Conservation in the news: 12-18 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.

12 June 2017

Cyber-stalking wildlife traders
By Cici Zhang, Science Line, 12 June 2017
In a few small, cramped crates, 19 slow lorises were about to be shipped far from their rainforest home in West Java, Indonesia — if they didn’t die from stress along the way. The online buyers had confirmed the deal.
Fortunately, local officers tracked down the black-market trafficker and rescued the wide-eyed nocturnal primates. “We are sending a strong message to all online traders of wildlife that law enforcement does not tolerate such cases of illegal wildlife trade,” said Achmad Pribadi, an Indonesian forestry official, in a news story on the successful raid.
It was a rare victory in a conflict that seems to be getting worse all the time. A global report from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) identified more than 30,000 live wild animals or animal parts for sale in 280 online marketplaces in 16 countries — and that was only during a six-week period of research in 2014.

[Brazil] Reduction in Protected Area in State of Pará Benefits Land Owners
By Fabiano Maisonnave, Folha de S. Paulo, 12 June 2017
It’s the greatest environmental crime ever recorded in the Jamanxim (Flona) National Forest (State of Pará). Nearly seven thousand hectares reclaimed by just one family. The area belonging to the Mayor was spotted last Thursday (the 8th) undergoing flagrant illegal deforestation.
All such cases will be subject to regularization if President Temer approves provisional measure (MP) 756. Approved with alterations made by Congress last month, it calls for a reduction in protection for 486,000 hectares of the Flona do Jamanxim – 37% of the total area.
This area, equal in dimensions to three municipalities the size of São Paulo, was reclassified as an Environmental Protection Area (APA), a category that allows for human habitation and deforestation for activities like agriculture and mining.

[Cambodia] Wild Elephants Kill Villager in Mondolkiri Protected Area
By Buth Kimsay and Matt Surrusco, The Cambodia Daily, 12 June 2017
A farmer foraging for mushrooms was killed by wild elephants in a protected area of Mondolkiri province, officials said yesterday, an act conservationists said was rare but could become more frequent as people and the animals share an increasing amount of space.
Sreth Th’yal, 49, was walking through the forest on Thursday in O’Reang district’s Sen Monorom commune, part of Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, with his neighbor and a few dogs when they came upon a group of two adult female and three young elephants, which were startled by the dogs’ barks, multiple officials said.
“The elephant tried to protect her baby from the barking dogs, then chased the dogs and trampled one victim to death who had tripped over a tree branch” as he ran, district governor Norng Tunnary said of one of the female elephants.

[Nepal] Tiger population increasing in Chitwan National Park
By Tilak Ram Rimal, The Himalayan Times, 12 June 2017
The Chitwan National Park’s endeavours to increase the population of striped tigers seem to have paid off, with its latest camera-trap record showing a significant rise in tiger population.
As per The Global Tiger Recovery Plan, which was endorsed in the St Petersburg Declaration on Tiger conservation in 2010, Nepal committed to double its tiger population by 2022, from 121 to more than 250. The 2013 census report showed that the population of tigers in the national part was 120, while the number of young tigers across the country was 198.
Chief of CNP Ram Chandra Kandel confirmed the increment in the tiger population in the national park. “The number of tigers must have increased by at least 10 to 20 per cent,” said Chief Kandel.

13 June 2017

Targeted conservation could save the earth – if we can make the sacrifices
Plaid Zebra, 13 June 2017
How much is five percent? It depends what you’re talking about, for one thing. Five percent more ice cream for dessert isn’t likely to add up to very much – but talk about a 5 percent increase on your income tax and you’ll be sure that there’ll be some wailing and gnashing of teeth down the line. What about setting aside five percent of the Earth’s landmass in the name of conservation?
For centuries, conservation has proved a thorny problem for humans and animals alike. President Theodore Roosevelt, a noted early proponent of the movement, was instrumental in the creation of America’s National Park Service, designating wild areas an “integral aspect of intelligent use of natural resources.” Only recently have we begun to appreciate the sheer scope and urgency of the problems that we face – problems exacerbated through rapacious human activity gobbling through shrinking tracts of wilderness.

Public participation in conservation helps protect biodiversity in China
Business Standard, 13 June 2017
It was a chilly February day and Dangwen and his wildlife monitoring team were on patrol along the upper reaches of the Yangtze river. The river was frozen solid — easy for poachers to walk over.
That day they encountered 220 blue sheep, five white-lipped deer, and a line of otter footprints. On the infrared camera traps they had set up throughout the valley, three snow leopards appeared — a mother and two cubs.
Dangwen comes from Yunta, a village located in Sanjiangyuan, Qinghai Province on the Tibetan plateau. The 400,000 sq km Sanjiangyuan area serves as an important habitat for rich and unique biodiversity, and is a watershed of the three largest rivers in Asia: the Yellow, the Yangtze and the Mekong, which serve one billion people downstream.

[India] State’s community forest rights area closing in on protected area network
By Vijay Pinjarkar, Times of India, 13 June 2017
With 7,260.58 sqkm of forest area recognized as community forest rights (CFRs) through 5,741 titles in the state, Maharashtra tops the chart in the country when it comes to recognition of rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006.
Interestingly, of the 7,260.58 sqkm recognized under CFR, 4,349 sqkm is in Gadchiroli alone.
At this speed, the forest area recognized under CFR will almost beat the total protected area (PA) network (sanctuaries & national parks) of 10,051 sqkm sqkm in a short span. Total recorded forest area in the state is 61,579 sqkm.
The latest revelation has been made in a report titled — ‘Maharashtra — Promise & Performance: 10 Years of FRA 2017’ — published recently on the 10 years of FRA in the country.

[Kenya] Conservation efforts pay off, rhinos thrive in Lewa
By Kennedy Kimanthi, Daily Nation, 13 June 2017
No rhino has been poached in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Meru in the past three years due to good human-wildlife relations that promote conservation.
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Impact Report for 2016 noted that 14 new rhinos were born last year in the Lewa-Borana landscape, an indication of the concerted efforts between the conservancy and local communities in protecting endangered species.
About 14 per cent of Kenya’s rhino population live in Lewa, which straddles Meru, Laikipia and Isiolo counties.
“In Kenya, rhino poaching has dropped from 59 animals at the height of poaching in 2013 to 10 animals in 2016, ” the report says.

[Kenya] SGR, charter flights draw more tourists to national parks ahead of high season
Business Daily, 13 June 2017
National parks and game reserves are experiencing a rise in visitor numbers ahead of the high season next month.
Kenya Association of Tour Operators (Kato) Tsavo East and West National Parks and Amboseli branch chairman Willie Mwadilo, said lodges and tented camps were busy due to rise in visitor numbers.
He added that lodges and camps in Tsavo East and West National Parks and Amboseli National Park are enjoying occupancy of between 60 per cent and 70 per cent up from 30 per cent and 50 per cent last month.

14 June 2017

[Cambodia] Alleged Poachers Charged With Killing Endangered Monkeys
By Buth Kimsay, Cambodia Daily, 14 June 2017
A complaint was sent to the provincial court and two of the men were charged under Cambodia’s Protected Areas Law after being questioned at the court on Monday, said Eng Mengey, communications officer for the conservation NGO.
The crime carries a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a fine of up to 100 million riel, or about $25,000, the NGO said.
Both men are being detained in the provincial prison while awaiting trial, Meas Bros, a court spokesman, said on Tuesday.
Black-shanked douc langurs—listed as globally endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature—are hunted for meat and for use in traditional medicine.

[Vietnam] A Spratlys Environmentally Protected Area?
By Mark J. Valencia, IPP Review, 14 June 2017
Lost amid the recent cacophony of nationalist rhetoric regarding the disputes in the South China Sea have been calls for the claimants to agree to set aside part of the area for environmental preservation. This suggestion is both idealistic and unrealistic.
Few would deny the exponentially increasing environmental damage and its effects around the world — including, in particular, to increasingly threatened island and near shore marine ecosystems. Humankind must learn to live within its environmental means. But it is becoming increasingly apparent that we will not do so — at least in time to prevent more environmental disasters. The reasons are deep and intrinsic to collective human nature and they find expression in decisions regarding particular options to preserve the environment. The proposals for environmental protection in the disputed Spratlys, while laudable, are a good example of why such cooperative environmental management is so difficult to actualize.

15 June 2017

CPR for Earth: An outstanding conservation success story in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest
By Stuart Pimm, National Geographic, 15 June 2017
Last week, on World Environment Day, the Brazilian authorities added more land to an existing nature reserve to create a protected area four times the size of the original reserve. It’s a huge victory for conservation and particularly for the science of conservation. Explaining why this great news so excites me — and why I am so passionate about the strategy of CPR for Earth — “Connect, Protect, and Restore” — needs some background.
A decade ago, my colleague Clinton Jenkins and I looked at a strip of poor cattle pasture running between two blocks of forest east of Rio de Janeiro. “It has to go!” we thought. To the east, was a reserve, REBIO União, protected by the Brazilian government. It’s home to one of the world’s most charismatic primates, the golden lion tamarin. To the west, lay a larger forest at higher elevations, protected by laws that discourage deforestation on private land.

Guyana seizes mining equipment at renowned national park, 15 June 2017
Soldiers in the South American country of Guyana have seized heavy-duty mining equipment from a protected area that features one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world.
Authorities said Thursday that nearly 30 pontoons with pumps were dredging river beds for gold and diamonds in Kaieteur National Park.
Guyana’s Defense Force said it also found environmental pollutants including mercury waste oils and silicone.
Environmentalists recently complained about an increasing number of miners working in the area and making nearby rivers turbid. Guyana banned mining near rivers more than a year ago, and commercial mining and logging are prohibited at the park.

India: Tribe faces eviction from tiger reserve – but uranium exploration approved
Survival International, 15 June 2017
Officials in India are threatening to evict a tribe from a tiger reserve in the name of conservation – but have just approved uranium exploration in the same reserve. The move has angered campaigners, who accuse the authorities of hypocrisy.
The Chenchu tribe in Amrabad tiger reserve have pleaded to be allowed to stay on the land which they have been dependent on and managed for millennia.
They say: “The forest department is planning to evict us from this place. We do not want to go anywhere. We protect our forest. If we go outside it is like taking a fish out of the water, it will die… But now the government, for their own profit, is separating the Chenchu from the forest, this is like separating children from their mothers.

16 June 2017

The Front Lines: From Afghanistan to Rhino Poaching
Australian Rhino Project, 16 June 2017
Veterans are bringing their expertise gathered from war zones and using it to save rhinos. Stemming from his love for Africa’s wildlife and the rapid increase in wildlife crime, ex-marine, Wesley Thomson founded Veterans for Wildlife which sends voluntary ex-servicemen and women to Africa to provide expert training and support to anti-poaching groups in an effort to decrease the number of rangers and rhinos dying at the hands of poachers.

Giraffe Surveillance Reaches New Heights with GPS Tracking Project in Northern Kenya
By Debbie L. Sklar, Times of San Diego, 16 June 2017
In a remote area of northern Kenya, a team of conservationists and veterinarians are collaborating on a unique project that will allow them to gather in-depth information on the habits of Kenya’s threatened reticulated giraffe population.
The science team, made up of personnel from multiple conservation organizations—including the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, Northern Rangelands Trust, Kenya Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, Loisaba Conservancy, the Smithsonian Institution, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Senckenberg BiK-F, Goethe University, Savannah Tracking and San Diego Zoo Global—has attached solar-powered GPS satellite tracking devices to 11 reticulated giraffes in the region.

[Uganda] Mt. Elgon national park boundary demarcation worries the Benet people
NTV, 16 June 2017
The Benet community in the eastern district of Kween are protesting a new move by the ministry of lands to open boundaries for Mt Elgon National Park.
The indigenous group is suspicious that the exercise is meant to evict them from land the Uganda WildLife Authority has previously claimed is part of the national park.
However, the ministry of the lands spokesperson Denis Obbo says the exercise is meant to gather information that will help the government and parliament reach a decision on how to implement a consent judgement reached in 2005.

[Zambia] Mfuwe makes wildlife conservation habit
By Benedict Tembo, Zambia Daily Mail, 16 June 2017
They walked, some cycled and others drove or were driven in all manner of vehicles – cars, buses, trucks – to Mfuwe International Airport for the 2017 annual conservation fun run and carnivore cup final match.
Boys, girls, men and women from all the four chiefdoms as well as those from the corporate world in the Luangwa valley turned up at Ndeke ground to be part of the sports festival – either as participants or as spectators.
Some travelled from as far as Lusaka, Chipata, Katete and other parts of the country to witness the biggest sports event in the Luangwa Valley held under the banner ‘Make Conservation a Habit.’

17 June 2017

[India] Big cats increase, but not their habitat size
By R. Krishna Kumar, The Hindu, 17 June 2017
The steady increase in tiger population in the State yet again underlines the need to expand the tiger habitat lest it results in more tiger-human conflicts in the periphery of national parks.
This came to the fore early this year in the Nagarahole belt with a spate of tiger deaths, while five human deaths were reported from the Bandipur fringes during December-January in 2013-14.
Nagarahole park director Manikandan hinted at space crunch to accommodate the growing tiger population in Nagarahole. “The park has a boundary of 220 km of which 150 km has human habitation and there is no buffer forest on the eastern and western boundary of the national park which adjoins villages,” he added.

“Uganda blessed by nature, cursed by greed”
By Charles Etukuri, and Pascal Kwesiga, New Vision, 17 June 2017
The National Forest Authority (NFA) range manager for forest reserves around Lake Victoria, Leo Twinomuhangi, says there are several illegal land titles issued to high-profile individuals linked to various government institutions, including security. He confirms that the land grabbing syndicate has nearly defeated NFA and swallowed the country’s leadership, which has acquired numerous land titles in protected areas. As a consequence, Twinomuhangi, observes that land grabbing syndicates aided by the corrupt area land committees and district land boards as well as the entire land administration system have rendered NFA powerless and some of its employees have left things to fate.

18 June 2017

[India] Forest dwellers, farmers protest displacement from MP’s Madhav National Park
By Jayashree Nandi, Times of India, 18 June 2017
Amidst farmers’ agitation in Madhya Pradesh, villagers who were displaced over the past couple of decades from the Madhav National Park in Shivpuri have started protesting against being displaced and against lack of cultivable land, poor facilities in areas where they have been relocated.
One of the major reasons for agitating is that the land given to them as compensation for relocating from the national park is “un-cultivable” or unsuitable for farming according to a statement shared by network of law students who are working in the area to make the forest dwellers’ voice heard.

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