Conservation in the news: 7-13 November 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.

7 November 2016

Most seized elephant ivory comes from recent poaching, study finds
Reuters, 7 November 2016
Seized illicit shipments of elephant ivory are almost entirely made up of tusks from recently poached animals rather than siphoned from government stockpiles, scientists using a forensic technique reported on Monday.
There has been speculation that some ivory making its way illicitly between Africa and Asia has been illegally diverted from state stockpiles, which are collected from domestic seizures and animals that have died naturally in the wild.

Elephant poaching fueled by China costing African countries $25m in tourism revenue – Study
Ghana Business News, 7 November 2016
The surge in elephant poaching fueled by high demand for ivory by China and Asia is costing African countries revenue loses in tourism estimated at $25 million a year, according to a new study.
The study by scientists from World Wide Fund (WWF), the University of Vermont, and the University of Cambridge, the first continent-wide assessment of the financial losses that the current elephant poaching surge is inflicting on nature-based tourism economies, found that in east, southern, and west Africa, investing in elephant conservation brings economic gains similar to investments in education.
The study however, found that in the forested and remote countries of central Africa that do not draw as many tourists; elephants in these places are harder to spot and the protected areas are more difficult to get to, and therefore, they do not suffer the same situation.

[India] Tiger mortality five yrs high
By Moushumi Basu, The Pioneer, 7 November 2016
Tiger mortality in the country has reached an alarming proportion — 110 in 2016 so far — the highest during the last five years.
Forty three of these cases are of poaching and seizures, much higher than 26 such cases registered during the whole of last year.
This is as per the statistics from Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), a NGO working on wildlife crime enforcement. Accordingly, seizures include 225 kilograms of tiger bones, 15 skins, 56 kilograms of meat, besides claws, whiskers, skull and fat of the animal.
Uttarakhand, which shares its borders with Nepal, reported of the highest seizures with 150 kilograms of tiger bones and six skins. Maximum cases of 25 tiger deaths were reported from Madhya Pradesh. These include seven cases of poaching. Thirty two tigers were “found dead” this year — a category that includes mortality due to unexplained circumstances, disease or old age.

8 November 2016

Radical overhaul needed to halt Earth’s sixth great extinction event
By Bill Laurance and Paul Ehrlich, The Conversation, 8 November 2016
Life has existed on Earth for roughly 3.7 billion years. During that time we know of five mass extinction events — dramatic episodes when many, if not most, life forms vanished in a geological heartbeat. The most recent of these was the global calamity that claimed the dinosaurs and myriad other species around 66 million years ago.
Growing numbers of scientists have asserted that our planet might soon see a sixth massive extinction — one driven by the escalating impacts of humanity. Others, such as the Danish economist Bjørn Lomborg, have characterised such claims as ill-informed fearmongering.
We argue emphatically that the jury is in and the debate is over: Earth’s sixth great extinction has arrived.

[India] Protected areas important for large animals, says study, 8 November 2016
Protected areas (PA) are important for large animals, including top predators like tiger, and should not be degazetted, a new study has said. The study, based on transect surveys across four independent sites in the Kameng Protected Area Complex in Arunachal Pradesh, also advocates the significance of community-managed lands which can compliment protected area network. To shed light on the biodiversity value that each PA and community managed land sustains, a team led by field biologist Nandini Velho carried out the surveys in the largest contiguous block of forests in the Eastern Himalaya Global Biodiversity Hotspot.
“Protected areas in general are important for large-bodied species but community-managed lands can play an important role, too, and perhaps compliment the protected area network,” Velho, the lead author, told IANS via email. Velho works with the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science (TESS) and College of Marine and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, in Australia. Arunachal Pradesh, in northeast India, harbours two global biodiversity hotspots, and has the second-highest level of biodiversity globally, after the northern Andes.

[Malaysia] 30pc Sabah to be totally protected
By Kaliegh Rogers, Motherboard, 8 November 2016
Earlier this year, two tiny, striped balls of fuzz came into the world at the Bronx Zoo. But the two female Malayan tiger cubs, named Nadia and Azul, were fragile. Their mother wasn’t providing them with enough care, so zookeepers kept the cubs a secret from the public.
Throughout the spring, keepers hand-reared the cubs, bottle-feeding them every three hours and weighing them daily. In September, they were finally matured enough to make their public debut.
There are only an estimated 250 Malayan tigers left on the planet. Like all tiger subspecies, these big cats are threatened by habitat destruction and poaching. But Malayan tigers are significantly at risk—the International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists them as critically endangered, the most severe classification short of becoming extinct in the wild. So introducing two more into the world is notable.

Irreplaceable – Cross River National Park, Nigeria
BirdLife News, 8 November 2016
Cross River National Park is a large area of lowland and submontane rainforest situated in south-east Nigeria along the border with Cameroon. The park is divided into two sections. The smaller area to the north-east, Okwangwo Division, is separated by about 50 km of disturbed forest from the larger Oban Division. Which is contiguous with Korup National Park in Cameroon.
This is one of the most diverse sites in Nigeria for birds: over 350 bird species have been recorded in this still vastly underexplored park, including the Vulnerable Grey-necked Picathartes Picathartes oreas and Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata. The national park and its vast buffer zone holds no less than 18 species of primates, including lowland gorilla Gorilla gorilla, as well as other endemic and threatened mammals.

9 November 2016

23 Mozambicans, 2 Chinese and 10 Malawians arrested for Lengwe National Park encroaching: Case moved to Blantyre
By Steve Chirombo, Nyasa Times, 9 November 2016
After a heated debate on Tuesday, Chikwawa Magistrate Court transferred the case involving over 30 encroachers that were found cutting down Mopan Tree Species at Lengwe National Park to the Chief Resident Magistrate Court in Blantyre.
The suspects; 23 Mozambicans, 2 Chinese and 10 Malawians were caught last week with several equipment including; chisels, six tractors, three motor bikes, a Volvo Lorry and two land cruisers doing illegal activities in the park.
State prosecutor Inspector Dovito Makawa told the court that he had received information that the Regional Prosecution Officer for the south wanted to take over the case meaning that the case should be transferred to the Chief Resident Magistrate.

10 November 2016

End of the world as we know it is just ahead
By Naser Al Wasmi, The National, 10 November 2016
Mass extinction of species, how to boost economic growth without harming the planet and the effects of mass agriculture are all issues to be addressed at the Cop 22 summit.
The meeting in Morocco, which began this week, follows last year’s Paris Agreement, where 196 countries committed to reducing global warming to less than 2°C.
One of the major discussion points is that the Earth is heading towards a sixth mass extinction – the worst spate of species dying off since the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
According to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report, the extinction could result in a 67 per cent decline in wild vertebrate populations by 2020.
Scientists are beginning to understand how humans rely on the biodiversity of species, and the more wildlife that becomes extinct could threaten human development.

Study: Climate change already dramatically disrupting all elements of nature
Wildlife Conservation Society press release, 10 November 2016
Global changes in temperature due to human-induced climate change have already impacted every aspect of life on Earth from genes to entire ecosystems, with increasingly unpredictable consequences for humans — according to a new study published in the journal Science.
The study found a staggering 80 percent of 94 ecological processes that form the foundation for healthy marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems already show signs of distress and response to climate change.
Impacts to humans include increased pests and disease outbreaks, reduced productivity in fisheries, and decreasing agriculture yields.

Good News for Elephants for a Change
By Dr. Cristián Samper (WCS), Huffington Post, 10 November 2016
My recent visit to Tanzania gives me hope. It started in Tarangire National Park, a beautiful northern ecosystem in which the population of elephants has doubled in 20 years. That’s good news for elephants for a change. Conservation efforts are having a powerful impact thanks to strong national park law enforcement and grassroots efforts by conservation partners in the area.
A Wildlife Conservation Society colleague, Charles Foley, first came to Tarangire in 1993 to work on his doctorate research on the impacts of poaching on elephant populations. These populations had been hit hard by the poaching crisis in the 1980s, but poaching stopped as the tourism industry strengthened.

Ministry plans wildlife corridors to boost Cambodia’s biodiversity
By Christina Maza, The Phnom Penh Post, 10 November 2016
Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment gathered a network of government and civil society representatives on Tuesday to begin planning the creation of a biodiversity conservation corridor that would make it easier for wildlife to thrive.
Biodiversity corridors connect isolated conservation areas with strips of vegetation to allow wild animals to travel from one protected area to the next. Conservationists say the corridors are instrumental in allowing animal populations to grow.
“We want to connect the protected areas to make ecosystems function better than they do now,” said ministry official Sao Sopheap. “We want to link the Eastern Plains and the northern part of the Tonle Sap lake with the southern part, and also the coastal marine areas.”

India Draws International Attention To Conservation Of Himalayan Region At COP22
India Times, 10 November 2016
At the ongoing Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change being held in Morocco, India is taking a strong stance for the conservation of the Himalayan range along with the variety of medicinal herbs that grow in its folds.
PP Dhyani, Director of the GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment in Dehradun says, “COP 21 at Paris has been a major success with now 197 member countries implementing its guidelines from Friday. India gave its own input at Paris under clause Intended Nationally Determined Contribution. As I am representing India at COP 22 so I want to fetch global attention to the vulnerability of the young Himalayas for climate change and its related aspects.”

11 November 2016

Kenya’s private sector urged to support conservation efforts
Xinhua, 11 November 2016
Wildlife conservationists on Friday urged Kenya’s private sector to support the country’s wildlife conservation efforts.
Africans for Elephants Founder Akinyi Adongo told a media briefing in Nairobi that the level of support from the private sector is very low.
“There is a feeling that the private sector is not doing enough to support wildlife conservation efforts,” Adongo said.
“A lot of people globally feel that we as Africans are not doing much to control poaching,” said Adongo during a ceremony where Crown Paints donated 10,000 US dollars to the Walk with Rangers Initiative. Adongo noted that the private sector can help Kenya achieve zero poaching levels.
“The current anti-poaching campaign can receive a boost through donations in cash and kind from the private sector,” she said. She noted that wildlife conservation efforts are largely funded by external donors.
“However, this source of funding is not sustainable given the global financial slow down,” she added.

Gold mining invades new areas of Peruvian Amazon
By Benji Jones,, 11 November 2016
Illegal gold mining in Peru – once restricted to the southern states – is now spreading across new territory in the northern and central Peruvian Amazon. In a report released earlier this month, Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) revealed three new “frontiers” of gold mining in the departments of Amazonas and Huánuco – regions that boast exceptional biological and cultural diversity.
Across the frontiers, MAAP detected 32 hectares of mining deforestation – an area equivalent to about 42 soccer fields. These mining scars are fresh, and relatively small, indicating that a larger-scale deforestation event can still be prevented.
“Deforestation in these cases is still in its early stages, so there is still time to avoid larger-scale damage, as in the case of [the southern region of] Madre de Dios,” the report states.

12 November 2016

[South Africa] Eighteen poachers nabbed at Kruger National Park, 12 November 2016
Eighteen suspected rhino poachers were arrested and 10 firearms recovered in the past seven days during counter-poaching operations in the Kruger National Park (KNP), according to the South African National Parks (SANParks).
“A further seven suspected rhino poachers were arrested along with the recovery of a further two firearms just outside the KNP in joint SANParks ECI [environmental crime investigation department] and SAPS [South African Police Service] operations,” SANParks said in a statement.

[Vietnam] Andy Murray signs WWF petition
By Akshay Kohli, Tennis World, 12 November 2016
Newly crowned World No.1 Andy Murray has signed a petition by World Wildlife Fund calling on Vietnam to end its illegal wildlife trade.
Murray is also a WWF ambassador, added his name to the 155,000 signatures strong petition ahead of a conference on the illegal wildlife trade in Hanoi, Vietnam. Some 1,338 rhinos and around 20,000 elephants were killed across Africa last year by poachers to feed illegal markets in horn and ivory, WWF said.
Murray said, “I have just signed the WWF petition to urge Vietnam to end its illegal trade in wildlife products. Some of the world’s most beautiful species are threatened by this horrendous crime – from tigers to pangolins to elephants to rhinos. It’s up to each one of us to do our part and take a stand against it, so I encourage everyone to sign this petition.”
WWF’s petition, which has signatories from around the world, will be handed to the Vietnamese government at the meeting in Hanoi.

13 November 2016

[India] ‘Regulated tourism holds key to Tadoba’s future’
By Vijay Pinjarkar, The Times of India, 13 November 2016
Nitin Kakodkar (55), is an IFS officer of 1987 batch, posted as additional principal conservator of forests (social forestry) in Pune. A gold medallist from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in Dehradun, Kakodkar has worked extensively in protected areas of Maharashtra.
His work at Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) between 1999 and 2003 is well recognized. Kakodkar’s role as field director of Melghat (2004-2007) too is well acclaimed. A recipient of the Sanctuary Wildlife Service Award in 2001, he was honoured by then governor Mohammad Fazal in 2004 for his work in Tadoba.

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