Conservation in the news: 22-28 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.

22 May 2017

[Guyana] Big animals can survive reduced-impact logging — if done right
By Jeremy Hance, Mongabay, 22 May 2017
Reduced-impact logging doesn’t need to be a death knell for a region’s big animals, according to a new study in Biotropica — but only if hunting is well-regulated.
Employing camera traps to survey Amazonian animals in Guyana, researchers found that large mammals and birds did not see a lower population of target species in reduced-impact logging areas as compared to unlogged areas. For some species, like jaguars and pumas, population numbers actually rose.
The research was conducted in an unusually managed swath of forest: Iwokrama.

[India] Action plan for Pampa conservation
The Hindu, 22 May 2017
A three-day symposium on ‘Pampa: Environment, Culture, and Governance’ organised by Mahatma Gandhi University has chalked out a seven-point action plan for conservation of the river.
The document, named Pampa Declaration, delineates a comprehensive plan to be implemented with the active involvement and support of the government and the public.

[India] I aim to conserve wildlife of the Eastern Ghats: Kantimahanti Murthy
By Sulogna Mehta, The Times of India, 22 May 2017
At a time when there’s an urgent need to conserve the environment and biodiversity from becoming extinct due to undue human intervention, a young wildlife conservationist from Vizag is tirelessly working towards conservation and protection of endangered wildlife in the Eastern Ghats through a community-based approach. He has also designed wildlife interpretation centres in several sanctuaries, zoos and national parks.

[India] Bhopal: Lecture on traditional conservation of nature
The Free Press Journal, 22 May 2017
Regional Museum of Natural History, Bhopal organised a power point presentation cum lecture on ‘Traditional Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ on Sunday under summer nature study programme. Coordinator of the programme and Scientist-B, Manik Lal Gupta delivered the lecture. During the lecture Gupta defined a belief of person passed from one generation to another generation becomes ‘tradition’. Gupta also explained to participants about the nature and natural resources. He told that plants, animals, landscape and product of earth are called nature and resources that exist without action of humankind i.e. magnetic, gravitational, electrical properties and water, sunlight, atmosphere, land minerals, flora & fauna are called natural resources.

[Philippines] Senate OKs bill increasing number of PH protected areas, 22 May 2017
The Senate on Monday approved a bill that expanded the number of protected areas in the country.
Senate Bill No. 1444, or the “Expanded NIPAS Act of 2017” was approved on third and final hearing with 22 affirmative votes, zero negative vote, and zero abstention.
It would bring 92 new areas, including six internationally-recognized natural sites, under the protection and management of the country’s landmark National Integrated and Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act.

23 May 2017

Criminalising Forest-Dwellers Has Not Helped India’s Forests or Wildlife. It’s Time for a New Deal.
By Meenal Tatpati and Sneha Gutguttia, The Wire, 23 May 2017
In a circular released on March 28, 2017, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) ordered the directors of all tiger reserves to refrain from recognising the rights of forest dwellers within critical tiger habitats.
Since its enactment in 2006, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act or the Forest Rights Act (FRA) has been instrumental in recognising and vesting forest rights and the right to occupation in forest lands of forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who have been residing in such forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded. The NTCA circular reasons that since there have been no guidelines laid down for the notification of critical wildlife habitats (CWH), rights should not be conferred in critical tiger habitats (CTHs).

[South Africa] Prestigious award for grasslands champion
By Ilanit Chernick, IOL, 23 May 2017
Working tirelessly to save and protect South Africa’s grasslands and wildlife, the efforts of Ian Little, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) senior manager for habitats, have not gone unnoticed.
On Thursday, Little was awarded a Whitley Award, a prestigious international nature conservation prize worth £35000 (R603800) in project funding by none other than Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II.
Speaking to The Star following receipt of his award, Little said his love for wildlife was instilled in him during his childhood.

[USA] Global Conservation Leaders Call on Congress to Reject Cuts to US Foreign Assistance
The Nature Conservancy, WCS, and WWF press release, 23 May 2017
oday’s FY2018 Presidential budget request would dramatically reduce funding for US foreign assistance. If enacted, this 32% reduction would result in devastating cuts to crucial development assistance and the elimination of programs that help countries conserve their natural resources and protect their imperiled wildlife. These investments are essential to help stabilize at-risk nations, combat transnational organized crime including wildlife trafficking, and support our own security and prosperity here at home.
As three of the world’s largest international conservation organizations, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) call on Congress to protect our country’s investments in foreign assistance and to adopt a budget that continues to support our nation’s legacy of global conservation and humanitarian leadership.

24 May 2017

Of Science And Religion – Can Spiritual Values Of Forests Inspire Conservation?
By Meg Lowman, 24 May 2017
In his recent book EO Wilson advocates conserving half of the planet for one species (Homo sapiens) and the other half for the remaining millions of species. His list of “best places on the biosphere” worthy of saving include several sacred sites: the church forests of Ethiopia, the Western Ghats in India, natural areas of Bhutan, remnant forests in the Congo and Ghana, the redwoods of California, and the tepuis of Venezuela. All of these forests have spiritual value for the native people in the region, which has contributed to the safe-guarding of these landscapes more effectively than walls or monetary metrics. Sacred forests are a critical component of biodiversity conservation, yet remain difficult to account for in most western calculations of global biodiversity management. Such sacred regions have been fiercely protected by cultural and religious beliefs and taboos for many centuries.

[Congo Basin] People and Wildlife Are Both Casualties of Illicit Mining
By Richard Ruggiero, National Geographic, 24 May 2017
The vast Congo Basin — spanning six Central African countries – supports more than 10,000 animal and 600 tree species, many of which are unique to this area. The region represents the second largest contiguous moist tropical forest in the world and provides critical habitat to the last populations of several globally important species, including African forest elephants and three of the world’s four species of great apes.
Despite its vast size and relative intactness, Congo’s forest area and wildlife are under severe threat. Between 2002 and 2011, forest elephants experienced a devastating 62 percent population decline and a 30-percent loss of range. The Grauer’s gorilla — the world’s largest primate — which is only found in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), suffered staggering declines. In the span of one generation, their numbers dropped by 77 percent across their range. In Kahuzi-Biega National Park, they fared even worse — plummeting by 87 percent. Rangewide, they are now considered critically endangered. These losses are often associated with areas of uncontrolled, illegal mineral extraction.

[India] `Wildlife conservation not a project, long-term commitment to landscape’
Times of India, 24 May 2017
With 30 years devoted for conservation of forests in Karnataka, electrical engineer-turned-wildlife biologist Sanjay Gubbi needs no introduction. Recently, he was honoured with the prestigious Whitley Award (Green Oscars) for his service in wildlife preservation and expanding the protected areas of Karnataka by 6.5 lakh acres. Fresh from a visit to London where he received the award from Princess Anne, Gubbi, who works with the Mysuru-based Nature Conservation Foundation, attributed his achievements to the collective efforts of stakeholders.

[Peru] Gold mining increases in buffer zone of Tambopata National Reserve
Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project, 24 May 2017
In the previous MAAP #50, we presented an analysis of the extent of gold mining deforestation in the southern Peruvian Amazon as of September 2016. Here, we partially update the data for the area within the buffer zone of Tambopata National Reserve.* We document the increase of 1,135 acres (460 hectares) of illegal mining deforestation during the last 8 months, from September 2016 to May 2017 (see red in Image 60). That brings the total deforested area in the buffer zone to 10,970 acres (4,440 hectares) since 2012.

South Sudan wildlife surviving civil war, but poaching and trafficking threats increase
Wildlife Conservation Society press release, 24 May 2017
The first aerial assessment of the impact of South Sudan’s current civil war on the country’s wildlife and other natural resources shows that significant wildlife populations have so far survived, but poaching and commercial wildlife trafficking are increasing, as well as illegal mining, timber harvesting and charcoal production, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said in a report issued today.
Wildlife in South Sudan, which is home to the world’s second-largest land mammal migration, includes species of global importance, such as elephant, giraffe, lion, and hippopotamus. WCS conducted the aerial survey in 2015-16 as part of a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and part of the Great Elephant Census©, funded by philanthropist and Microsoft cofounder Paul G. Allen. WCS previously conducted aerial surveys of South Sudan’s wildlife and protected areas in 2007, 2008, 2009-10 and 2013.

25 May 2017

Targeted conservation could protect more of Earth’s biodiversity
Yale University press release, 25 May 2017
A new study finds that major gains in global biodiversity can be achieved if an additional 5% of land is set aside to protect key species.
Scientists from Yale University and the University of Grenoble said such an effort could triple the protected range of those species and safeguard their functional diversity. The findings underscore the need to look beyond species numbers when developing conservation strategies, the researchers said.

Road Rage: The Real Reason Roads Are So Dangerous
By Bill Laurance, Alert, 25 May 2017
By 2050, it is likely that we will have another 25 million kilometers of paved roads on Earth — enough to encircle the planet more than 600 times.
Roads are going everywhere. In the developing nations of Asia, for example, the total length of paved roads is expected to double by 2020.
We are witnessing the most ambitious and dramatic spree of road-building in human history. For even more examples, see here, here, and here.

Hidden cameras capture images of rare wildlife species in NE Cambodia’s protected area
Xinhua, 25 May 2017
A conservationist group said on Thursday that hidden cameras placed in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary (KSWS) in northeastern Cambodia’s Kratie and Mondulkiri provinces have captured the images of many endangered wild animals.
Wildlife recorded include Asian elephant, guar, banteng, sambar, wild pig, leopard cat, Macaque species (Pig-tailed, Long-tailed and Stump-tailed), Germain’s peacock pheasant and other wild birds, said a Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)’s press release.

26 May 2017

Slight bumps in protected areas could be a boon for biodiversity
By John C. Cannon, Mongabay, 26 May 2017
Sometimes small changes in the right place can make a big difference. That’s what a team of scientists found when they looked at how parks, sanctuaries and reserves might better protect the birds and mammals that inhabit them.
In a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lead author Laura Pollock and her colleagues found that if we upped the land area under protection by just 5 percent in strategic locations, the number of safeguarded species could triple.

Q&A with a champion of the “gendered approach” to conservation
By Roz Evans, Mongabay, 26 May 2017
Over recent decades, conservation organizations have started to tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience held by communities living near conservation targets. Listening to the voices of local people has given these NGOs new insight into how best to protect dwindling ecosystems. However, only more recently have some groups noticed they were hearing only half of the voices.
Women traditionally take a quieter role than men in community discussions in the global south, and their voices had remained unheard. Yet they have a lot to offer to the conservation conversation. Women have distinct roles, knowledge, experiences, and ideas from those of men, and some conservationists began to believe that their exclusion was hampering the success of some initiatives.

[DRC] Study finds Congo’s miners often resort to hunting wildlife for food
Wildlife Conservation Society press release, 26 May 2017
A new study by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) has revealed how mining for valuable minerals in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a major driving factor in the illegal hunting of great apes and other wildlife for food.
The majority of individuals surveyed at mining camps during the 3-month study period said they hunted mostly out of necessity in the absence of any alternative protein, and would much prefer to eat beef, chicken, and fish instead of chimpanzee or gorilla if it were available.

Kenya’s Ogiek win land case against government
By Virginia Vigliar, Al Jazeera, 26 May 2017
Kenya’s Ogiek, an indigenous minority of hunters and gatherers, have won a historic case against the Kenyan government, close to a decade after they began their legal battle.
The African Court on Human and People’s Rights, a continental court established in 2006 by African countries, on May 26 delivered its verdict in Arusha, Tanzania – ruling in favour of the Ogiek and recognising their right to Kenya’s Mau Forest as their ancestral home, and their role in protecting it.

27 May 2017

Balancing vultures conservation and rights of Maasai
By Kanyinke Sena, The Nation, 27 May 2017
Should the drive to save an endangered species of birds prevent the historically disadvantaged Maasai community from getting a guaranteed 20-year income stream from a wind energy project?
Apparently yes, say environmental groups that include Birdlife International, Nature Kenya, Kenya Bird of Prey Trust and the Peregrine Trust.
They want the project stopped ostensibly to protect endangered vultures and other bird species.

Mining and Tourism in Nigeria: The Case for The Preservation of Shere Hills
Proshare, 27 May 2017
Shere Hills located in Jos, Plateau State Nigeria is one of the beautiful natural landmarks and heritage sites in the country. With a range of undulating hills and rock formations, situated ten (10) kilometres to the East of Jos Metropolis.
In terms of landscape and features it has numerous high peaks, with the highest peak reaching a height of about 1,829 metres of 6,001 feet above sea level.
It therefore serves as a lovely tourist site, recreation centre, place of adventure and for some the point of spiritual renewal. Shere Hills is among the notable tourism locations in the country, like we have Olumo Rock (Ogun State), Zuma Rock (FCT), Ikogosi Waterfalls Spring (Osun State), Obudu Cattle Ranch (Cross River State), Yankari Games Reserve Park (Bauchi State), amongst others.

[South Africa] Kruger National Park achievers rewarded for excellence
The Citizen, 27 May 2017
Several Kruger National Park (KNP) staff members were honoured at the 18th KNP achievement awards ceremony at Skukuza in the park on Friday night.
“There’s a saying that our achievements are shaped by the strength of the foundations we set and that the foundation of excellence is built with the quality of your actions and the integrity of your intent,” KNP managing executive Glenn Phillips said at the ceremony.
“We are all making a contribution to the business of this organisation [KNP]; the only thing that distinguishes each one of us is our individual input and the extent thereof. The KNP annual achievement ceremony is an event wherein we honour employees who excelled in their respective field of work in the past year or over a long period by showing a great deal of determination, productiveness, and good attitude to their work,” he said.

28 May 2017

Protecting half: a plan to save life on Earth
By Carly Vynne and Eric Dinerstein, OUPblog, 28 May 2017
Recently, a number of the world’s leading scientists, indigenous leaders, and advocates have been engaged in something bold: asking exactly what is required to stop the mass extinction of life on Earth and save a living planet. And the answer, after numerous reviews of the evidence for what it would take to achieve comprehensive biodiversity conservation, has become clear: fully protect half the Earth (or more) in an interconnected way. The vision is bold because it far surpasses globally agreed upon targets for establishing nature reserves (which today are at 17%) and because rather than asking for what appears possible, it is asking for what is needed. In several advocacy communities, this goal has been coined “Nature Needs Half” (NNH) — a concept that is meant to be inclusive of people in its definition of nature as well as in its definition of protection. NNH acknowledges that nature can be conserved not only in government-run protected areas, but also on private lands and indigenous reserves.

The cornerstone of life.
WWF, 28 May 2017
We are at a crossroads in human history.
Our actions are changing the planet in unprecedented ways, and if we carry on as at present the consequences could be disastrous.
But, right now, we still have an opportunity to change course.
If we come together to take the decisive steps needed, we could chart the way toward a sustainable future where people live in harmony with nature.

[Guyana] Numerous residents of Chenpau arrested at Kaieteur National Park
By Denis Chabrol, Demerara Waves, 28 May 2017
More than one dozen persons have been arrested from the Kaieteur National Park and were Sunday being transported by air to Georgetown for questioning, sources said.
Demerara Waves Online News was told by sources connected to the area that at least eight residents from the Amerindian village of Chenapau have been already flown to the City and more were later Sunday expected to arrive for questioning. The total number of detainees could be as much as 20, sources said.
Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud would only confirm that a number of arrests have been made, when asked whether several persons have been arrested for illegal mining at the Kaieteur National Parl area.

Malawi Govt to appeal for stiffer sentences on 35 convicted foreigners over Lengwe encroachment
By Lloyd Mbwana, The Maravi Post, 28 May 2017
The Malawi Government, through the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Resources is set to appeal for stiffer sentenced for the 35 convicted foreigners in the illegal logging in Lengwe National Park, in the Lower Shire district of Chikwawa.
The Energy Minister Bright Msaka told The Maravi Post this week, that the eighteen months custodial sentence Blantyre Magistrate court gave to the 35 foreigner and Malawians, were not enough.
Msaka observed that although the ministry was satisfied with the whole trial, whereby the convicts were not granted bail, the sentences were not enough, considering the damage caused at the National Park.

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