Conservation in the news: 21-27 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.

21 August 2017

[India] Biodiversity conservation pact to be inked
The Hindu, 21 August 2017
The Kochi Corporation and International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, South Asia, will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding to implement the German-aided project for conservation of biodiversity.
A special meeting of the corporation council held here on Monday approved the proposal, and appointed the Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development of the local body as the nodal agency for taking the project forward.
The project — Integrated sub-national action for biodiversity: supporting national biodiversity strategy and action plans through the mainstreaming of biodiversity objectives across city-regions — is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.

[India] Set up experts group to address specific problems of Sundarbans region
DNA India, 21 August 2017
There is a need to set up an Experts Advisory Group devoted to the study of specific problems and subjects concerning Sundarban Region, the world’s third largest mangrove forests but fragile and eco-sensitive area falling under both India and Bangladesh, suggested the new Final Draft Document on ‘Vision for the Sundarban Region: Rationale and Structure for Joint Action’.
The Vision Document, released here in New Delhi by Trinamul Congress MP and scholar Prof. Saugata Bose, said the Advisory Group, consisting of independent technical and scientific experts, can potentially contribute towards coordination and followup of the approved programmes and projects and for the submission of new proposals of common interest, as decided by the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Sundarbans.

[Philippines] Celebrating Mt. Kanla-on Day
By Errol A. Gatumbato, The Visayan Daily Star, 21 August 2017
The Mount Kanla-on Natural Park in Negros Island will officially launch its inaugural festival, dubbed “Halad kay Kang-Laon” in Sitio Guintubdan, Barangay Araal, La Carlota City today.
The event is in commemoration of the passage of the MKNP Act of 2001, or Republic Act 9154, which declared the former Mount Canlaon National Park as part of the National Integrated Protected Areas System of the Philippines. The La Carlota City government, led by Mayor Luis Jalandoni, will host the event while other government units covering the MKNP will also participate in the festival.

[Thailand] Phuket Governor eyes eco-tourism boost
The Phuket News, 21 August 2017
Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong visited the wildlife reserve at Khao Phra Thaew in Pa Khlok, on Phuket’s east coast, yesterday (Aug 20) to discuss strategies for boosting ecotourism in the area.
Gov Norraphat visited the sanctuary with Thalang District Chief Wikrom Jakthi and Pa Khlok Mayor Panya Sampaorat.
Joining the trio were Khao Phra Thaew Non-Hunting Area Chief Piyawat Sukon and Pongchat Chuahom, who heads the Wildlife and Nature Education Centre at the reserve, along with Wildlife Conservation Society of Thailand Secretary-General Thanapat Payakaporn.

[Turks and Caicos Islands] Big shake up coming up for national parks
By Olicia Rose, Turks and Caicos Weekly News, 21 August 2017
Proposed amendments to the Turks and Caicos national parks ordinance will see the expansion of existing protected areas, new areas coming under protection and some current protected areas re-designated.
That’s according to Minister of Tourism Ralph Higgs who recently updated the House of Assembly on the concluded public consultation on the national parks.
The amendments to the National Parks Ordinance, Regulations and Order commenced in 2006 when a report entitled, ‘Review and reassessment of the TCI protected area system’ was presented to the Government by Nautilus Consultants.
Back in November 2015, irate residents launched an online petition to the Government after news surfaced that there were plans to release certain areas of the national park for private development.

22 August 2017

[India] Entire Aravalli hills region is protected zone, says NCR Planning Board
By Ipsita Pati, Hindustan Times, 22 August 2017
In its reply to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on the status of a 52-acre plot in the Aravallis earmarked for a housing project, the NCR Planning Board, on Monday, said that since 2005, the entire Aravalli hills region has been a natural conservation zone (NCZ) with a construction cap of 0.5%.
This statement also brought some clarity on the status of several other areas of the state which are in the ‘yet to be decided’ category of the NCZ.

[Kenya] Why We Should Work Together Now More Than Ever
By Vicki Wangui,, 22 August 2017
Now that the election cloud is slowly drifting away hopefully for the next 5 years, let us get back to matters of concern: wildlife and environmental conservation. This sector I believe was ignored during the electioneering period. The environment should be at the top of the manifestos of all incoming elects, because it is critical for the survival of not only species and habitats but also people.
The proposed Amu Power Lamu Coal Plant and the impending Phase II of the Standard Gauge Railway, or is it the Madaraka Express, through Nairobi National Park, (whether it will pass above or on the ground) the ecosystem will still be affected. Kenya also expects to build a high speed express way from Mombasa to Nairobi. The main question is whether the wildlife crossing areas along Athi Kapiti and Tsavo ecosystem will be considered when vehicles are speeding at 120 kilometres per hour. These are projects of great apprehension both from a positive and negative outlook.

[Nepal] Wildlife affected in floods across protected areas
By Chandan Kumar Mandal, The Kathmandu Post, 22 August 2017
The recent floods hit hard not only thousands of people in the plains but also wildlife across the Tarai.
A number of endangered wild animals were killed in floods while many others dislocated.
In the Chitwan National Park (CNP) alone, eight rhinos were affected by inundation when water from the nearby Rapti and Narayani rivers entered the conservation area.
Of those affected, a one-horned rhino was killed whereas four others were swept down to India. One rescued later, said Nurendra Aryal, information officer at the CNP.

Sierra Leone faces disease outbreak after deadly mudslide kills hundreds
By Mel Frykberg, African Independent, 22 August 2017
As the devastated survivors of Sierra Leone’s deadly mudslides, which killed more than 500 people last week, attempt to pick up the pieces of their lives they face the possibility of an outbreak of malaria and cholera.
The United Nations and the Sierra Leone government are working to prevent any outbreaks of diseases.
“The mudslides have caused extreme suffering and loss of life, and we must do all we can to protect the population from additional health risks,” said Alexander Chimbaru, Officer in Charge of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Sierra Leone, in a Monday press release.
In 2014, Sama Banya, Sierra Leone’s leading conservationist, called on President Ernest Bai Koroma to enforce the National Protected Area law, which his government enacted in 2012, by demolishing buildings constructed on protected land and planting trees to replace those that had been cut down – or face dire consequence, but to no avail.

[South Africa] IFP leader lauded for rhino conservation
By Tony Carnie, Times LIVE, 22 August 2017
Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was among several people honoured on Monday night for his long-standing commitment to rhino conservation.
Speaking at the annual Rhino Conservation Awards at Montecasino‚ Buthelezi said he had been mocked many years ago for “caring more about animals than people”.
“When a country is waging a liberation struggle‚ giving attention to wildlife is seldom considered a priority. But to me it was important. Because I wanted more than a political victory for South Africa. I wanted a rich inheritance … Where I risked my reputation‚ conservationists now risk their lives‚” he said.

[South Africa] Elephant poaching on the rise at Kruger National Park
eNCA, 22 August 2017
Elephant poaching incidents are on the rise in the Kruger National Park.
Thirty elephants have already been killed this year in the north of the park, eight more than the same time last year.
South African National Parks (Sanparks) says it’s doing everything possible to protect the animals, but the parks authority also admits it’s overwhelmed.

[South Africa] Suspected poacher shot dead in Kruger National Park
The Citizen, 22 August 2017
According to reports, rangers came into contact with two suspected poachers, where one of them was fatally wounded and the other one fled the scene.
A suspected poacher was shot dead by rangers in the Kruger National Park (KNP), the communications and marketing department of the game reserve said on Monday.
In a terse statement, the department said KNP rangers were involved in two contacts with suspected poachers at the weekend in the southern part of the park, near the Mkhuhlu and Cork areas.

Tanzania and Germany: A successful partnership in protecting Serengeti’s ecosystem’
By Prosper Makene, Azania Post, 22 August 2017
The German Ambassador in Tanzania, Dr. Detlef Wächter, presented newly constructed office and staff buildings in Fort Ikoma to Professor Jumanne Maghembe, the Tanzanian Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism.
The buildings were constructed in the framework of the Serengeti Ecosystem Development and Conservation Project, which is financed by KfW Development Bank on behalf of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and implemented by Tanzania National Parks. Additional financing and implementation support is provided by Frankfurt Zoological Society.
“These new buildings greatly strengthen the park authorities’ presence in the Serengeti and we appreciate this contribution of our German partners to the protection of the ecosystem,” said Minister Maghembe.

[USA] International Conservation Organization Rare Launches Center for Behavior & the Environment
Rare press release, 22 August 2017
Today, Rare, a global leader in behavior science for conservation announced the launch of the Center for Behavior & the Environment, an innovative new initiative designed to bridge the gap between thought leaders in behavior change research and field-based conservation practitioners. By closing the loop between the science of human motivation and decision-making and the practice of environmental protection, Rare hopes the Center will serve as a catalyst for promoting widespread adoption of more sustainable behaviors.

23 August 2017

[Cambodia] PM vows to help environment
By Phak Seangly, Phnom Penh Post, 23 August 2017
A twenty-percent budget bump for the Environment Ministry, cash for community forests, zero tolerance for illegal loggers, support for tigers and an excavator for a monk.
These were among the vows made by Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday at the second annual National Forum on the Protection and Conservation of Natural Resources at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.
The event, launched last year, once again gave activists, NGO leaders and stakeholders from civil society a chance to air their concerns directly to Hun Sen, who has long faced criticism for presiding over years of rampant illegal logging, land grabbing and ecological degradation.

[India] Fodder scarcity looms large in Kaziranga
The Assam Tribune, 23 August 2017
After the devastating floods in the Kaziranga National Park that have taken a heavy toll on the wild animals, now it’s the fodder scarcity problem in the Park which can lead to the increase in death toll of the wild animals.
According to forest officials, vegetation in only 50 per cent of the park area is fit for consumption by wild herbivores of Kaziranga with the receding of floodwaters. “A few mild rainfalls are needed to clean up the muddy vegetation,” said Director of Kaziranga National Park Satyendra Singh.

[Kenya] Conservationists oppose bombing of Boni Forest
By Kalume Kazungu, Daily Nation, 23 August 2017
Conservationists and activists in Lamu County have opposed the bombing of Boni Forest by the military to flush out Al-Shabaab militants believed to be hiding in the dense cover.
Addressing the media at Mwana Arafa Hotel in Lamu town Wednesday, Lamu County Wildlife Conservation Committee Chairman Ali Shebwana and members of Save Lamu lobby said the bombing would destroy flora and fauna conserved for centuries in the forest.
Mr Shebwana said the bombing would directly affect the way of life of the minority Boni community (Aweer) who depend entirely on the forest for their livelihood.

[Mozambique] Maputo Kicks Out Tanzanian Poachers
The Citizen, 23 August 2017
The Mozambican Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development announced here on Monday that 20 Tanzanian citizens will be deported for their involvement in poaching in northern Mozambique.
According to the ministry’s note, the Tanzanian illegal hunters were sentenced to three or four years in prison and fines of one million meticais (about $16,393) for killing endangered animals, mostly elephants and rhinos, in northern province of Niassa, which is bordered by Tanzania.

[Papua New Guinea] UNDP Funds 12 Conservation Positions
Post Courier, 23 August 2017
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is funding 12 new graduate positions in the public service to support the nation’s Conservation and Protection Environment Protection Authority (CEPA).
This will involve UNDP’s Global Environment Facility providing K440,000 to engage new graduate students to be placed in the donor coordination and engagement, Conservation and policy and geographic information systems divisions.
The purpose is to build capacity within CEPA, the country’s premier conservation and environment regulating authority.

South Africa’s controversial rhino horn auction gets underway
By Brent Swalls, CNN, 23 August 2017
South Africa’s first online auction of rhinoceros horn is underway, with more than 500 kilograms up for bid from Wednesday through Friday.
On Sunday, the High Court in Pretoria paved the way for the controversial auction, ordering the minister of environmental affairs to hand over a permit for the sale of 264 rhino horns to breeder John Hume.
Hume, who owns the world’s largest private collection of rhinos, has battled to overturn a ban on the sale of horn in South Africa for years.

[South Africa] Kruger National Park celebrates anti-poaching successes
eNCA, 23 August 2017
Authorities at the Kruger National Park are celebrating the success of anti-poaching operations this year.
They say good co-operation among key role players has resulted in fewer poaching incidents.
That’s despite the number of incursions into the park increasing to about 3,700 this year.

[Sri Lanka] In it for the elephants
By Kathleen Hawes, The Commons Online, 23 August 2017
Last month, Hollis Burbank-Hammarlund left her home in Newfane to board a plane for Sri Lanka — arriving just in time for one of the country’s oldest and grandest of Buddhist festivals, the Kandy Esala Perahera.
But while this 10-day celebration of fire-dancing, costumed acrobats, and traditional song flooded the streets of Kandy, Burbank-Hammarlund was tasked with a less festive job.
Instead of a lavish costume like many of the party goers, she wore a simple jacket. The back read: “elephant tranquilization team.”

24 August 2017

Sir David Attenborough is more optimistic than ever about the future of the planet
The Telegraph, 24 August 2017
Sir David Attenborough has said he is more optimistic than ever about the future of the planet after a “worldwide shift” in attitudes towards the the natural world.
The naturalist and broadcaster said there were “signs of hope” and that countries that had previously been skeptical about conservation were starting to change their attitudes.
In a special event at the Edinburgh International Television Festival to mark 60 years of the Natural History Unit at BBC Studios, Sir David, 91, said: “I spend a lot of time wringing my hands and saying how dreadful it is, and how this forest has been obliterated, and that sea has been polluted and whatever.”
But he went on: “I am encouraged more than I have been, somehow.”

Fantastic beasts and why to conserve them
University of Leeds press release, 24 August 2017
According to a new study, by the University of Leeds and Cardiff University, the conservation of threatened species has much to gain from acknowledging people’s spiritual, magical and cultural beliefs.
The study, published today in the journal Oryx, draws on examples from countries including Madagascar, Iceland, Scotland, Ethiopia and Tanzania, providing a picture of the positive and negative impacts mythical creatures have had on conservation.

Potential impacts of planned Andean Amazon dams outweigh benefits, scientists say
Wildlife Conservation Society, 24 August 2017
An international team of scientists investigating the effects of six planned or potential Andean dams on the Amazon river system has found that major negative ecological impacts can be expected both above the dams and throughout the lowland floodplains and the Amazon Delta, according to WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia, and other groups.

UNDP pledges support to Ethiopia’s biodiversity conservation
Xinhua, 24 August 2017
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has pledged to build Ethiopia’s capacity toward biodiversity conservation through enhanced management of protected areas.
The UNDP and the Ethiopian government on Thursday signed a project agreement that envisages building Ethiopia’s capacity for biodiversity conservation through increased effectiveness of protected area management and implementation of measures to reduce illegal wildlife trade and poaching.

[India] In Tamil Nadu, 47 of 53 waterbird species are hunted to feed a growing illegal demand for wild meat
By Vinita Govindarajan,, 24 August 2017
Spotting a bar-headed goose, a Eurasian spoonbill or a painted stork in the wetlands of Tamil Nadu is becoming increasingly difficult because of the rampant illegal hunting of waterbirds. The hunting, at scales not mapped before, is triggered by demand from the market for wild meat and not subsistence hunting by a few, a new study by researchers at the Nature Conservation Foundation in Mysuru has found.

Promoting Sustainable Watershed Management in the Lower Mekong Basin
Mekong River Commission, 24 August 2017
The Mekong region has witnessed considerable deterioration of watersheds from war, logging, mining, population growth, hydropower and irrigation development, and clearing of terrestrial and flooded forests for agriculture. Some areas of the Mekong basin have lost over half of their original forest cover leading to soil erosion, flash floods, and a decline in the provision of ecological goods and services.
Watershed management has a long history in the Mekong region, but it was only during the last decade that experts began to better understand the interlinkages between ecological, social and economic functions. During the last few years the political commitment for sustainable watershed management has increased significantly in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB).

[Myanmar] Hoolock gibbon survey planned for October
By Myat Moe Aung, Myanmar Times, 24 August 2017
Surveys of the hoolock gibbon population will be conducted in Hponkanrazi wildlife sanctuary this coming cool season, said U Aung Maungg, head of the Hkakaborazi National Park on August 22.
The surveys started in May this year but have been put on hold due to heavy rainfall in Kachin State, he told The Myanmar Times. “We will start again to collect data on hoolock gibbons in October, November and December, “ said U Aung Maungg.

Nepal Takes Steps to Protect Snow Leopard
Prensa Latina, 24 August 2017
Nepal today became the first country to launch a plan to protect the habitat of the snow leopard, a species that lives in high Asian mountain tops and is critically endangered.
Kathmandu’s proposal coincides with the start on Thursday of an international meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to safeguard the life of that feline, known as ‘the ghost of the mountains’.
Nepal’s efforts alone are not enough to protect this evasive species with a transboundary habitat, warned Prakash Mathema, secretary of the Ministry of Forestry and Soil Conservation of the country.

Teen charged with smuggling Bengal tiger into U.S.
CBS, 24 August 2017
A California teenager charged with smuggling a Bengal tiger into the United States told a judge Thursday that he bought the animal on the streets of Tijuana, Mexico, where several of the endangered animals have been spotted this year.
Luis Eudoro Valencia was charged after border officials said they found the furry cub early Wednesday lying on the floor of a car heading from Mexico to California.

[Zimbabwe] Declare Harare a protected area
By Edgar Gweshe, The Zimbabwean, 24 August 2017
Harare largely depends on wetlands for water supply but these important sources of water have been under threat as a result of land invasions, residential and industrial expansion projects that are being carried out without acknowledging the need to save water sources.
The Chief Executive Officer of Birdlife Zimbabwe, Julia Pierini said the government, residents and the business sector need to come up with viable options that will balance between the need to develop residentially or industrially as well as the vital need to protect wetlands.

25 August 2017

[Costa Rica] A Fruitful Experiment in Land Conservation
By Christopher Intagliata, Scientific American, 25 August 2017
In the fight to conserve tropical rainforests, here’s a tool you don’t often hear about: orange peels. Specifically, 12,000 tons of them, dumped on the land. “You don’t usually associate waste disposal with biodiversity benefits, something that’s good for the environment.”
Tim Treuer is an ecologist at Princeton University. And he’s talking about a unique conservation story. It started in the early 1990s, when an orange juice producer called Del Oro set up shop near the Guanacaste Conservation Area in Costa Rica, a region that contains several national parks and a wildlife refuge.

[India] Man-animal conflict: Elephants, tigers have killed 1,100 people across India since 2014
By Mukta Patil and Aishwarya Mahajan, First Post, 25 August 2017
Conflict with wild animals, mostly elephants and tigers, has killed more than 1,100 people across India in the past three years (2014-17), according to data from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
While encroachment on forest areas for purposes such as agriculture and infrastructure is increasingly driving wildlife towards human settlements, government solutions to barricade areas around human habitation or take “necessary” steps against animals perceived as threats are not working, according to a June 2017 study by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the government’s auditor, from Karnataka’s forests.

[Myanmar] Workshops to promote tiger conservation
By Khin Su Wai, Myanmar Times, 25 August 2017
Tiger conservation, which draws a lot of criticism in Myanmar, is stepping up its promotion of the tiger reserve through regional workshops, organised by the forestry department, in recent weeks.
The regional workshops aim at developing best-practices and collecting suggestions from locals living near the protected area designated by the national tiger action plan in 2003.
“During our second regional workshop in Sagaing on August 20, we found that locals from Sagaing and Kachin pay attention to tiger protection. That is a good sign,” U Khin Mg Win, director of the forestry department told The Myanmar Times.

[South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe] Treaty improves conservation in three countries
By Liam Ngobeni, Centurionn Rekord, 25 August 2017
A treaty signed by South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in 2002 has brought into being the Greater Limpoporans-frontier Conservancy (GLTFCA).
The GLTFCA covers three countries, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
International coordinator Piet Theron said the treaty objectives sought to enhance ecosystem integrity and remove artificial barriers impeding wildlife movement.
Another objective was to support local economic development through a rise in tourism.
A youth programme was started last year to create awareness and promote conservation.
It also highlighted economic opportunities associated with conservation.

What’s warping the faces of monkeys in Uganda
By Mallory Locklear, The Verge, 25 August 2017
In 2014, researchers with the National Museum of Natural History in Paris working in the northern part of Uganda’s Kibale National Park, noticed something very wrong with the chimpanzees and baboons in the area: their noses were flattened, with nostrils that were abnormally small, or sometimes absent altogether. Their faces were concave in the middle. At the time, researchers estimated that around 10 percent of the chimpanzee population in that part of the park had these facial deformities, otherwise known as dysplasia. Two years later, that estimate jumped up to 25 percent.

26 August 2017

[India] Now, a policy to involve farmers in wildlife conservation
By Nagesh Prabhu, The Hindu, 26 August 2017
In an effort to avoid man-animal conflicts in areas/lands adjacent to protected forests and tiger reserves/elephant corridors, the State government has proposed to bring out the Karnataka Forest Policy on Private Conservancies in which land owners/institutions can voluntarily donate their land for enlarging wildlife habitat.
The policy, which was cleared by the Department of Forest and Environment headed by B. Ramanath Rai, encourages land owners living close to the protected areas and corridors for establishing private conservancies by changing the land use from the present practice of agriculture/plantation crops to “silvi-pasture system”, which can be termed as private forests.

South Africa Wraps Up First Online Rhino Horn Auction
By Thuso Khumalo, Voice of America, 26 August 2017
South Africa’s first online auction of rhino horn ends Friday, and thousands of bidders reportedly have shown interest. The three-day online auction was the first of its kind since South Africa banned the domestic trade in rhino horn in 2009.
Hundreds of horns weighing 500 kilograms were for sale. John Hume, the rhino breeder selling his stock, told VOA the rhinos were tranquilized before their horns were harvested. To participate in the auction, bidders were required to put down about $7,000 as a deposit.
Environmental groups have reacted angrily.

27 August 2017

[Malaysia] Poachers pose biggest threat to Sabah’s conservation areas
The Sund Daily, 27 August 2017
Poaching activities remain the biggest threat to wildlife conservation in Sabah, according to an expert, who points out that the key to addressing this is to strengthen enforcement around buffer zones.
“If these illegal hunting activities are not checked, the population of the protected and endangered wildlife species in the state will shrink in no time,” Dr Rahimatsah Amat, chief executive of Sabah Environmental Trust, told Bernama.
He was among some 100 participants who took part in a 10-day scientific expedition in Batu Timbang, an area on the southwest of Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA) in the heart of Sabah, recently.

Cable car plan for cave kingdom a stark reminder of Vietnam’s development mania
By Dien Luong, VN Express International, 27 August 2017
Plans for another cable car in Vietnam’s UNESCO-listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park have raised more questions than answers in a country where economic interests all too often eclipse limited environmental safeguards.
The most troubling question is, according to experts, whether the masses stand to benefit from a project that is being promoted in the name of economic development.
Authorities in the central province of Quang Binh proposed the cable car system across Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which UNESCO recognized as a global heritage site in 2003, at a meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Friday.

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