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.
16 October 2017
Questioning militarization is essential for successful and socially just conservation (commentary)
By Rosaleen Duffy, Mongabay, 16 October 2017
Constructive engagement with concerns about the rise in militarized forms of conservation are very welcome. I currently run a four-year project funded by the European Research Council, BIOSEC, which explores the growing challenges, problems, and issues raised by an integration of security logics with wildlife conservation.
Here I respond in brief to Niall McCann’s recent article, which criticized the questioning of militarization. But it is important to question and critically analyze new directions in conservation, as failing to do so will undoubtedly lead to negative outcomes for people and wildlife. Justice for animals is not well served by perpetrating other injustices.
Conservation and development groups have much to learn from each other
Purdue University press release, 16 October 2017
Non-profit organizations and governments in countries around the world make direct payments to people in return for socially responsible behavior, but there is limited collaboration between those pushing primarily for improved living conditions and those pursuing environmental sustainability. A team of researchers led by Purdue University is hoping to bridge that gap so that these groups might learn from each other’s best practices and further benefit their missions and the peoples they work with.
[India] Poachers kill 12 peacocks in Nagaur, forest dept launches manhunt
By Manoj Ahuja, Hindustan Times, 16 October 2017
Discovery of 12 dead peacocks in a village in Nagaur district of Rajasthan has stunned the forest department officials who have taken the help of local police to nab the poachers. The bodies of the peacocks that were poisoned to death were found on Sunday evening near the fields in village Mundra.
“So far we have found bodies of 12 peacocks. Investigations have revealed that some people belonging to nomadic tribe of Bawaria have poisoned the peacocks for consuming its meat,” Naguar DCF Ved Prakash Gurjar told HT. Gachhipura police has registered an FIR against unidentified people. Gurjar said that the Bawarias who killed the peacocks were employed as watchmen by the villagers for security of the farms.
‘Land means life’: Tanzania’s Maasai fear their existence is under threat
By Karne McVeigh, The Guardian, 16 October 2017
For Lilian Looloitai, a Maasai woman from east Africa, “land means life”. For her nomadic tribe, who have grazed cattle in north Tanzania’s highlands for centuries, a bitter dispute playing out on the edge of the Serengeti national park brings not just uncertainty, but threatens their very existence. It is the latest example of the growing tensions between wildlife conservation, which brings revenue to the country, and the rights of nomads, who need land to survive.
“How long will the government continue to expand the national parks? It is for wildlife, but we are human beings,” said Looloitai, the managing director of Cords Limited, a rights group based in Arusha. “As pastoralists, we are being undermined.”
17 October 2017
A Global Plan for Nature Conservation
By James Watson and Oscar Venter, WCS, 17 October 2017
Climate change and biodiversity loss are the two greatest environmental challenges of our time. The 2015 Paris climate agreement states that global warming must be limited to a rise in temperature of less than 2˚C above pre-industrial levels to avoid the greatest impacts of climate change. This goal has served as a rallying point for global efforts to limit carbon emissions.
However, a comparably clear, agreed target for the amount of natural space that should be conserved to address the biodiversity crisis has been much more elusive.
How Botswana’s high-quality, low-impact tourism model is helping put an end to rhino poaching
By Mary Holland, The Independent, 17 October 2017
“If you provoke them, they will provoke you. If you respect them, they will respect you. With hippos, there are rules,” says Galaxy. He’s referring to the giant mammals that are haphazardly popping their heads out the water, just like the Hungry Hungry Hippos game. I’d like to have more confidence in his wise words, but I’m sitting in a narrow fibreglass boat on the edge of what appears to be a very busy hippo pool.
[India] Foresters put on high alert for poachers ahead of Diwali
By Nihi Sharma, Hindustan Times, 17 October 2017
The Uttarakhand forest department has put protected areas and territorial forest divisions in the state on high alert ahead of the Diwali festival by doubling vigilance to thwart poaching, forest officials and conservationists said on Tuesday.
The alert was sounded following the recent seizure of animal body parts that are in demand during the festival of lights, wildlife conservationists said.
Rare elephants electrocuted in Indonesia
Deutsche Presse agentur, 17 October 2017
Two rare Sumatran elephants have died of suspected electrocution after they came in contact with an electric fence in Indonesia’s Aceh province, local media are reporting.
The elephants were found dead by locals in the East Aceh district on Sunday with their tusks still intact, the head of the nature conservancy agency in Aceh, Sapto Aji Prabowo, told the Antara news agency.
Local conservation action reducing poverty in coastal Kenya
BirdLife International, 17 October 2017
The Dakatcha woodland near the town of Malindi on Kenya’s coast covers a wide tract of dry forests and dense undergrowth interposed with farmland. It is the only site outside the Arabuko-Sokote forest where the endangered Clarke’s Weaver bird is known to occur. The woodland also holds significant populations of the Sokoke Pipit bird and other globally endangered birds.
[Malaysia] Sabah’s Leopards are in Trouble
Clean Malaysia, 17 October 2017
Clouded leopards are elusive creatures that hunt at night and spend most of their time away from prying eyes within dense forests. Thus, estimating their numbers in places like Sabah’s forests is a challenging undertaking. Yet a team of scientists led by researchers at Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) in the UK has done just that: estimate how many of these majestic predators remain in the state’s forest. Their finding: not all that many.
The British wildlife researchers, who worked together with staffers of Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), Sabah Wildlife Department and the conservationist group Panthera, estimate that “there are 754 (95% posterior interval 325–1,337) Sunda clouded leopards in Sabah,” as they explain in a paper published in the scientific journal Onyx.
[Namibia] Anti-poaching organisation gets financial boost for projects
By Donald Matthys, Nambia Economist, 17 October 2017
The Intelligence Support Against Poaching (ISAP) received N$200,000 from the First National Bank Foundation Trust in support of the day to day operational costs and contributes to past and current projects which ISAP is undertaking.
The projects ISAP is undertaking are in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, as part of its anti-poaching and environmental objectives.
Oman rhino horn ban wins praise from World Wildlife Fund
Times of Oman, 17 October 2017
Oman’s efforts to support the global drive to preserve certain rhinoceros species and stop its illegal trafficking has been commended by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
This comes after the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) published a new standard for the Omani Khanjar and reaffirmed a 1994 ban on using rhino horns in the production of khanjars.
[UK] Littleport businessman takes the trip of a lifetime to Kenya to assist an anti-poaching organisation.
By Harry Rutter, Ely Standard, 17 October 2017
A Littleport businessman will travel to Kenya next month to help an anti-poaching organisation in their fight to protect endangered animals.
Dean Faulkner, who runs Silver Birch Pets – which arranges for pets to travel between countries – will assist Gyrocopters Kenya working alongside Wild Life Works.
18 October 2017
[China] Beijing expected to unveil national park system during Party Congress
By Patrick Scally, GoKunming, 18 October 2017
Today marks the beginning of China’s nineteenth Communist Party Congress, a weeklong series of speeches and meetings through which government leaders will craft the country’s next five-year plan. One topic lost amidst the conjecture that President Xi Jinping will be anointed the next Mao Zedong, are major environmental considerations. At least some of these concerns will be addressed through the lens of a tiny national park in Yunnan province called Pudacuo.
Chinese Billionaire Announces Impressive Conservation Plan
By Mia Taylor, Travel Pulse, 18 October 2017
With its national penchant for products made from ivory and rhino horn, China has not exactly developed a reputation for being a worldwide conservation movement leader.
But He Qiaonv, a Chinese billionaire and landscape planner turned environmental steward, stands poised to change that reputation, at least partly.
Earlier this week Qianov—one of China’s wealthiest women and most vocal conservationists—announced a $1.5 billion conservation plan that may very well be the largest-ever personal philanthropic donation for wildlife conservation, Bloomberg reported. The pledge is more than a third of her current $3.6 billion net worth.
[India] No country for old & weak tigers of Bandipur, Nagarhole
By Meera Bhardwaj, The New Indian Express, 18 October 2017
The two tigresses captured in Bandipur and Nagarhole last week were old, weak and thrown out of their home ranges, say experts. With high population densities of tigers, these two protected areas see high mortalities and dispersal-related losses of nearly 20 per cent per year. The forest department says National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has to take a call on the rising tiger population and the resulting conflict due to lack of space in these two habitats.
[India] Sweet Surrender: Naga Village lays down ‘arms’ for wildlife
By Moa Jamir, The Morung Express, 18 October 2017
Last week, when the ‘Wildlife Week 2017’ was celebrated across Nagaland, the citizens of Kivikhu, a village under Satakha Circle of Zunheboto District, carried out a novel initiative.
They deposited their assorted ‘hunting guns’ at the village church during the Sunday devotional service on October 8. Their objective was protecting and preserving biodiversity.
The guns will be initially kept in the custody of the church for a period of three months.
[Namibia] Senior cop among poaching suspects
By Luqman Cloete, The Namibian, 18 October 2017
A senior police officer and four accomplices were arrested on Saturday for allegedly poaching on Farm Bloemhoff in the !Khob !Naub conservancy near Keetmanshoop.
The suspects had allegedly shot a springbok on the farm.
The men were released on bail of N$800 each at Tses Police Station on Saturday, and appeared in the Keetmanshoop Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
[South Africa] Why poaching awareness campaigns are important
By Buli Sonqishe, Bedfordview and Edenvale News, 18 October 2017
Poaching is a serious issue that is pushing animals such as rhinos, lions and elephants towards extinction.
This is why awareness campaigns like the Global March for elephants, rhinos and lions exist.
The Global March for elephants, rhinos and lions was recently held at Huddle Park.
We asked those attending the march why these campaigns are important.
Ban ALL Ivory in the U.S. to Stop Cruel Elephant Poaching
Change.org, 18 October 2017
Across the U.S., the illegal ivory trade is booming — and elephants are being tortured and killed as a result.
Brutal poachers shoot the elephants, then saw off their tusks while the animal is still alive, causing excruciating pain. Once the poacher has the tusks, they’ll leave the elephant to die an agonizing, slow death.
19 October 2017
[Pakistan] SC bans new construction in national park areas
By Nasir Iqbal, Dawn, 19 October 2017
The Supreme Court on Wednesday slapped a 20-day ban on all kinds of construction, including development projects and housing schemes, in the national park areas of Murree, Kotli Sattian and Kahuta.
The ban was imposed by a three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, on a 2015 petition moved by Mohammad Asjad Abbasi, Mohammad Fiaz and Mohammad Imran, seeking the preservation of the picturesque hill resort.
[Tanzania] The Human Rights Criminal Maghembe is Out! Good Riddance for Loliondo! What’s Next? There are Very Worrying signs…
By Susanna Nordlund, View from the Termite Mound, 19 October 2017
In a cabinet reshuffle on 7th October Jumanne Maghembe was removed as Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, and not given another ministry. This is cause for celebration, even though the reason for his removal isn’t clear, and the views of the new minister aren’t (weren’t?) known, while the spokesperson for the ministry continues in the worst Maghembe-like way. As usual this blog post is delayed, and the previous one has updates. Today, on 19th October, Kigwangalla sadly issued a letter with the “investor’s” own favourite diversionary tactic…
[Zimbabwe] Cyanide poisoning claim 251 elephants since 2013
Bulawayo 24 News, 19 October 2017
251 elephants have been killed due to cyanide poisoning since 2013 as the country continues to battle with the worrying scourge of poaching which is threatening Zimbabwe’s wildlife heritage.
The revelations follow the recent killing of 13 elephants at Masikili communal area in Hwange.
Between January to October this year, 42 elephants have died as a result of cyanide poisoning, while a total of 429 arrests were made.
20 October 2017
Wildlife Photographer of the Year Brent Stirton documents the deadly rhino horn trade
By Klopa Robin, Death Rattle Sport, 20 October 2017
On Tuesday 17 October 2017, Getty Images Special Correspondent Photographer Brent Stirton was named Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his graphic image of a black rhino that had been shot and brutally butchered by poachers. Now, IBTimes UK publishes more of his hard-hitting project, The Deadly Rhino Horn Trade, investigating the crisis caused by a thriving market for rhino horn, for which he was also awarded first place in the Wildlife Photojournalist Award: Photo Story category.
China’s National Parks to Spruce Up
By Du Caicai, Qin Ziyi, Yuan Suwen and Li Rongde, Caixin, 20 October 2017
Excess logging and road construction that have endangered giant pandas have pushed authorities to breathe new life into China’s ailing nature reserves.
Long scarred by open-pit mining and encroached upon by hotel development projects, China’s conservation zones have been struggling for decades.
Part of the problem lies in the complex administration of eco-zones. Authorities in charge of agriculture, forestry, land use and environmental protection — all with competing interests and varying conservation standards — have at times undermined each other’s efforts while trying to preserve national parks.
[India] Frequent tiger trappings a pointer to high density and dispersal
The Hindu, 20 October 2017
Analysis of the recent trapping and tranquilization of two tigresses — one each from Bandipur and Nagarahole — has indicated that the animals were ejected from their home ranges by a dominant member of the species. This is part of their natural dynamics.
K. Ullas Karanth of the Centre for Wildlife Studies, Wildlife Conservation Society-India, stated in a release that their research, spanning nearly 30 years in the landscape, shows that the Bandipur-Nagarahole tiger population is at high densities of 10 to 15 tigers/100 km2.
[India] Poaching attempt foiled near Kaziranga, 2 arrested
By Naresh Mitral, Times of India, 20 October 2017
Police and forest officials arrested two men from Kamargaon in Golaghat district’s Bokakhat area while they were attempting to kill a rhino in Kaziranga National Park on Thursday.
The poachers were identified as Joseph Hangal from Manipur and Digen Pegu. Park officials said an AK-56 was seized from the duo. Hangal, a sharpshooter, had been specially brought down to the state by a local poachers’ gang to gun down rhinos in the Agoratoli Range of Kaziranga, park officials added.
[Indonesia] Singer Tulus continues campaign to help protect Sumatran elephants
Jakarta Post, 20 October 2017
Singer Tulus is collaborating with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia to create a new campaign titled #TemanGajah (Friends of Elephants) that aims to protect Sumatran elephants.
Tulus promoted a similar program last year called #JanganBunuhGajah (Don’t Kill Elephants) to raise awareness about the alarming decrease in Indonesia’s elephant population.
[Malaysia] Reduced Mulu National Park flights may affect tourism
By Stephen Then, The Star, 20 October 2017
The local tourism sector may lose more than RM5mil once MASwings cuts down its number of flights to Mulu National Park.
Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting said Sarawak Tourism Federation expressed its worries over the tourism outlook after receiving information from MASwings that flight frequencies to the Mulu National Park will be reduced starting January next year.
“The federation has expressed its concern over the impending impact to tourism in Mulu and Sarawak.
[South Africa] Poaching incident at Entabeni a first in 23yrs
Hi Mariëtte Roos, Bosveld Review, 20 October 2017
A devastating crime scene greeted wildlife conservationists of Entabeni Safari early Tuesday morning, a rhino was poached.
Melanie Cilliers, Ambassador and Development for Legend Foundation, said that after a female white rhino was not seen for 24 hours, the anti-poaching unit stationed at the conservancy sent out a search team to find the rhino. The search team found the rhino shot and both of her horns removed by poachers.
21 October 2017
GDSA is an African-led initiative that puts sustainability at forefront of investment and economic development
By Joe Ombuor, Standard Digital, 21 October 2017
12 African countries under the aegis of Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) have called for a renewed commitment to incorporating the value of nature in economic and social development. Initiated in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana five years ago, GDSA is an African-led initiative that puts sustainability at the forefront of investment and economic development.
[India] Right of passage
By Aathira Perinchery, The Hindu, 21 October 2017
Assam is synonymous with some of India’s finest teas. But it comes at a bitter cost: serious human-elephant conflict. The situation is particularly grim in Sonitpur district, where, between 1996 and 2009, 206 people and 131 elephants died (more than half of them in tea estates).
“Death and grievous injury to residents, damage to tea plantations and company infrastructure, and loss of productivity were just some of the consequences,” says Renu Kakkar, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Apeejay Surrendra Group, which owns four tea estates in Sonitpur.
[Malawi] Ministry warns against encroachment in protected area
By Martha Chikoti, Malawi24, 21 October 2017
The Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has warned people against encroachment in protected areas.
The ministry’s publicist Sangwani Phiri made the warning following challenges that the ministry is facing due to the malpractice.
In his remarks, Phiri expressed concern over the increase of the unwanted behaviour in areas such as North Senga-bay Hill in Salima district.
[Pakistan] UNESCO hails govt’s efforts for heritage conservation
Daily Times, 21 October 2017
A delegation of the World Heritage Committee of the UNESCO called on Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif here on Friday.
The delegation was led by UNESCO’s Country Director Vibeke Jensen who appreciated the work done for the protection and looking after of the places of heritage in Punjab, especially in Lahore, under the leadership of the chief minister.
She said that the role and performance of the Punjab government towards conservation of historical and cultural heritage was commendable.
[Thailand] Three arrested, four Phayung logs seized in Nakhon Ratchasima crackdown
The Nation, 21 October 2017
Alerted by a video camera, a team of forestry officials arrested a group of illegal loggers early on Saturday in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Wang Nam Khiew.
Three suspects were arrested at 4.30am and four logs were seized by officials from the Forest Protection Operations Centre. Several others escaped after one of them fired at an official’s vehicle. Cheewapap Cheewatham, head of the centre’s Phayak Prai forest crime suppression taskforce, said footage from a live camera of the Central Network Anti-Poaching System alerted them to a group entering the Phuluang National Forest Reserve in the area of the Sakaeraj Environmental Research Centre.
[USA] The 1970s style of conservation may not be best for now
By Robert Miller, News Times, 21 October 2017
People have learned to think environmentally about the landscape — forest, fields, wetlands, rivers. Everything is interconnected. You cannot damage one part of a natural system without it harming the whole.
Dan Esty wants people to think the same way about society in general.
“We need to promote an environmental agenda that addresses the economy,” said Esty, a professor of environmental law and policy at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, last week at the Washington Montessori School. “We don’t help land conservation in any part of the state unless we look at the economic issues in Hartford, in Waterbury, in Torrington.”
22 October 2017
[India] Inter-state wildlife crime racket busted in Assam
By Naresh Mitral, Times of India, 22 October 2017
A thriving racket involved in wildlife crime between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh has been busted with the arrest of two kingpins and seizure of a large number of animal body parts on Sunday.
In a joint operation by officials of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), police and forest deparment, two persons were arrested along with 42 bear biles, five leopard nails and three suspected tiger bones.
[India] Kevin Pietersen bats for Kaziranga’s rhinos, calls out poaching issue
The News Mill, 22 October 2017
England cricketer Kevin Pietersen on Sunday batted for a secure environment for the rhinos at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam.
In a tweet on Sunday afternoon, the former England batsman highlighted the “poaching issue” at the Unesco World Heritage Site. “I’m led to believe there’s poaching issues in Kaziranga National Park of rhinos…! You know that YOU can help! I’ll help too!,” the star cricketer tweeted.
[Namibia] ‘The poacher, poached’: Rhino attacks illegal hunter
AP, 22 October 2017
A rhino turned the tables on a suspected poacher in Namibia, charging and injuring the man while he was allegedly tracking it.
The incident happened in Etosha National Park after suspect Luteni Muharukua and other alleged poachers illegally entered the wildlife area in hopes of killing rhinos for their horns, The Namibian newspaper reported last week.
The newspaper said the rhino “appeared from nowhere” and quoted Simson Shilongo, a police officer, as saying the rhino inflicted a severe leg injury on Muharukua after he fell while fleeing.
At Nepal’s western frontier, wilderness beckons
By Kapal Bisht, Online Khabar, 22 October 2017
Nepal’s Far-West dazzles with many natural and cultural attractions. But these attractions have failed to draw tourists from far and wide for want of publicity. Here we look at must-visit areas of Nepal’s western frontier.
Naya Muluk, or ‘new country,’ the Ranas called what are today the districts of Kanchanpur, Kailali, Banke and Bardiya. The British returned this swath of Tarai jungle, which they had won after the Anglo-Nepalese War in 1814, to Nepal as a gesture of gratitude to Jung Bahadur Rana for his assistance in quelling the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. From 1814 till the return of the territory, the British had only extracted timber from Kanchanpur and Kailali; Banke and Bardiya’s jungles were spared.
[South Africa] Thirty-six suspects nabbed for rhino poaching
By Pearl Magubane, SABC, 22 October 2017
Thirty-six suspects, aged between 22 and 40, have been arrested for crimes related to rhino poaching in the past three weeks.
Police say the Rhino 8 Task Team has been relentless in its efforts to bring the down scourge of rhino poaching in the country, particularly in the Kruger National Park and Hluhluwe Game Reserve.
Police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo says the suspects were arrested in parts of Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal.
[Thailand] Illegal loggers open fire at park officials
By Parsit Tangprasert, The Nation, 22 October 2017
Illegal loggers opened fire at officials and made a narrow escape as three of their accomplices were arrested on Saturday.
Thap Lan National Park’s chief Prawatsart Chanthep on Sunday released a video clip of the incident, which took place in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Wang Nam Khiao district. In the video, two gunshots are heard as vehicles suddenly speed away, followed by more gunshots as officials tried to blow out the tyres of the vehicles driven by the runaway suspects.