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.
4 September 2017
Indigenous storytelling is a new asset for biocultural conservation
Phys.org, 4 September 2017
Some of the areas hosting most of the world’s biodiversity are those inhabited by indigenous peoples. In the same way that biodiversity is being eroded, so is the world’s cultural diversity. As a result, there have been several calls to promote biocultural conservation approaches that sustain both biodiversity and indigenous cultures.
Researchers Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares and Mar Cabeza from the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland, are inviting conservation practitioners to tap into the art of storytelling to revitalise the biocultural heritage of indigenous peoples.
[Malaysia] Sabah’s jumbo-sized problem in translocating elephant herds
By Olivia Miwil, New Straits Times, 4 September 2017
The Sabah Wildlife Department has been working closely with large plantation companies in handling human-elephant conflicts especially, in the east coast of the state.
Department director Augustine Tuuga said, unlike in Peninsular Malaysia where a herd of elephants were moved by trained elephants, the Sabah Wildlife Rescue unit had to use heavy machinery for translocation purposes.
“Those trained elephants are bought from Thailand and India, which require special care that involve higher costs.
“Besides that, (trainers) have to learn foreign languages to give commands to the elephants,” he told the New Straits Times.
5 September 2017
Survival–WWF OECD talks break down over tribal consent
Survival International, 5 September 2017
The landmark mediation talks between Survival and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) over breaches of OECD guidelines for multinational corporations have broken down over the issue of tribal peoples’ consent.
Survival had asked WWF to agree to secure the Baka “Pygmies’” consent for how the conservation zones on their lands in Cameroon were managed in the future, in line with the organization’s own indigenous peoples policy.
WWF refused, at which point Survival decided there was no purpose continuing the talks.
WWF Violating Indigenous Rights – Complaint Abandoned
By Stephen Corry (Survival International), Counterpunch, 5 September 2017
Survival International has today abandoned trying to get a resolution to our formal complaint that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is violating international standards about corporate responsibility, and is reverting to using public pressure to try and stop the abuses.
Survival made the complaint in February 2016, in an attempt to stop the conservation giant from contributing to the mistreatment of tribal peoples, and it was admitted under the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) process in Switzerland, where WWF is headquartered. Surprisingly, this is the first time that an NGO has been seen as subject to the same guidelines as other multinational corporations. This is a great leap forward for those who think non-profits must also be held accountable for any negative consequences of their work.
Scientists jam with musicians, artists to stir public passion for nature
By Megan Rowling, Reuters, 5 September 2017
Norwegian artist Tone Bjordam was moved to tears when she heard an eminent Swedish scientist explain the relationships between nature, society and the economy at a 2013 workshop in Uruguay.
Displaying a diagram of three concentric circles, with the economy in the middle and nature on the outside, Carl Folke, science director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, argued that if the economy collapses, society and nature will likely survive, and if society implodes, then nature can stay intact.
But if nature – the planet’s ecosystems, wildlife and climate – descend into chaos, then so will the society and economy it supports.
Hundreds of new species discovered in the Amazon
By Lottie Watters, Geographical, 5 September 2017
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), research carried out between 2014-2015 has revealed 381 new species of plants and animals discovered in the Amazon. In the third of a series of reports conducted since 1999, researchers have seen a significant total of 2,000 new species discovered. Even so, Sarah Hutchison, WWF’s Head of Programmes for Brazil and the Amazon, said in a statement, ‘We are only at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unveiling the incredible species that live in the Amazon.’
[Indonesia] 80% of Bornean orangutans live outside protected areas
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 5 September 2017
Four fifths of wild orangutans in Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo, live outside national parks and other protected areas, according to a new study by the Indonesian government.
The study, called the 2016 Orangutan Population and Habitat Viability Assessment, was led by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Released last month, it is the third of its kind, with the last one done in 2004.
The study confirms that orangutan populations have plummeted as their forest habitats continue to be flattened by the expansion of industry. So too has an illegal pet trade taken its toll on remaining populations.
Tourism sector: Conservation could triple Uganda’s $1.5bn earnings
NTV, 5 September 2017
For Uganda to triple its earnings from tourism beyond the current $1.4 Billion dollars ( 5 Trillion shillings), there is need for increased conservation related activities that will stimulate sector investments.
United States Ambassador Debora Malac, argues that broadening the scope of conservation by building and utilising the competence of Uganda’s vast youthful population is the way out.
The United States govt through its Agency for International Dev’t has since initiated the Uganda Biodiversity Fund with a $100,000 (360M) seed grant, aimed at supporting innovative approaches on conservation.
6 September 2017
Technologies that boost conservation efforts right now and in the future
By Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, 6 September 2017
On this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we take a look at the role technology is playing — and might play in the future — in conservation efforts.
Our first guest is Topher White, the founder of Rainforest Connection, a nonprofit based in San Francisco that has deployed upcycled cell phones in tropical forests around the world to provide real-time monitoring of forests and wildlife.
Tales of murder and suffering in Hong Kong ivory ban debate
AFP, 6 September 2017
A Kenyan park ranger who said his closest friend was shot dead while protecting elephants urged Hong Kong not to compensate the city’s ivory traders in an emotive speech to lawmakers on Wednesday.
Hong Kong is a major hub for ivory sales and last year announced that it would introduce a total ban on the trade.
But authorities later clarified they would only completely abolish the trade by 2021, drawing criticism they were dragging their feet and trailing China, where officials last year pledged to halt the enterprise by the end of 2017.
7 September 2017
How a small town in Costa Rica is defining conservation for Central America
By Caitlin Looby, Pacific Standard, 7 September 2017
Sitting in a cloud forest on top of the Cordillera de Tilarán, the mountaintop town of Monteverde, Costa Rica, seems isolated. But its view stretches far beyond its boundaries. In today’s world, many believe that individual actions cannot make a difference. However, one community in Monteverde, made up of many individuals, has become the driving force behind conservation.
8 September 2017
[Myanmar] The crane and the Buddha
By Zon Pann Pwint, Myanmar Times, 8 September 2017
Superstitions are usually not the wildlife’s best friend. In Malaysia, capturing a sand boa is considered a quick way to attract good fortune. In Zimbabwe, it is said that sacrificing a pangolin increases the chances of running a successful business. For centuries, rhino horns have been brewed by Chinese traditional doctors to concoct elixirs. But in parts of Myanmar the opposite is true.
“Belief is helpful in doing conservation work,” says U Naing Lin from the Wildlife Conservation Society – Myanmar Program (WCS Myanmar). He has a specific case in mind.
South Africa: Free Entry At National Parks
SAnews.gov.za, 8 September 2017
Tourism Month is in full swing, with the South African National Park (SANParks) once again opening its doors for free from Monday, 18 September until Friday, 22 September.
The initiative is part of the annual South African National Parks Week. The campaign is held under the running theme ‘Know Your National Parks’. It allows locals, with valid identity documents, a chance to spend a day at a national park of their choice free of charge.
9 September 2017
Tigers use corridors to traverse India-Nepal border
By Aathira Perinchery, The Hindu, 9 September 2017
Borders don’ faze these tigers: over a decade, at least 11 tigers moved from India into Nepal’ protected areas through the Terai, a landscape comprising agricultural areas and protected forest-grasslands in the Himalayan foothills. This reaffirms that tiger conservation requires not just protected areas but corridors too — especially across large landscapes — to ensure habitat connectivity and in turn, population growth.
Battle to stop PNG’s unique and beautiful wildlife from being caught and sold off
NZCity, 9 September 2017
Papua New Guinea has the world’s third-largest rainforest, but increasing numbers of its unique and beautiful species of wildlife are being caught and sold.
The animals are often sold for traditional reasons, for personal consumption or for use in ceremonial costumes.
Most Papua New Guineans do not see any problems with this, but conservation groups said it was starting to put many of the country’s iconic species at risk.
10 September 2017
Clamp down on illegal wildlife parts trade, say groups
By Syed Azhar, The Star, 10 September 2017
The rising cases of Malaysia being a transit point for the illegal wildlife parts trade is serious and has far-reaching consequences including animal extinction in the region.
Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said more stringent measures should be taken to deter would-be wildlife traffickers.
“The value of the poached animals is rather high resulting in an alarming number of exotic animals killed for commercial gains. This will inevitably diminish the species within years.
Wild Tigers to be Reintroduced to Kazakhstan After 70 Year Absence
By Alicia Graef, Care2, 10 September 2017
Conservationists are applauding an announcement made this week by the Republic of Kazakhstan that it plans to reintroduce tigers to part of their historic range, where they’ve been absent for 70 years.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were believed to be 100,000 tigers living in the wild. Today, there are only estimated to be as few as 3,900 left, who continue to suffer from the threat of poaching, loss of prey, habitat loss and fragmentation, and conflicts with us.
How big game hunting is dividing southern Africa
By Mark Easton, BBC News, 10 September 2017
Drifting down the Zambezi in Zimbabwe, I overheard two American men swapping hunting stories.
“First shot got him in the shoulder,” a white man in his late sixties explained to his friend. “Second hit him right in the side of the head!” Pointing at his temple, he passed his phone with a picture. The animal in question was a dead crocodile.
Crocodiles are easy to find on this part of the Zambezi: lying in the sun on the banks of the river, boats can float just a few feet away. And given that they are motionless for most of the time, not hard to shoot, I imagine.