Conservation in the news: 23-29 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.

23 January 2017

What’s Behind the Impending Primate Mass Extinction
By Nathan Collins, Pacific Standard, 23 January 2017
Though we don’t think much about non-human primates, they certainly play an integral role in our lives. Apes and monkeys help to maintain biodiversity and forest health, are important cultural and religious symbols, and have generally provided scientists with valuable insights into the world.
It’s a real shame, then, that we’re driving them to extinction.

The state of private investment in conservation
By Eric Hallstein, Dan Winterson and Camilla Seth, GreenBiz, 23 January 2017
Economists and businesses traditionally have viewed most natural resources as raw material inputs. To have ultimate value, these resources generally need to be processed, developed or otherwise modified. Recent years have seen investors asserting that the conservation of these resources has demonstrable financial value as well.
The growing community of conservation investors, surveyed for a new report released this week, is building the case — and a market — that shows that nature can provide quantifiable economic benefit by preserving or enhancing clean water, habitat protection or food and fiber provision.

[Cameroon] Leaked report reveals WWF knew about “Pygmy” abuse
Survival International, 23 January 2017
An internal report commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) into the impact of its conservation work in Cameroon on Baka “Pygmies” has been leaked after WWF denied it existed. It reveals:
– WWF knew that the Baka had not been consulted over the national parks which have taken over their land. However, the organization has since maintained publicly that there was “a high level of … community consent.”
– Some ecoguards patrolling the area “behave like masters and lords” towards the Baka, mounting “crackdowns” that are “terrifying.” Despite this, a WWF spokesman described the ecoguards as “performing their designated function of protecting the forests and securing the access and areas of forest communities, including … the Baka.”

Iran seeks UNESCO recognition for Arasbaran protected area
Tehran Times, 23 January 2017
The Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization has compiled a comprehensive file for possible inscription of the Arasbaran region on the UNESCO list, said Morteza Abdar, an official with the CHTHO.
The region enjoys distinctive characteristics as it embraces one of the oldest brick domes in the world, a relatively exact circular urban terrain and some vestiges of other historical monuments, Mehr news agency quoted Abdar as saying on Jan. 19.

24 January 2017

[Cambodia] No Wood, But Permit in Protected Area Extended
By Aisha Down, Cambodia Daily, 24 January 2017
The Agriculture Ministry renewed the license for timber extraction on a land concession in a protected area in September, despite previously concluding that the land within the concession had been completely cleared, according to a conservation group and documents obtained by reporters this month.
Amid pressure from environmental groups, the decision on the Chinese-operated Yellow Field sugar plantation was reversed a month later, in what the agriculture minister said on Monday was simply a case of confusion.

25 January 2017

‘I’ve Always Been Fascinated’ Arsenal Star Reveals Why He Fully Supports Animal Conservation
By Seni Oyewumi, 90 min, 25 January 2017
Aaron Ramsey learned about animal conservation from a young age as a result of watching nature documentaries as a kid; the now 26-year old knew from back then that he wanted to help out as much as possible once he’d grown up.
The Welsh midfielder hosts fundraising golf tournaments in his free time, in addition to using his high profile to raise awareness on social media and help charitable campaigns related to animal conservation – however, speaking to ​, he revealed that it was only once he saw endangered species first hand that he realised how much of a difference he could make.

Saint Lucia advancing Protected Areas Management
Saint Lucia Times, 25 January 2017
The Department of Sustainable Development in the Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations, and Sustainable Development is hosting a 3-day workshop with key Protected Area (PA) stakeholders on the island from January 25 to 27, 2017.
The aim of this second workshop, is to develop an action plan to support the formal adoption and implementation of a Systems Plan for Protected Areas for Saint Lucia. This initiative is funded and facilitated by the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme and implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

[Tanzania] NASA gives chimps a helping hand with satellite analysis of their habitats
By Cecile Borkhataria, Daily Mail, 25 January 2017
NASA has released satellite images showing the impact of deforestation in the region around Gombe National Park in Tanzania.
NASA collaborated with the US Geological Survey (USGS) to capture the images with the Landsat satellite in an effort to help conserve chimpanzees, which are an endangered species.
There are approximately 345,000 or fewer chimps left in the wild and are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

26 January 2017

“Serious Retreats” In Indigenous Rights Protection, Says UN Rapporteur
By Tharanga Yakupitiyage, IPS, 26 January 2017
As the 10-year anniversary for the Declaration on Indigenous Rights approaches, UN indigenous rights activists came together to assess the many challenges that still remain on the ground.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007, is the first of its kind to recognise and highlight the importance of indigenous rights.
“The UN Declaration is a declaration that contains the collective nature of the rights of indigenous peoples. (It) is meant to bring about remedies to kinds of historical and current injustices that indigenous people suffer,” said UN Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz during a press briefing on 26 January.

High-tech maps of tropical forest diversity identify new conservation targets, 26 January 2017
New remote sensing maps of the forest canopy in Peru test the strength of current forest protections and identify new regions for conservation effort, according to a report led by Carnegie’s Greg Asner published in Science.
Asner and his Carnegie Airborne Observatory team used their signature technique, called airborne laser-guided imaging spectroscopy, to identify preservation targets by undertaking a new approach to study global ecology—one that links a forest’s variety of species to the strategies for survival and growth employed by canopy trees and other plants. Or, to put it in scientist-speak, their approach connects biodiversity and functional diversity.

15 risks and opportunities to global conservation
By Olivia Bailey,, 26 January 2017
For the eighth year running, an international team of experts with experience in horizon scanning, science communication and research have produced a report that identifies arising global conservation issues. The team included Fauna & Flora International’s Dr Abigail Entwistle and the results were published in the scientific journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution.
Horizon scanning aims to highlight topics that are not yet widely known among conservation professionals but could have significant effects on global biodiversity. After reviewing 100 potential issues the team identified 15 topics most likely to have a significant impact on conservation over the next few years; these range from new developments in biotechnology, sand extraction, underwater robotics and blockchain technology.

Environment Ministry Now Controls 40 Percent of Cambodia’s Land
By Aisha Down, Cambodia Daily, 26 January 2017
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday signed a sub-decree to create “biodiversity conservation corridors”—patches of land connecting Cambodia’s protected areas—putting an additional 1.4 million hectares under the management of the Environment Ministry.
This brings Cambodia’s protected areas overseen by the ministry to more than 40 percent of the country’s land area.
“The biodiversity conservation corridors are drawn up to connect the protected areas to one another,” said Sao Sopheap, ministry spokesman. “They enrich ecosystem functions, and they’ll enlarge the extent of protected areas.”

[Cayman Islands] Submissions sought on proposed Protected Areas
Cayman Compass, 26 January 2017
Birders in East End have long set their sights on a brackish pond, tucked away at Grand Cayman’s eastern end beside the Queen’s Highway, that hosts a variety of local and migratory birds.
Colliers Bay Pond, as a former Animal Sanctuary protected under the Animals Law (1976), automatically became a Protected Area under the National Conservation Law.
It is one of three such sites in the Cayman Islands, all of which are ponds surrounded by buffer vegetation that is important to resident and migratory waterbirds.

[Pakistan] Conservation of endangered wild species in Thar demanded
Daily Times, 26 January 2017
Speakers at a seminar held on Wednesday expressed serious concern over startling depletion in population of wild species in Thar. They insisted upon the public and influential people to stop illegal hunting in Thar for the protection and conservation of rare species who are on the verge of extinction owing to their ruthless hunting and trapping.
They demanded the government to impose a complete ban on hunting and poaching in Thar.
They were speaking at a half-day seminar on “Protection of Wildlife in Thar” held in the Prof. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui Auditorium of International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi (UoK).

Andean bear survey in Peru Finds humans not the only visitors to Machu Picchu, 26 January 2017
A recent wildlife survey led by SERNANP (Servicio Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas por el Estado) and WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) in the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu in Peru has confirmed that the world-famous site is also home to a biologically important and iconic species: the Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus).
Funded by the Andean Bear Conservation Alliance, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the year-long survey revealed the presence of Andean bears in more than 95 percent of the 368-square-kilometer study area, which includes the famous Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, one of the most visited places in South America. While it was previously known that Andean bears existed in the sanctuary, the new survey’s findings reveal a much wider presence of bears throughout the protected area.

27 January 2017

[India] Haryana mulls changing status of protected forest areas
By Ipsita Pati, Hindustan Times, 27 January 2017
The Haryana government is mulling to change the status of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) area that falls in Gurgaon and Faridabad. In a meeting on Friday, the divisional commissioner of Gurgaon, D Suresh, asked divisional forest officers of the two districts to identify the total PLPA area and also the status of the ‘yet to be decided’ natural conservation zone (NCZ) category area.
The move has drawn criticism from environmentalists who say the plan is to remove a large chunk of land from the status of forest to benefit the builders’ lobby.

[India] Sanjay Gandhi National Park wants Mumbai to get a better view of big cats, to submit new proposal for leopard safari
By Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, 27 January 2017
After the central zoo authority (CZA) rejected their proposal for a leopard safari last year, officials of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Borivli have come up with two new proposals to display the big cats for Mumbaiites.
The CZA had, in October, denied permission for a safari at the 20-hectare proposed site, citing security concerns owing to the dense tree cover. As leopards can climb trees, it would have posed a man-animal conflict threat to tourists during the safari.

[India] This national park tracked down rhino poachers thanks to a selfie
By Sohini Mitter, Mashable, 27 January 2017
While India holds the notorious record of witnessing maximum selfie deaths in the world for two successive years, here’s one instance where selfies have actually turned helpful.
The Assam Police has tracked down two poachers through the selfies clicked inside Kaziranga National Park in northeastern India. The duo had allegedly killed a female rhino in June last year, and were arrested on Wednesday in central Assam’s Nagaon district, the Hindustan Times reported.
The Kaziranga National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site and houses two-thirds of the planet’s great one-horned rhinoceros. There are 2,401 rhinos in the sanctuary of which nearly 800 are females.

[USA] MIT, Conservation International announce collaboration on climate adaptation and mitigation
By Becky Ham, MIT News, 27 January 2017
MIT and Conservation International (CI) will participate in a multiyear collaboration to develop and advance nature-based solutions to global climate change, through research, education, and outreach efforts, the organizations announced today.
The collaboration brings together MIT’s technical, scientific, and engineering expertise with Conservation International’s expansive environmental programs, to look for ways that forests, coastal ecosystems, and urban areas can be managed to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

28 January 2017

New Maps Show How Our Consumption Affects Wildlife Thousands of Miles Away
By Shreya Dasgupta, Pacific Standard, 28 January 2017
Global trade has made it easier to buy things. But our consumption habits often fuel threats to biodiversity — such as deforestation, overhunting, and overfishing — thousands of miles away.
Now, scientists have mapped how major consuming countries drive threats to endangered species elsewhere. Such maps could be useful for finding the most efficient ways to protect critical areas important for biodiversity, the researchers suggest in a new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
“Conservation measures must consider not just the point of impact, but also the consumer demand that ultimately drives resource use,” the researchers write in the paper.

[Chad] The Rare African Park Where Elephants Are Thriving
By Rachel Nuwer, National Geographic, 28 January 2017
The visitors had been in Chad’s Zakouma National Park for nearly a week, delighting in the wildlife they’d traveled thousands of miles to see: hoary buffalos; towering giraffes; cartoonish hartebeests; storks, eagles, pelicans, and songbirds galore; even a leopard prowling at dusk. But so far no elephants.
Now with less than a day left in their stay, luck was finally on their side: Signals from radio-collared elephants indicated that Zakouma’s herd of more than 500—likely Africa’s largest—was in the vicinity. A trail of beach ball-size footprints, fresh dung piles, and snapped saplings confirmed it, as did trumpeting and deep, growl-like noises that resonated from the opposite bank of a crocodile-infested river. No matter—the visitors took off their shoes and waded across the knee-deep water.

The tiger is India’s soul, you can’t lose it, says legendary biologist Dr Schaller
By Meera Bhardwaj, The New Indian Express, 28 January 2017
Unless local communities are involved in conservation and wildlife protection issues, one cannot save tigers or stem the continuing deaths in Karnataka. Tiger is part of India’s soul and you cannot afford to lose it, said legendary field biologist Dr George Schaller.
One of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation movement in the world, Schaller’s field research has helped shape wildlife protection efforts globally, be it the US, China, Brazil, South-East Asia, Nepal or Africa.

29 January 2017

[India] Conservation does not exclude people: Gadgil
The Hindu, 29 January 2017
“Science is the most democratic of knowledge systems and ecology is the most democratic of sciences. It is the duty of a scientist to provoke questioning, to stimulate thinking, and to rouse debate by raising questions and by bringing out inconvenient truths,” eminent ecologist and chairman of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) Madhav Gadgil has said.
Dr. Gadgil was delivering a lecture on ‘Science, democracy and ecology: the Western Ghats experience’ at the 29th Kerala Science Congress in Thiruvalla on Saturday.

[India] Gujarat govt will continue with Narmada conservation work: Min, 29 January 2017
The Gujarat government would continue with the awareness campaign for conservation of river Narmada in it’s state, a senior minister in Madhya Pradesh said.
The Madhya Pradesh government is conducting a five- month long ‘Namami Devi Narmade – Sewa Yatra’ to create awareness about the river’s conservation. Narmada also passes through Gujarat.
“Gujarat government would continue with the ‘Namami Devi Narmade – Sewa Yatra’ once it reaches Alirajpur (the bordering district of MP and Gujarat),” Minister of Industries in Madhya Pradesh government Rajendra Shukla said at a Jan-Samvad (public interaction) programme organised under this yatra at village Pachola under Harda district yesterday.

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