Conservation in the news: 26 September – 2 October 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.

26 September 2016

Animal trafficking: the $23bn criminal industry policed by a toothless regulator
By Nick Davies and Oliver Holmes, The Guardian, 26 September 2016
The illegal trade in wildlife is a most attractive crime. But it is highly destructive, and its scale is threatening the extinction of some of the world’s most iconic species.
It is also grotesquely cruel: poachers slice off the faces of live rhinos to steal their horns; militia groups use helicopters to shoot down elephants for their tusks; factory farmers breed captive tigers to marinate their bones for medicinal wine and fry their flesh for the dinner plate; bears are kept for a lifetime in tiny cages to have their gall bladders regularly drained for liver tonic. But for any criminal who wants maximum money for minimum risk, it is most attractive.

The crime family at the centre of Asia’s animal trafficking network
By Nick Davies and Oliver Holmes, The Guardian, 26 September 2016
There is a simple reason why there is always trouble in Nakhon Phanom. It is the reason why the US air force came here during the Vietnam war, and the reason why this dull and dusty town in north-east Thailand now serves as a primary gateway on the global animal trafficking highway. It is all to do with geography.
Nakhon Phanom, population 30,000, sits on the western bank of the Mekong river and is directly opposite the shortest route across Laos, on the other side of the river, and into Vietnam.
For the US air force it was the closest allied territory to Hanoi, 380km (236 miles) away as the bomber flies. For the wildlife traffickers, it is the perfect place for business. To the west, Thailand has some of the best air and sea connections in South East Asia; and to the east, across the narrow strip of Laos, are the markets of Vietnam and China, bursting with the wealth of their new economies and hungry for the flesh, skin, claws and bones of exotic wildlife.

War on African elephants: Poaching causes biggest losses in 25 years
By Jessiva Durando, USA Today, 26 September 2016
Africa’s elephant population suffered its biggest decline in 25 years, as more poachers kill the mammals for their valuable ivory tusks, a new conservation study reveals.
Elephant populations decreased by 110,000 over the past 10 years, a study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found.
Poaching for ivory the past 10 years is the worst that conservationists have seen in Africa since the 1980s. The loss of habitat as areas become developed also pose a long-term threat to elephants, the report found.
“It is shocking but not surprising that poaching has taken such a dramatic toll on this iconic species,” said Inger Andersen, director general for IUCN. “This report provides further scientific evidence of the need to scale up efforts to combat poaching.”

Bird migration used to show importance of conservation
The Jakarta Post, 26 September 2016
From places as far as Alaska in the US, they fly more than 10,000 kilometers to the southwest to reach Lake Limboto in Gorontalo, northern Sulawesi.
Many others fly to the same destination from places in Europe, Africa and Asia.
The migrating birds stop over at Lake Limboto annually between September and October.
To celebrate the natural phenomenon, local environmentalist group Gorontalo Biodiversity Forum organized an event called the Migratory Bird Festival at the biggest freshwater lake in the province.
Rosyid Azhar, a leader of the forum, said the festival — the first event to celebrate the migratory birds — was aimed at raising public awareness about the importance of maintaining the lake, its ecosystem and wildlife.

Indonesia green development strategy should be implemented
ANTARA News, 26 September 2016
Indonesias Ministry of Environment and Forestry hopes that the Green Growth Compact (GGC) implemented by the East Kalimantan province will also be emulated by other provincial governments.
“We hope that other sub-districts and provinces can also follow the path of environment-friendly development as has been done in East Kalimantan,” said the Ministrys Economy and Natural Resources staff member, Agus Justianto, at a press conference in Jakarta on Monday.
His Ministry believes that the CGC sets a new paradigm that targets efficient use of natural resources while taking into account various surrounding aspects.

Lao PDR commits to shut its commercial tiger farms
By Shreya Dasgupta,, 26 September 2016
Commercial tiger farms, that keep and breed tigers to meet the demand of tiger parts like skins, bones, teeth, and claws, are believed to fuel tiger trafficking. According to conservationists, these farms increase the desirability of tiger products and put populations of wild tigers at risk.
In January this year, several conservation organizations released a collective letter at the 66th Meeting of the Standing Committee to the CITES demanding that Asian countries like China, Thailand, Vietnam and Lao PDR end tiger farming and trade.
Now, in a move welcomed by conservation groups, Sommad Pholsena, Lao PDR’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, announced last Friday that the country was “looking for ways to phase out tiger farms”. The announcement was made during the 67th Meeting of the Standing Committee to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Addressing Threats to Latin American Species at CITES CoP17
By Adrian Reuter, WCS, 26 September 2016
While Latin America covers only 16 percent of the globe it is home to 40 percent of the world’s biodiversity, making it the most bio-diverse region in the world. Existing species are illegally harvested and traded to meet national and international demand, making them a prime target for illegal wildlife trafficking.
Here in Johannesburg, CITES CoP17 is addressing the crisis generated by unsustainable and illegal trade and trafficking of species such as elephants, rhinos, and other endangered species in their respective landscapes. It is important, though, that attention also be paid the rich biodiversity of regions such as Latin America and the Caribbean — largely dependent on natural resources for their economies and peoples’ livelihoods — before it is too late.

British Government Backing Big Oil’s Plans For Drilling In Africa’s National Parks
MintPressNews, 26 September 2016
The British government has offered support to a controversial multi-billion pound plan to drill for oil in one of Africa’s oldest national parks, according to documents obtained by Energydesk.
The project, involving British company Tullow Oil; French firm Total and Chinese oil company CNOOC, could see dozens of wells drilled in Murchison Falls national park in Uganda.
The park is home to one of the last remaining populations of the world’s most endangered species of giraffe, leading to warnings by experts that if the park is damaged the species could be at risk.
A leaked Total report obtained by Energydesk has revealed that damage to the park has already occurred.

Vietnam, the biggest hub for illegal rhino horn trafficking, has done little to stop it
By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times, 26 September 2016
Vietnam has become the biggest hub in the world for trafficking in horns and other body parts of the rhinoceros, a critically endangered species which is being killed by poachers in South Africa at the rate of one every eight hours.
An estimated 1,300 rhinos are slaughtered for their horns across Africa annually—up from just 100 in 2008—with the bulk of rhino horn smuggled by criminal gangs into Vietnam, according to surveys by international wildlife trade experts.
Yet Vietnam hasn’t launched a single successful high-level prosecution against illegal rhino horn traders.

27 September 2016

Best to legalise the ivory trade – or not?
By Samantha Hartshorne, IOL, 27 September 2016
Declining elephant populations in Africa are coming under the spotlight during the climate conference CoP17 Cites under way at the Sandton Convention Centre.
NGOs have spent enormous amounts of money on highlighting the problem with the ivory trade, while some governments are lobbying to make it legal.

Countries divided over ivory trade at world wildlife conference
ENCA, 27 September 2016
Countries participating in the 17th Conference of Parties on the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP17) in Johannesburg remain divided over the issue of ivory trade. During Monday’s committee meetings countries debated extensively on domestic ivory trade.
South Africa and Kenya disagreed on the fact there is evidence to support a link between CITES decisions and the level of poaching.
During the committee two session, Namibia put forward a motion to close the debate on domestic ivory trade, saying it was beyond the scope of the convention.

Poachers target rare bird’s ‘ivory’ beak in Southeast Asia
By Christopher Torchia, Associated Press, 27 September 2016
Some call it “ivory on wings,” part of the bill of a critically endangered bird in Southeast Asia that is sought by poachers and carved into ornaments for illegal sale to Chinese buyers.
The helmeted hornbill isn’t getting as much attention as the beleaguered African elephant at a global wildlife conference this week in South Africa. But the killing of elephants by the tens of thousands for their tusks is intertwined with a surge in the slaughter of the rare bird whose beak part is a coveted substitute for ivory.
“It’s all part of the rising demand for ivory,” said Richard Thomas, spokesman for TRAFFIC, a conservation group based in Britain.

Long Journey to a More Righteous Shore
By Jessica Abbe, Earth Island Journal, 27 September 2016
IUCN’s recognition of Indigenous peoples’ contributions to conservation was long overdue.
Boats from Maui arrived offshore at dawn, when winds, swell, and currents were expected to be at their calmest. On board were Indigenous sacred site guardians from around the world, seeing their first glimpse of uninhabited Kaho‘olawe: a rough and revered island, recovering from military target use, alive once again as the spiritual and ecological heart of the Hawaiian renaissance.

Can Plant Blindness Be Cured?
By Shreya Dasgupta, Pacific Standard, 27 September 2016
Tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses garner a lot of attention. But plants are often ignored. In fact, scientists even have a term for our tendency to overlook plants — plant blindness.
For example, if shown a picture of a lion on a tree, people would be more likely to point out the lion, and ignore the tree. This bias against plants is widespread, and seriously limits conservation efforts, scientists say.
In the United States, for instance, plants comprise the majority — about 57 percent — of the federal endangered species list, researchers have found. But in 2011, they received less than 3.86 percent of federal endangered species expenditures.

Chimp researcher Jane Goodall brings her conservation message to students
By Emma Brown, Washington Post, 27 September 2016
The children knew a lot about Jane Goodall’s life before she walked through the front door of their Northern Virginia school on Tuesday morning. They had been studying her.
They knew she had been a curious girl who grew up in England loving animals, and that she had gone off to Africa and spent decades living with chimpanzees in the wild. They knew that her observations sent shock waves through the world of science, forcing humans to recognize how much we have in common with apes. And they knew that she is now a crusader for conservation, working to persuade people to take care of animals, each other and the Earth.
But there was something they hadn’t quite grasped until she was there, standing before them: Jane Goodall — and her incredible story — are real.
“I touched her,” said incredulous 7-year-old Lillian Sayer.
“She’s really cool,” said Vivienne Mestraud, 9. “I hope when I grow up I can be an animal activist as well, and I can save animals too.”

Protecting Belize’s Biodiversity at $1.6M with UNDP
By Colin Young, LoveFM, 27 September 2016
This morning, BIOFIN initiative was launched. BIOFIN, Biodiversity Finance Initiative a partnership between the UNDP and the Government of Belize. Collin Young, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and sustainable Development spoke about BIOFIN and the challenges Belize faces to protect biodiversity resources.
“Today we are here to launch what is called the Biofin Initiative which is short for Biodiversity Finance Initiative which is a partnership with UNDP that will see Belize getting one point six million dollars for three years to finally undertake a comprehensive assessment of our Biodiversity expenditure as well as to calculate what is the financing gap required for us to continue to protect our biodiversity.”

China’s fight against illegal wildlife trade hailed at global conference
Xinhua, 27 September 2016
China was applauded on Monday for taking noticeable steps in fighting illegal trade of endangered species at the ongoing world wildlife conference in Johannesburg.
Steven Broad, executive director of TRAFFIC, a wildlife protection organization, told Xinhua that China’s commitment to the conservation of both plant and animal species is encouraging, while attending the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“TRAFFIC and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are greatly encouraged by the commitment announced by President Xi Jinping in September last year to impose a near complete ban on ivory imports,” Broad said.

[DR Congo] Virunga Ride-Along: Conservation in Africa’s Oldest National Park
By Jeffrey Marlow, Discover Magazine, 27 September 2016
Steering the clattering camo-green truck over the pitted lava flows that pass as roads in Virunga National Park, southern sector warden Innocent Mburanumwe looks intently out the windows, scouring the landscape for unusual activity. Six rangers sit on padded benches in the truck’s bed, equipped with an intimidating aresenal of rusting weapons.
Driving north out of Goma, the largest city along the eastern margin of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the road marks the park’s boundary. On the left, the dense forest cascades over itself in layers of green; on the right, parallel terraces of manioc, maize, and beets climb the hills, a rising tide that strands trees like marooned survivors.

BirdLife launches Regional Implementation Team for the Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot
By Okbaka Torto, Birdlife International, 27 September 2016
On Thursday 22nd September, 2016, Birdlife International and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), formally launched the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for the Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot, at the Alisa Hotel, in Northridge, Accra.
During the next five years (2016-2021), the West Africa Sub-Regional Office of BirdLife International, in its capacity as the Regional Implementation Team, will coordinate the disbursement of a $7.5 million Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund investment, through small and large grants to civil society organisations across the eleven countries situated in the Guinean Forests Hotspot.

[India] Call to extend eviction beyond Kaziranga
By Sivasish Thakur, Assam Tribune, 27 September 2016
While the eviction drive in the peripheral areas of Kaziranga National Park has understandably evoked mass appreciation, conservationists believe that freeing vast tracts of forests including areas inside protected forests (wildlife sanctuaries and national parks) under illegal occupation will be the real test for the Forest Department and the State Government.
As per official data the encroached area inside protected areas (PAs) across the State is 159.69 sq km. Unfortunately, no attempt has been made over the years to clear the encroachment, with the consequence that areas under illegal occupation have kept expanding. Sonai Rupai and Amchang wildlife sanctuaries exemplify best this disturbing phenomenon.

[India] A Lesser Known Region Of Rajasthan Sparks A Debate On Conservation Tourism
NDTV, 27 September 2016
A book launch in Delhi transpired into a constructive discussion on wildlife conservation, where among other participants, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje called for a public private partnership to facilitate conservation tourism in the state.
The book highlighted as a unique example the Jawai region of Rajasthan’s Pali district, home to an astonishing array of wildlife peacefully co-existing with humans. Illustrated with pictures taken by author Jaisal Singh and Anjali Singh along with the visitors of Jawai, the book means to start a discussion on conservation tourism.

[Kenya] Isiolo leaders want Lapsset corridor rerouted to avoid areas prone to land conflicts
By Vivian Jebet, Daily Nation, 27 September 2016
The Isiolo County government wants the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor that traverses the county to be rerouted to avoid conflict-prone areas along the Meru-Isiolo border.
Governor Godana Doyo has proposed that the new route pass through Garba Tula, Boji and directly link to Lodwar through Merti and, by extension, to Ethiopia.
The corridor was designed to pass through Garba Tula-Kulamawe-Ngaremara (near Isiolo Town) towards Lokichar and Marsabit.

Revealed: how senior Laos officials cut deals with animal traffickers
By Nick Davies and Oliver Holmes, The Guardian, 27 September 2016
Officials at the highest level of an Asian government have been helping wildlife criminals smuggle millions of dollars worth of endangered species through their territory, the Guardian can reveal.
In an apparent breach of current national and international law, for more than a decade the office of the prime minister of Laos has cut deals with three leading traffickers to move hundreds of tonnes of wildlife through selected border crossings.
In 2014 alone, these deals covered $45m (£35m) worth of animal body parts and included agreed quotas requiring the disabling or killing of 165 tigers, more than 650 rhinos and more than 16,000 elephants.

28 September 2016

Conservation decisions must protect the livelihoods of people living in Africa
By Ross Harvey, The Conversation, 28 September 2016
182 member states of the world’s biggest convention on wildlife conservation have committed – at this year’s gathering – to consider how trade decisions impact community livelihoods.
The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulates trade in threatened species. But can its decisions improve livelihoods? More pointedly, can its decisions undermine the rights of communities to development, food security or their cultural heritage?
These questions feed into a wider debate about the relationship between conservation and development. Models of “fortress conservation”, “green grabbing” or “fences and fines” have been seen to place the interests of nature ahead of the development needs of local communities. This has generated resentment among some communities towards wildlife protection.

The World’s Most Trafficked Mammal Just Got Desperately Needed Help
By Jani Actman, National Geographic, 28 September 2016
Things have suddenly looked up for pangolins, cat-size scaly creatures found across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The body that regulates international wildlife trade voted Wednesday to shut down sales of pangolins and their parts across borders.
“This decision will help give pangolins a fighting chance,” says Sue Lieberman, vice president of international policy for the Wildlife Conservation Society, a nonprofit based in New York City.

Asian pangolins, the world’s most wanted mammals, get better protection at CITES
By Pericles Anetos, Business Day, 28 September 2016
Asian pangolins, which have the dubious distinction of being the world’s most trafficked mammal, have been given beefed-up security at CITES.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which is holding its 17th conference of the parties (COP17) in Johannesburg, voted on Wednesday to move all species of Asian pangolin to appendix I from appendix II.
A listing on appendix I means an animal cannot be traded internationally at all.

Cuban crocodiles pose conservation conundrum
By Sara Reardon, Nature, 28 September 2016
Dozens of spotted baby crocodiles sit as still as garden statues. Only their swivelling eyes betray their intense interest in passing visitors. Then, suddenly, the animals snap to life, and begin ambling around the Zapata Swamp Captive Breeding Farm in Cuba’s swampy Matanzas province.
“They’re cute as long as their mouths are closed,” says Etiam Pérez, an exotic-fauna researcher at the farm whose leg bears scars from an encounter with an adult crocodile.
The facility is the centrepiece of the Cuban government’s 56-year effort to save the critically endangered Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer). In January, the programme released its first 100 captive-born animals into the wild. But that success has been tempered by genetic analyses that have revealed widespread interbreeding between wild Cuban crocodiles and the more resilient American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus).

[DR Congo] So You Want to be a Ranger at Virunga National Park?
By Jeffrey Marlow, Discover Magazine, 28 September 2016
Getting a job as a ranger at Virunga National Park, the contentious jungle set among steaming volcanoes in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, is not easy.
Innocent Mburanumwe should know – as the Warden of the Park’s southern sector, he oversees 140 rangers and helps pick each new crop through an intensive selection process. First are the challenges of brute force: running several miles while carrying a heavy pack, and climbing 14,000-foot mountains in less than a day. There are tests of survival skills and orienteering through one of the most dense forests on the planet. Then come the more nuanced abilities: marksmanship, spotting small camoflauged objects through binoculars, and an exam to identify and describe various animals and plants. And finally, there’s the interview, where the selection panel tries to get to the root of the most important question: how much do you really care? Is this just a job to you, or something more, something for which you’re willing to risk your life?

[India] Tiger monitoring system identifies vulnerable points in protected areas
By Jotirmay Thapliyal, Tribune India, 28 September 2016
The monitoring system for intensive patrolling and ecological status of tigers popularly known as “MSTrIPES” has started delivering results after four years of its implementation.
Software “MSTrIPES” identifies vulnerable points inside the protected area and ensures that ground work done by forest staff officials remains transparent.
The implementation of MSTriPES has four components — data collection, data entry, storage and analysis.
The phase I of MSTrIPES started in 2012 and continued till 2016. This GPS-aided patrol module was implemented in seven tiger reserves of the country and resulted in improved law enforcement in these parks.

Kenyan wins prestigious Stanford award for conservation
By Collins Omulo, Daily Nation, 28 September 2016
A Samburu herder’s son has won a prestigious global environment award for his efforts in conservation and entrepreneurship.
Tom Lalampaa, a University of Nairobi PhD student-turned nature conservationist, won the Bright Award for Environmental Sustainability for his efforts in promoting peace through conservation and entrepreneurship.
He was recognised by the Stanford University in the US for his outstanding contribution to northern Kenya’s communities and wildlife through his work as the leader and Chief Programmes Officer of Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT).

Deforestation jumps into Peru reserve, 1,600 hectares of rainforest lost
By Morgan Erickson-Davis,, 28 September 2016
Deforestation is pressing further into a protected area in central Peru, finds a recent analysis by the Monitoring the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP). Satellite data and images show areas of clearing for crops, cattle pasture, and gold mining within the bounds of El Sira Communal Reserve, an important area for indigenous groups and several endangered animals.
El Sira Communal Reserve is a Delaware-size protected area in Peru’s beleaguered central Amazon. Its dense rainforests provide a home for an array of wildlife, such as jaguars (Panthera onca), giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis), and black-streaked puffbirds (Malacoptila fulvogularis). Among its fauna are endemic species found nowhere else in the world. These include a species of beaked toad called Rhinella nesiotes, Maria’s giant glass frog (Cochranella mariae), and a monkey frog (Phyllomedusa baltea) – all considered Endangered by the IUCN. The reserve also contains the only known population of the critically endangered Sira currasow (Pauxi koepckeae), a large black-and-white ground bird with a striking blue “helmet” of feathers and red beak. Scientists think there may be fewer 400 Sira curassows left in the world today.

[Peru] Wildlife butchers of Belén: the town that serves up rare species for a few dollars
By Dan Collyns, The Guardian, 28 September 2016
Where a confluence of rivers meet the Peruvian city of Iquitos, the world’s largest city to be inaccessible by road, lies Belén, a partially floating shanty town and market where endangered monkeys change hands for a few dollars and wildlife traffickers take orders to stock informal zoos or private collections with the abundant fauna from the world’s largest rainforest.
Wildlife is part of the town’s daily trade. A ban on selling bushmeat is openly ignored in Belén’s market. Deep-auburn slabs of the smoked meat of the endangered South America tapir (Tapirus terrestris) are stacked high on trestle tables. The protruding hoof of a peccary or the paw of an agouti betray the fact that there is hunted game on sale.

29 September 2016

Botswana President named as Racist of the Year 2016
Survival International, 29 September 2016
Survival International has given its “Racist of the Year” award for 2016 to President Ian Khama of Botswana. The award is given annually to the person displaying the greatest prejudice against tribal peoples.
President Khama said that Kalahari Bushmen live lives “of backwardness,” “a primitive life of deprivation” and “a primeval life of a bygone era,” calling into question the legitimacy of the Bushmen’s existence and suggesting that they are lower down the evolutionary ladder than other people.
In an interview in 2014, he further stated that the Bushmen have an “extinct form of life, a very backward form of life.”

Could Kenya be building another ‘lunatic line’?
BBC News, 29 September 2016
Thousands of railway workers died building Kenya’s so-called “lunatic line”, some by man-eating lions. The BBC’s Alastair Leithead considers if a new railway line through a national park could get the same nickname.
In the top drawer of a desk at Nairobi Railway Museum sits a little box containing three small lion claws that are more than 100 years old.
“The man-eating lions really caused havoc in the history of the railway construction,” says assistant curator Elias Randiga.
They belonged to the two lions that struck fear into the workers laying railway tracks from Mombasa through what was then the Kenyan wilderness.
“They managed to kill 100 people, but the total number who died from diseases and other causes was 4,000 – for each mile, four people died,” he says.

[Indonesia] Perils for the last place where tigers, orangutans, elephants and rhinos survive in the wild
By Bill Laurance, ALERT Conservation, 29 September 2016
The world-renowned Leuser Ecosystem in northern Sumatra, Indonesia is the last place on Earth where Tigers, Elephants, Orangutans, and Rhinos still survive together in the wild.
Conservationists recently breathed a sigh of relief that key threats to the Leuser — including government schemes for oil palm and mining development that would also promote illegal forest clearing, logging, and poaching — were being set aside as part of a moratorium on forest destruction.
But dangerous new plans are just on the horizon, with a big push coming from the Aceh Provincial Government.

Price of rhino horn plummets in Vietnam
Vietnam Express, 29 September 2016
Rhino horn prices in Vietnam have plummeted in recent years, which campaigners against the consumption of endangered wildlife products have championed as signs that their efforts are working.
Late last year, interviews with rhino horn traders in Vietnam revealed that wholesale and retail prices for rhino horn fell to half of their 2013 prices, according to the U.S.-based wildlife conservation group WildAid. In the recent past, rhino horn fetched up to $70,000 per kilogram in Vietnam, making it more valuable than cocaine and gold.
“People who saw rhino horn or ivory as an investment are deservedly getting burned as mass awareness campaigns supported by government and private media are clearly having an impact,” said WildAid CEO Peter Knights in a press release. “There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

30 September 2016

Indigenous communities take the lead on conservation in Colombia
By Laura Dixon,, 30 September 2016
Driving towards Wiwa territory, the dusty roads of Colombia’s desert region start to change. The view outside goes from dust bowl to tropical grassland to forest. The trees get taller and the land more verdant as, slowly, you climb the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
The Wiwa have called this mountain range – which stretches from the snow-capped peaks to the shores of the Caribbean – home for centuries. Although chunks of their territory have been lost over the years to colonizers, marijuana plantations or encroaching farmland, the indigenous reserve that they share stretches for 400,000 hectares, twice the size of the island of Mauritius.

[India] Tiger reintroduction cannot be done soon: Biologist
By Jotirmay Thapliyal, Tribune India, 30 September 2016
The tiger reintroduction programme cannot be undertaken in the country for the next few years due to inadequate habitat.
Tiger biologist and senior Wildlife Institute of India scientist Qamar Qureshi said while there was growing demand for tiger relocation to various protected areas of the country, it would take some years as present there was no habitat in the country suitable where tiger could be reintroduced.

Indonesia exploring new model to fund national parks
By Fidelis E. Satriastanti,, 30 September 2016
Indonesia’s cash-strapped environment ministry is looking into establishing a trust fund to support conservation in the heavily forested Southeast Asian nation, using money from foreign donors.
The move would bolster a conservation regime whose annual budget parliament recently slashed from 900 billion rupiah to 800 billion rupiah ($69.5 million to $61.9 million). That’s the ministry’s money for managing 550 protected areas spanning a total of 27 million hectares, an area larger than New Zealand.
Neighboring Malaysia allocates an average of $20 per hectare per year to manage its conservation areas; Indonesia’s budget is just a fraction of that.

South Africa: Rural Communities Important in Conservation 30 September 2016
Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has called for the recognition and involvement of rural communities in the conservation of biodiversity.
She was speaking during discussions on livelihoods and food security at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) currently underway in Johannesburg.
“South Africa initiated the implementation of the Biodiversity Economy Strategy as a key transformational intervention to ensure that rural communities’ development takes place, especially in communities that have benefitted from our land reform process and opportunities relating to legal international trade will form part of this programme,” said Minister Molewa on Thursday.

1 October 2016

India one of the most unsafe countries for tigers:WWF report
By Seema Sharma, The Times of India, 1 October 2016
A recent report prepared by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has found that India is one of the most unsafe countries in the world for tigers. According to excerpts of the report released on September 29 by the NGO TRAFFIC, body parts of as many as 1,755 rare animals were seized in Asia in the last 16 years. Of these, body parts equating to almost 540 tigers were recovered from India.
Published ahead of a critical debate on the illegal tiger trade at the world’s largest wildlife trade meeting currently underway in South Africa, the report titled ‘Reduced to Skin and Bones Re-examined’ found that the demand for tiger products across Asia, which shows no decline, continues to fuel the illegal trade. What is alarming, says the study is that only 3,900 tigers remain in the wild in Asia with evidence indicating that an increasing number of seized animals originated from captive breeding operations.

[Philippines] Protected Sierra Madre means life for IPs, the whole nation
By Jonathan L. Mayuga, Business Mirror, 1 October 2016
According to the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc. (SSMNA), citing a 2004 study by Eken, et al. and a 2007 study by Langhammer, et al. key biodiversity areas (KBAs) are identified nationally using simple, globally standardized criteria and thresholds, based on the needs of biodiversity requiring safeguards at the site scale.
The Sierra Madre has at least 201 species of mammals, 556 species of birds, over 85 species of amphibians and 252 species of reptiles, of which 48 percent are endemic, with many of these near-threatened, critical, vulnerable and endangered.

2 October 2016

World’s Nations Take A Stand To Save The Helmeted Hornbill From Extinction
Wildlife Conservation Society, 2 October 2016
Governments at CITES CoP17 took action today calling for stricter enforcement from all nations to prevent the extinction of the helemted hornbill.
The CITES Parties agreed to adopt a strong Resolution and Decisions calling for urgent and integrated conservation and law enforcement measures, as well as coordinated efforts on the part of both consumer and range States as necessary to prevent the species from going extinct.
“This is a great victory for the helmeted hornbill that has been ruthlessly hunted for its red ivory as the elephant has been killed off for its ivory,” said Noviar Andayani, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia Program. “Many have heard about the elephant ivory crisis and now it is time to hear more about the helmeted hornbill ivory crisis and take swift action to save it.”

African grey parrot has global summit to thank for protected status
By Damien Carrington, The Guardian, 2 October 2016
The loquacious African grey parrot, one of the most illegally trafficked birds in the world, has been talking itself towards extinction for years thanks to its reputation as a gregarious and long-living pet.
On Sunday it was given extra protection after a global wildlife summit agreed a ban on the international trade.
“If this bird could talk, the African grey parrot would say thank you,” said Susan Lieberman, of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Now, with the protection, the voice of the African grey parrot will not be silenced across the great forests of Africa.”

Great Indian Bustard gets counted at international forum
By Virat A. Singh, DNA India, 2 October 2016
There is some good news for the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard (GIB) as they have managed to get a major chunk of attention during the world’s largest conservation event- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress held earlier this month.
Not more than 250 GIB’s are found only in fragmented habitats in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and at the moment Rajasthan has the highest population followed by the Kutch region of Gujarat. Meanwhile, wildlife conservationists are worried that if immediate steps are not taken to conserve the bird and its habitat they will soon go extinct.

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