Conservation in the news: 28 August – 3 September 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.

28 August 2017

Exploring Africa’s best national parks
By Mehdi Elaichouni, Buro 24/7, 28 August 2017
I love and miss Africa. It’s where I grew up and I love it so much because of how diverse it is — the people, nature, languages and all its cultures. In one continent, you have deserts, beautiful snow-capped mountains, jungles, cities, rivers, thousands of plant varieties, and animal species. There’s never a dull moment, and once you experience it for yourself, you’ll know what I mean.
In the four years that I’ve lived in Singapore, most people I’ve met visit Africa for its national park safaris. All national parks will have a range of accommodation options as well as different types of guided or self-drive tours that cater to every budget. So the best way to start planning for a national park visit would be to decide on what you would like to see, and the type of experience you’re after.

[Cayman Islands] Premier: ‘Ridiculous’ parts of Conservation Law will be removed
By James Wittaker, Cayman Compass, 28 August 2017
Battle lines are being redrawn in the conflict between development and the environment as the government prepares to walk back some of the provisions of Cayman’s National Conservation Law.
The landmark law was one of the first significant pieces of legislation passed by the previous Progressives-led government.
But Premier Alden McLaughlin revealed last week that removing some of its more controversial elements would be among the first actions of his new coalition.

[Indonesia] Taman Safari Accepts Donation for Orangutan Conservation
Tempo, 28 August 2017
An ex-situ wildlife conservation institution (outside of natural habitat), Taman Safari Indonesia Cisarua has received conservation fund donations for Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) from a private company.
“The donation is very helpful in the effort to conserve Orangutans, that have been performed by Taman Safari Indonesia (TSI),” said TSI Cisarua Director Tony Sumampau in Cisarua, Bogor regency, West Java, Sunday, 27/8.

[Nepal] Hunters of red pandas start protecting the endangered species
By Hari Krishna Gautam, myRepublica, 28 August 2017
Locals of Gurja in Dhaulagiri Rural Municipality until recent used to hunt the endangered red pandas due to lack of awareness and identification. Later, conservation campaigns conducted by various organizations made them realize the importance this rare species.
Awareness for the protection of red panda has been rising with the efforts for Red Panda Network (RPN), Himali Conservation Forum and World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-funded Hariyo Ban Program.

[Nepal] Experts call to step up conservation efforts
Kathmandu Post, 28 August 2017
The South Asian Conference on small mammals kicked off in the Capital on Sunday, with calls for more efforts towards conservation of these species.
The conference—the first ever in the region with a focus on small mammals—is jointly organised by Small Mammals Conservation and Research Foundation (SMCRF) and MoFSC with support from other organisations.
The three-day event has drawn nearly 60 wildlife researchers, experts, policy makers from 10 countries, who have raised concerns over inadequate efforts despite the region boasting various species of small mammals.

Extensive illegal cattle ranching destroys core area of Nicaragua’s Indio Maíz Biological Reserve
By Duyerling Ríos and Cristopher Mendoza, Mongabay, 28 August 2017
The howl of a spider monkey that swayed from branch to branch alerted a group of green macaws to our presence and eventually took flight and disappeared into the forest. From one moment to another, the gentle wind that refreshed us turned into an intimidating gale rocking millennial trees back and forth —some trees are taller than one hundred meters— and forced us to walk hastily until we arrived at the Chontaleño River. There we noticed fresh jaguar footprints which put us on alert. All this is part of the daily life and charm of the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve.

Forced Evictions, Rights Abuses of Maasai People in Tanzania
By Baher Kamal, IPS, 28 August 2017
Indigenous Maasai people in Loliondo region,Tanzania have been facing new cases of forced evictions and human rights violations, a major international organisation supporting indigenous peoples’ struggle for human rights and self-determination warned.
“Forced and illegal evictions of Maasai pastoralists and serious human rights violations are right now happening in Tanzania,” the International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) has alerted quoting “reliable information.”
The reported violations have been taking place on registered village land in Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro District, Arusha Region, IWGIA informs in an “evidence-based urgent alert.”

[Thailand] Park occupants to be vetted, dept insists
By Apinya Wipatayotin, Bangkok Post, 28 August 2017
A top official of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has reiterated that all residential and farming settlements spilling into the Thap Lan National Park will be subjected to a step-by-step screening process.
The remark by Thanya Nethithammakul, who heads the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, contradicts an earlier comment by Environment Minister Surasak Kanjanarat, who said some parts of the park might be made available for a local living zone.
Gen Surasak’s comment has been criticised by activists, who said it is improper to allot the forest land to locals as it might encourage encroachment of other forests, leading to a decline in national park areas in the country.

[Vietnam] Should there be a cable car system in Bach Ma National Park?
VietNamNet Bridge, 28 August 2017
Deputy director of the Thua Thien-Hue provincial Planning Department Hoang Viet Trung on August 15 confirmed that the province has submitted to the Ministry of Construction a proposal to develop a Bach Ma spiritual eco-tourism and resort complex with a cable car.
The cable car is expected to start in Cau Hai area and end at the villa in Morin Hotel. There would be three stops, including one at Do Quyen waterfall.
Emphasizing the importance of the cable car system development, Trung said that the cable car would not interfere with the natural forests, while the tourism complex would have international stature, respect nature and help boost the development of Bach Ma.

29 August 2017

[Indonesia] East Lampung promotes national park with camping tour, festival
Jakarta Post, 29 August 2017
East Lampung hosted a camping tour activity on Aug. 26 led by East Lampung Regent Chusnunia Chalim.
The event was held on the camping ground of Elephant Conservation Center Way Kambas National Park and joined by social media-savvy travel communities, such as Gading Gajah Art (GGA) and Indonesian Charm Generations (GenPI) East Lampung chapter.
“The aim is for these bloggers, vloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, Twitter and Facebook users to promote East Lampung on their social media accounts,” said Chusnunia.

[South Africa] Rhino slaughter at record high in KwaZulu-Natal
By Tony Carnie, Herald Live, 29 August 2017
Rhino poachers have set a new record in bloodshed in KwaZulu-Natal – the highest killing rate in more than a century.
With four months to go‚ poaching gangs have slaughtered 166 rhinos in the first eight months of the year‚ making this the bloodiest year on record in the province that saved this species from the brink of extinction just over 100 years ago.
In comparison‚ 162 rhinos were killed last year‚ 116 during 2015 and just 18 in 2008.

30 August 2017

Conservation hindered by geographical mismatches between capacity and need
Phys.org, 30 August 2017
New research suggests that geographical mismatches between conservation needs and expertise may hinder global conservation goals.
Experts from the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and other institutions have examined geographical patterns within the leadership of the conservation science publishing system focusing on the affiliation of journal editors, who serve as gatekeepers and leaders in the scientific process.
Their research, ‘Striking underrepresentation of biodiversity-rich regions among editors of conservation journals’ has been published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation.

[Brazil] Expanding tropical forest spells disaster for conservation
Phys.org, 30 August 2017
A North Carolina State University study shows that fire suppression efforts in Brazilian savannas turn many of those areas into forest lands, with negative consequences for the plants and animals that live there.
Expanding forests suck up CO2 from the atmosphere, but the plants and animals from savannas struggle to cope in the leafier environments. Encroaching forest resulted in major losses of plant and ant species in those areas over the last 30 years – with the most susceptible plants and ants losing massive numbers of species.
William Hoffmann, professor of plant and microbial biology at NC State and co-corresponding author of a paper on biodiversity in the Brazilian Cerrado, said that the study shows the importance of fire to the savanna. Savannas – pure grasslands and grasslands dotted with trees – cover about 20 percent of the earth’s land; the Brazilian Cerrado is considered the earth’s most biodiverse savanna.

The Untold Story About National Parks And Indigenous Peoples In Canada
By Pamela Leiva Jacquelín, PIQD, 30 August 2017
You may have heard that Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary. To mark the date, the government gave free admission to national all parks, increasing visitors up to 10% in the last 7 months. What these 14 million visitors (local and international) may not be aware of are the controversies they were literally standing on.
National Post describes it as a “shady and tarnished past” of Parks in a very well written retrospective about Canada’s relationship with indigenous communities.
Indigenous peoples, especially the Stoney Nakoda First Nations, have a lot to say about their relationship to the Canadian parks. In 1887 the Stoney were evicted from their lands to build what is now the oldest and well-known Banff National Park.

MRG wholeheartedly condemns killing and injuring of indigenous forest people by guards in DRC national park, demands prompt investigation and urges authorities to uphold law
Minority Rights Group, 30 August 2017
Minority Rights Group International (MRG) wholeheartedly condemns the killing and injuring of two indigenous Batwa, whilst they were peacefully gathering medicinal herbs, by guards in a national park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday.
According to information gathered by MRG’s partner organisation in the DRC, Réseau des Associations Autochtones Pygmées (RAPY), on 26 August, Batwa community member Nakulire Munganga, and his 17-year-old son Mbone Nakulire, entered the Kahuzi-Biega National Park (PNKB) to forage for medicinal plants to treat diarrhoea and cholera. At around 9 am the two men were shot by park guards on patrol; the son died on the spot and his father received bullet wounds in his right arm.

Chasing the Spirit of Conservation on the Himalayan Rim
By Kyle Obermann, Sixth Tone, 30 August 2017
Gengga sipped nonchalantly at his glass of sparkling grape juice on a cool summer afternoon on the Tibetan Plateau, 3,800 meters above sea level. “Do not kill anything unless you must,” he said, colorful prayer flags beating behind us in the breeze. “But when you must, do it in the gentlest way possible. Do not smile.” A contented ripping noise sounded nearby, followed by the casual shuffle of hooves — another stray yak had snuck into the yard to treat itself to the fresh, sunlit grass.

South Africa’s first online rhino horn auction ends in risky impasse
By Keith Somerville, Forbes Africa, 30 August 2017
Private rhino horn owner John Hume recently held South Africa’s first online rhino horn auction, a major event in the ongoing fight by private rhino owners to be able to sell legal horn stocks. But in a statement released on Hume’s behalf it was admitted that there were very few bidders for the 264 horns.
The auctions result is a setback to achieve a legal, commercial trade in horn to replace poached horn in supplying demand in the main markets. Hume’s official statement tried to put a brave face on it, saying he had triumphed and that a legal and sustainable supply has been established. He stills hopes to attract more buyers – horn will still be available for private sales as long as permits are available.

31 August 2017

Making environmental conservation gainful for local communities in Burundi
By Jude Fuhnwi, Birdlife International, 31 August 2017
Burundi is a small, densely populated country in East Africa with a hilly topography interposed with seasonal and permanent wetlands in the low-lying areas. The population density estimated at 420 persons per square kilometer of arable land is the root cause of environmental threats in the country.

[Cambodia] Community Resource Management Gets $6.1M
By Brendan O’Byrne, The Cambodia Daily, 31 August 2017
The World Wildlife Fund announced a $6.1 million expansion of a program designed to transfer direct management of resources from government administrations to local communities, more than doubling the project’s scope.
The Partnership for Forestry and Fishery Communities program aims to improve the livelihoods of villagers by helping communities gain legal rights to their land and teaching them to manage their resources sustainably.

Spread of palm oil threatens protected areas in Honduras
Illegal Deforestation Monitor, 31 August 2017
An investigation into palm oil plantations in Honduras has shown how growing demand for the crop combines with non-existent enforcement to incentivise illegal clearances in national parks.
Despite prohibitions on growing the crop in protected areas, there are at least 7,000 hectares of African palm planted in the country’s national parks, according to research by La Tierra Esclave, a project from the Spanish newspaper El Diario.
The investigation focused on the Blanca Jeanette Kawas National Park. at the edge of which stands of the country’s largest palm oil processing plants. The Park covers 79,381 hectares, 3,478 hectares of which are seeded with African palm.

[India] Activists, locals stall attempt to macadamize road inside protected area in Pahalgam
By Shafat Mir, Rising Kashmir, 31 August 2017
In clear violation of 1978 Wildlife Protection Act, Roads and Buildings department has been trying to macadamise some 1.5 Kilometre stretch inside Overa-Aru wild life sanctuary in Mamal, Pahalgam. The department is doing all this to benefit some influential hoteliers who have constructed huts and hotels in the midst of forests in Mamal area of famed tourist spot Pahalgam in Anantnag district, according to locals.
This area is uninhabited and no locality existed in this area in the past also.

[Malawi] Man jailed for encroaching in game reserve
By Bright Malenga, Malawi24, 31 August 2017
Entering into a protected area to catch fish has earned a 65-year-old man 18 months imprisonment with hard labour.
According to police, on August 18 this year at Bua River, the man Kusita Adam conveyed panga knife and mosquito nets and entered into Nkhotakota Game Reserve to fish.
But he was apprehended by Parks and Wildlife Assistants who were on patrol. They took him to Nkhotakota police station.

[Namibia] Penalties For Poaching
The Namibian, 31 August 2017
Since 2012, after more than two decades of low numbers of poaching incidents involving elephant and rhino, Namibia has experienced an alarming increase in the poaching of these two species.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism recently reported that a total of 245 elephants were poached between 2014 and 2017, while a total of 241 rhino were poached between 2012 and 2017.

SMART patrolling system to be tested in Pakistan
The Express Tribune, 31 August 2017
Wildlife experts have called for setting up special monitoring and reporting tools (SMART) to protect wildlife and their habitat in the country from poachers and the subsequent illegal trade.
The experts were speaking at the concluding session of a three-day consultative and capacity building workshop organised by the World Wildlife Fund-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC) in Islamabad on Wednesday.

1 September 2017

What is an Ivory Crush and Are They a Good Idea?
By Michelle Neff, One Green Planet, 1 September 2017
Earlier this summer, two tons of confiscated ivory was crushed in New York City’s Central Park. Trinkets, statues, and jewelry all crafted from the tusks of at least 100 poached elephants were destroyed, with some of the items estimated to be very valuable. For instance, one pair of carved ivory towers was worth $850,000.
So why was all of this ivory turned into dust if was so valuable? The ivory crush was to show New York’s commitment to take a stand against the illegal ivory trade. Elephant poaching is has reached international crisis levels. For decades, elephants have faced the looming threat of extinction as tusks are savagely ripped from their faces to satisfy the global demand for ivory. This illegal trade is fraught with corruption on every level, and profits benefit dangerous terrorist groups.

[India] Homestay tourism drives conservation efforts in Ladakh’s hinterland
By Aesha Datta, The Hindu Business Line, 1 September 2017
The Hemis National Park in Ladakh is home not just to some magnificent creatures such as snow leopards but also to a few hundred people in villages on its periphery.
The hardship of life in the rugged terrain of the cold desert is extreme in these remote villages that have no electricity, running water, and often no schools or medical facilities.
Locals are dependent on limited farming activities, and on their sheep and yak for sustenance.

2 September 2017

[Nepal] Regional conference on heritage conservation begins today
The Himalayan Times, 2 September 2017
A five-day international conference on post-disaster cultural heritage conservation in South Asia region is beginning in Kathmandu tomorrow.
Spokesperson at the department, Ram Bahadur Kunbar informed that a framework on post-disaster heritage conservation will be developed during the conference. Speaking to The Himalayan Times, Kunbar said, “As many of our heritage monuments are being reconstructed following the April 15, 2015 earthquakes, the post-disaster heritage conservation discussion will help us bring our damaged heritage monuments back to their original forms. Besides, the conference will develop a comprehensive framework on post-disaster heritage reconstruction.”

Samoa receives grants for environmental Projects
Samoa Observer, 2 September 2017
Twenty-eight applicants from Upolu and Savai’i has been awarded grants through Operational Phase 6 of the Global Environment Facility (G.E.F.) Small Grants Programme (S.G.P.) of the United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P.).
The opening of the inception workshop for the nineteen recipients of grant awards in Upolu was held at the T.A.T.T.E. Convention Centre, following the workshop in Savai’i on 31 August 2017 where nine successful applicants signed grant documents.

3 September 2017

Is Unesco overreaching in Myanmar?
By Stella Naw, Asia Times, 3 September 2017
“Full of Life, Full of Nature, Putao” read the cover of a recent edition of Myanmar National Airline’s inflight magazine, with a beautiful young woman sitting by a pristine river against a breathtaking mountainous backdrop.
Putao, the northernmost point in Myanmar’s Kachin State, is home to Southeast Asia’s highest mountain, Hkakabo Razi, which stands at 5,880 meters and means “mountain where birds are happy” in the vernacular. International conservation outfits hope to keep it that way.

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