Conservation in the news: 14-20 August 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.

14 August 2017

Building the Pipeline for Conservation Impact Investing
By Charlotte Kaiser (NatureVest), Nature Conservancy, 14 August 2017
All along the 4,000-km Trans-Amazonian Highway in Brazil, smallholder farmers and ranchers have carved out their livelihoods from the dense rainforest. The highway itself created opportunities for these families with its construction in the 1970s, but at the same time, it has literally cleared the way for an explosion in timbering and deforestation.
Carlos Souza, founder of Brazil’s Terras App Solutions, knows many of these farmers and ranchers and their struggles to maintain their businesses. He knows that clearing a little more land is an obvious way to produce a little more revenue. He also knows the grave risks of unrestrained deforestation, and that there are other, better ways for smallholders to secure their livelihoods.

An elephant dies every 15 minutes at the hands of poachers
By Terry Worley, The Citizen, 14 August 2017
According to Wildlife Direct, there are about 400 000 left in the world, with one lost every 15 minutes to poachers.
Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed for its ivory. It is a cruel, gruesome practice that could drive these majestic animals to extinction within a generation, says Conservation International’s Keith Roberts, also the executive director of Wildlife Trafficking Programme Conservation International.
“That’s why World Elephant Day [marked on August 12], I’m asking for your help to save these incredible animals before they disappear forever,” added Roberts.

Sale of ivory products in China decline ahead of ban
By Zhao Yusha, Global Times, 14 August 2017
China’s ivory market is shrinking with the decline in the number of ivory items for sale, ahead of the government’s ban on ivory trade, animal rights organizations said.
Two wildlife conservation organizations, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and TRAFFIC, found that the number of ivory items — in both legal and illegal ivory markets in China—has declined alongside falling ivory prices, according to a joint report sent to the Global Times on Sunday.
After a survey of 503 physical outlets in 22 cities where ivory was being sold illegally, researchers from these organizations found that, on average, only five ivory items were for sale per outlet. This marks the lowest number of publicly displayed ivory since 2007, compared with nine items per shop in 2016 and 18 items per shop in 2007, the report said. “The decline in the number of ivory items for sale is a result of China’s efforts to ban the ivory trade,” Sun Quanhui, a senior scientific adviser at the international NGO World Animal Protection, told the Global Times.

[India] Foresters claim leopards closer to human habitat
Times of India, 14 August 2017
Forest officials in Junnar have claimed a change in leopard behaviour in the division — they prefer to live in close proximity of human habitat than ever before.
The most interesting finding, the officials claimed, is that they do not attack human beings as frequently like they used to in the past. “The current generation of the leopards is more comfortable with human settlements than the older ones,” a forest officer said.

[India] 85% Of Kaziranga National Park Under Water As Second Bout Of Floods Hit Assam This Year
Huffington Post, 14 August 2017
Even as fresh floods have hit the state of Assam and the government in the state has asked help from the Centre, reports suggest that the situation in the Kaziranga National was critical with most of the park being under water.
The Times of India reports the national park officials as saying that in what could be the worst flooding in years, 85% of the national park is now under water.
The national park is a world heritage site and is home to two-thirds of the world’s one-horned rhinos that fall under the vulnerable category. Each year during the rains the rhinos usually migrate to higher grounds.

Myanmar elephant killings raise fears of extinction
Coconuts Yangon, 14 August 2017
At least 30 elephants have been reported killed in Myanmar this year, according to a joint report by the Wildlife Conservation Society, Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) released on August 12, in honor of World Elephant Day.
This year’s death toll exceeds numbers reported in previous years, raising concerns among wildlife conservation professionals about the survival of Myanmar’s wild elephant population.
“This year, 30 elephants have been killed by hunters. Over six weeks, five elephants were killed. It is a bit higher than the average annual number of elephant deaths,” said Aung Myo Chit, the coordinator of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Myanmar.

[Namibia] Elephant hunter becomes the second this year to be killed by his prey
By Lisa Gutierrez, The Kansas City Star, 14 August 2017
An Argentinian man hunting elephants in Namibia over the weekend died when one of the animals trampled him.
Jose Monzalvez, 46, was hunting in a private wildlife area northwest of the small town of Kalkfeld, the Namibia Press Agency reported.
This follows the death in May of well-known South African hunter Theunis Botha, 51, in Zimbabwe. Botha, leading a hunting group, fired at a group of elephants stampeding toward him when an elephant lifted him off the ground with its trunk.
A member of the hunting party shot the elephant, and it fell on Botha, crushing him to death.

Q&A: After the U.S. Treasury, the Paulsons look to save the planet
By Burt Helm, Reuters, 14 August 2017
When Henry “Hank” Paulson, Jr. finished his tenure as the U.S.’s 74th Secretary of the Treasury in January 2009, he put a capstone on his finance career and committed himself to another life-long passion: protecting the environment.
Paulson, now 71, was chief executive of Goldman Sachs before he joined the government. He served at the same time as chairman of the Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit based in New York. He now is running the Paulson Institute, a think tank dedicated to U.S.-China relations as they pertain to the economy and the environment.

Zim to fight ivory ban
By Jeffrey Gogo, The Herald, 14 August 2017
Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri says Zimbabwe is “going to put up a really strong fight” to have a global ban that has left the country stuck with a multi-million dollar 96 000kg ivory cache lifted.
She was speaking after it emerged last week that those opposed to lifting the ban had become unrelenting in their efforts to permanently shut debate on the commercial trade of ivory — the remains of thousands of elephants hunted illegally for their tusks, or those dying from natural causes. It also emerged that the ivory crushing crusade of August 3 in New York, US, where 2 tonnes of ivory were reduced to dust in a calculated demonstration of ivory’s worthlessness unless on a live animal, was actually much larger than we had previously thought.

15 August 2017

In ‘blockchain’ technology, a futuristic solution to conservation’s greatest challenges
By Jennifer Morris, Eco-Business, 15 August 2017
What if you could know exactly where the fish on your plate came from, through an app on your smartphone? What if you could instantaneously send money to an Ecuadorian farmer for protecting trees on her land?
The ability to transfer and track items of value instantaneously is remarkable, but it faces steep hurdles to scale up: hacking, local corruption, and a patchwork of policies and technological platforms.

[Cambodia] Protecting the forest before it’s too late
By Savann Oeurm, Oxfam America, 15 August 2017
Concerned about the disappearing forest in northern Cambodia, women in a remote village set up and defend a Community Protected Area.
When Veit Phumi was growing up in northern Cambodia, she lived near the edge of a vast forest where she and her father would collect wild mushrooms and other food. At night, she would listen to the sounds of birds and other wild animals, like boars and deer. “I saw many elephants,” she says, laughing. Once, when she was about 10 years old, she followed a herd of elephants until she could touch one.

[India] Prey population in Amrabad Tiger Reserve can support 40 tigers
By Abhinay Deshpande, The New Indian Express, 15 August 2017
After finding the presence of at least 13 tigers and 356 prey species in the Amrabad Tiger Reserve (ATR), the state forest department has estimated that the present prey population can support 32 to 40 tigers in the next few years.This extensive herbivore estimate is a part of a recent first-ever scientific prey-counting exercise in the tiger reserve which is spread over Amrabad and Udimilla in former Mahbubnagar district that has given a new hope to the department.

[Malaysia] Caring for rivers to preserve Sarawak’s highlands
By Sheela Chandran, star2.com, 15 August 2017
Communities in the mountainous northern areas of Sarawak can look forward to cleaner water, sustainable rice farming methods and improved forest protection.
There are plans over three years to raise awareness on food and water protection, boost biological diversity and improve eco preservation in the rural areas of Ba’kelalan and Long Semadoh.
The project, a joint partnership between CIMB Islamic Bank and World Wildlife Fund Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia), involves a RM1.5mil fund. (It also includes another conservation project at Ulu Muda, Kedah.) Over those three years, RM600,000 and RM900,000 will be channelled towards the projects in Sarawak and Kedah respectively.

[Myanmar] Police Shoot, Arrest Elephant Poacher in Irrawaddy Region
By Salai Thant Zin, The Irrawaddy, 15 August 2017
Police arrested an elephant poacher after an exchange of fire in Irrawaddy Region’s Thabaung Township on Sunday.
A combined force of local police, forestry police, and officials from the forestry department spotted three poachers during a patrol in the forest of Khayin Chaungpya, around 30 miles from Thabaung.
One poacher was arrested and two others got away, according to the Irrawaddy Region Police Force.

Conservation versus profit: South Africa’s ‘unique’ game offer a sobering lesson
By Adam Hart, The Conversation, 15 August 2017
South Africa’s wildlife is thriving. One of the reasons for this is that landowners can profit from animals living on their land. Wildlife can be hunted for meat and trophies as well as being used non-consumptively for ecotourism. Thousands of former cattle ranches are now profitable game farms, hunting reserves and ecotourism lodges making South Africa a conservation success story.
But mixing profit and conservation is not simple. For example, a wildlife ranch generating profit from hunters must have animals that clients wish to hunt while a tourist lodge needs to stock species that are attractive and visible to those enjoying recreational game drives. Successful conservation requires a balanced, long-term approach but sometimes the goals of pursuing profit and long term conservation don’t always coincide.

16 August 2017

Three wildlife rangers killed in attack by violent militia in DRC
By Naomi Larsson, The Guardian (supported by Vulcan), 16 August 2017
Three rangers have been killed and another is missing after an attack by violent militia in Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, bringing the number of fatalities in the park this year to eight.
The park rangers, Charles Paluku Syaira, Jonas Paluku Malyani and Pacifique Musubao Fikirini were murdered on the morning of Monday 14 August during a routine patrol around the park, which is home to critically endangered mountain gorilla.

The tiger population in Nepal’s Parsa National Park is recovering rapidly
By Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, 16 August 2017
Tigers once roamed widely throughout Asia, from Turkey to the east coast of Russia and down to Vietnam. But a variety of threats, including human-wildlife conflict, the over-hunting of tiger prey species by humans, and especially poaching for the illegal trade of tiger skins, bones, and meat, has left vast areas of otherwise suitable tiger habitat unoccupied today.
According to Babu Ram Lamichhane, a wildlife research officer with Nepalese non-profit National Trust for Nature Conservation and lead author of a study published this month in the journal Oryx, Nepal’s Parsa National Park (known as Parsa Wildlife Reserve until June of this year) was one of those areas where tigers no longer roamed despite the terrain having the potential to harbor the species.

[Nigeria] Conservational International to partner FG on environmental devt
Daily Trust, 16 August 2017
A non-governmental organisation, Conservational International has declared its desire to collaborate the Federal Government in the conservation of the environment.
A delegation from Conservation International and Human Rights Advancement, Development and Advocacy Centre (HURIDAC) stated this on Monday during a courtesy visit to the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril.
The delegation said they are exploring partnership opportunities to strengthen ongoing conservation efforts by Fed Ministry of Environment.

Maasai displaced after huts burned in Tanzania
BBC News, 16 August 2017
More than 100 Maasai huts in Tanzania have been allegedly burned down by game reserve authorities near the Serengeti National Park.
Hundreds of people have reportedly been left homeless by the evacuation of local pastoral communities.
One young Maasai is said to have been shot and critically injured.
It is part of a longstanding border dispute between local Maasai people and authorities who operate exclusive hunting experiences for tourists.

Admire South African national parks with postage stamps
By Erin Hanekom, Southlands Sun, 16 August 2017
Go sightseeing with the SA Post Office’s newest set of postage stamps depicting South African national parks.
The stamps, which were released on 10 August were desgined by SA Post Offices’ Thea Clemons.
The beautiful landscapes include the Bontebok National Park, Camdeboo National Park, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Table Mountain National Park and Tsitsikamma in the Garden Route National Park.

17 August 2017

The Science Police
By Keith Kloor, Slate, 17 August 2017
In 2013, Canadian ecologist Mark Vellend submitted a paper to the journal Nature that made the first peer reviewer uneasy. “I can appreciate counter-intuitive findings that are contrary to common assumption,” the comment began. But the “large policy implications” of the paper and how it might be interpreted in the media raised the bar for acceptance, the reviewer argued.
Vellend’s paper challenged a core tenet of conservation biology: that local and regional landscapes had become ecologically depleted, following an accelerated global rate of species extinctions known as the biodiversity crisis. This core tenet was reinforced by dozens of experimental studies that showed ecosystem function diminished when plant diversity declined. Thus a “common assumption” was baked into a larger, widely accepted conservation biology narrative: Urbanization and agriculture, among other aspects of modern society, severely fragmented wild habitats, which, in turn, reduced ecological diversity and eroded ecosystem health.

[Cambodia] Taking a walk on the wild side with Mondulkiri’s eco-tourism outfits
By Claire Knox, Southeast Asia Globe, 17 August 2017
On a chilly early morning in the north of Cambodia, Pech Mogn climbed deeper into the jungle tumbling out in front of us, alert and focused. As our feet crunched over a thick, bouncy carpet of leaves and twigs, he halted suddenly – as still as stone – and planted his tall, shiny telescope in the ground, motioning for us to peer up at the canopy above us. “Can you see them?” he whispered. The forest was so silent that even the creaks of bamboo branches grinding against each other were audible. Then, a rustle in the trees and a flash of toffee-coloured fur peeking through the green. A moment later, out into full view they dangled: three odd-looking yet endearing animals with yellow, puffy cheeks peered back at us for a moment before swinging back through the trees. “That’s $90 into the villager’s kitty,” Pech said with a grin.

[Mozambique] Using a rhino mascot and school sports to raise awareness on wildlife conservation
World Bank, 17 August 2017
It’s not every day that one is welcomed to a school sporting event by a large, horned mammal dressed in a soccer jersey, but on a warm, sunny day in Mozambique’s southern city of Xai-Xai, I met a rhino called Xibedjana. From the spectators’ stand at the XIII National Festival of School Sports Games, opened by Mozambique’s president, Filipe Nyusi, I noticed the rhino dancing through a parade of students.

18 August 2017

Chronic underfunding is turning conservation into a rich person’s profession
By Jeremy Hance, Pacific Standard, 18 August 2017
Nika Levikov swore she would never work as a waitress again. But, today—with a master’s degree in conservation science from Imperial College London — she’s taking orders, delivering drinks, and cleaning tables to support herself.
After two years of looking for paid work as a conservationist around Europe and four months doing unpaid work in East Africa, Levikov moved to the island of Malta to work at Greenhouse Malta. Levikov, who owes over $100,000 in student loans, described her work at the small environment non-governmental organization (NGO) as “casual” and “freelancing”—some hours are paid, others are volunteer—while the group looks to secure more funding.

[India] Crocodile tears for the elephant
By Ananda Banerjee, Live Mint, 18 August 2017
At two different forums last weekend, I heard the current Union environment minister, Harsh Vardhan, and one of his predecessors, Jairam Ramesh, speaking their minds. The former minister acknowledged the “tough choices” he faced when he had to give forest clearances for development projects. Now a Rajya Sabha member, Ramesh hinted that more difficult days lay ahead—and that environment protection laws could see further dilution.
His parting shot: “It is near impossible for any minister to focus on long-term environment protection over tangible economic interests. As ministers and leaders of political parties, we all make tall promises in our speeches but fail miserably in implementing most of them.”
That, unfortunately, seems to be true.

The success story of Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park
By Timothy Rooks, DW, 18 August 2017
After being decimated during Mozambique’s long civil war many had given up on saving the country’s wild animals. Luckily a foundation came to the rescue and the park is once again thriving.
Gorongosa National Park in central Mozambique has a long and turbulent history. At one point this lion would have been quite lonely, but now their numbers are rebounding. Today the park covers over 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 square miles) plus an official buffer zone of an additional 3,300 square kilometers. It is a jewel in a country of 25 million people.

[Myanmar] A picture is worth a thousand tusks
By Zon Pan Pwint, Myanmar Times, 18 August 2017
It takes a great deal of bravery to confront a wild elephant. But love, rather than courage, is what motivates photographers Ko Thet Htoo and Ko Myo.
For the past years, the two have been documenting the lives of pachyderms in remote parts of the Myanmar jungle and their often-moving interactions with humans.
Freelance documentary photographer Ko Myo fell in love with elephants when his mother told him the story of 18-year-old Kalu Sai whose best friend is an elephant. Kalu Sai and his animal friend Pho Khwar grew up together. Pho Khwar worked in a logging camp for a short period of time but when machines made animals redundant, Kalu Sai took his companion around the country to perform in religious festivals.

[Philippines] Mt. Pulag National Park generates P4.2M
Sun Star Baguio, 18 August 2017
Mt. Pulag National Park collected P4,186,433 from 20,820 local and foreign visitors during the first and second quarters of 2017. The collection for the first semester nearly surpassed the P4,734,096 collection last year from the 28,751 local and foreign visitors recorded, data from the Protected Area Management and Biodiversity Conservation Section (PamBCS) of the Mt. Pulag National Park and Protected Area Office.

[Thailand] Sting operation nets suspected online wildlife trader
The Nation, 18 August 2017
The wildlife suppression special taskforce, Yiaw Dong, of the National Parks Department on Friday raided a house of a social media user, Man Ban Pong, for allegedly trading in wildlife online following a sting operation.
The taskforce, along with officers from Wildlife Conservation Bureau and the Protected Area Regional Office 3, Ban Pong, investigated the trade online before luring the man to sell some protected species of birds to the officers at a market in Ban Pong in Ratchaburi province.
His house was raided after his arrest.

19 August 2017

[India] Assam floods: 225 animals dead in Kaziranga National Park
The Indian Express, 19 August 2017
At least 225 animals have died in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam as a second wave of devastating floods lashed the state, park officials said on Saturday. As of Saturday, 30 per cent of the park was still inundated.
Earlier this month, the first wave of floods had submerged over 70 per cent of the park and led to the death of 105 animals, park Director Satyendra Singh told IANS. “The flood water is starting to recede but the pace is very slow,” Singh said. “It will take another few days to completely recede.” The dead animals include 178 hog deer, 15 rhinos, four elephants and one tiger.

[India] We have failed to protect the elephant
By Hiranmay Karlekar, The Pioneer, 19 August 2017
India’s heritage animal faces a multiplicity of ever-present dangers and its protection must receive enhanced priority. While reducing accidents is important, the main focus should be on nurturing elephant reserves
One can argue whether the elephant census 2017’s figure of there being 27,312 behemoths across 23 States in India signifies a decline of 3,000 or so against the total population of between 29,391 and 30,711 mentioned in the last census in 2012 or not. The validity of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change’s claim that the fall is a result of the use of scientific and uniform methods, and that it was only a preliminary report, can be judged only after the final report is out in the next few months as promised. One, however, needs to say now that whatever the final figure, India’s heritage animal faces a multiplicity of ever-present dangers and its protection must receive enhanced priority.

[Kenya] Ignore the headlines about wildlife conservation – we don’t need to resort to warzone tactics to protect endangered species
By Donald Bunge (Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy), The Independent, 19 August 2017
International interest in wildlife conservation in Africa seems to wax and wane in line with outraged or triumphant news headlines. Whether gnashing its teeth over Cecil the Lion’s son, or cheering on last week’s public destruction of two tonnes of ivory in Central Park, the international community is having all the wrong debates. Should we tackle poaching by targeting demand? Do we need more armed soldiers? But these do not need to be the only options when it comes to protecting endangered species.
Contrary to the recent increase in stories around militarisation of conservation, wildlife parks are not war zones and citizens should not have to be in a “battle” with animals to gain access to land. The word “engagement” is often thrown around like a panacea. But it really does work. For example, at the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy (MKWC), the only conservancy in the world that protects the critically endangered Mountain Bongo, engagement with the local community is our priority.

Conservationists’ noble goals often conflict with local cultures, according to a new book
By Adam Wernick, Living on Earth, 19 August 2017
In her new book, “White Man’s Game,” journalist Stephanie Hanes argues that well-intentioned environmental philanthropy projects in Africa can fail if they ignore local culture and beliefs.
“We come in with an idea of what is good and what is effective and what we think should happen and often these thoughts are really well-meaning, but we don’t realize that we’re not going into a blank slate; we’re not going into a place that just needs help,” Hanes says. “We’re going into incredibly complex and very different places.”

Oman wildlife rangers losing the battle to poaching and housing estates
By Saleh Al Shaibany, The National, 19 August 2017
Hamed Al Marzooki lifted an Arabian gazelle calf from the seat of his four-wheel drive and placed it in an enclosure at the back of his house. The calf had an injured leg. Not only that, but it was alone and defenceless after its mother was shot by poachers.
As a ranger with Oman’s Environmental Office for the Preservation of Protected Animals, it has fallen to Mr Al Marzooki, 48, to nurse the calf back to health and then release it into the government’s protected Al Kamil Wal Wafi park in the eastern region.

Urgent request for intervention against the ongoing violent and illegal evictions in Loliondo
By Susanna Norlund, View from the Termite Mound, 19 August 2017
To any Tanzanian or international organisation or individual who can do or say anything against the ongoing human rights crime in Loliondo:
In Loliondo, Ngorongoro District, Tanzania there are currently ongoing extrajudicial evictions of the Maasai pastoralists in a 1,500 km2 area. This is the same as the human rights abuse that took place in 2009 and a repeat at this moment was very unexpected.
On Sunday 13th August rangers from Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area together with the police set fire to bomas (homesteads) in the Oloosek area of Ololosokwan village. The following days the illegal operation has continued to several other areas inside the 1,500 km2, from Ololosokwan in the north to Piyaya 90 kilometres further south, hundreds of bomas (homesteads) have been burned to the ground, and the operation continues.

[Tanzania] The murder of a beloved anti-poaching crusader steels the resolve of fellow conservationists
By Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times, 19 August 2017
Wayne Lotter, a prominent elephant conservationist murdered this week in Tanzania, for years had faced death threats related to his anti-poaching work, according to friends and colleagues.
The 51-year-old South African was shot dead Wednesday in the East African nation’s port city of Dar es Salaam.
The wildlife organization he helped found, PAMS Foundation, said on its Facebook page that Tanzanian law enforcement had launched an investigation into the killing, which many in the conservationist community believe was an assassination.

20 August 2017

Following damage caused by economic rise, China tackles ambitious conservation experiment
By Michael Holtz, Christian Science Monitor, 20 August 2017
More than 2,700 miles before the Mekong River drains into the South China Sea, before it winds past the ancient Khmer temple of Vat Phou and the poppy fields of the Golden Triangle, it begins on the Tibetan Plateau in western China. Tibetan Buddhists believe the spiritual source of the river is an alpine lake called Zaxiqiwa. Scientists have argued for decades over the river’s geographical origin. Not one of them doubts that it trickles down from a glacier high in the serrated mountains. The question is which one.
As the river makes its way down the plateau, it carves through russet-colored sandstone cliffs and passes meadows of white and yellow wildflowers. Tibetan prayer flags suspended on ropes crisscross its banks, and rocky streams feed into its waters. As I set up camp near one of these streams in late July, I think about the only other time I have seen the Mekong. It was four years ago in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. There, the river was a murky brown and smelled of sewage. Here, its headwaters are crystalline and unspoiled.

[India] Man-eaters of Pilibhit: is UP reserve a hotspot for human-tiger conflict?
By Akash Bishit, Catch News, 20 August 2017
The situation at the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Uttar Pradesh has turned alarming. About 15 people have died due to attacks by tigers this year alone, and such frequent killings in a short period of time have led people to question whether the PTR has emerged as a hotspot for human-animal conflict, particularly with big cats.
The opinion, for now, stands divided, with experts calling them ‘stray incidents’, blaming the sugarcane fields around the periphery of the reserve for the killings.
However, locals feel the tiger numbers have increased substantially in the last few years, and concrete steps need to be taken to check tiger population in the reserve.

[India] ’12 of 20 protected forests faring well’
Times of India, 20 August 2017
A study conducted by researchers at National Remote Sensing Centre in Hyderabad showed that the forests of Mathikettan Shola National Park, Aralam, Kottiyoor, Shendurney and Neyyar wildlife sanctuaries topped in terms of forest health. The study was conducted in association with experts from KFRI and IIITM-K -covering 20 of the 23 protected areas (PAs) in the state- amid concerns of increasing human interference, resulting in degradation of forest landscapes and wildlife habitats.

Sierra Leone’s Disaster Was Caused by Neglect, Not Nature
By Lansana Gberie, New York Times, 20 August 2017
The calamity that struck Sierra Leone on Aug. 14, when Sugarloaf, the conical mountain overlooking the capital, Freetown, collapsed in a mudslide that swept away buildings and killed at least 400 people, was shocking but not entirely surprisingly. It is important to be blunt: The tragedy was entirely man-made.
This is a moment for grief, sympathy and emergency assistance to a country that has barely recovered from a devastating Ebola epidemic three years ago. But this must also be the time for Sierra Leone’s government for once to take drastic measures to make sure a similar disaster does not occcur, which is all but certain to happen if nothing changes.

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