Conservation in the news: 2-8 October 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.

2 October 2017

Interventionism for the non-human world intensifying militarised conservation
The Sheffield Institute for International Development, 2 October 2017
Military-style approaches are being employed as a means to call a halt to wildlife losses. This has led many to question whether such approaches are necessary to ensure the adequate conservation of some of our favourite animals. In the podcast, Rosaleen Duffy, Professor of International Politics, tells us more about militarised conservation, explaining exactly what it is, and the impact it is having on both animals and humans.

Why we should use the tech startup model to solve environmental problems
By Starre Vartan, Mother Nature Network, 2 October 2017
When tech companies push creative boundaries, sometimes our lives are changed for the better. (For example, I’m typing this from a cozy Airbnb as I roadtrip up the California coast.) But not all tech ideas are genius — some of them seem useless, ridiculous or both.
What if we could harness the kind of thinking that brought us Lyft rides and one-click grocery shopping and use it for more pressing issues — like saving endangered species?

[Fiji] Save the dry forests
By Shayal Devi, Fiji Times, 2 October 2017
Forestsand oceans account for a bulk of the country’s pristine natural resources and are considered wholly important in maintaining a healthy ecosystem as well as bringing revenue for Fijians.
The stark importance of forests is notable, especially its role in providing a habitat for local species including the endangered crested iguana.

[India] Assam’s Kaziranga National Park opens for tourists
The Economic Times, 2 October 2017
Assam Forest and Environment Minister Pramila Rani Brahma on Monday opened the Kaziranga National Park for the 2017-18 tourist season.
Accompanied by Agriculture Minister Atul Bora, chairman of the Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) Jayanta Malla Baruah and other dignitaries, Brahma cut the ceremonial red ribbon to officially declare the park open and said that the Forest Department has advanced the tourist season by one month.

[India] Forest officer poses as priest, nabs poachers selling tiger parts for tantric purposes
By Neeraj Santoshi, Hindustan Times, 2 October 2017
Illegal traders of tiger parts near Madhya Pradesh’s Kanha Tiger Reserve were looking for a buyer — specifically a tantric priest known as panda, as the parts are used in rituals in the region.
And they chanced upon one, only to be betrayed in Bollywood style, for the panda turned out to be a forest official.

[India] 3 arrested on elephant poaching charges
Outlook, 2 October 2017
A joint team of police and forest officials arrested three persons on charges of poaching elephant at Bonai forest range area.
The arrest was made following death of an elephant at the Bonai forest range area. However, senior forest officials said that the elephant died due to lightning and not killed as alleged by the joint team.
On September 29, the police arrested three persons for their alleged involvement in elephant poaching. The police found one kilogram of ivory from one of the arrested persons, and seized two country made rifles from them. However, forest officials said that it was not a case of poaching.

[India] New wildlife plan focuses on mitigating human-wildlife conflict
The New Indian Express, 2 October 2017
Emphasizing on striking a balance between conservation and development, the Centre Monday released the National Wildlife Action Plan 2017-2031 that focuses on mitigating human-wildlife conflict, improving wildlife health and linking wildlife to climate change.
The current plan, third since 1983, calls for adopting a landscape approach for wildlife conservation, which is an advancement over the previous protected area-centric approach. There has been a growing criticism that consecutive governments have focused on development and wildlife conservation has taken a back seat.

[Iran] Interview: ‘It will take a lifetime of dedication to save Asiatic Cheetah’
By Farnaz Heidari, Tehran Times, 2 October 2017
The Asiatic cheetah also known as Iranian cheetah is a Critically Endangered cheetah subspecies surviving today only in Iran. It once occurred from the Arabian Peninsula and the Near East to the Kyzylkum Desert, Caspian region, Pakistan and India, but has been extirpated there during the 20th century. The Asiatic cheetah survives in protected areas in the eastern-central arid region of Iran, where the human population density is very low.

Can community forestry deliver for Madagascar’s forests and people?
By Rowan Moore Gerety, Mongabay, 2 October 2017
The land in the Mandrare River Basin, in southeastern Madagascar, does not seem like the kind of place that could support an economy based on wood. The trees are low, scrubby, covered with thorns. Succulents stretch fleshy spires into a cloudless sky. Vast sisal plantations cover the dusty plains landscape in a grid.
But the shoulder of the road that leads west is soon dotted with a display of the spiny forest’s prodigious output: there are thick, carved wooden blocks made to prevent runaway trucks, makeshift stands piled head-high with charcoal in 100-pound sacks, and rough wooden planks hewn from the trunks of spindly Madagascar ocotillo (Alluaudia procera), used locally to build houses.

Nepal, India to conduct first joint tiger count
The Economic Times, 2 October 2017
For the first time, Nepal and India will undertake a joint tiger census next month in their national parks, forests and protected areas adjoining the two countries using a globally-recognised method, officials said today.
Conservation authorities and experts would install cameras in various locations in tiger habitats as well as in buffer zones to capture and track the movements of the big cat, a senior official said.

[South Africa] Equipment donation boosts Kruger anti-poaching capabilities
defenceWeb, 2 October 2017
The Kruger National Park’s dedicated anti-poaching unit along with the iconic game reserve’s rangers have had a close to R3 million injection of much-needed equipment to further boost efforts to stop poaching of particularly rhino and elephant.
The purchase of the majority of the equipment was made possible via a R1 million donation from Saint-Gobain Gyproc. Another good contribution came from SANParks Honorary Rangers (SHR) West Rand region which raised R100 000. John Turner, national chairman of SHR Conservation Services, also singled out the organisation’s Bushveld and Lowveld regions for good contributions.

[USA] Dozens protest poaching of elephants and rhinos
By Heather Hope,, 2 October 2017
The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos was back for its fourth annual event and more than more than 150 people joined the worldwide movement to protect wildlife in Balboa Park Sunday.
Marchers chanted slogans and held signs, fighting for an end to the ivory and rhino horn trade. Animal rights advocates report that at least 70 elephants and three rhinos are killed each day for their horns and tusks.
The marchers, with pro rhino and elephant signs in hand, made their way to the San Diego Zoo.

[Zimbabwe] Limited investment flow and poaching hurts Zim’s tourism potential
By Tawanda Karombo, Business Report, 2 October 2017
Across Zimbabwe’s vast swathes of forests and mountains lurks a wide variety of wildlife, that remains a major attraction for tourists to the country; but limited investment flows and poaching are hurting conservation efforts, while there is strong opposition to trophy hunting and animal exports.
Zimbabwe is endowed with abundant wildlife that includes lions, elephant, buffalo and hippopotamus among others. There are even special conservation programmes for endangered species such as painted wild dogs, rhinos and pangolin that still freely roam Zimbabwe’s national parks.
This comes as debate rages over trophy hunting and conservation efforts following the death of Cecil the lion at the Hwange National Park in 2015.

3 October 2017

Audio: Taking a closer look at the evidence for conservation effectiveness
By Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, 3 October 2017
We take a closer look at the evidence for the effectiveness of forest certification schemes on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast.
The first installment of Mongabay’s new “Conservation Effectiveness” series was published on September 21st, taking a look at the existing body of research on the effectiveness of forest certification. Zuzana Burivalova, a tropical forest ecologist at Princeton, performed the analysis of the scientific literature on certification, and Mongabay staff writer Shreya Dasgupta did the addition reporting and wrote the article.
Burivalova appeared once before on the Mongabay Newscast for a Field Notes segment in which she played for us recordings of a variety of different habitat types in Indonesian Borneo. She joins us on this episode to discuss the results of her analysis of forest certification schemes.

Former Disney Channels Worldwide Executive to Lead Global Marketing Efforts for The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy, 3 October 2017
The Nature Conservancy has hired Richard Loomis as its new chief marketing officer. Loomis previously worked as senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Disney Channels Worldwide. As CMO, Loomis will lead the Conservancy’s global marketing strategy and will drive deeper investments in digital marketing, social media, engagement, membership and analytics. His role spans to include managing leadership of The Nature Conservancy’s content and publishing teams, and external global communications.

Nigeria: ‘Govt Loses $10 Billion Yearly to Neglect of Wildlife Sector’
By Inemesit Akpan-Nsoh, The Guardian (Nigeria), 3 October 2017
To prevent the loss of over $10 billion yearly due to the neglect of the wildlife sector of the economy, the Federal government has been tasked to look inward for other sources of revenue through proper management of the wildlife protected areas in the country.
The Business Manager of the Wildlife Management Society of Nigeria (WIMSON), Dr. Edem Eniang stated this in Uyo, the Akwa-Ibom State Capital while speaking with newsmen. According to him, if the Federal government properly harnesses the sector it would generate over $10 billion annually for the country.

[South Africa] SA National Parks Week Sees More Than 75 000 Visitors for 2017
IOL, 3 October 2017
South African National Park (SANParks) saw 77 340 visitors to the parks during South African National Parks Week from 18 September to 22 September 2017.
This was a 24% increase from last year’s 62 312. The top three Parks with 202%, 138% and 119% increase respectively were Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage site, Karoo National Park and Marakele National Park.
This campaign under the established theme ‘Know Your National Parks’ allowed locals with valid identity documents an opportunity to spend a day at a national park of their choice free of charge.

[Tanzania] Govt taken to East African court over Ngorongoro land crisis
By Filbert Rweyemamu, The Citizen, 3 October 2017
The Tanzania government has been taken to East African Court of Justice (EACJ) by four villages aggrieved by long standing and unresolved land disputes in Ngorongoro District in Arusha region.
The four villages, Ololosokwan, Olorien, Kirtalo and Arash have filed the case alleging that their eviction from their ancestral land was against the law.
The suit was submitted to the Court on September 21 by the councils of the four villages with the Attorney General of Tanzania on the dock as the First Respondent.

4 October 2017

Tackling poaching with Internet of Things
By Bitange Ndemo, Business Daily, 4 October 2017
Poaching is one of Africa’s greatest menaces. It threatens to decimate some of the iconic animals on the continent, including the rhino and the elephant. That may change if the deployment of IBM’s Internet of Things (IoT) in South Africa to protect the African rhino succeeds.
On September 19 2017, MTN, a leading African telecommunications provider in partnership with Wageningen University of the Netherlands and Prodapt, a technology provider, joined hands to pilot IBM’s IoT technology. The solution is meant to predict threats and combat the poaching of endangered rhinos at Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa. They hope to expand the solution to other game reserves in the region.

The scandal threatening the future of Brazil’s National Parks
By Irene Lorenzo, BirdLife International, 4 October 2017
Ocean, rivers and lakes have shaped the landscape in Lagoa do Peixe National Park, Southern Brazil. Over 36,000 hectares showcase a patchwork of unique landscapes; from freshwater and salt lagoons to grasslands, floodplains, marshes and sand dunes. The breeze of the Atlantic Ocean welcomes tens of thousands of migratory birds every year during their travels between North America and Patagonia.
All through spring become a natural shrimp nursery, fished in summer by a restricted number of nearby villagers, following quotas agreed with the National Park authorities. The ocean currents in winter inundate the land with saltwater, creating unique ecosystems also cherished by shorebirds such as Red Knot Calidris canutus and Buff-breasted Sandpiper Calidris subruficollis (both Near Threatened).

[Malaysia] Foreign Poachers are on the Loose in Sabah
Clean Malaysia, 4 October 2017
Two pygmy elephants and a hundred sea turtles. These are just the latest victims of poachers in Sabah. Conservationists and government officials are duly outraged at the continuing slaughter of the state’s endangered wildlife.
“The recent discovery of hundreds of turtle bone fragments and turtle carcasses floating in the sea are deeply saddening, as are the numerous cases of pygmy elephants being killed, their tusks brutally cut off and the poor animals left to die a slow and painful death in the rivers and forests of Kinabatangan and Tawau,” Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, minister of Natural Resources and Environment, stressed.

Nepal arrests poacher after 15 years
Gulf Times, 4 October 2017
Authorities in Nepal have arrested a 47-year-old wildlife trafficker at his home, 15 years after he and two poachers were found guilty of killing a rare rhinoceros in the country’s largest national park, officials said yesterday.
Bhagana Darai was among three poachers who, in 2002, killed a rare rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park and left with its horn.
The park is located some 120km southwest of Kathmandu, said park spokesman Nurendra Aryal.
“The other two were arrested at the time, but he had been on the run. We were able to arrest him yesterday [Monday] after a tip-off,” he said.

Nigerian conservationist wins Tusk Award in SA
By Keumsari Gadonggs, Daily Trust, 4 October 2017
A Nigerian conservationist with the Yankari Game Reserve in Bauchi State, Nachamada Geoffrey, has won the Land Rover Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa. The award will be presented to him at a ceremony tonight in South Africa.
Nachamada is Kilba by tribe and hails from Hong Local Government Area in Adamawa State.
He has a BSc in Natural and Environmental Science from the American University of Nigeria.

‘More leopards can still be found in Nigeria’
By Eyo Charles, Daily Trust, 4 October 2017
The Programme Director of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Nigeria, Mr Andrews Dunn, has said that more leopards can still be found in some wilderness areas in Nigeria if determined focus is aimed at it.
This follows the discovery of a leopard last week in Yankari by the WCS which was captured by an automatic ‘camera trap.’
Speaking exclusively to Daily Trust in his office, Dunn said leopards were once presumed extinct in this area of Nigeria but that with commitment and modern gadgets, the predator can be found in good numbers since they move most often in the night.

5 October 2017

Sustainable financing of conservation just got a major boost
Wildlife Conservation Society, 5 October 2017
The Conservation Finance Alliance (CFA) announced today that the French Facility for Global Environment / Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM) and the MAVA Foundation have jointly awarded 701,114 Euros (822,315 USD) to support CFA.
“We are honored to host CFA and to be managing this generous donation made by FFEM and the MAVA Foundation,” said WCS Executive Vice President for Conservation and Science John Robinson. “This critical funding will be used to take CFA to the next level in promoting sustainable funding solutions for protected areas and the world’s biodiversity.” WCS is a co-founder of the CFA and currently serves as its host.

The Global March for elephants, rhinos, lions & pangolin
The Voice, 5 October 2017
According to Rosemary Alles co-founder and president of The Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions in South Africa, “The heart of the overarching failure of conservation in Africa is the disengagement of indigenous communities from the conversation about conservation.”
Undoubtedly, Western and Asian markets and legal passage through countries of elephant ivory, rhino horn, lion bone, and pangolin scales escalate the demise of these important and iconic species as well as human encroachment on wild territories and unregulated hunting practices like the canned hunting that happens to large carnivores on our borders in South Africa.

US Congressman Eliot Engel visits Belize with delegation
Breaking Belize News, 5 October 2017
On September 15-19, 2017, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Ranking Member on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee arrived in Belize on the first official congressional delegation to Belize since it gained independence.
The delegation’s schedule featured meetings with high-ranking Belizean officials and civil society leaders to discuss U.S.-Belize relations; Belize’s role in the Caribbean region and in Central America; Belize’s border dispute with Guatemala and the Organization of American States’ role; the ties between environmental concerns and wildlife trafficking and security challenges; and human rights issues, including LGBT and women’s rights.
Congressman Engel was the author of the 2016 law that mandated the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in the Caribbean, also known as “Caribbean 2020.”

Giant pandas in China are fleeing their habitats because of horses and cows
By Chase Purdy, Quartz, 5 October 2017
Pandas are being driven out of their habitats in southwest China, but not directly by humans.
In an attempt to keep people from clearing away giant panda habitats through deforestation, the Chinese government more than a decade ago expanded what it considers “protected” areas. But that move inadvertently created a new threat to the bamboo-gnawing bears. The number of free-range livestock—like cattle and horses—stomping through the protected forests has increased nine-fold in the last 15 years. And because these animals have crushed and damaged so much bamboo, the panda habitat has shrunk by about 34%, according to a new study published Oct. 3 in the journal Biological Conservation.

[Kenya] The bold, tech-fuelled plan to save Africa’s big beasts
By Rachel Nuwer, BBC News, 5 October 2017
Josephine Ekiru is not nostalgic for the past. Growing up in northern Kenya in an impoverished home, she was surrounded by violence and loss. People regularly killed the wildlife she loved, and they killed each other. Tribal clashes stoked by resource scarcity and decades-long vendettas were the norm.
“The only thing I was seeing was death,” Ekiru recalls. “I grew up thinking, ‘One day, I’ll tell my people that conflict is not good, that it only takes us in a circle of poverty.’”
Luckily in 2011, when Ekiru was 24 years old, she discovered the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), an organisation composed of community conservancies in Kenya. Those animal conservancies reject violence in favour of peace, sustainability and responsible, shared management of land and wildlife.

Tanzanian NGO Wins The Drone Pioneer Award
By Adam Ihucha, eTN Tanzania, 5 October 2017
Elephant Survival Organization and Bathawk Recon’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) anti-poaching concept in Tanzania has won a European prestigious award of ‘Drone Pioneer’.
UAV anti poaching surveillance, a three-years extensive and painstaking trials taken place over Tarangire and Mkomanzi National Parks, both in northern Tanzania, had registered overwhelming results, apparently impressed European civil drone alliance, as the sustainable solution for fighting poaching.
On its just ended biggest civil drone show held in Berlin, German, Europe recognized the Tanzania’s UAV anti-poaching concept as the Drone Pioneer.

[UK] The Duke of Cambridge honours the heroes saving Africa’s wildlife
By Martin Fletcher, The Telegraph, 5 October 2017
In the frequently bleak and bloody world of conservation, the transformation of Chad’s Zakouma National Park stands out as a rare success story.
Its elephant population of around 4,000 in the mid-2000s was butchered so savagely by Sudanese horsemen that scarcely 450 were left by 2010, the year a burly South African named Rian Labuschagne took over the park’s management. Moreover, those pachyderms that had survived the massacres were so stressed that they had stopped breeding.

[USA] Peter Seligman: Lessons from a lifetime devoted to conservation
By Todd Reubold,, 5 October 2017
In 1987, Peter Seligmann co-founded the nonprofit Conservation International (CI) — an organization that would go on to become one of the largest and most influential environmental nongovernmental organizations in the world. Earlier this year, he announced that he would step down as CEO and turn over the reigns to a new generation including M. Sanjayan. (Seligmann is staying on as chair of the board of directors). Ensia recently caught up with Seligmann in Seattle where he’s busy planning his next grand endeavor to protect nature for future generations.

More elephant poaching in Zimbabwe
By Ian Nyathi, defenceWeb, 5 October 2017
At least 19 elephants have been poached through cyanide poisoning since June in Zimbabwe’s biggest game park where drones were deployed last year to help deter poachers.
A tally from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) indicates that all the elephants were poisoned in Hwange National Park and an adjacent forest in western Zimbabwe. Some of the carcasses were found with their tusks removed.
About 250kg of cyanide was recovered from the scene of the latest poisoning incident on September 1 in the park.

6 October 2017

Wayne Lotter obituary
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 6 October 2017
When he was offered a leading role in the documentary The Ivory Game (2016) by its producer, Leonardo DiCaprio, the conservationist Wayne Lotter modestly gave the credit instead to his wildlife rangers, who led the way in tracking down one of Africa’s most notorious poachers, thought to be responsible for 10,000 elephants’ deaths. Lotter preferred to be in the background, while the spotlight fell on the cause for which he fought: saving the dwindling populations of Africa’s wild elephants, through practical, dogged, on-the-ground tracking of poachers and protection of their prey.
Lotter has been shot dead in Dar es Salaam, aged 51. Although the identity of his killers is not known, the murder may have been connected to one of the criminal groups involved in wildlife killing and ivory trafficking in Tanzania.

[India] Madhya Pradesh loses 17 tigers in 2017: NTCA
The Economic Times, 6 October 2017
Madhya Pradesh, once popularly known as the ‘tiger state’, has lost 17 big cats so far this year, as per the figures of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
The wildlife activists have blamed the bureaucracy’s lethargy for the death of tigers, a charge denied by the state’s top wildlife officer.
India is currently home to 70 per cent of the world’s tiger population in over 17 states and 50 sanctuaries across the country.

UK ivory trade ban to help end ‘shame’ of elephant poaching
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 6 October 2017
The UK government has bowed to campaigners and will ban the sale of ivory regardless of age, according to a new consultation.
The UK is the biggest exporter of legal ivory in the world and shutting down the trade will help prevent illegal ivory being laundered by criminals. More than 50 elephants are killed by poachers every day on average and the population of African elephants plunged by a third between 2007-14 alone, leading to warnings that the entire species could go extinct.

7 October 2017

From poacher to ranger: saving China’s Siberian tigers
Daily Times, 7 October 2017
In the northern mountains bordering Russia, everyone knew the spry Chinese man as a skilled and ruthless hunter — the kind who once killed a mother black bear as her cubs looked on.
But instead of stalking the woods for prey, Liang Fengen now roams the hills without a rifle, working as a ranger to save the area’s endangered Siberian tiger population and protect other wildlife.

[India] Call to properly manage eco-tourism projects
The Hindu, 7 October 2017
The eco-tourism projects which have become a trend worldwide, are like a tight rope walk, and unless well managed, they will be detrimental to the forest ecology, former field director of the Corbett and Rajaji National parks Sameer Sinha said.
Pollution and garbage generated by the eco-tourism projects will endanger the natural forests, he pointed out while addressing a seminar organised by the State Forest Department on the occasion of the Wildlife Week.

[South Africa] Mining company has eyes on West Coast National Park, say activists
By Melanie Gosling, news24, 7 October 2017
Kropz mining company has told SANParks executive committee members that it may ask to extend its phosphate mine into the West Coast National Park.
The company, formerly Elandsfontein Exploration and Mining Ltd, has also approached the department of mineral resources (DMR) to “protect our rights” over the deposits, GroundUp reported.
Amid rumours that the mine had its eyes on mining in the national park, SANParks confirmed that the company has twice “alluded” to the possibility of asking to extend its mining operations into the park, first in October 2016 and again in June.

Tourism players want government to do more to promote Uganda
By Billy Rwothungeyo, New Vision, 7 October 2017
Local investors in the tourism industry want government to do more to promote Uganda as an A-list tourism destination in the world.
While speaking at the Giants Club Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum on Friday at the Lake Victoria Serena Resort in Kigo, Amos Wekesa, the proprietor of Great Lakes Safaris said more needs to be done to sell Uganda to the world.
“The government recently hired PR firms to market Uganda, and even in just one year, I am seeing some difference. However, we need consistence. Marketing a country takes years,” he said.

Britain plan to ban antique ivory trade
AFP, 7 October 2017
Britain on Friday outlined plans for a near-total ban on trade in antique ivory, bowing to pressure from campaigners who say that poachers are exploiting loopholes in the current regulations.
Announcing the plan, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the decline in elephant populations fuelled by poaching for their tusks “shames our generation.” “Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol – so we want to ban its sale,” Gove said in a statement. “These plans will put the UK front and centre of global efforts to end the insidious trade in ivory.”

8 October 2017

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