Conservation in the news: 3-9 April 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.

3 April 2017

Kenya reserve benefits both wildlife and local people
By Lar Boland, The Irish Times, 3 April 2017
The 56,000-acre Loisaba Conservancy in central Kenya is being managed sustainably to conserve wildlife habitats and benefit local communities through jobs in ecotourism, improved schools, healthcare clinics and managed grazing access.
Loisaba is home to a large elephant population, a stable lion population and an abundance of other wildlife. The conservancy employs about 200 people from local communities in jobs such as ecotourism and ranching.For thousands of years herders have shared Kenyan grasslands with elephant, zebra, giraffe, rhino and other wildlife, humans and animals coexisting in a relatively stable environment. However, in recent years this has changed due to poor access to markets.

‘Chaos’ in the Rainforest Over Madagascar’s Precious Gems
Newser, 3 April 2017
A sapphire rush has brought tens of thousands of people into the remote rainforests of eastern Madagascar, disfiguring a protected environmental area and prompting calls for military intervention, the AP reports. More high-quality sapphires have been found in the biodiverse area known as Corridor Ankeniheny-Zahamena in the past six months than in the entire country over the past 20 years, per Vincent Pardieu, a French gemologist who has been visiting mines there for more than a decade. “I can tell you this is big,” Pardieu says. “It’s the most important discovery in Madagascar for the past 20 or 30 years.” Tens of thousands of miners and gem traders have poured into the rainforests around the village of Bemainty, say local officials, adding the miners have cut down thousands of acres of forest in the protected area, which environmental group Conservation International helps manage.

How to protect Peru’s rainforest? Indigenous land titles, researchers say
By Chris Arsenault, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 3 April 2017
Providing formal land ownership titles to indigenous communities is one of the most effective ways to preserve endangered rainforest in Peru’s Amazon, said a study published on Monday.
Forest destruction dropped 75 percent on land once it was formally granted to indigenous communities, said the study by American researchers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Analysing satellite data and land ownership certificates, the researchers compared forest cover on territory before and in the two years after it was formally titled to indigenous communities.
They make the case that granting land titles to indigenous communities who currently control about 10 million hectares of forests in Peru has direct, measurable benefits for Amazon preservation.

Hippo conservation in Togo
DW, 3 April 2017
Hippos are among the largest land mammals in Africa. Poachers hunt them for their ivory, and hippo populations in Togo had shrunk. A conservation project is in place to protect this endangered species.

[USA] Endangered-animal trafficking hits home
By Tom Steinstra, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 April 2017
The nightmare of an elephant, rhinoceros or other endangered species being killed for its parts to be brought into California and sold brings deep pain to David Bess, the chief of enforcement for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“Animal trafficking is a terrible problem,” he said when we met for dinner last week.
Over the winter, California wildlife officers intercepted ivory from endangered elephants, pieces of horn from rhinoceros and other animal parts in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles.

4 April 2017

WildTech covers the high- and low-tech solutions making conservation more effective
By Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, 4 April 2017
On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we welcome Sue Palminteri, editor of Mongabay’s WildTech site as well as a scientist and director of the biodiversity and wildlife solutions program at RESOLVE, a Washington, D.C.-based NGO.
Sue fills us in on the history of the WildTech site and why it is important to highlight the high- and low-tech solutions to challenges in conservation efforts. She also shares with us some of the most interesting technologies and trends that she sees as having the biggest potential to transform the way we go about conserving Earth’s natural resources and wildlife.

[Cambodia] Adhoc accuses Ratanakkiri official of OK’ing sale of sanctuary land
By Phak Seangly, Phnom Penh Post, 4 April 2017
Some 200 hectares of forest in Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary have been cleared and sold for up to $400 per hectare – allegedly with an official’s blessing – while an additional 700 hectares around the protected area face clearing.
This case comes on the heels of the 1,000 hectares of forest that were allegedly logged at the Phnom Nam Lyr Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri late last year.
The land in question is located at the border between Kaleng and Chey Uddom communes in Lumphat district. After the land was cleared by Kaleng villagers, it was sold to a land broker, with Kaleng commune chief Sut Som allegedly signing off on the sale, said Pen Bonnar, senior land investigator with the logging monitoring NGO Adhoc.

[Indonesia] Paying for Health Care With Trees: A Win-Win for Orangutans and Communities
By Claire Salisbury, Pacific Standard, 4 April 2017
“I’m a dentist by training,” says Monica Nirmala, executive director of Indonesian non-profit Alam Sehat Lestari. The name translates to “Healthy Nature Everlasting,” and the organization, known by its acronym ASRI, is a remarkable trailblazer in community-led conservation focused on protecting the forest habitat of Bornean orangutans.
But a dentist? Nirmala’s background isn’t as incongruous as it might first seem: ASRI, and United States-based partner organization Health in Harmony, have made a skillful intuitive leap and are successfully connecting human health with rainforest conservation, or, as they say, “saving the rainforest with a stethoscope.”

[Indonesia] Sumba’s MaTaLaWa National Park lures visitors with ecological attractions
By Markus Markus, Jakarta Post, 4 April 2017
Sumba Island in East Nusa Tenggara is known for its natural and cultural attractions, such as savannahs, sandalwood horses, traditional villages and the Pasola (ancient war ritual) Festival. In addition to those attractions, the island also has Manupeu Tanah Danu and Laiwangi Wangameti National Parks (MaTaLaWa National Park) in West Sumba regency.
Officially integrated in 2016, the MaTaLaWa National Park is home to 84 species of birds, 10 species of mammals, 49 species of butterflies, 29 species of reptiles, 173 different types of trees and more.

5 April 2017

In Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, Conservation Efforts Drown in a Sea of Eucalyptus
By Ignacio Amigo, Mongabay, 5 April 2017
The Brazilian Atlantic Forest is the most threatened biome in Brazil and has been subjected to the harsh consequences of human development. But despite having lost more than 85 percent of its original extension, according to the Brazilian non-profit SOS Mata Atlântica Foundation, it is still a global hotspot for biodiversity and home to many unique species.
Yet desertification continues to plague the central corridor of the Atlantic Forest, spanning Brazil’s southeastern states of Espírito Santo and Bahia. Representing an area larger than the state of Delaware, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) figures show that these two states play host to more than 880,000 hectares of eucalyptus. To the south, the government has handed over management of 25 Atlantic Forest state parks to private companies.

[India] Divert global attention for Dal conservation : HC to govt
By D A Rrashid, Greater Kashmir, 5 April 2017
The Jammu and Kashmir has asked the government to respond in a “positive manner” to its suggestions on diverting global attention for preservation of Dal Lake.
A division bench of Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey asked the government as well as the monitoring committee on Dal Lake to consider the suggestions so that global attention is diverted to the preservation of Dal lake. The court made the suggestions while hearing a Public Interest Litigation seeking preservation of Dal lake.

6 April 2017

Forest dwellers are the best protectors of the environment
By Omair Ahmad, The Third Pole, 6 April 2017
On 5 September 1921, the first King of Bhutan, Druk Gyalpo Ugyen Wangchuck, sent a letter to Rufus Isaacs, the then British Viceroy of India, outlining a twenty point plan for the development of the country, and asking for help. More interesting than the letter is the reply he received, in which the Viceroy offered to help in return for Bhutan opening up its forests for timber harvesting. Ugyen Wangchuck refused the offer, and Bhutan’s modern development had to wait almost another four decades when his grandson, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, in collaboration with independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, embarked on Bhutan’s transformation.

[Kenya] The Future of Conservation
By Alex Banayan, Huffington Post, 6 April 2017
Our Land Rover sped around a corner and launched off the rocks, throwing me out of my seat. We continued racing through the savannah, the Kenyan sun drenching me in its heat.
To my left was a herd of giraffes; to my right, the majestic Matthews Mountain Range; however, I didn’t have time to enjoy the scenery. Just one kilometer away, a five-ton elephant lay on the ground, immobile, multiple bullets in its chest.
Our Land Rover made it to the scene. After jumping out of the car, I dashed a dozen meters and saw a group of thirty people crowded in a circle. I made my way over and stuck my head through: with legs as thick as tree trunks, an enormous grey elephant lay limp on the dirt.

[India] East Kolkata Wetlands: The wonder, threats and battle to preserve it
By Snigdhendu Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times, 6 April 2017
On March 22, World Water Day, when the chief of a global wetland convention cited the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW) as a model for sustainable use of water, a real estate agent in the city offered to sell plots in its protected area.
Ganesh Dasgupta of land dealing firm Sai Gardens offered Rs 3.5 lakh per cottah as Martha Rojas-Urrego, secretary general of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, spoke highly of EKW.
“There will be no problem in land conversion for plots up to 5-6 cottah. Up to five-storey buildings can be raised,” he assured this correspondent, posing as a buyer. The plot he offered was once a fishpond called No 7 Belekhali within Kharki mouza, one of the 32 revenue villages that comprise the 125-sqkm wetlands.

[Philippines] Mt. Apo opens in April 12, damaged areas off-limits to trekkers
By Antonio L. Colina IV, Manila Bulletin, 6 April 2017
The Mt. Apo Natural Park-Protected Area and Management Board (MANP-PAMB) is pushing through with the opening of the Mt. Apo on April 12 despite the oppositions from the environmental groups who said it’s too early for the lifting of an “indefinite closure,” but local government units (LGUs) vowed the damaged areas will be off-limits to trekkers.
In an interview, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 11 director Ruth Tawantawan, who is a member of the MANP-PAMB, told reporters that only three trails will be opened next week — Kidapawan City, Magpet in North Cotabato, and Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur — after they complied with the comprehensive plan that includes a control mechanism.

[Philippines] Republic Cement, WWF-PH ink 2nd phase of Catchments and Communities Project
SunStar Philippines, 6 April 2017
Recognizing that water is fast becoming a scarce resource, Republic Cement takes a step further to protect and enhance water supply by partnering with World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Philippines in the second phase of their “Catchments and Communities Project” which aims to develop a Morong Watershed Sustainability Plan. The project, which began in 2015 with a study on the impact of urban and commercial development on the water balance of Morong, Rizal, will use the results of the first phase to engage local government units and stakeholders to commit to a strategic framework that will ensure the sustainability of the Morong watershed. The project also calls for the formation of a Water Quality Management Area (WAQMA) to oversee the management and implementation of the watershed framework.

South Africa lifts ban on domestic rhino horn sales
AFP, 6 April 2017
South Africa’s highest court has rejected a bid by the government to keep a ban on domestic trade in rhino horn, a court document shows.
The ruling by the constitutional court effectively means rhino horns may be traded locally.
The department of environmental affairs had sought to retain a moratorium on domestic trade in rhino horns which was dismissed by last year by another court. In a one paragraph ruling, the court ruled that the application by government be dismissed.

[South Africa] How a court’s ruling could lead to rhino extinction
By Jessica Durando, USA Today, 6 April 2017
Rhinos are already among the most endangered animals on the planet. Now, they face a major new threat in South Africa where about 70% — 20,000 — of the world’s remaining rhinos roam.
South Africa top court revealed this week that it has overturned a national ban on the trade of rhino horns, which allows for them to be sold locally.
Conservationists say the decision, issued in late March, is “deeply concerning.” World Wildlife Fund tweeted Wednesday, “There’s no market for rhino horn in SA (South Africa), so anyone who buys it would likely be thinking about selling it abroad illegally.”

7 April 2017

To conserve tropical forests and wildlife, protect the rights of people who rely on them
By Praksah Kashwan, The Conversation, 7 April 2017
Many of our planet’s most beautiful areas are also sites of intense conflicts. In a recent example, traditional herdsmen in February took over the land around Mount Kenya, which is a World Heritage Site and biodiversity hotspot, burning down the tourist lodge and bringing in thousands of cattle to graze.
These tensions also occur in wealthy nations, including the United States, where conflicts continue to simmer over the control of federal lands and national wildlife refuges. But in former colonies in Asia and Africa, the contemporary effects of colonial land acquisitions are made even more complex by continuing social divisions based on caste or ethnicity. They also are worsened by social and cultural differences between staff of forestry agencies and the indigenous and forest-dependent groups who are affected most by these conflicts.

Philosopher and three scientists to explore ethics and the language of conservation
By Scott Rappaport, University of California Santa Cruz, 7 April 2017
The Institute for Humanities Research at UC Santa Cruz will present the inaugural event of its new research group, The Language of Conservation, on Friday afternoon, April 14, in the Humanities 1 building.
Titled What is Lost When A Species Goes Extinct? A Colloquium on the Unspeakable Value of Life, it will be a conversation about the impact of language—how particular words and concepts impact the public’s thinking about topics such as “sustainability,” “conservation,” and “extinction.”
The Language of Conservation is an interdisciplinary research group that seeks to change the way we talk and think about the value of life in all of its diverse forms.

The Australian couple who packed up and moved to Zimbabwe to pursue their dreams as rhino conservationists
Australian Rhino Project, 7 April 2017
Volunteer coordinators at Imire breeding programme and conservation power couple, Rob van der Horst and Morgan Taylor share their story of how a 10 week volunteer holiday turned into a full time position caring for rhinos in Wedza, Zimbabwe. After the tragic poaching of a rhino in their care, Rob and Morgan used their emotions to fuel their work and vowed her death would not be in vain.

On the Front Lines of India’s Rhino Wars
By Sharon Guynup, Pacific Standard, 7 January 2017
In the dead of night on February 15th, 2017, gunshots blasted the guards into action in India’s Kaziranga National Park. Rangers stationed in a nearby camp quickly spread out, searching for the shooters under the light of a nearly full moon — to no avail.
By morning, they’d located the victim, the park’s first poaching casualty of 2017: a female Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis). They inspected her 3,500-pound body, which was riddled with bullet holes and collected 11 spent cartridges from an AK-47 assault rifle. The gouged wound on her nose marked the spot where her horn had been hacked off.
Welcome to the rhino wars.

[India] Forest department may object if Sholay 3D project affects wildlife
Business Standard, 7 April 2017
The proposed move on a 3D virtual reality village project to recreate the magic of iconic Bollywood film ‘Sholay” in the rocky terrain of Ramanagaram, 50 km here, may face objection from the forest department if it affects wildlife conservation, a senior official said. A Rs 7.5 crore proposal is on the anvil to establish Sholay-the-3D Virtual Reality Village for movie lovers on a locale at Ramadevara Betta, that was popularly known as Ramgad as a shot in the film.
Ramadevara Betta an area surrounding it is a protected area as it is a vulture sanctuary.

[South Africa] How can you help protect Kruger National Park?
By Kavitha Pillay, Traveller24, 7 April 2017
Show your love and commitment to SA’s biodiversity and natural heritage by getting involved in Kruger National Park’s management plan review process.
SANParks calls on the community to participate in the Park’s review process of the management plan, which is set to roll out in 2018, and anyone with an interest in the Park’s well-being is welcome to join the review process.

8 April 2017

At Least 15 Percent Of The World’s Tree Species Are Under Threat Of Extinction
By Dominique Mosbergen, Huffington Post, 8 April 2017
The planet is on the brink of the sixth mass extinction, an epoch that scientists say could see humans wiping out at least 75 percent of the Earth’s species. Much has already been made of humans’ impact on wildlife. Last year, a damning World Wildlife Fund report revealed that people were on track to killing off two-thirds of the world’s vertebrates.
But it’s not just birds and bears that are facing extinction due to human activity. Thousands of tree species are under threat as well, according to the first global database of the world’s trees, unveiled this week by Botanic Gardens Conservation International.

[Nepal] Chitwan National Park records 1st rhino poaching in 3 years
By Tilak Ram Rimal, Himalayan Times, 8 April 2017
A one-horned male rhinoceros, supposed to be around 14- years-old, was killed in the Chitwan National Park, which had witnessed zero rhino poaching for 1071 days.
Once the dead single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros was spotted by the locals at Hariyali Banhatta of Jagatpur in Bharatpur Metropolitan City -23 on Saturday morning, they informed the CNP.
A sharp shooter, suspected to be one of the 100 absconding rhino poaching convicts, had shot the rhino bull on its temple with a rifle on Friday night, according to the Chief Conservation Officer Ram Chandra Kandel at CNP.

9 April 2017

[India] Why forest dept is growing tasty grass in National Park
By Rizwan Mithawala, Times of India, 9 April 2017
Leopards aren’t picky eaters. They are known to prey on anything from insects and rodents to 250kg sambar deer. The big cats of Sanjay Gandhi National Park also prowl its boundary at night in search of an easy meal of dogs and stalk compounds of housing complexes, making headline-grabbing CCTV appearances.
To reduce incidents of man-leopard conflicts, park authorities have begun work on re-creating the grassland ecosystem. For starters, they are studying species of grass palatable to the park’s herbivores to expand the prey base of leopards. They have formally named it ‘Operation Grasses for Leopards’. They have already begun the pilot project around Tulsi lake.

[Philippines] Let the ‘sacred’ mountain heal itself
By Jonathan L. Mayuga, Business Mirror, 9 April 2017
Some portions of Mount Banahaw are now open to tourists and pilgrims this Holy Week, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said.
According to Salud Pangan, protected area superintendent of the Mount Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape (MBSCPL), a limited-access policy has been allowed in lower portions of Mount Banahaw, which, she said, is on its way to full recovery.
These are pilgrim sites in Barangay Santa Lucia and Pinagbuhayan in Dolores, Quezon, and the Tanaw Highlands in Barangay Tala, Rizal town, Laguna
Other areas frequented by pilgrims and campers are still closed, Pangan added, to allow Mount Banahaw to continue to heal itself.

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