Conservation in the news: 16-22 January 2017

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.

16 January 2017

[India] Public hearing begins in Mundaragi taluk on conservation
The Hindu, 16 January 2017
The crucial public hearing on the conservation of biodiversity rich Kappatagudda hill range began at Dambal in Mundaragi taluk of Gadag district with hundreds of people turning up to present their views.
Seer of Gadag Tontadarya Mutt Sri Siddhalinga Swami and other seers who have opposed the withdrawal of notification, district in-charge Minister H.K. Patil and other elected representatives are present.
As per the procedure those willing to air their views were given token numbers and accordingly they were allowed to speak.
Deputy Commissioner of Gadag Manoj Jain is chairing the public consultation.

[South Africa] Poachers arrested in Kruger National Park
ENCA, 16 January 2017
South African National Parks (SANParks) on Monday confirmed the arrest of 11 suspects in anti-poaching operations inside and outside the Kruger National Park.
SANParks said the arrests were carried out by the SANParks Rangers Corps, the SAPS and the Hawks.
“The first arrests took place in the Malelane area outside the KNP (the park), where six suspects were taken into custody and a high calibre firearm and ammunition confiscated.
“A second SAPS operation in the Hazyview area 57km outside KNP resulted in the recovery of six rhino horns. Inside the KNP, Satara rangers managed to arrest three suspected rhino poachers in a follow up operation and recovered a fire arm, ammunition and poaching equipment.”

[Thailand] Farm-raiding wild elephants moved to national park
By Waedao Harai, Bangkok Post, 16 January 2017
Two wild elephants that have been raiding village crops for 5 months were finally moved to a national park in an 11 hour operation overnight involving 500 people.
The villagers were joined by soldiers, administrators, park rangers, police and veterinarians. Late Sunday they began patiently herding the elephants from a fruit farm where they had been located in Ban Buenae Nakor, in tambon Tamayung of Si Sakhon district, to a local road where two large trucks were parked, waiting.

17 January 2017

E.O. Wilson on Half-Earth, Donald Trump, and hope
By Jeremy Hance,, 17 January 2017
At 87, E.O. Wilson has lost none of his intellectual rigor.
His sentences are long, rolling, full of enough parentheticals to make Proust smile, and delivered in a wonderfully soothing, southern voice. He has an incredible ability to jump from subject to subject, to provide detailed context and endless lines of proofs for every argument. He can spout data like fertility statistics or findings from the latest research on the fly.
But, for all his accomplishments, he has retained a politeness that is pleasantly disarming and a humility that is astounding. When you speak with him – even as I did over the phone – you feel like you’re talking to a grandparent (who just happens to be a genius) and not one of the foremost scientists of the last hundred years.

Travel Trade Industry Joins Coalition to Combat Wildlife Trafficking Worldwide
U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance press release, 17 January 2017
Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), American Society for Travel Agents (ASTA), and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), announced today they will be working to help travelers recognize and avoid purchasing the illegal wildlife products that are decimating global populations of elephants, rhinos, tortoises and other endangered species. These actions support the mission of the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (the Alliance), a public-private partnership in which corporate and non-profit member organizations, including WildAid and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), work together with governmental entities to raise awareness about the dangers of wildlife trafficking and to stop consumer demand for endangered species products. Together, the Associations serve more than 25 million travelers annually.

Heart-Wrenching Picture Reveals Why We Need to Change Our Relationship With Wild Animals
By Aisling Maria Cronin, One Green Planet, 17 January 2017
The illegal wildlife trade is a worldwide, black-market industry that targets rare and endangered animal species for their use as exotic pets, food, medicinal ingredients, jewelry, household trinkets, and more. Its effect on endangered animal populations has been devastating. For example, approximately 100 African elephants are killed for their ivory tusks – which are often turned into decorative ornaments – every single day. Between 2012 and 2015 alone, over 103,000 elephants were killed by poachers. Africa has now lost 60 percent of its elephant population, and many conservation experts fear that the continent’s elephants could become extinct by the year 2025.

[India] No report that jumbo population has decreased
By Sugyan Choudhury, The Pioneer, 17 January 2017
He discovers heaven in the wildlife and extends them a cover of overwhelming security by maintaining a strict vigil and surveillance under his Nelson eyes through an elaborate system of arrangements. An IFS officer of the 1982 batch, Siddhanta Das had a number of assignments to his credit in his chequered career as Member Secretary, State Pollution Control Board, Executive Director, Odisha State Disaster Mitigation Authority (OSDMA), Managing Director, Odisha Forest Development Corporation, Chief Conservator of Forests, Bhubaneswar Circle, Project Director, World Food Programme, Bhubaneswar and Professor, Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Dehradun. Having climbed the hierarchical ladder, presently he is posted as Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife)-cum-Chief Wildlife Warden of the State. A calm and collected man of few words, his plans and programmes, agenda and actions on the preservation and protection of wildlife, its flora and fauna, are more eloquent than the unusual reticence he wears on his face. In an interview to The Pioneer, Das spoke to Sugyan Choudhury on many wide-ranging problems and issues concerning the wild life.

A Provincial Government in Indonesia Wants to Develop UNESCO World Heritage Rainforest
By Jonathan Emont, Time, 17 January 2017
The Leuser National Park in Indonesia is famed for its biodiversity. But now a provincial government wants to allow development across more than half the ecosystem, and even build a geothermal plant right in the middle of it
A burly russet-haired male orangutan swings through the trees of Leuser National Park, a massive rainforest habitat in Northern Sumatra, attempting to chase off a band of hikers who have appeared in his section of forest. Not far away, a massive blue-brown peacock caws, seeking out a mate. It is just a few miles of hiking from the base camp of Bukit Lawang, but the Sumatran rainforest buzzes with the sounds of animal life: monkey’s hoots, warbles of tropical birds, the buzzing of insects.

18 January 2017

Most Primate Species Threatened With Extinction, Scientists Find
By Carl Zimmer, The New York Times, 18 January 2017
Our fellow primates are in trouble.
In a study of unprecedented scope, a team of 31 primatologists h as analyzed every known species of primate to judge how they are faring. The news for man’s closest animal relatives is not good.
Three-quarters of primate species are in decline, the researchers found, and about 60 percent are now threatened with extinction. From gorillas to gibbons, primates are in significantly worse shape now than in recent decades because of the devastation from agriculture, hunting and mining.

Primates will go extinct soon if we don’t take conservation more seriously
By Angela Chen, The Verge, 18 January 2017
We’re going to see mass primate extinction in the next few decades if we don’t take conservation efforts more seriously now, say researchers who conducted the most comprehensive review of primate status so far.
For a study published today in the journal Science Advances, scientists combined information from the Red List of endangered species, United Nations databases, and scientific literature to analyze the state of over 500 primates (which include monkeys, apes, and even lemurs) around the world. By taking into account everything from trends in forest loss to the impact of illegal trade to agriculture, they found that 60 percent of primates are at risk of extinction, and about three-fourths have declining populations.

Conservation’s best kept secret (database)
By Jeremy Hance,, 18 January 2017
There are only 200 southern warrus left. Warru is the wonderfully Australian name for the black-footed (or black-flanked) rock wallaby, whose southern subspecies – Petrogale lateralis lateralis – lies perilously close to extinction.
Since 2011, conservationists working with the Monarto Zoo have successfully released 23 captive-born individuals back into the wild, giving the southern warru a chance for survival. But the success of this conservation mission has depended in part on an NGO thousands of miles away, in the U.S. state of Minnesota, that stores data collected on the warrus, including which wallaby should mate with which, given their low genetic diversity.

Two poachers killed in Kenyan national park: wildlife service
By Ken Karuri, AFP, 18 January 2017
Two suspected poachers were shot dead Tuesday during an exchange of fire with rangers at a national park in southeastern Kenya, the national wildlife service reported.
A total of four armed intruders, “suspected to have been on a poaching mission”, were discovered in Tsavo East National Park, a busy tourist destination which is home to large mammals including elephants and rhinos.
There was “a fierce fire exchange which resulted in two suspected poachers being eliminated,” the Kenya Wildlife Service said in a statement.

19 January 2017

Prince Harry announced as patron of Rhino Conservation Botswana
By Julie Delahaye, Hello Magazine, 19 January 2017
A vocal advocate of the importance of conservation projects, Prince Harry has taken his dedication to the next level by becoming the new patron of Rhino Conservation Botswana (RCB). The 32-year-old has opened up about his new role, explaining that he hopes he will be able to “give something back” to Botswana.
“I’ve been lucky enough to visit Botswana for more than 20 years and am incredibly fortunate to be able to call it my second home,” he said in a statement. “Being Patron of RCB is an opportunity to give something back to a country that has given so much to me.”

[India] ‘Funds allocated for tiger reserves being wasted’
By Meera Bhardwaj, The New Indian Express, 19 January 2017
Too much of funding, corruption and media attention is the root cause of tiger deaths in Karnataka, according to former wildlife officials and experts. The five tiger reserves in the state receive crores of rupees in the form of budgetary support, grants, tiger conservation foundation funds and from NGOs.
This financial year, they have received about `200 crore just for the installation of rail fence barriers which ideally could have been used for relocation of people from these reserves. There is no money for voluntary relocation programme and people have been waiting for years now, they pointed out.

Myanmar to launch elephant conservation project
By Pyae Thet Phyo, Myanmar Times, 19 January 2017
Amid a dramatic rise in elephant poaching, the government is stepping up efforts to protect the tusked mammals with a new conservation project expected to be unveiled later this week.
Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation U Ohn Win said the Myanmar Elephant Conservation Project will legislate against killing elephants, and will also include establishing a registry of both wild and domesticated elephants.

Improved collaboration to conserve forests, biodiversity in West Africa
By Jude Fuhnwi, BirdLife International, 19 January 2017
More than 40 participants representing 34 donor organizations, private sector companies, executing agencies and civil society organisations have agreed to work together and develop the capacities of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) involved in biodiversity conservation and environmental management within the Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot.
During a biodiversity conservation donor roundtable on 12 -13 January 2017 in Accra, Ghana, conservation experts agreed to collaborate more closely to address key challenges facing grant making in the hotspot, by engaging more with local CSOs operating in the region. The two-day meeting was organised by BirdLife International, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund’s (CEPF) Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for the Guinean Forests of West Africa, in collaboration with the USAID – West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WABiCC).

20 January 2017

21 January 2017

Creative conservation may help globally threatened species: Study
By Neo Chai Chin, Today Online, 21 January 2017
You probably could not tell from the abundance of Javan mynas in Singapore, but the yellow-beaked grey bird is a victim of the illegal wildlife trade in its native range in Java, where its population has plummeted.
Its wild population in Java and Bali in Indonesia is estimated to be between 2,500 and 9,999. In contrast, more than 100,000 of them are found in Singapore, where they were introduced via the caged bird trade and have been established since 1925.
Dr Luke Gibson of the University of Hong Kong and Mr Yong Ding Li, a Singaporean PhD student at Australian National University, have proposed in a new research paper two ways in which Singapore and other cities can help in the conservation of globally threatened species.

[India] Fight for environmental conservation a losing battle: Jairam Ramesh
The Indian Express, 21 January 2017
Senior Congress leader and former Union Environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday said environmental issues are primarily political matters and they have to be settled in political domains. “Today’s political appetite is not for environment and nature conservation, but for faster growth and development,” he said while delivering the annual Bodeswaran Foundation lecture Thiruvananthapuram.
Stating that he was a bit pessimistic about the future of nature conservation campaigns and movements in the country, Ramesh said environment conservation has become a ‘losing battle’ now-a-days. “Environmental issues are not social issues or ecological issues or economic issues. They are political fundamentally. They have to be settled in political domains. It is ultimately the political establishment and political class which has to take call on the matter,” he said.

22 January 2017

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