Conservation in the news: 26 June – 2 July 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.

26 June 2017

Jane Goodall vows to die before quitting conservation work
By Samantha Hayes, Newshub, 26 June 2017
Famed chimpanzee expert Dr Jane Goodall is hopeful her conservation efforts will be carried on by a new generation after she dies.
In an exclusive interview with Newshub, she also called for palm oil products to be labelled, shared her frustration at US President Donald Trump and suggested we charge tourists a levy to support conservation efforts.
Dr Goodall has a number of titles – Dame, Dr, scientist and activist. But she’s most affectionately known as the Chimpanzee Lady, and for good reason.

[Cambodia] Big wildlife bust yields 300 kilos in Kampong Chhnang
By Khouth Sophak Chakrya, Phnom Penh Post, 26 June 2017
Kampong Chhnang provincial authorities on Saturday intercepted and seized a truck loaded with 300 kilograms of live snakes and tortoises, though the wildlife traders managed to escape, a provincial Forestry Administration official said yesterday.
Thorng Vandy Ravuthy, director of the Forestry Administration, said the live animals included 65 snakes, weighing 212 kilograms, and 30 tortoises, weighing 111 kilograms.
“Those animals were released back into nature; the tortoises were freed into the Tonle Sap river’s flooded forest area, while the snakes were freed in the forests, where their living and reproduction will be ensured,” he said.

[Guyana] Authorities mum on dredges seized in Kaieteur National Park
Stabroek News, 26 June 2017
The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) remains in possession of some twenty-six dredges seized last month during a raid in the Kaieteur National Park (KNP) and there is complete silence from it, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Protected Areas Commission (PAC) on what happens next.
Aside from concerns over the enforcement role played by the GDF in this operation and its continued holding of the equipment, as opposed to handing it over to the police or the PAC, observers note that there are other critical questions for the authorities to answer.

Panama: the ranching industry has moved into Darién National Park
By José Arcia, Mongabay, 26 June 2017
David Ramos’ ranch is in the community of Salodio, in Darién Province, in the eastern part of Panama. From there, one can observe Darién National Park, a natural reserve that has been declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
A one-lane cobblestone street, originating in Garachiné, brings you towards Ramos’ ranch. Garachiné, a town bordering the Pacific Ocean, can only be accessed via boat or air travel. It is a town of fishers and ranchers, and some of them have ranches that share a border with the protected area.

Tanzania presses on with hydroelectric dam on vast game reserve
By Bibi van der Zee, The Guardian, 26 June 2017
Plans to build a huge hydroelectric dam in the heart of one of Africa’s largest remaining wild areas have dismayed conservationists who fear that the plans will cause irreversible damage to the Selous game reserve in Tanzania.
After many years of delays and false starts, last week the president of Tanzania, John Magufuli, announced that he would be going ahead with the Stiegler’s Gorge dam on the Rufiji river. Magufuli, nicknamed “the Bulldozer”, was elected in 2015 in part on his record of successful road and infrastructure building. The dam will provide 2,100MW of electricity to a country that is currently extremely undersupplied: Tanzania, with a population of approximately 53m to the UK’s 65m, has just 1,400MW of installed grid capacity compared to the UK’s total grid capacity of 85,000MW.

27 June 2017

Exit Interview: Peter Seligmann, Conservation International
By Joel Makower, GreenBiz, 27 June 2017
On June 30, Peter Seligmann, who co-founded Conservation International in 1987, and who has served as its CEO ever since, is stepping down from that role and handing the reins to a new generation of leaders. He’ll remain as chairman.
I spoke with Seligmann earlier this month to talk about his journey, the impacts of President Donald Trump’s decision on the Paris Agreement, and his perspective on engaging the public on sustainability. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

World Wildlife Fund arms itself with the Cloud to fight poaching
By Maja Tarateta, Fox Business, 27 June 2017
Illegal wildlife trafficking is a big business, run by dangerous international networks that use dark market techniques similar to the illegal drugs or firearms trade. But today, these crimes are being fought with Big Data. Leveraging the Cloud, nonprofit organizations are helping the fight against wildlife poaching and illegal killing, deploying technology in new ways to fight the crime –and it’s showing results.
“Criminal networks are starting to get nervous,” said Crawford Allan, a senior director at the World Wildlife Fund, one of the nonprofit organizations on the forefront of harnessing the power of the Cloud to fight poaching.

The Forgotten Ones — The Giraffe’s Silent Extinction
By Bee Elle, Invirnoment, 27 June 2017
A long, patterned neck stretches out into the prickly foliage of an umbrella acacia tree. Regally crowned with furry ossicones, her long eyelashes bat in the sun as she gracefully walks to a branch and tears the leaves and buds from their thorny stems.
Their place in the ‘charismatic megafauna’ group has ensured they’ve received a lot of attention from society, in culture and art to children’s books and zoos. Their omnipresence in society has perhaps ironically distracted the world from examining the state of their real existence in the wild until recently.

[India] Research project stresses on need to declare Amboli as ‘protected area’
By Garima Mishra, The Indian Express, 27 June 2017
For the last four years, two researchers from the city — Anish Pardeshi and Sachin Punekar — have been working on a project, chronicling Amboli’s rich biodiversity. The ongoing project documents flora, fauna, ambhibians, reptiles, fungi and mammals of Amboli, which is a hilly place on the crest-line of Northern Western Ghats in Sindhudurg District of south Maharashtra and an important biodiversity hotspot blessed with verdant valleys, lateritic plateaus, waterfalls and lush green forests. The aim of the project, said Punekar, is to produce a baseline data required for the conservation of Amboli forests and surroundings. The lush green forest canopies and undergrowth, he says, is a treasure house for many newly-described plant and animal taxa. “This area is an important abode for world’s most unique and dwindling flora and fauna,” said Punekar.

Lions in Kenya could be extinct in two decades, experts warn
By George Sayagie, Daily Nation, 27 June 2017
For anyone visiting the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, the thrill is to see the ultimate king of the jungle.
However, the lion’s future is now threatened by the destruction of its habitat as man spreads into the king’s frontiers in search of space to live and farm.
Conservationists and wildlife groups have warned that lions in Kenya could be gone in two decades.
Land conversion in the Maasai Mara is suffocating the ecosystem that is vital to the survival of many species, including lions.

[South Africa] Op-Ed: Tough choices ahead for Kruger National Park
By Tony Carnie, Daily Maverick, 27 June 2017
What will South Africa’s national parks and game reserves look like ten or 50 years hence? The last bastions of wilderness sheltering remnant animal populations or crowded and overexploited tourist destinations?
Should they be financed mainly by the taxpayer, or increasingly compelled to “pay for their own keep”? Is their purpose to protect and provide living space for wild, non-human forms of life in the ever-expanding ocean of development – or should these parks be farmed and “radically transformed” to supply meat, other natural resources and further economic development.

28 June 2017

‘Wildlife species causing life, property losses across India’
The Economic Times, 28 June 2017
Up to 32 wildlife species are causing significant damage to life and property across India, say scientists who urge that the country must strengthen human-wildlife conflict management to reduce the losses.
The study examined the patterns of human-wildlife conflict and mitigation use by 5,196 families from 2011 to 2014 from 2,855 villages neighbouring 11 wildlife reserves across western, central, and southern India.
It was designed to help inform better policies to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.

[Nigeria] WCS Field Conservationist Nominated for Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa
Wildlife Conservation Society press release, 28 June 2017
WCS scientist and field conservationist Nachamada Geoffrey has been nominated for the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa for his efforts to protect Nigeria’s remaining elephants and other important wildlife in Yankari Game Reserve.
Geoffrey, the Director of the Yankari Landscape Project for WCS’s Nigeria Country Program, is one of three finalists for the prestigious award, presented to individuals for noteworthy achievements in African conservation.
The Tusk Conservation Awards are presented annually in partnership with Investec Asset Management. The winner of the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa will be announced on October 4, 2017, in Cape Town, South Africa.

29 June 2017

Study calls for strengthening human-wildlife conflict control
DNA, 29 June 2017
There is an urgent need to strengthen human-wildlife conflict management across India as around 30 wildlife species are damaging property and causing human injury and death, a new study has said.
Researchers have called for identification of effective prevention techniques, strengthening existing compensation schemes and an open inclusive dialogue between local communities, governments and conservationists to address the issue.

Damage to crop and livestock from wildlife continues to be high despite mitigation effort: Study
By Umashankar Mishra, APN, 29 June 2017
A nation-wide study of the human-wildlife conflict around wildlife reserves across the country has highlighted the need for a comprehensive evaluation of the current mitigation strategies as despite widespread use of protection measures for crops and livestock, many households continued to experience losses.
The three year study conducted around 11 reserves has found that 71 percent of the households surveyed had suffered crop loss, and 17 percent livestock loss. Besides, three per cent of the households had members who had been either killed or injured because of animal attack. The survey had covered 5,196 households living in 2,855 villages at different distances from the boundaries of the reserves.

Wildlife of northern Central African Republic in danger
MTNV, 29 June 2017
The first aerial assessment of the impact of Central African Republic’s recent conflict on wildlife and other natural resources in the northern part of the country shows that wildlife populations have been depleted in large areas of their former range, yet there is hope as some populations of Kordofan giraffe, giant eland, buffalo, roan, and other key species that still survive in low numbers.
The first aerial assessment of the impact of Central African Republic’s recent conflict on wildlife and other natural resources in the northern part of the country shows that wildlife populations have been depleted in large areas of their former range, yet there is hope as some populations of Kordofan giraffe, giant eland, buffalo, roan, and other key species that still survive in low numbers. No elephants or signs of elephant were observed during the survey.

[India] 32 species vulnerable to human-animal conflict; study calls for inclusive dialogue
Times of India, 29 June 2017
A study conducted by two wildlife researchers has indicated that 32 wildlife species are vulnerable to human-animal conflicts across the country. The study, which was brought out after examining close to 3,000 villages lying close to wildlife reserves, has called for strengthening the human-wildlife conflict management system.
The study has also highlighted the considerable loss sustained by families living in villages surrounding the forests owing to wild animals straying into human habitats. Titled, ‘History, location and species matter: Insights for human-wildlife conflict mitigation’, the study was carried out to help draft policies for mitigating human-animal conflict.

A spate of deaths in India’s oldest tiger reserve causes concern
By Rachel Fritts, Pacific Standard, 29 June 2017
On May 1st, forestry officials in the Indian state of Uttarakhand discovered a tiger cub, abandoned and injured. They attempted to rescue the animal, but had arrived too late—it succumbed to dehydration the next day. Another young tiger, rescued in the region on the same day, died of starvation the following week.
Ten tigers have now been found dead or dying in Uttarakhand since the beginning of 2017, and conservationists fear many more deaths could be on the horizon. The Uttarakhand government has recently proposed turning a small, partially paved road into a full-fledged national highway that would run straight through the heart of the state’s Corbett Tiger Reserve.

[South Africa] Coal mining in protected area halted
By Ilse de Lange, The Citizen, 29 June 2017
The coalition is now planing a judicial review against the mining minister’s decision to allow mining in a protected area.
A coalition of civil society and community organisations has won a crucial concession from an Indian mining company against a new coal mine inside the Mabola Protected Environment outside Wakkerstroom, in Mpumalanga.
The coalition, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights, on Tuesday brought an urgent application in the High Court in Pretoria to stop Indian-owned mining company Atha-Africa Ventures from commencing with any mining activities in the protected area without environmental authorisation and local planning approval.

30 June 2017

The women who live alongside rhinos in India
By Bikash Kumar Bhattacharya, Mongabay, 30 June 2017
Kasema Khatun’s tiny, thatched-roof house lies just a few feet from the swaying elephant grass thickets of Orang National Park, a 78-square-kilometer (30-square-mile) protected area in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. Like the other residents of Rangagora Village, it is not uncommon for Khatun to occasionally break the day with the sight of a greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) grazing in these tall thickets of elephant grass, separated from her house by nothing more than a barbed-wire fence.
“Sometimes an adult rhino is accompanied by a calf,” Khatun said. “It’s beautiful to see them stroll past together.”

[Nepal] Bliss of Karnali: Myths and realities
The Himalayan Times, 30 June 2017
Don’t try to say Jumli or Humli. Many outsiders call everybody from Karnali districts ‘Jumli’. The word Jumli reminds the people of Karnali as the word of a wrongdoer. Don’t try to speak Karnali local dialects. Not only will you get an enormous headache but the people of Karnali will not understand what you mean. Outsiders are not supposed to speak Karnali dialects because it is taken as undermining and underrating the people of Karnali. You can only give options or alternatives.

[Uganda] Chinese Ambassador warns on illegal wildlife trade
East African Business Week, 30 June 2017
The Chinese Ambassador to Uganda Zheng Zhuqiang has asked all Chinese enterprises and staffs working in Uganda not to involve in any form of illegal wildlife trade.
“I call upon you all Chinese people operating in Uganda to spontaneously boycott illegal conducts in any form and to make positive contributions towards wildlife protection,” said Zheng during a meeting on opportunities and challenges for the Chinese Enterprises to engage in Biodiversity and Wildlife Conservation in Uganda.
The Meeting was jointly organized by the Chinese Enterprises Chambers of Commerce in Uganda in partnership with Wildlife Conservation Society(WCS) in Kampala.

[Zambia] Managing fire in Kafue National Park
Zambia Daily Mail, 30 June 2017
The catchphrase “Train hard and fight easy” is what greets you at the entrance of the Chunga Fire Training School in the Kafue National Park.
The park measures 22,500 kilometres and stretches over three provinces in Zambia. In the dry season, the area becomes highly susceptible to dangerous wild fire, and fire management in the Kafue ecosystem is therefore critical for the park to thrive.
This is what fire experts from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), an environmental organisation concerned with protecting the earth’s natural resources and beauty, demonstrated last week during a fire training programme held at the Chunga Fire Training School.

Zimbabwean good Samaritan develops conservation projects in SA
By Caryn Edwards, The South African, 30 June 2017
Beautiful News picked up Chisango’s story and aired a short film last week about his work with Donkeys 4 Development.
After completing his studies in Zimbabwe, Chisango arrived in Limpopo with the intention of developing conservation projects that would build community. Chisango was offered a job at the P.E.A.C.E Foundation, an organisation that specialises in community upliftment. Soon after settling in there, Chisango investigated how best he could help the community members help themselves.

1 July 2017

About that chimp photo . . .
By Stephen Ross, Letter to the editor Crain’s, 1 July 2017
The editorial in the June 26 issue of Crain’s ran with a photograph depicting a clothed chimpanzee (“Thanks, WSJ, but Illinois doesn’t need your help”).
The stock image may be construed as a harmless addition to the article but in truth conveys inaccurate information about this endangered species that has an adverse effect on their conservation status.
For a century, chimpanzees have been used as photographic props in the entertainment and advertising world. Indeed, the stock image used in the Crain’s article likely dates to the 1950s, when dozens of chimpanzees were used for these purposes.

[India] Challenges ahead as tigers from Madhya Pradesh’s Panna National Park spread out to neighbouring habitats
By Rahul Noronha, Daily Mail, 1 July 2017
About a month ago, wildlife managers in Madhya Pradesh trying to identify a particular tiger in Bandhavgarh National Park that had made an appearance in the reserve recently were astounded by what they found.
The tiger, a massive male, was in fact originally from the Panna National Park, whose forests are located some 150 km as the crow flies.
Tigers are known to move out of areas in an attempt to carve out their own territories.
What was however insightful and also satisfying for wildlife managers at the Panna National Park was the park’s turnaround.

Tanzania in drive to save its largest park from illegal grazing
Xinhua, 1 July 2017
Authorities in the southern highlands of Tanzania on Friday announced measures to address livestock’s invasion in Ihefu Basin, the main source of Great Ruaha River, which is a lifeline of Ruaha National Park, the country’s largest sanctuary.
Amos Makalla, Mbeya Regional Commissioner unveiled the measures when he visited Ihefu wetland that acts as a natural buffer for the Great Ruaha River, the major source of hydro-electric power as well as pouring water for large scale rice farming in Mbarali District.

2 July 2017

Camera Traps Are Now Watching Poachers, Instead of Wildlife
By Kaleigh Rogers, Motherboard, 2 July 2017
Deep in the jungles of Asia, a predator stalks. It’s deadly, ruthless, and tactical. And camera traps, long used to capture images of wildlife in the forest, are now being trained on this target: tiger poachers.
Panthera, a global wild cat conservation organization, had the cameras custom built from scratch and have started rolling out networks of the poacher-spotting technology. Fewer than 4,000 tigers are left in the wild, occupying only 4 percent of their historic range, according to Panthera. Tiger meat, bones, and skin fetch high prices on the black market, making poaching one of the biggest threats to these endangered cats.

[South Africa] Elephants cause havoc in Gwanda
Bulawayo24, 2 July 2017
A South Africa-based company working in the Hwange National Park in anti-poaching operations together with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) has shown interest in helping Gwanda farmers ward off marauding elephants using drones.
Herds of elephants have invaded Gwanda resettlement areas where they are causing problems for villagers.
The company, UDS, which is working together with Air Shepherds – a drone company, and the world’s largest wildlife organisation, World Wildlife Fund is working in the Hwange National Park which also houses the Presidential Herd to protect elephants from poachers.

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