Conservation in the news: 17-23 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.

17 July 2017

‘Star Trek’ Actor Says Earth’s 4,000 Tigers Are Worth Saving
By Tasbeeh Herwees, Good, 17 July 2017
It’s been a less than stellar time lately for fans of Earth. On July 9, New York magazine published a horrifying story implying that the planet is about to be way too hot for humans. And then researchers revealed that our animal friends aren’t faring so well either, releasing an alarming study contending that Earth is experiencing its sixth mass extinction event with half the world’s species in extreme decline.
But actor Zachary Quinto (of “Heroes,” “American Horror Story,” and “Star Trek” reboot fame) believes — to borrow a phrase from Capt. Jean-Luc Picard — things are only impossible until they’re not.

[India] 32 species involved in man-animal conflicts: Study
By Meera Bhardwaj, The New Indian Express, 17 July 2017
Research across many villages neighbouring five wildlife reserves in Karnataka and three other states has revealed that more than 30 wildlife species are responsible for damage to life and property.
Every year, hefty compensations are paid by the state governments in view of the recurring man-animal conflicts. In view of this, conservationists have called for improved management of human-wildlife conflicts. In fact, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest levels of damage by wildlife in the recent years. Both states have a detailed compensation policy and have paid the highest compensation amounts with respect to crop loss (Karnataka) and livestock loss (MP). On an average, people reported annual crop losses worth Rs 12,559 and livestock losses of Rs 2,883.

18 July 2017

[India] Govt mulls to create Hangul corridor to encourage breeding
Rising Kashmir, 18 July 2017
State Government is mulling to create ‘linkage-connectivity’ in various wildlife areas to pave way for Hangul corridor across Kashmir region.
This was stated by Minister for Forest, Ecology and Environment, Choudhary Lal Singh while chairing 12th Standing Committee Board meeting for State Board for Wildlife at civil secretariat here.
The meeting was informed that proposals have been formulated for connecting various wildlife areas “for the genetic connectivity of isolated population with the main population of Dachigam National Park”.
The officials said: “Magnificent Kashmiri Red Stag or Hangul would get protection with the establishment of the corridor.”

[India] Beyond the barbed wire
By S. Ravi, The Hindu, 18 July 2017
The animal-human conflict is on the rise as evident from frequent print and visual reports of tiger and leopard straying into human habitation and attacking people and livestock. Usually these predators’ end is fatal, with a lucky few being rescued by authorities to be relocated. In the mass hysteria generated by such cases, the critical why and how of the incident is crucially missed. This is what Krishnendu Bose’s 45-minute documentary The Tiger Who Crossed The Line, winner of the National Award for Best Environment Film including Best Agricultural Film 2016, brings into sharp focus.

Tui supports South African conservation education project
By Phil Davies, Travel Weekly, 18 July 2017
More than 1,500 primary school children in villages around the Kruger National Park in South Africa are receiving education on nature and conservation with support from Tui.
The travel giant’s Care Foundation is backing an ‘Ecokidz” programme for 1,550 children from grades five, six and seven to help raise awareness of the importance of natural resources.

[Zimbabwe] Army justifies eviction of 200 villagers
Daily News, 18 July 2017
The Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has justified its eviction of 200 villagers from Lazy Nine Farm in Banga Village, Shurugwi South saying the area is a military protected area.
“The area is an officially gazetted cantonment area as stipulated under the Government Gazette Notice No. 802/1978,” lieutenant colonel Alphios Makotore, the director Army public relations, said in a statement yesterday.
“In addition to the above, the ZNA has put up notices to remind the illegally resettled villagers that they must vacate the area.
“Whoever resettled those villagers did so without consulting the relevant military authorities who could have shown the boundaries of the gazetted area.”

19 July 2017

Loving Animals to Death
By John Stossel, Rasmussen Reports, 19 July 2017
We need to sell more rhino horns, quickly.
That may be the only way to save rhinos from extinction. Today, rhinos vanish because poachers kill them for their horns. Businesses turn their horns into ornaments or quack health potions.
Some horns sell for $300,000. No wonder poachers risk their lives for one. How do you fight an incentive that strong?
Flood the market!
That’s a solution suggested by Matthew Markus.
Markus’s biotech company can make artificial rhino horn in a laboratory that’s virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
Put enough of that lab-grown horn on the market and supply and demand will bring the price way down.
Then poachers won’t risk getting killed trying to steal real rhino horn.

Ditch the Mocha for WWF
MBNA, 19 July 2017
We all enjoy the little luxuries in life. A cup of coffee prepared just the way we like it by our favourite barista. The takeaway on a Saturday that gives us a night away from the oven. That family trip to the cinema to check out the latest blockbuster, rather than waiting until we can stream it from the comfort of our own sofas.
But have you ever stopped to think how the cost of these little luxuries adds up over the course of a year?

Pangolins at huge risk as study shows dramatic increases in hunting across Central Africa
University of Sussex press release, 19 July 2017
The hunting of pangolins, the world’s most illegally traded mammal, has increased by 150 percent in Central African forests from 1970s to 2014, according to a new study led by the University of Sussex.
The first-ever study of its kind, published in Conservation Letters, shows the true scale of local pangolin exploitation across the continent. The international research team, which includes researchers from academia and conservation organisations, state that up to 2.7 million pangolins are harvested annually from forests in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo.

[India] K. Ullas Karanth: ‘We are slow to adopt science for conservation’
By Jacob Koshy, The Hindu, 19 July 2017
K. Ullas Karanth, an expert on tigers, is the director of the Wildlife Conservation Society-India Programme. In the early 1990s, Mr. Karanth pioneered the technique of using camera traps as a method to get an estimate of India’s tiger population. Despite having been on the boards of several government organisations, he’s also a trenchant critic of government’s conservation policies. In an interview, he explains why India shouldn’t be complacent about the success of ‘Project Tiger’ and how several areas of wildlife conservation in the country continue to be neglected.

[India] Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park to get a facelift in 2018, with help from Belgian government
By Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, 19 July 2017
Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) will get help from the Belgian government to conserve its biodiversity and revamp the park.
The national park, one of the few forests in the world to be situated in an urban area, was chosen for the project from among four other urban forest areas. The national park is home to a free roaming leopard population of more than 30, nearly 250 bird species, 40 kinds of reptiles and over a thousand types of plants.
The conservation project took off in February after Belgium’s consul general Peter Huyghebert visited the park, following a tender for SGNP’s revamp.

[Kenya] Churches can play role in wildlife conservation
By Daniel Letoiye and Santiago Legarre, Daily Nation, 19 July 2017
As miles of ice collapse into the sea and the phantom of climate change continues to haunt us, this written collaboration between a Kenyan and an Argentine, concerning the environment and wildlife in Africa, took place as the result of an apparently random encounter. One of us happened to be at the Samburu National Reserve in June, during a break from his teaching responsibilities, courtesy of Samburu Game Lodge’s hospitality. On a Sunday morning, he decided to go to Mass at the Catholic Parish in Archers Post, a classic mark on the Kenyan maps of old.

‘White Man’s Game’ details efforts to save Mozambique’s Gorongosa Park
By Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor, 19 July 2017
At the beginning of the 1970s, spending time in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park was an almost surreally beautiful experience. The park and its sprawling “buffer” zone lay in the great shadow of Mount Gorongosa, with a large and complicated ecosystem fed by a complex of rivers making their way from the mountain to the Pungwe River and down to the Indian Ocean. The landscapes were as variable as the weather – lush grasslands, dense rain forest, open scrub, and all of it thickly populated with wildlife: herds of elephants, great roving packs of wild hunting dogs and prides of lions, dozens of different species of antelope, and a glorious riot of birds, many of which made their home nowhere else on the continent.

[South Africa] Kruger National Park strike suspended
By Helene Eloff, Low Velder, 19 July 2017
Today’s strike in the Kruger National Park has been suspended.
According to Janine Raftopoulos, head of SANParks Communications, the parties involved agreed that the suspension will last until Monday.
Earlier today, members of the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) abandoned their work stations.
HOSPERSA is demanding a 9 per cent increase for their members. SANParks is offering a 6.01 per cent salary adjustment and a 1 progression. They decided to strike after conciliation attempts between the union and SANParks were unsuccessful.

Uganda to host Africa’s first Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum
The Independent, 19 July 2017
The Giants Club, the conservation initiative supported by the Independent and Evening Standard, today announced it would stage Africa’s first Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum on 6th October 2017.
The event, which will be held in Uganda, was announced by the country’s President, Yoweri Museveni, at a special press launch at State House in Entebbe. The President told the attending dignitaries that this would be a unique opportunity to harness the financial muscle of the world’s leading hotel and lodge operators to raise vital funds to support and protect Uganda’s wildlife.

[USA] NCAA Tigers Are Teaming Up To Protect Tigers In The Wild
By Grant Suneson, News 5 Cleveland, 19 July 2017
Tigers have had a lot of success in college athletics, including Clemson’s 2017 football national championship.
But real tigers in the wild aren’t doing so well. The big cats are considered endangered, and World Wildlife Fund says there may be fewer than 4,000 tigers left in the wild.
So Clemson, Auburn, Louisiana State and Missouri, spurred on by their tiger mascots, are teaming up to help the big cats by forming the U.S. Tiger University Consortium.
Because let’s face it — it would probably be a lot less fun to cheer for the Tigers if there weren’t any real tigers left.

[Zimbabwe] Army clears air on Shurugwi evictions
By Collen Murahwa, The Herald, 19 July 2017
The Zimbabwe National Army yesterday said villagers, who settled at Lazy Nine in Shurugwi did so illegally and must move out as it is a cantonment area. In a statement, the Director Army Public Relations, Lt Col Alphios Makotore said the land in question was reserved for the army in 1978. “In response to media enquiries on the above subject, it is hereby officially stated that the areas mentioned are in a cantonment area,” he said.
“The area is an officially gazetted cantonment area as stipulated under the Government Gazette Notice No. 802/1978.”
Contrary to media reports that the people in question were being evicted without notice, Lt Col Makotore said notices were put up to allow the illegal settlers to move out amicably.

20 July 2017

[Cambodia] Growling prowlers rumble in the jungle
By Mom Kunthear, Cambodia, 20 July 2017
The government is working in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund on a plan to release eight tigers into the wild in Mondulkiri province by 2022.
WWF-Cambodia communication manager Un Chakrey said yesterday that they are working with the ministries of environment, agriculture and tourism, among other organisations.
“Before the project starts, we have to ensure we are ready for everything,” he said.
“That means that we will have proper law enforcement, enough rangers for managing the wild animals in the jungle, and no more illegal hunting or illegal trapping, or illegal logging.”

Liberia: ‘Illegal Inhabitants to Vacate Sapo National Park’ – FDA Managing Director
By Willie N. Tokpah, Front Page Africa, 20 July 2017
Forestry Development Authority (FDA) says it has concluded discussions with locals of Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Sinoe Counties for illegal occupants to leave the SAPO National Park which borders the three southeastern counties.
The Sapo National Park, one of Liberia’s forest and wildlife reserves, borders three of Liberia’s southeastern counties, Sinoe, River Gee and Grand Gedeh and has been occupied by invaders over the years.
FDA Managing Director Darlington Tuagben told a news conference Wednesday that the decision was reached following a stakeholders’ conference with locals on the promotion and sustainable management of the Sapo National Park.

[Vietnam] New decree to protect genetic resources from foreign loss
VietNamNet, 20 July 2017
In 1992, the World Conservation Monitoring Centre ranked Viet Nam the 16th most biologically diverse country in the world, while the World Bank said “the entire country is included within Conservation International’s Indo-Burma hotspot, one of the earth’s richest and most threatened biological regions.”
Nguyen Dang Thu Cuc, head of the Division of Genetic Resources and Biosafety Management, under the Viet Nam Environment Bureau, said machinery and human capacity in the country remain limited, therefore genetic samples are usually sent abroad for analysis, and “this is a notable source of loss of genetic resources.”
She cited the recent case of an American university’s 2016 finding what they claimed to be an “anti-cancer” agent in Cuc Phuong National Park during various trips held with Viet Nam’s institutions in the 1990s.

21 July 2017

On the front lines of conservation: How do rural women feel?
By Neha Jain, Mongabay, 21 July 2017
A new study published in Conservation and Society explores the views toward conservation held by women living inside Cantanhez Forest National Park in the West African state of Guinea-Bissau.
Overall, the women expressed negative views of the park, which they see as a threat to their livelihood. All of them were concerned about the damage to their rice and fruit crops by wildlife from the park and felt that the animals were the cause of malnutrition. Without compensation, the women were reluctant to participate in conservation programs.

Paradise Foundation launches its first conservation project in Africa
By Christine Chou, Alizila, 21 July 2017
On his maiden trip to Africa this week, Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma revealed a 10-year wildlife conservation program in the world’s second-largest continent, spearheaded by China-based nonprofit organization the Paradise International Foundation.
The Paradise Foundation, which Ma co-chairs with Tencent founder Pony Ma, and the Alibaba Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Alibaba Group, will donate $1.65 million for the preservation of national parks, including those in Kenya and Congo. It would be the foundation’s first project in Africa, Ma announced on a visit to the Rwandan capital of Kigali, the last leg of his two-day trip.

China’s Jack Ma announces support for African entrepreneurs, conservation efforts
Xinhua, 21 July 2017
Chinese billionaire entrepreneur Jack Ma on Friday announced four projects to support African entrepreneurs, African young people and efforts of conservation in Africa.
“I will work with UNCTAD to support 200 African entrepreneurs in the next 5 years,” said Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Ma, also special advisor of UNCTAD also announced that he will work with universities and governments to develop training program for African young people on e-commerce and cloud computing.

3 Luxury Kenya Safari Spots Loved By Doutzen Kroes, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and more
By Grace Banks, Forbes, 21 July 2017
The Kalama Airstrip in the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya stretches out and disappears into the Kalama Community Conservancy, a core conservation area in North-Central Kenya that’s 46,100 hectares in size. Apart from a small one-room bungalow, Acacia trees populate the entire view for as far as you can see. If you were to trek further into the horizon, the elephant, leopard, giraffe, zebras, wild dog, cheetah and lesser kudu that populate the area are likely to be seen. This is the airstrip where tourists, celebrities and conservationists arrive before making one of dozens of possible journeys into the Samburu National Reserve and Kalama Community Conservancy for holidays, safari trips and conservation expeditions.

Squatters battle Kenya’s ex-president and charities over wildlife park
By Katy Migiro, Reuters, 21 July 2017
Samburu herders in Kenya are fighting for control of 17,000 acres of land that a former president sold to become a national park, in a case fraught with tensions over conservation and colonial dispossession.
The Samburu, a semi-nomadic people with the same language and culture as the Maasai, claim ownership of the disputed ranch in Kenya’s troubled Laikipia County, saying they squatted on it for 25 years before being evicted for wildlife conservation.
After an 8-year court battle, judges last month rejected their claim, clearing the way for the land to be turned into Laikipia National Park, managed by government-owned Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

22 July 2017

[Myanmar] Kachin State’s Indawgyi Lake gets UNESCO designation
By Mark Inkey, Mizzima, 22 July 2017
Kachin State’s Indawgyi Lake, the largest lake in Myanmar’s and the third largest in Southeast Asia, was recently designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Biosphere reserves are importantly biodiverse areas where UNESCO (The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) believes that with proper management biodiversity can be conserved while the local population is sustainably supported.

These Sri Lankan Safaris Will Make You Rethink Your African Honeymoon
By Katie James, Brides, 22 July 2017
If you thought Africa was your only option for a safari honeymoon, you haven’t been versed on how to do a luxury Sri Lankan safari. Few honeymoon experiences can match the romance of a traditional safari—from the feeling of discovery as you encounter animals in their natural habitats to the leisurely pace as you while away the days in between game drives and the gorgeous candlelit dinners in the middle of the bush. In the same way that an African safari varies depending on which country and park you choose, Sri Lankan safaris offer diverse experiences in each park, all of which are operated by the government’s Department of Wildlife Conservation. So whether you choose Udawalawe National Park, Yala National Park, Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve, Gal Oya National Park, or any of the country’s 100 protected areas, you can expect up-close encounters with wild elephants, leopards, peacocks, spotted deer, buffalo, wild pigs, ruddy mongooses, and even the elusive sloth bear.

Cecil the Lion’s son has been shot dead, and all for nothing.
By Bee Elle, Medium, 22 July 2017
Xanda, the son of Cecil the Lion, has been shot dead in a legal hunting safari in Zimbabwe.
Like his father, he had wandered out of the protected zone of the Hwange National Park and into Ngamo Forest, where the hunter subsequently shot him. Xanda was collared and monitored by researchers from Oxford University.
He was six.

23 July 2017

Wildife experts favour science to counter trafficking
Porthom Alo, 23 July 2017
Illegal exploitation and trade of wildlife is a globally recognised problem and the solution to check its menace lies in science, wildlife experts have said.
“If we are going to fight organised crime, we have to be organised in our response too,” Latin America Wildlife Trafficking Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society Adrian Reuter said.
Science could help measure the scope, scale and impact of illegal wildlife trade, map illicit networks and assess the effect or impact of social marketing and other interventions designed to reduce demand, he added.

Protected parks working together
By Tamlyn Jolly, Zululand Observer, 23 July 2017
Tourism delegates from 13 countries, including some of Africa’s most iconic parks, recently converged on the iSimangaliso Wetland Park for a four-day conference on tourism concessions and partnerships for southern African protected area managers.
Protected areas that were represented at the conference included Okavango Delta, Ngorongoro Crater, Selous Game Reserve, North Luangwa, Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou, Malawi’s Nkhotakota, Kasungu National Park and Lake Malawi National Park.

Country parks help protect Hong Kong’s extraordinary biodiversity, but continuity not guaranteed
By Jonas Kelsch, Hong Kong Free Press, 23 July 2017
A few world-class cities have a skyline where glistening business towers and lush green mountains compete for attention, but only Hong Kong has designated over 40 percent of its land area for nature conservation.
This extensive environmental protection contrasts with the territory’s tumultuous ecological history. Hong Kong lost its primary tree cover to timber and firewood harvesting well before the first British ships moored at Victoria Harbour.

[India] Tiger man, burning bright
By Krithi K Karanth, Times of India, 23 July 2017
My unusual and extraordinary childhood involved seeing my first tiger and first leopard by age two, radio-tracking tigers and leopards by age eight, investigating animal scats and learning to set up camera traps by age fifteen. My favourite activity was the hours and hours spent in watch towers trying to spot animals before my father did! These wild adventures were thanks to my f ather Dr K Ullas Karanth. We have shared many magical moments, and he gave me many opportunities to fall in love with wild India.

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