Conservation in the news: 24-30 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.

24 April 2017

A Practical Approach to Conservation
By Julie Cohen, The Current, 24 April 2017
Is conservation good for your health? Seems like a no-brainer, right?
Not so much, according to a group of scientists who have collaborated on a new research volume that explores what turns out to be a very tough question.
UC Santa Barbara ecologists teamed up with colleagues at Duke University and the University of Washington to present various perspectives on the subject for the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Their special issue, “Conservation, Biodiversity, and Infectious Disease,” is a combination of theoretical work and case studies, all of which embrace a systems approach to infectious disease ecology.

[India] People versus protection in Western Ghats
The Navhind Times, 24 April 2017
Goa and the central government are locked in a conflict over designation of villages in the Western Ghats as ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs). While the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has proposed demarcation of 99 villages in four talukas of Goa as ESAs, the state government has proposed 19 villages from three talukas of Sattari, Sanguem and Dharbandora for the inclusion as ESAs. The high-level working group led by Dr K Kasturirangan prepared a report in 2014 earmarking an area measuring 1,461 sq km in Goa (nearly 40 per cent of the total geographical area of the state) as ESAs, the three committees set up by the Goa government proposed an area measuring 249 sq km (less than one-fourth of the area proposed by MoEFCC) to be declared as ESA. The Western Ghats – stretching some 1,600km from the north of Mumbai to the southern tip of India –is a biodiversity hotspot that contains a large proportion of the country’s plant and animal species, many of which are only found in the areas sought to be protected and nowhere else in the world. The UNESCO is considering declaring the Western Ghats as World Heritage Site, given its historical importance.

[India] Chennai: Road in Guindy National Park bypasses all green regulations
By P Oppili, Times of India, 24 April 2017
A new road is being laid inside Guindy National Park (GNP) for about 1.5km, throwing to the wind guidelines laid down by the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and by the Supreme Court, say conservationists. Section 2 of the act restricts de-reservation of forests or use of forest land for non-forest purpose such as laying roads.
Coimbatore-based conservationist K Mohan Raj said the apex court in one of its orders had said that the state needs permission not only to lay new roads but to repair or re-lay existing ones.

Arrests over shooting of Kuki Gallmann at Kenya conservation park
BBC News, 24 April 2017
Kenya has arrested an unspecified number of suspects and recovered a gun potentially linked to the shooting of conservationist Kuki Gallmann, the country’s interior minister said.
The 73-year old author of I Dreamed of Africa was injured in an ambush at her conservation park on Sunday.
Ms Gallmann’s family said she was in intensive care at a Nairobi hospital.
She endured a seven-hour operation after being airlifted there for treatment.

25 April 2017

A modern atlas provides maps necessary to save the world’s biodiversity
By Elena Motivans, ME Science, 25 April 2017
The first atlases contained maps that gave explorers the information that they needed to exploit the resources and people of the world. Now, that era needs to be over, argue the creators of the Atlas for the End of the World. This Altas provides the antithesis to the idea of exploitation and instead provides detailed maps of the earth’s hotspots and the information to best protect these areas. Hotspots are critical because they contain unique biodiversity. These maps give governments and planners the tool to reach their 2020 United Nations conservation targets and are also fun to explore for curious individuals.

Two wildlife rangers killed by poachers in Democratic Republic of the Congo
By Shreya Dasgupta, The Guardian, 25 April 2017
Elephant poachers have killed two wildlife rangers in a shootout in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), reports African Parks, a not-for-profit conservation group that manages 10 protected areas across Africa in partnership with governments and local communities.
While out patrolling on 11 April, ranger Joël Meriko Ari and Sgt Gerome Bolimola Afokao of the DRC armed forces heard gunshots, African Parks reported. The patrol unit followed signs and tracks until they discovered a group of six poachers who were chopping up a freshly slaughtered elephant carcass.
A shootout followed, in which both Ari and Afokao were fatally shot. There were also casualties among the poachers, but details were not disclosed.

You can help save the northern white rhino just by swiping right on Tinder
By Katie Dupere, Mashable, 25 April 2017
The world’s most eligible bachelor is coming to Tinder — and he may not be who you expect.
In a new campaign launched Tuesday, Tinder has partnered with the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in central Kenya to introduce users to Sudan, the last known male northern white rhino in existence. The platform hopes to save Sudan’s species from extinction.

[Malaysia] Reps lead demo against quarry in national park
By Samuel Aubrey, Borneo Post, 25 April 2017
About 150 people comprising community leaders, councillors and leaders of local NGOs from Tasik Biru, Serembu and neighbouring Opar led by two elected representatives from Bau district – Tasik Biru assemblyman Dato Henry Harry Jinep and Serembu assemblyman Miro Simuh – held a peaceful protest against a quarry operating in a national park near yesterday.
The Dered Krian National Park is known for its limestone forest, caves and mountains as one of the state’s newest national parks.
The protesters called for a review of the licence issued to that company.

26 April 2017

How corporations are getting into the business of protecting the environment
By Marcus Patrick Ellsworth, MTV, 26 April 2017
The Nature Conservancy (TNC), an international science-based environmental organization, was one of many sponsors of the March for Science on April 22, rallying its supporters under the hashtag #NatureUnitesUs and the slogan “United by Nature, Guided by Science.” MTV News writer Marcus Ellsworth spoke with Megan Guy, a director of corporate engagement at TNC, about her unusual past working for Goldman Sachs as a conservationist, how cooperating with corporations is a critical piece of environmental justice, and how TNC pulls together a variety of interests to help protect the future of our planet.

Special status fails to curb illegal tree loss in forests
DNA India, 26 April 2017
Protected forests in developing nations, including India, are losing large number of trees due to illegal logging and other exploitative methods and creating significant carbon emissions, despite their special status, a new study has showed.
Safeguarded areas worldwide are being exploited rather than saved for conservation. Incentives for exploitation – such as illegal logging, agriculture and palm oil plantation – are outweighing the benefits of protection, researchers say.
The University of Edinburgh study found that intervention is needed in these areas to combat their disproportionate carbon emissions.

27 April 2017

[India] Wildlife sanctuary for Malappuram soon
Deccan Chronicle, 27 April 2017
Amarambalam is classified as an important bird area of the Western Ghats endemic bird area where 16 restricted range species have been identified.
The district would soon get its first wildlife sanctuary as the government is likely to declare the new Amarambalam reserve forest area as a wildlife sanctuary within a month. The draft notification submitted by the divisional forest officer of Nilambur south regarding this is in the final stage of processing. The 265- sq. km protected area which has high rainfall and thick forest cover is a buffer zone of the Silent Valley National Park and lies near the Nilgiri biosphere reserve in Tamil Nadu. “We are expecting to get the official declaration on the sanctuary soon. The draft notification for the declaration which was sent a month ago is under the consideration of the government,” DFO S. Sun said.

[Iran] Arasbaran Forest Closer to UNESCO Heritage Listing
Financial Tribune, 27 April 2017
UNESCO has approved Arasbaran’s dossier on Tuesday, which was submitted in January, paving the way for Iran to implement measures to ensure the forest meets the UN agency’s criteria for inscription, a deputy at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization said.
Mohammad Hassan Talebian, cultural heritage deputy at ICHHTO, was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
“Arasbaran is an ecologically-rich region with massive tourism potential,” he said.
Talebian noted that two historical buildings in the vicinity of Arasbaran Forest, a protected area in East Azarbaijan Province will be renovated and repurposed into research and management centers.
“We have selected two historical buildings in Vinaq and Ayenehlu villages for restoration,” said.
One will be used for research purposes in the protected area while the other will oversee the implementation of plans and the region’s management.

28 April 2017

[India] Arunachal monastery declares forest near Bhutan as protected zone for red pandas
By Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times, 28 April 2017
If the Bhutanese can do it for a yeti, a mythical Himalayan monster, Indians can do it for the endangered red panda.
Almost 14 years after Bhutan created the 750 Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary for the yet-to-be-sighted migoi, huge ape-like hairy yeti, a Buddhist monastery in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Kameng district has declared its forest as a biodiversity conservation zone.
The 7th century Lhagyala, among the oldest monasteries in Arunachal Pradesh, owns large swathes of a forest whose western boundary is along Bhutan’s yeti domain.

29 April 2017

The big lie about conservation of wildlife in Africa over the years
Daily Nation, 29 April 2017
John Mbaria and Mordecai Ogada’s The Big Conservation Lie (2017) is an important book in the sense that it says what many Kenyan students of conservation wouldn’t dare to say openly: that western-based paradigms of conservation are doomed to fail because of not only their disregard for local perspectives and practices but the greed that characterises the white-dominated conservation NGOs.
It examines from an African post-colonial perspective what it views as the racial prejudices governing conservations choices in Kenya. Most studies of African ecosystems and wildlife are by western writers.

Why are we not seeing many black faces in conservation?
By Oyunga Pala, Standard Media, 29 April 2017
The Nairobi National Park is the only park on earth bordering a capital city. On the afternoon of December 16, 2016, it was celebrating 70 years of existence and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) threw an evening party in the park to commemorate the event. The small gathering comprised conservationists, friends of Nairobi National Park, assorted Kenyans who earn a living in the wildlife industry and uniformed KWS staffers who appeared to be attending more out of protocol than choice. There was an air of resignation about the place. Out at the Impala observation point, a panoramic view of open savanna grassland, guests mingled awaiting the arrival of dignitaries as the catering unit from the Ole Sereni Hotel hurried about setting up.

[India] Shocking! 70% tiger deaths have occurred within ‘protected areas’
By Ranjeet Jadhav,, 29 April 2017
All the talk about conservation of tigers is just that: talk. Data compiled by the National Tiger Conservation Authority on tiger deaths across the country has uncovered some shocking statistics that put a question mark on the security apparatus of the so-called ‘protected areas’ (PAs) or tiger reserves.
Even as there have been 567 tiger deaths in the last eight years, 407 of them have occurred within the PA boundaries, while the other 161 were outside of these marked locations.

[India] Training begins for elephant census volunteers
By Vinay Lokesh, Times of India, 29 April 2017
Recently, a workshop was conducted at Aranya Bhavan in Mysuru, in the run-up to the census, which was attended by 210 volunteers as well as officials from the Forest Department. For many volunteers, like Rohith Prakash, who is an MBA student, it will be the first time into the forest and that too to count elephants. He says, “In the past, I have done bird watching and been on safaris, but staying in a forest for four days is going to be an unforgettable experience. We can view wild animals in safaris, but when we take part in a census, it takes us even closer to them and we get to know more about their activities.” Another volunteer, Supreeth BK, says, “Census activities educates about a particular animal in a practical way and takes us deep into the forest, which is not possible when you go trekking. The workshops provide firsthand knowledge on methods to follow during the elephant count.”

[Philippines] PH bats for bigger funding for global biodiversity programs
By Charissa Luci, Manilla Bulletin, 29 April 2017
The Philippines has called on United Nations member-countries to adopt a “bayanihan” or “whole of government approach” in mobilizing financing for global biodiversity conservation programs and initiatives.
Speaking during the recent third United Nations Environmental Program (UNDP) Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) workshop in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato batted for bigger funding for global biodiversity conservation and protection.

30 April 2017

Pandas, pangolins, and China’s fitful attempts at wildlife conservation
By Hannah Beech, The New Yorker, 30 April 2017
In late February, a three-and-a-half-year-old cub clambered into a crate marked “Contents one panda” to begin a sixteen-hour, one-way flight to China. Bao Bao was born at the National Zoo, in Washington, D.C., and this was her first trip overseas. Her parents have lived in the American capital since 2000, but they, like all giant pandas, remain the property of the Chinese state, which lends the animals to foreign zoos for around a million dollars per year. Any products of overseas panda unions also belong to the Chinese motherland.

[India] Gautala sanctuary area declared eco-sensitive zone
By Prasad Joshi, Times of India, 30 April 2017
The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has declared Gautala Autramghat Wildlife Sanctuary as an eco-sensitive zone to an extent of up to one kilometre from its boundary.
Environmentalists and nature lovers have welcomed the status given to the sanctuary, which is spread across Aurangabad and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra.
As many as 70 villages come under the ambit of eco-sensitive zone with a total 483.45 square kilometer region getting covered.

Nepal devoted to preserving its wildlife
By Nick Davies-Jones, TRT World, 30 April 2017
Nepal has one of the best wildlife conservation policies in the world. And it’s often cited as a model for other countries to follow. Poaching of rhino has been kept well under control until a recent incident highlighted the need for the country to maintain its protection efforts.
Conservation in Nepal has a long history and it has been supported for years by the world wildlife fund.
Only three rhinos have been killed by poachers in Nepal in the last four years. The most recent killing was earlier this month when poachers shot dead a one-horned rhinoceros at a national wildlife park in Nepal, spotlighting the threat faced by the rare animals.

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