Conservation in the news: 15-21 May 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.

15 May 2017

Should conservation be privatised?
By Rajat Ghai, Down To Earth, 15 May 2017
Since the late 1960s, many African countries, including Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, have adopted a new approach to conservation. They granted legal rights on wildlife to people who own land where the animals are found. Recently, a paper, written by an Australian professor, George Wilson, in Conservation Letters has sparked off a controversy as it said that such practices have helped revive the populations of endangered wild animals. However, this approach is contrary to global conservation practices, including in India, where the government is the key player in managing and regulating wildlife. Rajat Ghai speaks to experts on whether conservation in India should be privatised?

Brazil, home of Amazon, rolls back environmental protection
By Chris Arsenault, Reuters, 15 May 2017
From sweeping cuts of funds to protect forests, to the loosening of conservation of indigenous land and measures to boost large-scale property deals, Brazil has embarked on the biggest roll back of environmental protections in two decades, former government officials and campaigners said.
Amid a political upheaval and a economic crisis, Brazil is backsliding on its commitments to protect land rights, the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous people who depend upon it, environmentalists say.

[Nigeria] Ray of hope for endangered Cross River Gorilla in West Africa Forest
By Jude Fuhnwi, BirdLife International, 15 May 2017
With only about 300 individuals remaining in the wild, conservationists have expressed concern that the critically endangered Cross River gorilla could be extinct if everyone does not come on board to protect the species, found only in the Nigeria-Cameroon border region, in the Guinean Forests of West Africa Hotspot.
“There are some rare and iconic species that we should give everything to protect; one of these is the Cross River Gorilla. I would not want my grandchildren to be told fairy tales of the Cross River gorilla,” said Ruth Akagu, Nigeria-based project officer of the BirdLife/Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund’s (CEPF) Regional Implementation Team (RIT) in the West Africa biodiversity hotspot.

[Nigeria] Cross River gets zero allocation, threatens to revoke National Park land
By Anietie Akpan, The Guardian, 15 May 2017
The Cross River State government monthly allocation from the Federation Account now stands at zero as its wage bill hits N5.1 billion.In view of this, the state is looking inwards to shore up its revenue base and has threatened to revoke the land allocation for the Cross River National Park if approval for the deep seaport and super highway is not given.
The state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, spoke in his office in Calabar when the Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Mr. Emmanuel Jime, paid him a courtesy visit at the weekend.
He said: “Our oil wells are taken away in that circumstance, we are not oil producing state” and all pressure from federal agencies and others in terms of picking security bills and others have been on the state, yet the state is being questioned on why it is collecting wharf landing dues.

Rwanda: The Role of Tourism in Rwanda’s Conservation Success
By Belise Kariza, The New Times, 15 May 2017
United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)’s theme for 2017 is sustainable tourism, a subject not so new in Rwanda. The country’s conservation journey began more than a decade ago and has since progressed enormously.
Although small geographically, Rwanda is known for addressing large-scale challenges in conservation.
For instance, Rwanda has recently become one of the three East African countries that offer tourists a ‘Big 5’ experience, having reintroduced both lions and eastern black rhinoceros into Akagera National Park.

16 May 2017

5 of Africa’s best national parks
By Olivia Yasukwa and Torera Idowu, CNN, 16 May 2017
From sheltering some of the globe’s most endangered species to showcasing astonishing patterns of migration, Africa’s national parks are among the world’s most spectacular.
More and more visitors flock each year to the continents’ parks and reserves, bearing witness to nature on a grand scale and playing a vital role in generating tourism income.

[Kenya] Mara-Serengeti aerial elephant Census launched
Africa Science News, 16 May 2017
A cross-border aerial census for elephants and buffalos between Kenya and Tanzania has been launched today in Narok.
The two-week Mara-Serengeti census is being held to determine the numbers of elephants and buffalos in the ecosystem, their distribution, trends as well as human activities.
The results will be used to make wildlife management policy decisions as well as determine the impact of various interventions to conserve wildlife. The exercise, last conducted in 2014, is held every three years.

17 May 2017

China, Kenya to Beef Up Collaboration in Plant Species Conservation – Official
Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, 17 May 2017
China will strengthen collaboration with Kenya in scientific research and capacity development to revitalize conservation of the East African nation’s wild flora, an official said on Monday.
Wang Qingfeng, the Director of Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre (SAJOREC) that is affiliated with Chinese Academy of Sciences said Beijing is committed to helping Kenya advance sustainable management of its botanical wealth.
“In the last five years since we signed a memorandum of understanding with National Museums of Kenya (NMK), we have intensified collaborative research to promote conservation of plant species,” Wang said.

[Nepal] ‘Traps abundant in Kanchenjunga Conservation Area’
The Himalayan Times, 17 May 2017
Racketeers are found to be active in setting traps to kill wild animals in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area in eastern Nepal.
In recent snares removal operation launched by Nepal Army in the protected area, 21 traps set to catch wild animals such as deer and musk deer were removed.
The traps were found in Deuma, Mauwatar, Chayne and Tigu areas which lie at the elevation of 3500 meters and 400 meters from the sea level and have pasture lands for deer and musk deer, according to Major Rabi KC at Naya Ranavim Battalion of Nepal Army in Taplejung.

[Philippines] German govt turns over protected area management plan to Batanes
By: Juliet Cataluna,, 17 May 2017
Saying the Philippines and Germany “share a commitment to preserve our planet for future generations,” German Deputy Ambassador to the Philippines Michael Hasper formally turned over an environmental management plan to the Batanes provincial government during a three-day visit here that culminated on Wednesday (May 17).
The Updated Batanes Protected Landscape and Seascape (BPLS) Management Plan for 2017 was the outcome of a joint German-PH project to enhance the management of 60 protected areas and establish a hundred more “terrestrial or marine protected areas.”

[South Africa] SANParks explains lion escape from Kruger National Park
IOL, 17 May 2017
Lions often escape from the Kruger National Park, not on a mission to hunt down humans outside the vast park, but the big cats which venture into the outside world are vulnerable ones which feel insecure and are threatened inside the sanctuary and seek new habitats elsewhere, the South African National Parks (SANParks) explained on Wednesday.
“The lion population is spread out fairly evenly throughout the whole of the Kruger National Park (KNP). You get adult males that control a certain area and a pride, with females and the youngsters. When the youngsters grow to three years of age, the young males are forcibly evicted from the pride. They then have to find another place,” head of the scientific unit at SANParks, Danie Pienaar, told journalists in Pretoria.

18 May 2017

[Indonesia] Wildlife-smuggling kingpin busted at airport
AP, 18 May 2017
Indonesian authorities have arrested a Japanese man who conservationists say is a major player in the illegal wildlife trade for allegedly attempting to smuggle more than 250 reptiles out of the country.
The head of law enforcement at Jakarta’s International Airport, Ridwan Alaydrus, said Thursday that Katsuhide Naito was arrested after customs officers found 181 lizards, 65 snakes and seven turtles in his luggage.
He said the wildlife seized Tuesday included 12 different species, three of which are endangered.

19 May 2017

China’s fires national park, an experiment in living with snow leopards
By Wang Yan, Mongabay, 19 May 2017
Late at night on March 15, a snow leopard secretly entered the sheepfold of a Tibetan household in a remote pastureland in China’s western Qinghai province, killing one sheep. Local Tibetan nomads captured the cat and sent it back up into the surrounding mountains.
Within two days, it returned to the same settlement twice and killed more sheep. After consulting with a wildlife expert, the local people realized that the animal was an aging cat that probably couldn’t survive without resorting to easy livestock kills and finally sent it to the Quinghai Wildlife Rescue and Breeding Center in Xining, the province’s capital city.

Kenya: American Actress Maggie Q in Kenya for Elephant Conservation
Capital FM, 19 May 2017
American actress and model, Margaret Denise Quigley, professionally known as Maggie Q, is currently in Kenya to raise awareness for elephant conservation.
Maggie Q, who currently stars in ABC’s political drama Designated Survivor, is known for starring in the action films Mission: Impossible III and Live Free or Die Hard and also played the title role of The CW’s action-thriller series Nikita.

20 May 2017

[Lesotho] Chesterfield man finds his calling Africa, combining music and conservation
By Bill Lohmann, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 20 May 2017
The latest dispatch from Africa arrived from Alex Paullin:
“With sore shoulders and tired legs, completely weighed down by our gear and equipment, we ambled into Maseru like pack mules. It is still difficult to catch my breath and decipher my brain’s staticky thoughts and feelings about this place.”
He and his buddy Chris Volosevich had landed in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, a landlocked country in southern Africa where they were working out the cobwebs of jet lag, assimilating themselves into a culture Paullin has grown to appreciate, digging the local street food and music, and getting back to work. Volosevich’s first impressions became a blog post that Paullin shared via email.

21 May 2017

Does marine conservation need a ‘Hippocratic Oath’? UBC researcher says yes
By Liam Britten, CBC News, 21 May 2017
A University of British Columbia researcher says it’s time marine conservationists adopted a code of conduct, or “Hippocratic Oath for conservation” in order to balance the needs of conservation with the material needs of humanity.
Nathan Bennett is the lead author of a paper in the journal Marine Policy calling for such a code.
He says as international bodies work towards protecting 10 per cent of the world’s oceans from human exploitation, the impacts those protections will have on coastal communities needs to be recognized.

Using a New “Affordable Philanthropy” Approach to Save the Rhino
Australian Rhino Project, 21 May 2017
Meet the two women behind a revolutionary new approach to saving the rhino. Over and Above Africa has a simple mission: raising funds using micro-financing to enable all animal lovers across the globe to unite in preventing Africa’s most vulnerable animals from becoming extinct, through education & in funding effective solutions.

China pledges a helping hand for conservation efforts
By Melanie Peters, IOL, 21 May 2017
Killing a giant panda in China is punishable by death. But this extreme measure is only meted out in rare circumstances. Perpetrators of the crime usually receive a jail sentence of at least 10 years.
This law has been in place since 1987, yet poachers continue to hunt pandas for their pelts and meat.
But conservationists recently celebrated a small victory, and the Chinese government’s forestry ministry gave themselves a pat on the back, when the International Union for Conservation of Nature reported that the panda’s conservation status was downgraded from endangered to vulnerable.

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