of Secretary Gina Lopez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the declaration of the Catanduanes Natural Park (CNP).
Sec. Lopez, whose backing came during the DENR’s budget briefing for the House of Representatives last week, said that, for the meantime while the law is not yet in place, the DENR will fast-track the issuance of a Presidential Proclamation for the CNP and provide a budget for the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaign to involve every stakeholder. The CNP is the expanded version of the Catanduanes Watershed Forest Reserve (CWFR), from the original 26,000 hectares to 48,831 hectares, and is the main source of food, water supply and abaca for the islanders.

[Philippines] Peace has price tag, Recto says
By Macon Ramos-Araneta, The Standard, 19 September 2016
Senator Ralph Recto said the government should start “running the numbers” on the financial cost of an all-out peace with Moro and Communist rebels, which may include “transforming the Red army into a Green army” that will guard the country’s diminishing forestlands.
The minority leader said parallel to talks between the government negotiators and their counterparts in the various Moro secessionist groups and the National Democratic Front “is the conduct of a study that will compute the cost of transitioning former combatants to civilian life.”
Recto said “this might be seen by others as putting the cart before the horse, but for this great opportunity for peace to succeed,” government should anticipate what it would require to realize peace in our time.

[Philippines] Sad times for conservation
By Antonio M. Claparols, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 19 September 2016
These are sad times for the conservation movement, with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) rejecting our proposal to study the possibility of setting up a marine peace park in the disputed South China Sea.
We presented our motion, titled “Conservation in the South China Sea” and supported by 11 cosponsors, during the 6th World Conservation Congress held in Hawaii last Sept. 1-10. But to our dismay, the biggest environmental union in the world rejected it.
We had cited a study made by Dr. John McManus and Dr. Ed Gomez, which was presented during the International Coral Reef Symposium held at the East West Center in Hawaii last June 16-26, and which stated that an ecological study in the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean is in the making.

20 September 2016

[India] Two killed in clashes over evictions near Kaziranga National Park in Assam
By Rina Chandran, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 20 September 2016
Two people were killed and about 20 injured in Assam, when protesters clashed with police over evictions of encroachers around the Kaziranga National Park.
About 300 families in the buffer zone of the park were asked to leave their homes after the state high court ordered evictions to help prevent poaching of the one-horned rhinoceros.
Police said they fired in the air and burst teargas shells on Monday when they were pelted with stones by protesters.
“We have been residing in this area for decades, and all of a sudden the government told us to vacate,” said Rafiq Ali, a community leader in Banderdubi village, one of the three villages that was ordered to be cleared.
“The security forces fired at us,” he said.

[Kenya] Tribunal blocks Standard Gauge Railway route through Nairobi National Park
By Luke Anami, The Standard, 20 September 2016
The National Environment Tribunal has stopped construction of a section of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) that was to pass through a game park. Phase 2A of the SGR project, Nairobi-Naivasha section, was to be constructed through the Nairobi National Park. The orders were issued after activist Okiyah Omtatah and Kenya Coalition for Wildlife Conservation successfully filled an application against National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), Kenya Wildlife Service, China Road and Bridge Corporation, Kenya Railways Corporation, the Attorney General and the ministries of Environment and Transport.

[South Africa] Nkwinti gives communities millions and title deeds
By Lindi Masinga, Eastern Cape, 20 September 2016
The Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti on Tuesday handed over R3.6 million to three communities as well as title deeds to eight successful land claimant communities from the North West, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga.
“When you receive title deeds you own the land, you will enter into a strategic partnership with government. Let us get use the land – we cannot have a nation that is poor but has the land, we must use the land productively,” the minister said while addressing the seventh People and Parks National Conference in Midrand.

[South Africa] WESSA awards highlight critical rhino conservation efforts
Traveller24, 20 September 2016
The WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) paid tribute to environmental achievements of the past year while highlighting the importance of community-driven conservation efforts at the recent WESSA award.
The awards were presented at the organisation’s 90th annual general meeting, which was hosted by the WESSA’s Lowveld membership branch at Skukuza in the Kruger National Park on Saturday, 17 September.

Vietnam’s Role in Africa’s Poaching Crisis Cannot Be Ignored
By Jared Leto and Carter Roberts (WWF), Time, 20 September 2016
In South Africa, nearly 6,000 rhinos have been poached since 2007
There is rarely a cure-all to save a threatened species. Wildlife conservation almost always requires addressing a complex matrix of interlocking problems.
Take for example tigers in Asia. They face habitat loss, depleted prey, conflict with humans, and poaching for their skins, bones, and other body parts. Half a world away, North America’s iconic monarch butterfly migration is being destroyed by deforestation, runaway agriculture expansion, and climate change.

21 September 2016

Threats to El Sira Communal Reserve in Central Peruvian Amazon
Maaproject.org, 21 September 2016
El Sira Communal Reserve, located in the central Peruvian Amazon (regions of Pasco, Huánuco and Ucayali), aims to protect the biological diversity of the El Sira Mountain Range in benefit of the native communities of the area (Ashaninka, Yanesha, and Shipibo-Conibo indigenous groups).
This report presents an initial threat assessment for this large national protected area, which covers more than 615,000 hectares (1.5 million acres).
We identified 3 threatened sectors of the Reserve, as indicated in Image 45a (see Insets A-C).

Ugandan wildlife dying in national park from drought
Associated Press, 21 September 2016
A Ugandan wildlife official says scores of animals have died in a national park because of drought.
Jossy Muhangi, a spokesman for the Uganda Wildlife Authority, said Wednesday that animals including zebras and some antelopes in Lake Mburo National Park have been dying of hunger or thirst.
He said animals in some other parks across the country are also stressed by drought conditions, although no deaths have been reported.

[UK] Renowned conservationist was involved in £60m tax dodging scheme, court hears
The Telegraph, 21 September 2016
A renowned conservationist who was awarded an honour for his work took part in a £60m tax-dodging scheme which used climate change projects, a court heard.
Professor Ian Swingland OBE, 69, allegedly took part in a three-year scam which helped wealthy investors avoid tax on £170m worth of income.
Swingland founded the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology in 1989 at the University of Kent, a world-leading research facility into biodiversity, communities and sustainable development.

We know exactly how the Vietnamese Javan rhino went extinct
By Chris Baraniuk, BBC, 21 September 2016
In the dense, hilly jungles of southwest Vietnam, a lone rhino once wandered. She was the last of her subspecies and this was her home.
Cat Loc, a northern sector of Cat Tien National Park, is a part of the world once ravaged by Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Today it is better known as a wildlife conservation area – but also a place where some of those efforts have failed.

22 September 2016

World Rhino Day: A global effort to prevent extinction
By May Lee, CCTV America, 22 September 2016
To commemorate World Rhino Day, we paid a visit to the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The center is dedicated to saving the species from extinction.
At the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the new $3 million state of the art facility has been home to six female southern white rhinos brought from South Africa late last year to potentially act as surrogates in the reproductive program.
One of the rhinos, Wallis, recently became a living example of the poaching crisis in Africa. She came to the center with a mysterious wound on her side that just wouldn’t heal. After several recent exams including an x-ray by the local bomb squad, vets detected metal fragments.

On the horn of a rhino dilemma
Daily News, 22 September 2016
Thursday marks the fourth annual World Rhino Day which celebrates all five species: black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos.
The occasion sees 11 elite trail runners and a group of influential people set off on a 21km round trip to the summit of Rhino Peak in the Southern Drakensberg to raise awareness and funds for Endangered Wildlife Trust Rhino Conservation projects. It will also highlight the work done by the Bearded Vulture Captive Breeding programme in the Maloti World Heritage Site.

China considers a huge national park for Amur tigers and leopards
By Wang Tan, mongabay.com, 22 September 2016
Yang went to the village immediately after he heard the news and saw footprints of the tiger and blood stains of its prey just 20 to 30 meters away from a villager’s house. “We then left four foot-bound roosters on the ground near the house for the tiger,” Yang told Mongabay. “The tiger did come back and picked the roosters one by one, four consecutive times, and we took video of the whole process.”
Living inside the buffer zone of Hunchun National Nature Reserve near the border with Russia, most villagers in Machuanzi never encounter a live tiger in their lifetime due to the animal’s scarcity. The villagers set off firecrackers to scare the tiger away, but it seemed unwilling to leave the human domain, where it could easily obtain prey. Yang said the tiger, a sub-adult not yet fully capable of finding its own prey in the wild, remained in a neighboring village about four kilometers from Machuanzi and ate sheep from local’s sheepfold.

New National Park Offers Protection for Forest Elephants in Liberia
Rainforest Trust, 22 September 2016
Thanks to Rainforest Trust’s local partner, donors and other supporters, the 219,609-acre Gola Forest National Park– only the second National Park in Liberia– was declared on September 22. This new Park protects part of the Guinean Forest of West Africa, which contains astonishing levels of endemic plant and animal life.
Rainforest Trust worked with local partner Society for the Conservation of Nature in Liberia (SCNL) to help establish the Gola Forest National Park, which is part of an international conservation plan to create one of the largest Protected Area complexes in West Africa. By connecting with Sierra Leone’s Gola Rainforest National Park, the Liberian Gola Forest National Park is in effect establishing a crucial transboundary peace park protecting 395,226 acres.

[Nepal] Using Dozens Of Elephants To Save Rhinos
By Aneeta Akhurst, Seeker, 22 September 2016
With the help of the WWF and a parade of elephants, Nepal’s Greater One-Horned Rhinos are being translocated.
Rhino populations have been threatened in many parts of Asia and Africa for years. Because they’re often poached for their horns, some rhino species have even become critically endangered.
Luckily, there are several conservation efforts taking place to help restore rhino populations where it’s needed most. World Wildlife Fund has set-up a translocation program in Nepal to help restore greater one-horned rhino populations.

ALERT joins battle to halt Nigeria’s ‘Highway to Hell’
By Bill Laurence, ALERT, 22 September 2016
Beleaguered conservationists have been fighting a planned ‘Superhighway’ that could obliterate many of the biologically richest habitats remaining in the West-African nation of Nigeria.
Today, ALERT joined the battle — by issuing an international press release decrying the Cross River Superhighway.
The proposed highway would slice through the southern half of Nigeria, opening up the nation’s last critical remnants of tropical rainforest to illegal logging, deforestation, poaching, and other human pressures.
“Nigeria needs better roads, but this is one of the most ill-conceived infrastructure projects we’ve seen anywhere,” said ALERT director Bill Laurance.

Tanzania: Sh4 Trillion Needed to Curb Poaching At Selous
The Citizen, 22 September 2016
Wildlife authorities need at least Sh4 trillion to combat poaching at Selous Game Reserve and efficiently market the protected area to the rest of the world.
Covering 50,000sqkm, the Selous is one of the largest protected areas in Africa, renowned for its large numbers of elephants and other big animals.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) representative, Mr Johannes Kirchgater, said recently that there was a need for the government to step up efforts against poaching.
Mr Kirchgater said this during a tour by nine journalists from Germany.

23 September 2016

The most important conservation event you’ve never heard of is about to start
By David Shiffman, The Washington Post, 23 September 2016
The eyes of the environmental world are turning to South Africa, where more than 2,000 government representatives from all over the world will be meeting later this week. The fates of elephants, pangolins, sharks and rays and hundreds of less charismatic (but no less threatened) species hang in the balance. This gathering is called CITES COP17, and it may be the most important conservation event that you’ve never heard of.

Why CITES CoP17 Is a Crucial Moment for Wildlife
Vulcan Inc., 23 September 2016
The illicit wildlife trade has surged in recent years, driving precious species to the brink, but there’s hope that we can make an impact now.
As delegates from more than 180 countries prepare to gather for the Seventeenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Sept. 24-Oct. 5 in Johannesburg, the fate of key wildlife species hinges on the agreements that will be hammered out.

Elephants are in danger. Our research could help save them
By Joshua Busby and Leo Carter, The Washington Post, 23 September 2016
On Sept. 24, South Africa will open the 2016 CITES meeting — a gathering that could help determine the survival of the world’s remaining elephants, as well as other endangered species.
CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora, banned the international trade in ivory in 1989, but later allowed two one-off sales of ivory to serve demand in Japan and China. CITES hoped these sales would flood the market, decrease prices and make illegal ivory less attractive.
However, the way the Chinese government handled ivory from the 2008 one-off sale had the opposite effect. Ivory prices increased, leading to speculative hoarding, laundering of illegal ivory through the legal market, and greater pressures on elephants.

Patagonia’s Ex-CEO Moves To Create Argentina’s Largest Nature Preserve
By Alexander C. Kaufman, Huffington Post, 23 September 2016
For decades, retail moguls Kris and Douglas Tompkins bought up huge swaths of South American wilderness in hopes of preserving ancient forests and the creatures that live in them.
Now, nearly a year after her husband’s death, Kris, who spent 17 years as chief executive at the outdoor apparel maker Patagonia, is donating enough land to help create what will become Argentina’s largest nature preserve.
The donation is part of an ambitious plan to preserve Argentina’s northeastern Iberá wetlands and restore populations of six species of wildlife, including jaguars, that had gone extinct in the region. Tompkins plans to donate about 341,350 acres, a spokeswoman from her nonprofit Tompkins Foundation told The Huffington Post.

[DR Congo] Success for African Amphibian Conservation through the Creation of New Reserve
Rainforest Trust, 23 September 2016
The newly established Ngandja Natural Reserve protects the northern part of Misotshi-Kabogo, an area within the DRC that is of critical importance for amphibian, bird and mammal conservation. A recent survey in the area led to the discovery of six vertebrate species new to science, including two new amphibian species. This Reserve, along with the Itombwe Massif located to the north of the Ngandja Natural Reserve, has been identified as an irreplaceable site for amphibian conservation. Together with the Itombwe Natural Reserve that Rainforest Trust also supported, these new Protected Areas now provide a safe haven for the region’s endangered wildlife and rich biodiversity.

[Kenya] Conservation with benefits; how Lewa is leading the way
By Kennedy Kimanthi and Bruhan Makong, Daily Nation, 23 September 2016
The World Rhino Day was marked Thursday with wildlife-based conservancies being urged to enable people around them to profit from tourism.
Mr Edward Ndiritu, the head of the anti-poaching unit at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, told the Nation that the peoples neighbouring Lewa have received financial assistance for education, health care, agriculture and water.
The official said none of their black and white rhinoceroses had been poached in the past three years.
“We have 14 per cent of Kenya’s rhino population,” said Mr Ndiritu. “This success shows the importance of transforming the livelihoods of local people.”

Kenya out to persuade world to impose total ban on ivory
By Gentrix Oduor, Citizen Digital, 23 September 2016
As the eyes of wildlife conservation experts turn to Johannesburg, South Africa for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Kenya is looking to push for total ban of ivory and Rhino horns trade.
So far about half of African countries are lobbying for tighter measures to protect dwindling elephant and rhino populations.
Kenya is likely to lock horns with Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Swaziland that want to cash in on their stockpiles.
Kenya which backs a complete ban on the trade is likely to lock horns with Southern Africa nations led by Swaziland that are keen on cashing on their stockpiles.

Laos promises to phase out tiger farms: Conservation groups
Associated Press, 23 September 2016
Laos has promised to phase out farms that breed endangered tigers for their body parts, a positive step from a country believed to be a major hub of wildlife trafficking in Asia, conservation groups said Friday.
The announcement by Laotian officials in South Africa came one day before the start of a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES.
If implemented, the move could help to curb the illegal trade in tiger bones and other parts used in traditional medicine in areas of Asia, and protect the depleted population of tigers. Conservation groups say there are about 3,900 tigers in the wild.

[Liberia] Threatened African rainforest teeming with unique life declared a National Park
By Alex Dale, Birdlife International, 23 September 2016
It is one of the last strongholds of the Guinean Forest, a moist forest eco-region that once covered West Africa like a blanket from Guinea to Togo, but has shrunk by 70% over the last several centuries due to human activities in the region.
It offers vital resources to the communities who live on the forest edges, and harbours an impressive array of animal and plant life both big and small, many of which are endemic, and are now threatened by the fragmentation of their forest habitats.
But the future of Liberia’s Gola National Forest, a large block of evergreen and semi-deciduous rainforest that stretches into neighbouring Sierra Leone, was, until now, far from secure. This vital area, which forms part of the largest remnants of the Guinean Forest, has been severely threatened by a number of factors, such as mining and quarrying, charcoal production and bushmeat hunting.

‘We are revolutionaries’: Villagers fight to protect Myanmar’s forests
By Katie Arnold, mongabay.com, 23 September 2016
U Ye Aung spent most of his adult life in a war zone. For over 60 years his village of Kalaikyi served as the frontline in one of Myanmar’s longest running civil wars. During the conflict, villagers from the Kamoethway river valley were subjected to forced labor, arbitrary killing, looting and extortion at the hands of the Myanmar military and Karen separatists. The fighting was finally brought to an end in 2012 after a preliminary ceasefire was signed between the Myanmar government and Karen National Union. “It brought me great relief as I was finally able to live out the rest of my years in peace,” said U Ye Aung, now aged 55.
That was until the bulldozers arrived in Kalaikyi to clear land for a new highway that would stretch 138 kilometers (86 miles) from the Special Economic Zone in Myanmar’s southernmost city of Dawei to the Thai border at Phu Nam Ron.
“We were so angry because we had no control over the situation” U Ye Aung said. He told Mongabay he lost almost all of his betel forests and “was really scared because I am old and those betel nut farms were supposed to be my pension.”

[Tanzania] World Bank turns its back on pastoralist communities in Africa
By Helen Tugendhat (FPP), Bretton Woods Project, 23 September 2016
In March the World Bank board granted a full waiver of its current safeguard policy for indigenous peoples (Operational Policy 4.10, OP4.10) in relation to a loan to the government of Tanzania for the Southern Agricultural Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), a multi-million dollar public-private partnership agribusiness development project, championed by the president of Tanzania. The waiver means that the requirements of OP4.10, including to foster respect for the rights of indigenous peoples, are formally set aside for the implementation of this project (see Observer Summer 2016). Indigenous peoples in Tanzania who will be impacted by the project have objected strenuously to this waiver.

[UK] Trophy hunting is good for lion conservation, University of Kent professors claim
By Bess Browning, Kent Online, 23 September 2016
University of Kent professors have claimed that trophy hunting could be beneficial for the rapidly decreasing lion population.
One year since the controversial killing of Cecil the Lion, which sparked global outrage and attracted international media attention, researchers say they have shown that hunting does work in certain circumstances.
American dentist Walter Palmer was last year condemned by animal conservationists, celebrities and the public after he wounded and later killed 13-year-old Cecil, whose subspecies was later given endangered status.

24 September 2016

[India] After Ken-Betwa river project, concerns raised over upcoming power plant near Panna tiger reserve
By Nikhil M. Ghanekar, DNA India, 24 September 2016
Even as concerns have been raised about the ecological impact of Ken-Betwa river linking project, an expert panel of the union environment ministry has flagged concerns about the impact of National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) Barethi power plant project on forests around Panna tiger reserve and the Khajuraho UNESCO heritage site, Madhya Pradesh. The Rs 18,000 crore Barethi super thermal power project’s Stage-I is up for appraisal before the ministry’s expert panel on thermal projects for environmental clearance. The project proposes to set up 4x660MW of thermal power plants in Chattarpur district, Madhya Pradesh.

[India] JAWAI and the need for a conversation about conservation
catchnews.com, 24 September 2016
The launch of most books are usually focussed around just the author and the book itself. The launch of Anjali and Jaisal Singh’s book, JAWAI – Land of the Leopard, however, was focussed on an issue that does not receive enough attention in India – conservation.
The book itself documents the region of Jawai, in the Pali district of Rajasthan, home to an astonishing array of wildlife living in harmony with humans. Consisting largely of photographs taken by the Singhs and visitors to their camp in Jawai, it’s meant to start a conversation on conservation tourism.

[Nepal] Conservationists feted on National Conservation Day
The Kathmandu Post, 24 September 2016
The 10th National Conservation Day was observed on Friday, emphasising the significance of community engagement in nature and wildlife conservation.
Addressing an event organised on the occasion in the Capital, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari lauded the role played by local communities towards conservation of environment and its inhabitants.
Various individuals and organisations were also feted to recognise their works in the conservation field.

South Africa Committed to Conservation
SAnews.gov.za, 24 September 2016
South Africa is committed to conservation because it contributes significantly to socio-economic development of the poor and rural communities, says President Jacob Zuma.
“The sustainable use of the country’s indigenous biological resources is fundamental to the development of South Africa’s economy and social transformation,” President Zuma said on Saturday.
He was addressing delegates at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), at the Sandton Convention Centre, in Johannesburg.

[South Africa] Nature conservation boosts economy: Zuma
SABC, 24 September 2016
President Jacob Zuma has highlighted the countries commitment to conservation as a contributing initiative which is boosting the economy.
Speaking at the opening of the Cites Conference at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, Zuma says the sustainable use of the country’s indigenous biological resources is fundamental to developing South Africa’s economy and social transformation.
He says, “Game farming, the hunting industry, eco-tourism and bio prospecting play a significant role. The management interventions that we apply are therefore aimed at enhancing the livelihoods of the communities to whom they are entrusted.”

25 September 2016

African countries lash out at Western charities at international wildlife conservation meeting
ABC News, 25 September 2016
The world’s biggest conference on the international wildlife trade has begun in Johannesburg, but African countries lashed out at Western charities for “dictating” how they should protect their elephants.
Over the next 12 days, thousands of conservationists and top government officials will thrash out international trade regulations aimed at protecting different species.
A booming illegal wildlife trade has put huge pressure on an existing treaty signed by more than 180 countries — the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
And the plight of Africa’s elephants, targeted for their tusks, generated fierce debate as the talks kicked off.
Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa and Namibia castigated Western-based animal charities, saying they “dictated” on how African resources should be managed.

New Elephant Estimate Documents Major Decline
By Rachael Bale, National Geographic, 25 September 2016
The International Union for Conservation of Nature released its 2016 African Elephant Status Report this morning, and the results are sobering: Africa has approximately 415,000 elephants, a net decline of more than 110,000 from the beginning of 2007 to the end of 2015.
This status report attempts to establish a continent-wide estimate of elephant numbers in Africa and show where population changes are happening. This newest report is based on 275 surveys of individual elephant populations across Africa, including data from the Great Elephant Census, a major wildlife survey conducted over several years to determine the number of savannah elephants left in Africa. Unlike the Great Elephant Census, the status report includes estimates for the forest elephant populations of Western and central Africa as well as elephants in Namibia.

[India] NBWL clears road widening through sanctuary in Kanha-Achanakmar tiger corridor
By Nikhil M. Ghanekar, DNA India, 25 September 2016
NTCA, in consultation with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and state officials had opposed the road widening and had in fact recommended to the ministry that the proposal should be rejected.
In a move that is likely to see opposition from wildlife conservationists, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has cleared widening of a 14km stretch of state highway in Chhattisgarh that will cut through 20 hectares of the Bhoramdeo wildlife sanctuary, which also happens to be an integral part of the Kanha-Achanakmar tiger corridor. The road will pass through the Chilphi-Rengakhar-Salhewara stretch. The road widening proposal was earlier referred to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) as per Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 to seek their comments on the project’s impact.

[India] Focus will be on reducing human-animal conflicts: DFO
The Hindu, 25 September 2016
Focus will be on studying the movement of elephants and reducing the loss of property and lives of both humans and elephants in the man-animal conflict prone Coimbatore Division, said S. Ramasubramanian, who assumed office as the new District Forest Officer (DFO) here recently.
“With days left for the monsoon, there will be movement of elephants from Kerala to Coimbatore, Coimbatore to The Nilgiris and from there to Sathyamangalam based on availability of fodder. They will be monitored round the clock to study the root cause of the conflicts,” he said.
He said that in consultation with the regional conservator and chief wildlife warden, a proposal would be sent to the department to increase the strength of anti-poaching watchers (APWs) and budget based on the need in the areas where the human-animal conflicts have gone up.

Kenya: Students Call for Conservation of Wildlife
By Wachira Mwangi, Daily Nation, 25 September 2016
Hundreds of students from various schools in Mombasa County called for the conservation of wildlife and strengthening the port to curb illegal wildlife trade.
The youths drawn from Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa Academy, Oshwal Academy, Green Woods Academy, Coast Academy – who are members of Stand Up Shout Out Youth Organisation – marched along the Coastal city in a bid to agitate for end in poaching of rhinos and elephants.
Together with the Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions, the youths advocated for the prioritisation of wildlife conservation.

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