Conservation in the news: 29 May to 4 June 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.

29 May 2017

Mining for conflict minerals is driving gorillas to extinction
By Tara Stoinski, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, 29 May 2017
Everyone who cares about gorillas and other endangered wildlife should be concerned about current activities by the SEC, which are beginning to undermine corporate obligations and enforcement of the “Conflict Minerals” disclosure rule. This rule is a part of the Dodd Frank act and is critical to maintaining conservation efforts in certain parts of the world, especially some of the areas where gorillas live, such as the Congo basin.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to critically endangered gorillas and other important species. The loss of this rule deeply threatens their already delicate future and could lead to the final destruction of critical forests, in addition to fostering the long-time suffering of human communities in this area.

[Guyana] Virtual ban on fuel to Kaieteur National Park aims to “choke” illegal mining; Chenapau residents protest arrest of fellow villagers for illegal mining
By Denis Chabrol, Demerara Waves, 29 May 2017
As residents of Chenpau on Monday protested the arrest of more than 20 persons mainly from that Amerindian village for allegedly illegally mining at the Kaieteur National Park, authorities are contemplating prohibiting the landing of fuel at the airstrip on that protected area to “choke” mining.
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman said his ministry has recommended to the National Protected Areas Commission (PAC), which is responsible for the Kaieteur National Park, that no more fuel must be flown to the Kaieteur National Park for onward transport to Menzies Landing located on the left bank of the Potaro River.

[Indonesia] NGO calls for firm action against illegal logging in Mt Leuser area
ANTARA News, 29 May 2017
Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) has urged legal enforcers to take firm action against illegal logging activities in Mount Leuser National Park, Langkat District, North Sumatra Province.
“Security officers should not only seize illegal timbers, but also arrest the perpetrators of illegal logging activities,” Director Executive of Walhi branch of North Sumatra Dana Tarigan, said here, Sunday.
The authorities must take stern action against illegal logging activities, the NGO activist said.
The perpetrators must be punished heavily to give them and others a deterrent effect, according to Tarigan.

30 May 2017

Scaling up conservation finance
Environmental Finance, 30 May 2017
Numerous initiatives to finance conservation projects have been launched in recent years. This roundtable, organised by Environmental Finance with the help of Conservation International, explores how such projects could be scaled up and how more private capital can be attracted to such initiatives.
Agustin Silvani: Green finance seems to have taken off. Look at the green bonds space – it is growing exponentially. But less than 1% goes to conservation. We want to make sure that conservation is not left behind because if we do not take care of the ecosystems, all of these other efforts are going to be for nought.

Tiger Beer Proves Cause Marketing Can Be As Helpful To The Brand As It Is To The Cause
By Will Burns, Forbes, 30 May 2017
Too often brands support causes that have nothing to do with their brand. But Tiger Beer, a subsidiary of Heineken, has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund in support of the global Tx2 goal, which aims to double the world’s wild tiger population to 6,000 by 2022.
It’s a shining example of a brand supporting not just any cause, but a cause inspired by its brand idea. is a brand with a mission.
The goals of this campaign are simple: raise awareness of the endangered tiger and get people to spread the word against illegal tiger trade.
Wild tigers are globally endangered; their numbers have dropped 96% in the last century from an estimated 100,000 to as few as 3,890 today. Illegal tiger trade is one of the main reasons why tigers are disappearing.

The one thing Travel & Tourism needs to do to beat wildlife crime
By Olivia Ruggles-Brise, World Travel & Tourism Council, 30 May 2017
The World Travel & Tourism Council’s recent Global Summit in Bangkok, Thailand took as its theme ‘Transforming our World’ and sessions dissected the role, challenges and opportunities for Travel & Tourism to contribute to the global sustainable development agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Protecting environments, habitats and biodiversity is a fundamental part of sustainable development and is highlighted in SDG #15, entitled ‘Life on Land’. It is, of course, also vital for a sustainable and successful tourism sector, much of which depends on the natural environment to draw customers.

[India] Saving Forest Area Likely To Get Harder For Karnataka With New State Congress In-Charge
Swaraja, 30 May 2017
The appointment of K C Venugopal, member of Parliament representing Alaphuzha, as the Karnataka in-charge for Congress is being seen as advantageous to Kerala since projects along the Karnataka-Kerala border are likely to see progress. Over the last few years, several inter-state projects between the neighbouring states have been held up due to opposition from environmentalists and forest conservation groups.
Kerala submitted a formal proposal to Karnataka through Venugopal, urging Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to support the Nanjangud-Nilambur railway line, reported Bangalore Mirror. It has been asking Karnataka to open up the traffic through Bandipur National Park at night for long. But Karnataka has been refusing the request on the back of opposition by wildlife activists and conservationists. This could change.

How India can work on medicinal plants conservation areas to boost its share in global tourism
By Balakrishna Pisupati, First Post, 30 May 2017
On 22 May we celebrated the International Day for Biological Diversity with a focus on “Biological Diversity and Sustainable Tourism” as this year’s theme. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines tourism more generally, in terms which go “beyond the common perception of tourism as being limited to holiday activity only”, as people “traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”.
The tourism sector currently accounts for 5 percent of direct global GDP, 30 percent of the world’s services exports and generates one in twelve jobs worldwide. With more than one billion tourists travelling to an international destination every year, tourism has become a leading economic sector, contributing 10 percent of global GDP and 6 percent of the world’s total exports (UNWTO Annual Report, 2015).

[Malaysia] Puntung’s euthanasia a wake-up call for Sumatran rhino conservation, groups say
Malay Mail, 30 May 2017
Puntung, one of Malaysia’s last three Sumatran rhinoceros’ impending euthanasia due to skin cancer should be a wake-up call to ramp up conservation efforts of the species as it could well go extinct within the next ten years, groups have said.
In a statement, WWF Malaysia pointed out that the country is now left with only one female Sumatran rhinoceros and one male rhinoceros, Iman, and that the only other country for the species is neighbouring Indonesia — where there are less than 100 of them scattered in small, isolated groups in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
“If we want to reverse this trend, then the focus of Sumatran rhinoceros conservation should be on rescuing all remaining wild individuals for management in excellent fenced facilities, increasing the number of births, and facilitating the movement of the individuals and gametes among facilities as a population management tool.
“In summary there should be a single programme with the sole goal of making baby Sumatran rhinos,” WWF Malaysia said.

[Nepal] Rs 15.34bn allocated for forest conservation
The Himalayan Times, 30 May 2017
The government today allocated Rs 15.34 billion budget for the conservation of forests through the budget for the next fiscal year.
Reading the budget speech Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara emphasised the conservation of forests and their utilisation for the sustainable development.
The forest of forest conservation comprised: stopping deforestation, minimising wildfires, promoting forest conservation, carbon trade, watershed conservation, natural lakes conservation and establishment of zoological garden, among others.

Is This the Only Way to Save South Africa’s Wildlife?
By Alex Jordan, The Omnivore, 30 May 2017
The safari jeep presses on through thick shrub land, over plants, river beds and termite mounds. Each customized Toyota is equipped with tough suspension, roll cages and a spotter’s chair on the bonnet. It comes to a shuddering stop by a thicket surrounded by black rhino dung, so pungent you know it’s fresh.
The rangers hop out taking the wooden, single-action rifle with them and untying a small sock knotted at one end from their belts. A quick flick of the wrist releases a small cloud of talcum powder and ash, revealing the wind direction.

31 May 2017

Why function is catching on in conservation
Nature, 31 May 2017
The high-street coffee shop has long been used as a measure of urban gentrification. But are all coffee shops the same? Not so, claimed the London edition of Time Out in 2014. In fact, it said, there are eight types in London just in the independent sector, away from the global mega-chains. These separate species of capital brew house could be distinguished by the presence of table service, for instance, and whether the barista could remember your name and favourite order.
Time Out, then, would see a high street with one of each of these individual outlets as diverse. But most of us, especially tea drinkers, would probably prefer to swap a few of them for, say, a butcher, a baker and, if not a candlestick maker, then perhaps a newsagent. Despite their differences, all coffee shops provide essentially the same service. In those terms, a street of different types of coffee shop is anything but diverse. It doesn’t offer as good a service, and so it’s not such a great place to live.
What does the supply of caffeine have to do with this week’s special issue of Nature that discusses biodiversity, the extinction of species and how to conserve them? Everything. For, as some biologists argue, too much current thinking on conservation agrees with Time Out. The standard definition of biodiversity focuses too heavily on counting the number of different species, when perhaps it should concentrate on what each of those species contributes to the ecosystem.

Environmentalists Urge Brazil’s President Not to Roll Back Amazon Protection
Reuters, 31 May 2017
Environmentalists are urging Brazilian President Michel Temer to veto a plan to remove land the size of Puerto Rico from the country’s protected areas in the Amazon rainforest, fearing the move would hurt local land rights and exacerbate climate change.
The proposal to remove nearly 600,000 hectares of forest from three protected areas in the Amazon and Atlantic rainforest has been approved by Brazil’s Senate. The plan is awaiting ratification from the president.
Supporters of the proposal say recession-hit Brazil needs to open up more land in the Amazon for farming, cattle ranching and mining to create jobs, alleviate poverty and spur growth.

Mauritius: Strategy Documents Launched for Effective Planning in Biodiversity
Government of Mauritius press release, 31 May 2017
The Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security launched documents relating to the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) and the Protected Area Network and Expansion Strategy (PANE) 2017-2026 yesterday at Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel in Caudan. The launching was done in the context of the celebrations of the International Day for Biological Diversity, observed on 22 May each year.
The strategy documents aim at the successful implementation of the targets and objectives conforming to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). They also contribute to national development and sectoral planning frameworks through a renewed and active National Biodiversity Planning.

Tanzania: Relief As Experts Devise Anti-Poaching Techniques
Tanzania Daily News, 31 May 2017
Tanzania may soon make a breakthrough in her efforts to protect elephants, rhinos and other wildlife in danger of extinction, experts have said.
Bathawk Recon Executive Director Mike Chambers, who came in Africa in the 1980s, said here in an interview yesterday that technical innovation was about to revolutionise the best ways to preserve the protected areas and guard the iconic species.
If the claim is anything to go by, Tanzania’s species may breathe a sigh of relief, as poachers are likely to find it hard to count their footsteps inside the national parks. Mr Chambers said the movements for innovative ideas like drone antipoaching or integrated incident databases, are highly considered and driven forward, thanks to their attractiveness in the market of online content.

1 June 2017

What you need to know now about the elephant poaching crisis
Clinton Foundation, 1 June 2017
On a recent episode of “National Geographic Explorer,” Chelsea Clinton spoke with Ted Danson about African elephant poaching and its threat to our environment and international security.
In the episode, Chelsea notes how “We lose 96 elephants a day to poaching, and if that rate continues, my children and your grandchildren will grow up in a world without elephants.”
As daunting as the crisis may seem, significant progress has been made in the fight against elephant poaching.

Liberia, Ivory Coast Transboundary Forest Complex Collaboration
From Page Africa, 1 June 2017
The fourth steering Committee meeting for trans-boundary collaboration in the Tai-Grebo forest has ended in Monrovia.
As you may be aware, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire initiated a discussion on a possible collaboration between our two sisters’ nations with aim to strategize, manage and conserve the Tai-Grebo-Sapo Forest Complex.
The Forestry Development Authority Managing Director Darlington Tuagben said the government of Liberia is committed to conserving at least thirty percent of its remaining forest cover.

2 June 2017

To conserve forests, we need to think beyond current ideas of integration or segregation
By James Douglas Langston, The Conversation, 2 June 2017
Deforestation has historically been the price of development, but the world is now going through a forest transition; since 2015, there has been net global reforestation.
The pace and quality of this transition is mixed. In the world’s remaining high conservation-value forests, deforestation rates are high and poverty persists but development opportunities are within sight.
These forests are mainly located in the tropical developing world and have growing human populations. Because as forest-dependent people are increasingly involved in cash economies , they use their forests to participate in markets. This will inevitably lead to changes in forests.
But can these transitions be nurtured so that future forest landscapes deliver the biodiversity and ecosystem benefits that societies need or desire?

Showing only “doom and gloom” would cripple conservation action
By Mercy Waithira and Jude Fuhnwi, BirdLife International, 2 June 2017
Prolonged and worsening habitat loss and the species extinction crisis are some of the main environmental headlines dominating conservation news today.
Vulture declines in Africa are a serious and growing issue that some experts believe, requires a positive mobilising approach to fully recover the populations on the continent. Despite the seemingly grim outlook for the vultures, BirdLife International and partners across Africa are taking the approach to show that the fight to protect vultures is not a lost battle and that there is hope to turn the situation around, if we work together.
“People are motivated to participate where they feel the outcomes are positive,” said Dr Niki Harré, Psychologist from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

3 June 2017

[Guyana] Soldiers must leave Kaieteur National Park; no evidence of mining in park; time for joint ownership- Chenapau village leaders
By Denis Chabrol, Demerara Waves, 3 June 2017
Insisting that no one is mining within the boundary of the Kaieteur National Park, top leaders of Chenapau village on Saturday called on soldiers to leave the area because they are traumatising residents.
“We need those military operations to stop because it is violating our free movement of passage right now. Currently, they are still operating in that area and we need that to cease. The reason is because it is tampering with our livelihood. People are traumatised about the way they are handling the situation. Kaieteur is known for tourists but we are being treated like terrorists,” former Toshao (village chief) of Chenapau, Tony Melville told a news conference.

4 June 2017

[Sri Lanka] Yala National Park a mess due to political meddling
By Kumudini Hettiarachchi, Sunday Times (Sri Lanka), 4 June 2017
Everyone else was there, except the tourism officials. Even though numerous invites had gone out to a wide-range of tourism officials, no one deemed it important to grace the discussions on ‘Biodiversity & Sustainable Tourism’ vital for people’s existence, held on May 22. This was what the participants at the event organised by Biodiversity Sri Lanka (BSL) on International Day for Biological Diversity held at the HNB auditorium in Colombo heard after queries were raised whether any tourism officials were present.
Four panellists dealt with the crucial topics of ‘Challenges in the Yala National Park (NP)’; ‘Vistas of Sinharaja’; ‘Dollars for deeds’; and ‘Significance of the coasts around us’, after which there was a robust discussion moderated by BSL Advisor Shiranee Yasaratne.

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