Conservation in the news: 19-25 December 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.

19 December 2016

The case for putting people before nature
By Nathanael Johnson, Grist, 19 December 2016
The women collected dead butterflies and attached their wings to wire-frame silhouettes of animals; then, at least in theory, they’d sell them. That was the plan for improving life and protecting the landscape around the Mexican village of Tres Reyes.
The nonprofit U Yool Ché hatched this plan in hopes of providing an environmentally friendly alternative to hunting and clearing land for cornfields. The tiny town of Tres Reyes is in the Yucatan Peninsula, in the buffer-zone surrounding the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, 1.3 million protected acres of tropical forests, palm savannah, mangrove stands, marshes, and dunes sheltered from the sea by a barrier reef.
The conservationists hoped to protect the wildlife — jaguars, ocelots, deer — moving in and out of Sian Ka’an and give the people of Tres Reyes an alternative way of making a living that wouldn’t tarnish the land — turning them into artisans.

20 December 2016

Bhutan’s parks in good state
By Tshering Palden, Kuensel, 20 December 2016
Bhutan’s forest cover as of 2016 is 70.59 percent and the protected areas in Bhutan are well managed, the first ever status report on Bhutan’s 10 wildlife parks and the Royal Botanical Park in Lamperi reveals.
The agriculture and forest ministry launched the first report on the status and effectiveness of protected areas in the country recently. The report was the outcome of the Bhutan Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT+) adapted from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s standard methodology tried in the past two years.
The tool is now being made a component of the protected area management system through an executive order from the government.

21 December 2016

[DRC] New Nature Reserve Completes Massive Protected Area Complex in the Congo
Rainforest Trust, 21 December 2016
On December 21, Kabobo Natural Reserve was established in the southern section of the Misotshi-Kaboga massif, an area in southeastern DRC that is of critical importance for amphibian, bird and mammal conservation, including the Kabobo Apalis (an endangered, endemic bird) and a population stronghold of the Eastern Chimpanzee. Together with the adjacent Ngandja Natural Reserve, which Rainforest Trust helped to create in August 2016, these two new protected areas safeguard over one million acres for the region’s endangered wildlife and rich biodiversity.
Rainforest Trust supported the Albertine Rift Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society in a joint collaboration with other groups to create both the newly established Kabobo Natural Reserve and Ngandja Natural Reserve. These organizations have worked tirelessly to safeguard habitat for endangered species and cultivate community support for the new protected areas, despite the boundary changes that have affected the reserve designation process.

[Republic of Congo] 2Pac elephant poaching syndicate in Congo smashed
The Citizen, 21 December 2016
This arrest and conviction underlines several key advances in the park’s anti-poaching efforts over the past two years.
The Republic of Congo has witnessed war and human tragedy, but a war of another kind is being fought – a war to save endangered wildlife, particularly elephants, from poaching syndicates that have ravaged the country.
However, an integrated approach, with on-the-ground patrols coupled with intelligence-driven operations, is effectively taking down the patrons of elephant poaching and dismantling the criminal syndicates, according to a press release by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
This summer, wildlife rangers from the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, a protected area managed by WCS, arrested more than 30 poachers; seized more than 100 kilograms of ivory and detained six semi-automatic weapons around the limits of the park.
This includes the arrest and conviction of an ivory trafficker tied to one the most notorious poaching rings in northern Congo.
Samuel Pembele has been sentenced to five years in jail by Ouesso’s criminal court, the maximum penalty under Congolese law.

[India] No construction in 10 km area around the Corbett National Park: Uttarakhand HC
DNA India, 21 December 2016
To check devastating forest fires, Uttarakhand High Court has issued a slew guidelines including ban on construction in 10 km area around the Corbett National Park and other protected areas, even as it directed the Centre to formulate National Forest Policy within next three months.
A division bench of justices Rajeev Sharma and Alok Singh, which was hearing a PIL on forest fires in the hill state, ordered employing 10,000 fire watchers in the coming year to curb incidents of forest fires. The court directed that an area of 10 km around Corbett National Park and such other parks be declared as eco-sensitive zone and no construction be allowed there.

[India] Villagers protest against inclusion of Udaisagar lake in protected zone
By Geetha Sunil Pillai, Times of India, 21 December 2016
To protest the recent decision of Lakes Development Authority to include three laked under prohibited zone, people from 12 villages on the periphery of Udaisagar lake have started agitation for last 2-3 days.
The decision would badly affect their lives, as most of the villagers are cultivators and depend on lake water for irrigation. The villagers belong to Kanpur, Madri, Panwadi, Debari, Tila Khera, Matoon, Kharbadia, Lakadwas, Mota Devra, Bhoiyon-ki-Pancholi and surrounding areas. In a meeting held on Tuesday, activists and villagers discussed the consequences of LDA’s decision on livelihood and lives of the residents concerned.

22 December 2016

[Cambodia] Environment Ministry’s Annual Report Out
The Khmer Times, 22 December 2016
The Environment Ministry’s annual report revealed 600 forestry crimes in protected areas, while there were nearly 700 cases of fishing, wildlife and land crimes.
The report, released yesterday, showed that rangers, in collaboration with relevant parties, managed to prevent and suppress offenses at national parks, wildlife habitats and protected areas, but crime was still widespread in 2016.
It said offenders took the opportunity to commit crimes such as illegal logging, forest clearing to grab land in protected areas and other offenses.
The report showed that 592 forest crimes happened in protected areas this year. Authorities seized 235.21 cubic meters of luxury wood, 977 blocks, 293 trees and 65 sheets, while it said 59,133 cubic meters and 103 blocks were burned and destroyed.

Nigerian ‘superhighway’ threatens endangered wildlife and local communities
By Keegan Clements-Housser, Earth Touch News Network, 22 December 2016
A planned six-lane “superhighway” that would carve its way through hundreds of kilometres of remote rainforest is putting Nigeria on a collision course with its local communities and endangered wildlife.
As Africa’s second largest economy, Nigeria has the potential to grow and expand, despite entering a recession earlier this year. But growth and development hinge on upgrades to the country’s long-neglected infrastructure. Enter the “superhighway”.
The proposed road would begin at the southern border of the central state of Benue and run south through the state of Cross River. Its terminus would rest at a planned Atlantic deep-sea port in the contested territory of Bakassi. The project, approved by Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari over a year ago, would create a 12-mile-wide highway running a total of 260 kilometres (162 miles). Plans also include modern features such as Wi-Fi internet connectivity along the route.

Paraguay Unveils New Management Plan for Jaguars
WCS press release, 22 December 2016
The Government of Paraguay took a major step forward today to ensuring a future for the Western Hemisphere’s largest cat species by completing a country-wide management plan for jaguars, the culmination of two years of cooperation between government agencies, the public and private sectors, and researchers from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and other NGOs.
The “National Jaguar Management Plan 2017-2027 in Paraguay” was announced this morning in Asunción by the Director of Biodiversity Conservation at the Ministry of Environment, Dario Mandelburger, at a ceremony attended by members of SEAM’ s Biodiversity Department, WCS, Itaipu Binacional, the National Ranchers’ Association (ARP), and the media.

23 December 2016

What do experts have to say about Latin American wildlife trafficking?
By Alexa Eunoé Vélez Zuazo, mongabay.com, 23 December 2016
The Mongabay-Latam team spent weeks investigating the illicit world of wildlife trafficking. Officials, specialists and lawyers helped this group of journalists reveal how this illegal market works, which species have the highest demand, where trading routes and extraction points are found, which countries buy wildlife products and what techniques traffickers use. They carefully followed every link in a chain that threatens the lives of thousands of animals in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
In this article, specialists analyze the situation in their countries, consider whether a national strategy truly exists and assess how Latin America is affected by wildlife crime — the fourth most profitable illegal activity in the world after drug trafficking, arms and human trafficking.

24 December 2016

India, others get UN rules on tribal rights diluted
By Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava, Hindustan Times, 24 December 2016
India has opposed international guidelines that require free or uninfluenced consent of tribal communities for commercially using their traditional knowledge at the global biodiversity negotiations in Cancun, Mexico.
In the face of the protest from India and others, diluted guidelines allowing countries to obtain consent as per their national legislations were agreed upon.
More than 160 countries negotiated, under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), ways to ensure sustainable use of bio resources, including traditional knowledge of indigenous communities and equitable sharing of benefits from commercial use of such resources with local communities in Cancun last week.

[India] In complete disregard of the law, illegal construction again at Hampi
By Chetan R, Bangalore Mirror, 24 December 2016
In utter disregard for rules, illegal construction has yet again reared its ugly head right in the core zone of the Unesco world heritage site Hampi.
Construction of guesthouses, with no permission or san­ctions whatsoever, has begun silently on the boulders of Hemakoota Hill, one of the most sought after places at the site as it gives the best views of the historical city.
What’s even more disturbing is that the construction is bei­ng done on a building pre­mise that has been declar­ed a defaulted structure.

25 December 2016

Staying ahead of traffickers
By Christina Chin, The Star, 25 December 2016
Tanned and toned, Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhili-tan) director-general Abdul Kadir Hashim is a sportsman – and it shows. An avid traveller, the father of three keeps fit by trekking and hitting the gym regularly.
He spent the first decade of his Perhilitan career doing field work and studying the Sumatran rhino, Malayan gaur and serow before a stint in enforcement led to him helming the Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks. He knows the peninsula’s forests like his own backyard and, with his Aug 25 appointment as DG at age 50, the Perakian has come full circle since joining the department in 1992.
He talks about Perhilitan’s plans to outwit smugglers and keep Malaysia’s wildlife safe.

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