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.
1 May 2017
The Invisible Conservation Workers
By Siddhartha Krishnan and Rinzi Lama, The Wire, 1 May 2017
May Day was not always International Workers’ Day. Before it became International Workers’ Day during the Second Communist International Congress in the 19th century, May Day was a traditional, temperate-region celebration of spring.
The onset of spring has conservationist connotations. Phenology, a conservation science branch that studies plant life-cycle events (like flowering and elevation) and climate influences, is closely linked to spring. In India, spring, referred to popularly as basant or vasantham, is also marked by festivities. Conservation biology texts or forest conservation debates will not mention workers and labour, neither do the entries on May Day mention conservation. Conservation science and practice has not acknowledged the foundational and facilitative roles of the working classes. Labour scholarship, policy and politics have neglected the invisible and unorganised labour involved in conservation science and official forest protection. The biologically and culturally diverse eastern Himalayas are an apt geography to locate this labour-conservation conundrum.
[DRC] Conservation lessons from the bonobos
By Kim Harrisberg, Mongabay, 1 May 2017
The dramatic urban energy of Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital, seems a world away from the green expanse of the Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary in Les Petites Chutes de la Lukaya — a 75-acre forest reserve that is home to more than 70 rescued bonobos, humanity’s closest kin.
Inside the sanctuary, bonobo screeches rise above the flowing rush of the Lukaya River. The sanctuary’s name translates as “the paradise of bonobos” in Lingala. It’s a safe haven for the great apes rescued from a fate that others of their kind suffer when captured for bushmeat, to become pets or circus animals. At Lola ya Bonobo they find a home with a human foster mother, heal from the trauma of their illegal capture, and are given a second chance at life through a rehabilitation program.
Despite numerous challenges, rhinos are thriving in India’s Jaldapara National Park
By Moushumi Basu, Mongabay, 1 May 2017
The floodplains of the River Torsa, along the Eastern Himalayan foothills, are a world of their own. Rolling meadows of long swaying grasses stretch for miles, teeming with biodiversity. Further along, Sal, Sissoo and Khair trees tower over lush green forests, while hilly rivulets and ponds nestle amid dense undergrowth.
It is late afternoon as we drive through the narrow, rickety jungle paths delineating the grasslands. Our vehicle suddenly stops short in its track. Barely three feet away is a hulking grey animal with knobby skin and commanding gait. Slowly grazing past the dense thickets, it occasionally raises its head, as if to flaunt its enviable snout. What we see before us is the greater Asian one-horned rhino (Rhinocerus unicornis), roaming free in the Jaldapara National Park in the northern fringe of West Bengal.
[Nepal] WWF set to establish timber treatment plant
Himalayan Times, 1 May 2017
The World Wildlife Fund is preparing to establish the first timber treatment plant of the country to combat the rising demand for timber post 2015 earthquakes.
According to a government report, the country needs 47,860,754 cubic feet of timber to reconstruct houses, monuments, and all other structures that were destroyed during the earthquakes in 31 districts. The government has set a target to complete reconstruction work in five years.
Senior Director, Policy and Outreach at WWF, Santosh Mani Nepal said, “The country has not been able to meet the demand for fresh timber, particularly of saal trees, which has affected the reconstruction process. We are working hard to set up timber treatment plant at the earliest.”
2 May 2017
Conservation Scientists Urge “Bold Global Deal for Nature” as Protected Areas Face Increased Threats
By Wangu Mwangi, IISD, 2 May 2017
A report published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) notes that wildlife trafficking occurs in nearly 30% of the world’s most protected areas, covered by both the World Heritage Convention (WHC) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Its conclusion that the current international approach to protecting CITES-listed species “is not working,” is echoed by a group of conservation scientists who have called for a “Global Deal for Nature” – similar to the Paris Agreement on climate change – to conserve 50% of the terrestrial realm by 2050 in order to halt the extinction crisis while sustaining human livelihoods. Diverse strategies for enhancing the management of protected areas are further explored in a number of policy updates and case studies published by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and its partners.
Celebrating indigenous peoples as nature’s stewards
By Eva Gurria, UNDP, 2 May 2017
This year we’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a declaration that provides a universal framework for the dignity and wellbeing of indigenous peoples everywhere.
In recent weeks we’ve marked some other important milestones for planetary wellbeing. One was the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, a day where communities around the world gather to bring awareness of the importance of environmental stewardship. Another was the 1st anniversary of the landmark signing of the Paris Agreement, where the world’s governments formally agreed to take urgent action on climate change.
Black rhinos return to national park in Rwanda
Washington Post, 2 May 2017
Ten eastern black rhinos have been relocated from South Africa to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park, 10 years after the poaching-threatened animal was last seen in the park, authorities said Tuesday.
The relocation is the result of Rwanda’s collaboration with African Parks, which manages protected areas for governments across the continent.
“Rhinos are one of the great symbols of Africa, yet they are severely threatened and are on the decline in many places across the continent due to the . . . illegal rhino horn trade,” African Parks chief Peter Fearnhead said in a statement. “The rhino’s return to this country, however, is a testament to Rwanda’s extraordinary commitment to conservation.”
3 May 2017
4 May 2017
South Africa: Local Environmentalist Receives Prestigious International Conservation Award
News24Wire, 4 May 2017
South African environmentalist Andrew Zaloumis has received the prestigious international award, the KfW-Bernhard-Grzimek-Preis award for his commitment to conservation and management as CEO of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park on the KwaZulu-Natal east coast.
The ceremony was held in Frankfurt, Germany on Tuesday night.
Zaloumis was nominated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
The internationally-renowned award is awarded every two years.
Cayman’s first protected areas approved by Conservation Council
By James Whittaker, Cayman Compass, 4 May 2017
Plans to turn part of the Barkers peninsula into a national park, protected from development, have taken a step closer after the approval of 11 pieces of land on Grand Cayman and Little Cayman as the islands’ first protected areas.
The National Conservation Council agreed Wednesday to formally recommend that Cabinet designate the chosen areas, including the publicly owned parts of Barkers, to be protected under the National Conservation Law. The recommendations follow three months of public consultation, which indicated overwhelming approval for the plans.
[Malaysia] ‘HoB timber concession must have forest management cert’
By Antonia Chiam, The Borneo Post, 4 May 2017
To ensure the land use in the Heart of Borneo (HoB) area is sustainably managed, the state government has directed timber concession operators in the area to obtain forest management certification by July this year.
Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said this is part of the strategy to achieve sustainable land use goals which includes constitution of additional Totally Protected Areas (TPA) and establishment of Trans Boundary Conservation Areas.
[Thailand] Phuket Court orders DNP, officials to pay damages over national park land probe
Phuket News, 4 May 2017
The Phuket Court yesterday (May 4) ordered the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) and two of its officials to pay a total of B1.9 million in damages for the highly publicised land probe that accused several property owners of encroaching on Sirinath National Park, on Phuket’s west coast.
The court ruled that plaintiffs Noon Co Ltd, Frenchman Bernard Gaulthier and Pornsak Panmat had legal right to the land on which the multi-million-baht luxury villa “Baan Farang” had been built on.
The villa is located on seven rai next to the Trisara resort and has 360-degree views of the national park, which as a marine national park extends nearly a kilometre offshore (see map here).
5 May 2017
Poorer Nations Are More Committed To Wildlife Conservation Than Richer Ones
By Josh Davis, IFL Science, 5 May 2017
When elephants are poached and rhinos are slaughtered, it’s frequently asked why the countries in which they live are not doing more to protect their wildlife. However, a new analysis of how committed nations are to conservation has found that less affluent countries are actually doing more to protect their wildlife than richer countries.
Even though Africa has to contend with plenty of serious issues, with many parts fighting poverty and political instability, the continent was actually found to be the region of the world most committed to conservation. In contrast, the report found that around a quarter of countries in Asia and a quarter of European countries are underperforming, and should be doing much more to protect their larger animals.
[Cambodia] Satellite Spies Fresh Clearing Of Wildlife Sanctuary Forest
By Van Roeun and Zsombor Peter, Cambodia Daily, 5 May 2017
A new satellite image of central Cambodia shows continued clear-cutting of thousands of hectares of healthy forest inside one of the country’s protected areas, five years after the government announced a major crackdown on such logging by rubber plantations. [CW: Subscription needed.]
Indigenous lands ‘critical’ to forest protection in Peru, biodiversity maps show
By John C. Cannon, Mongabay, 5 May 2017
New maps of forest biodiversity in Peru illustrate the importance of lands held by indigenous peoples in safeguarding a wide variety of forest types, even as more formal protections such as parks and reserves fall a little bit short.
“Peru has a pretty good report card overall” in how the country protects its 76 million hectares (293,438 square miles) of forests, said Greg Asner, a global ecologist from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) in Stanford, California, who led the research. The research found that nearly 43 percent of forests in the Andes or the Amazon benefited from some sort of protection.
But as Asner and his colleagues layered the data gathered from the skies above Peru with maps of the country’s local, regional and national protected areas, a “really surprising” conclusion stood out: “These indigenous lands are just critical in the portfolio of protections in Peru today,” Asner said in an interview. They published their research in the June 2017 edition of the journal Biological Conservation.
Sierra Leone News: Dr. Nanah Pratt Poised to Uplift NPAA
By Jeneba V. Kabba, Awareness Times, 5 May 2017
Dr. Nanah Pratt the newly appointed Board Chairperson of the National Protected Area Authority (NPAA), who has served for a period of thirty- two year in academia and has attained the positions of senior lecturer and head of the Chemistry Department at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, yesterday Thursday May 4th 2017, during her interview before the Committee on Appointment in Committee Room one (1) at the Parliament of Sierra Leone has vowed to uplift the status of the National Protected Area Authority (NPAA) throughout the country.
6 May 2017
Tourists really do seem to help to preserve wild animals
The Economist, 6 May 2017
Which countries have the best wildlife-conservation records? That was the question posed by a group of biologists led by Peter Lindsey of the University of Pretoria, in South Africa. Their conclusions, just published in Global Ecology and Conservation and summarised in the map below, suggest one determinant is the economic value of wildlife to a country, with nature-tourism destinations in east, central and southern Africa, led by Botswana, dominating the list of high performers.
[India] Forced out of the forest
By K. Venkateshwarlu and S. Murali, The Hindu, 6 May 2017
The sun has barely risen but the Chenchu men and women along with their children are out on a long trek, one which will take them deep into the Nallamala forest along the Eastern Ghats, in search of leaves, tubers, roots, soapberries, honey and gum. Waving a branch of the Devadari kura (Cedrus deodara or native cedar) plant, the lean and wiry Udumula Anjaiah suddenly shouts out as he chances upon the wonder plant — its leaves, when consumed after being crushed into a paste, are believed to ward off liver, urinary and respiratory infections and gastric ulcers.
[Malawi] Over 30 foreign nationals and Malawians jailed for encroaching at Lengwe National Park
By Lloyd Mbwama, Maravi Post, 6 May 2017
The Blantyre Magistrate Court this week, sentenced 35 foreigners and Malawians to 18 and 12 months with hard labor, respectively for illegal logging in Lengwe National Park, in the Lower Shire district of Chikhwawa.
The convicts are two Chinese, 23 Mozambicans, and ten Malawians who were found guilty on three counts of entering into a protected area; conveying, possessing, and using prohibited weapons; and disturbing indigenous species in a protected area.
According to the Court records, the convicts were caught extracting Mopani trees from the National Park and exporting them to Mozambique for sale.
7 May 2017
Africa states form environmental fund to promote sustainable development
Xinhua, 7 May 2017
East and Southern African countries have formed an environmental fund to promote sustainable development in the African Great Lakes region.
Eleven countries in the Great Lakes region basin will benefit from the half a million U.S. dollar fund announced on Wednesday at a high level meeting held here on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest fresh water body.
Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda will benefit from the African Great Lakes Conservation Fund. The initial 500,000 dollars was contributed by MacArthur Foundation, an American organization.
Colin Apse, Africa region freshwater conservation director of The Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organization, said the fund will be used to support regional projects aimed at improving livelihoods and safeguard the environment.
[India] On the tiger’s trail in Tadoba: A journey into Maharashtra’s oldest national park
By Sanjiv Nair, First Post, 7 May 2017
The SUV’s metal hinges creaks its protest at having to abandon tarmac for the inconsistent undulations of the dirt road. A weathered arch made of bone dry wood and half hearted intent, like a signboard from a Ramesh Sippy masala western, draws near and is forthwith surpassed. The foliage condenses, but in a stick-overlaying-stick sort of way, like a vast congregation of very tall and thin people getting closer to gossip over our intrusion. Unlike the forests in the South or at the fringes of the formidable Himalayas, the woods of Tadoba near Nagpur’s black soil country, are not draped in leafy boughs that absorb sunlight like woolen coats. They dress light for the afternoon sun.
[Philippines] What mining lobby?
By Katrina Stuart Santiago, Manila Times, 7 May 2017
It was hilarious hearing members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) trying to defend themselves against reports that there was a meeting between members of Congress and mining company Citinickel the night before the decision was made to deny the confirmation of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez.
First on the list of those who made adamant denials was San Juan’s Ronaldo Zamora. As if he’d need to be spoken to by any mining company at all.
His older brother Manuel Zamora is founder and chairman of Nickel Asia Corp. The same Nickel Asia that in 2011 was criticized for not settling royalty fees with indigenous peoples affected by mining activities, for refusing to address environmental degradation brought about by its mines, and refusing to raise mine workers’ wages (GMA News, 11 Oct 2011) in its mines in Surigao.