Conservation in the news: 30 October – 5 November 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.

Community conservation in Nepal contributes to meeting Aichi Biodiversity Targets and Sustainable Development Goals
By Dil Raj Khanal, Mrinalini Rai, and Anila Onta, Forest Cover 53 Global Forest Coalition, October 2017
Over the past three decades Nepal has established itself as a pioneering country for securing community forestry rights through legal and policy measures. In Nepal, more than 20,000 community forestry groups currently manage approximately 40 per cent of the country’s forests.
Community forestry by local groups, along with the practice of traditional knowledge and customary sustainable natural resource management, is an effective form of community-led biodiversity conservation. In Nepal, these community conservation groups have been crucial to addressing threats to biodiversity, and to achieving the relevant international targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

30 October 2017

New Research Proves Conservation Funding Saves Species
By Jan Lee, TriplePundit, 30 October 2017
If you want to know if conservation spending is working, just talk to the birds. The brown pelican and the Aleutian Canada Goose to be exact.
Both species were in perilous decline by the late 20th century. Today, thanks to both funding and more aggressive conservation efforts, both species have recovered from near extinction.
But then, the same can be said for a host of other members of the animal kingdom, like the greater one-horned Asian rhinoceros, whose count has doubled since 1975; the gray whale, which was hunted almost to extinction in the early 20th century and now numbers in the several thousand; and the black rhinoceros, which is still considered critically endangered but is under protection.

[India] Poaching drop in Kaziranga
The Telegraph, 30 October 2017
Rhino poaching in Kaziranga National Park dropped to two cases this year and the authorities attributed this to effective protection duty by frontline staff and good support from police of neighbouring districts.
This is the best effort by the park authorities since 2001.
A senior park official said on Friday that there were 10 attempts by poachers to enter Kaziranga in the last six months and they were able to enter twice. “All poaching attempts were foiled except two and the poachers were arrested before execution of their plans,” the official said.

[India] ‘Coexistence holds key to saving tigers’
By Vijay Pinjarkar, Times of India, 30 October 2017
Sugoto Roy is coordinator of Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP) being run through 11 projects in 5 tiger bearing countries. Roy is in Sillari (Pench) for a 4-day global workshop to review various projects including Vidarbha landscape where ITHCP is being implemented. He specializes in the ecology and management of carnivores, invasive species and human-wildlife conflicts.

Poaching of rhinos, elephants down in Namibia: official
Xinhua, 30 October 2017
Namibia has witnessed a decrease in the poaching of rhinos and elephants, while that of other animals like lions continue unabated, a government official said on Monday.
According to the Director of Marketing at Intelligence Support Against Poaching (ISAP) Tinus Hansen, game species poaching is becoming a problem through a much more formalized channel where full time poachers travel the gravel roads at night and shoot game which is then sold to specific butcheries in the main city centers.

[Sri Lanka] World Bank clarifies its position on Yala National Park
By Lahiru Fernando, News First, 30 October 2017
The World Bank, in a statement, has clarified its position on the management of Yala National Park.
The statement issued by the World Bank says “simply closing a block in the Yala National Park is not a holistic nor sustainable solution and is not the type of solution the bank would propose.”
The World Bank says that holding back funding would defeat the purpose of supporting better management.

Tanzania vows to dismantle poaching syndicates
Xinhua, 30 October 2017
Tanzania’s newly appointed Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Hamisi Kigwangalla said on Monday the east African nation’s anti-poaching drive will now focus on the arrest of ringleaders and dismantling of poaching syndicates instead of seizure of ivory.
“The government will use intelligence to arrest poaching ringleaders,” he said in the country’s political capital, Dodoma.
He said the government is investigating a huge poaching syndicate.

It’s Time For The UK To Explore Conservation Finance
By Guy Whiteley, Ecosystem Marketplace, 30 October 2017
Environmental NGOs, major banks, and strategic consulting groups rarely agree on anything, but almost all agree that our governments haven’t allocated nearly enough money to meeting the climate and conservation challenge – certainly not enough to slow or reverse the trends, and definitely not enough to roll with the calamitous changes that lie ahead.
WWF, Credit Suisse, and McKinsey & Company, for example, say we need an additional $200 to $300 billion per year to protect the living ecosystems that support life as we know it – but where to get it? Part of the answer lies in ramping up conservation finance, which can broadly be understood as finance that provides conservation impacts and returns for an investor.

31 October 2017

Elephant poaching on steady decline, report shows
By Mathias Ringa, Daily Nation, 31 October 2017
Overall, elephant poaching in Africa has been on the decline for five years in a row, according to a latest report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).
The Cites report on the status of elephants and ivory trade shows that in 2016, the overall downward trend of elephant poaching in Africa continues, with significant declines seen in East Africa.
At the same time, 2016 records the highest level of seizures of illegally traded ivory by weight since commercial international trade was banned by Cites in 1989.

Chasing Ivory Out of Business
By George Royce, Raddington Report, 31 October 2017
Amidst many political issues that have had Westminster in contortions, a move to ban all ivory products has been proposed by the British government. Headed by Prince William, a block on the ivory trade coming to the United Kingdom is being considered by the government. On October 6, Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced plans for the UK to impose a ban on sales of the material in a bid to halt the poaching of elephants. The initial plans that have been put forward will be subject to a 12-week consultation ending in December.

1 November 2017

Legendary Conservation Leader Dr. Russ Mittermeier Joins Global Wildlife Conservation in Pivotal Role
Global Wildlife Conservation, 1 November 2017
World-renowned wildlife champion Russ Mittermeier is joining Global Wildlife Conservation as Chief Conservation Officer, a leadership role that will help position GWC as an even more powerful force for the protection of endangered wildlife and wildlands worldwide. With more than 45 years of experience in conservation, Mittermeier has described 18 species new to science, has eight species named in his honor, has authored 37 books and more than 700 scientific and popular articles, and has contributed to the conservation of some of Earth’s most critically threatened places.

Is Cambodia’s plan to reintroduce tigers doomed to fail?
By Logan Connor, Mongabay, 1 November 2017
In 1999, Cambodia had, by some estimates, the world’s second-highest tiger population. Within a decade, the big cats had been all but eliminated from the country due to poaching and habitat loss. In 2007, a lone Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) was captured by camera trap roaming the lush Mondulkiri Province in the country’s east. None have been spotted since.
Now, the Cambodian government is looking to change that. The Ministry of Environment announced in late September that it is moving forward with a plan, along with the WWF, to reintroduce tigers to Cambodia — a scheme that has drawn criticism from wildlife experts across the globe due to weak rule of law, rampant poaching and the destruction of Cambodia’s environment through illegal logging and other practices.

A Killing in Congo Reveals Human Cost of Conservation
By Nils Klawitter, Spiegel, 1 November 2017
Christian Nakulire was shot to death on the morning of August 26. He was walking in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park in eastern Congo with his father, looking for plants to treat his little brother’s diarrhea, when a group of Congolese “eco rangers” opened fire on the two men from the Batwa tribe, a Pygmy ethnic group. Nakulire was 17 years old when he died.
It is the kind of incident that might not otherwise have received much attention, but for the fact that Germany is heavily involved in faraway Kahuzi-Biéga. Indeed, the park is something of a monument to German development aid. And a prime example of its failure. It raises the question of how far green colonialism should be allowed to go, and how many people should be displaced in the name of environmental protection.

[India] As Jharkhand attempts to stem decline in tiger population in state, Adivasis fear second uprooting
By Anumeha Yadav,, 1 November 2017
Sato Nagesia was not amused. “How many times will we move?” he asked. “They chased us from there, and now they want to chase us from here as well? We will not go away.”
The elderly Adivasi farmer was reacting to a letter from the forest department in Jharkhand that he received in August, which stated that the state government planned to relocate Gopkhar – the village in the Palamau Tiger Reserve where he lives – outside the reserve in order to increase the number of tigers in the forest. Inhabitants of seven other villages in the reserve received similar letters.

2 November 2017

Wildlife Conservation Network EXPO Reveals Gains in Global Conservation
Wildlife Conservation Network press release, 2 November 2017
Results are in from this fall’s Wildlife Conservation EXPO, hosted by the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN), offering hope for the future of conservation. More than 50 organizations from around the world working at the forefront of wildlife conservation gathered to share developments, challenges, and accomplishments in their field.
The Wildlife Conservation EXPO is one of the only opportunities for wildlife conservationists to come together and interact directly with one another, the public, and thought leaders in the field.

Coalition launched in response to wild elephant skinning crisis
Mizzima, 2 November 2017
Myanmar is losing at least one wild elephant per week to poaching and skinning. If this continues, Myanmar could lose its wild elephants in a matter of years. In a bid to stop and reverse this rapid decline, six conservation organisations have come together to form VOICES FOR MOMOS (Voices for Myanmar Elephants), a multi-sector coalition in support of Myanmar’s national plan to protect its elephants: the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC)’s Myanmar Elephant Conservation Action Plan (MECAP).

The 10 most-traded animals on the endangered list from tigers to turtles
By Stephen White, The Mirror, 2 November 2017
Massive volumes of endangered wildlife products are being illegally traded in south east Asia to treat medical ailments.
The World Wildlife Fund says the region’s Golden Triangle – a 367,000-square mile area where the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos meet – has become a “breeding ground for illegal wildlife trade”.
In Burma’s Mong La market alone investigators found £3million worth of goods on display.
The illegal trade is being driven by tourists from China and Vietnam looking to buy traditional medicine containing parts derived from endangered animals.

Ranger with a heart for wild animals
By James Mahlokwane, IOL, 2 November 2017
Jeandri Weideman is not just a hero to human beings, but also to wild animals, and after 13 years of caring for animals at a Pretoria nature reserve and seeing them go through everything possible, the park ranger shed tears of heartbreak as she spoke of the recent deaths of two lionesses.
Weideman took a team from the Pretoria News on a tour of Rietvlei Nature Reserve, including the lion enclosure where the four remaining lions were being kept.
She spoke with sadness about the death of River and Serabi, who died from poisoning last month.

Malawi turns to British troops in poaching war
By Felix Mponda,, 2 November 2017
Under a scorching sun, a team of British soldiers and Malawian rangers sheltered under a tree ready to pounce on their prey: poachers.
The combined force, armed with rifles and handcuffs, did not encounter any poachers as it patrolled the 530 square kilometre (240 square mile) Liwonde national park in Malawi’s south.
But the presence of the highly-trained and well-equipped British forces wasreassuring for the rangers who routinely confront gangs of poachers armed with Kalashnikovs.

Campaign Targets Myanmar Elephant Poaching
By Zue Zue, The Irrawaddy, 2 November 2017
A six-month campaign raising awareness of elephant poaching and wildlife smuggling will launch on Nov. 4 in response to an alarming rate of elephant poaching in Myanmar—one per week since January.
Myanmar’s elephants face extinction if poaching continues at such a rate, said Christy Williams, country director of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), at a press conference on the campaign on Wednesday.

[Peru] Environmental policy under the Kuczynski Administration: Steps forward for conservation efforts in Peru
By Haley Wiebel and Enrique Ortiz, Mongabay, 2 November 2017
Peru’s megadiversity has placed the country under an international spotlight, as its many ecosystems have become a global conservation priority. However, Peru has suffered from high deforestation rates in recent years, largely due to the expansion of small-scale agriculture.
According to an official MAAP report, Peru lost approximately 4.5 million acres of Amazonian forest between 2001 and 2015. The size of this area is larger than the state of Connecticut.

Sabi Sabi: what it’s like to work at a luxury safari lodge in South Africa
By Arion McNicoll,, 2 November 2017
No matter how luxurious it is, a safari holiday is only ever as good as the game drives you go on.
At the sumptuous Sabi Sabi safari lodges in the Sabi Sands game reserve, every game drive is conducted by a team of two: a ranger and a tracker, who work together to locate animals both big and small and to unlock the secrets of the bush.
On a recent visit to Sabi Sabi, The Week Portfolio was introduced to ranger Conrad Zeelie and tracker Richard Sibuyi – who, as well as showing us the usual big five, explained why fever trees have green bark, why bush babies make bad pets (they are almost constantly urinating), and what makes Africa’s complex ecosystem unique and worth preserving.

3 November 2017

Doing your Part for Wildlife Conservation
By Sasha Jacob, Medium, 3 November 2017
Human activities have direct effects on the wildlife. To put into perspective, imagine what more than 7 billion of people on Earth can do to the planet. although humans have come up with new ways to reduce the impact on the environment, there are still more things that need to be addressed.
Sasha Jacob, the CEO and President of Jacob Capital Management Inc., believes that there are still many ways to contribute to the conservation of wildlife. Seeing the work it requires to make a great difference, Sasha Jacob Capital Management Inc is the first ever financial and strategic advisory firm to exclusively focus on the renewable energy and clean technology sectors. He is an active wildlife conservationist, acting as one of the boards of directors for WWF-Canada.

Elephants Are Being Defended By Trained, Armed Brigades In West Africa
By Isaac Saul, A Plus, 3 November 2017
Few threats are greater for Africa’s elephants than the ivory poachers who are killing them off en masse. But over the last few years, elephants have found a new protector: armed brigades trained to stop those poachers.
This week, The New York Times reported on an anti-poaching brigade in Mali that patrols Gourma, an area the publication says is about as big as Switzerland. Despite a fluctuating security situation with Al Qaeda and other extremist groups frequently in the region, the brigade has seemingly controlled the poaching epidemic; and they are not alone in their efforts.

Progress: Elephant poaching is down for the 5th year in a row
By Lori Bell, Lady Freethinker, 3 November 2017
Elephants face many obstacles, but a new report brings a glimmer of hope for this endangered species. According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), elephant poaching in Africa is down for the 5th year in a row.
That’s not the only good news. In some areas, like southern Africa, elephant populations are stable or even increasing; many countries are enacting stricter rules in relation to legal ivory trading, and the price of ivory is decreasing. All of this bodes well for elephants.

[India] New wildlife plan backs Adivasi rights in tiger reserves despite environment ministry stalling them
By Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava,, 3 November 2017
The National Wildlife Action Plan released by India’s environment ministry has asked for the speedy recognition of the forest rights of communities living inside tiger reserves, months after the ministry itself stalled the process.
India has designated 50 parks and sanctuaries as tiger reserves. More than 400,000 people, including Adivasis, live here. In March, the environment ministry passed an order that put on hold the settlement of the forest rights of these communities until guidelines are drafted for identifying critical wildlife habitats, which are legally defined as areas required to be kept “inviolate for the purposes of wildlife conservation”.

Earth heroes are greening India, protecting wildlife
By Uha Rai, The Asian Age, 3 November 2017
With India having committed to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to three billion tonnes through increased forest cover by 2030, the involvement of every individual and institution in planting and protecting trees acquires new importance. Recognition also needs to be given to all those working in remote interiors to protect our flora and fauna, to save endangered wild life and green spaces from extinction. It is for this reason that the annual event to honour the country’s Earth heroes acquires added importance.

Poachers kill one Myanmar elephant every week
Coconuts Yangon, 3 November 2017
Myanmar loses an average of one wild elephant per week to poachers and skinners, threatening the country’s elephant population with extinction within a few years, officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) said at a press conference on Wednesday.
According to local conservationist groups, 30 wild elephants were killed in Myanmar in the first eight months of 2017, up from 18 throughout the entirety of 2016.

[South Africa] Close to 50 vultures poisoned near Kruger National Park
By Tony Carnie, Times Live, 3 November 2017
The poisoned bodies of nearly 50 vultures have been found by rangers in Mozambique‚ just a short distance from the boundary of the flagship Kruger National Park.
The discovery was made last week by a joint patrol of SA National Parks and Mozambique wildlife rangers in the Limpopo National Park‚ which directly abuts the Kruger Park.
The Peace Parks Foundation‚ which is helping to fund anti-poaching operations in the Limpopo sector of the trans-frontier conservation area‚ said the carcasses of 49 vultures and two jackals had been found in two nearby poaching camps. Rangers suspect that the poachers had laced a number of antelope carcasses with chemical poisons with the intention of poaching lions‚ whose body parts are in increasing demand for local and Eastern traditional medicine.

4 November 2017

Smuggled, Beaten and Drugged: The Illicit Global Ape Trade
By Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times, 4 November 2017
The sting began, as so many things do these days, on social media.
Daniel Stiles, a self-styled ape trafficking detective in Kenya, had been scouring Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp for weeks, looking for pictures of gorillas, chimps or orangutans. He was hoping to chip away at an illicit global trade that has captured or killed tens of thousands of apes and pushed some endangered species to the brink of extinction.
“The way they do business,” he said of ape traffickers, “makes the Mafia look like amateurs.”

In South Sudan, just 2 dogs patrol for wildlife trafficking
By Sam Mednick, AP, 4 November 2017
Leaping from the van, South Sudan’s only two patrol dogs raced toward passengers disembarking a plane in the capital, Juba. After frantically sniffing their luggage, one dog abruptly sat in front of a wary young man and stared at his bag. Removing a piece of ivory from a side pouch, the man breathed a sigh.
It was just a drill, though the dogs hardly need practice runs to sharpen their skills. Ivory and illegal animals regularly flow through this civil war-torn nation that advocacy groups say has become a critical hub for traffickers.

[UK] Anti-poaching project backed by Charles’s charity announced at wildlife summit
The Herald, 4 November 2017
British forces will train Malaysians in anti-poaching techniques to help protect endangered wildlife species like the tiger, the UK’s High Commissioner to the country has announced.
The counter-poaching specialists – who have worked in Africa – will next year teach groups like rangers how to track down poachers over great distances and long periods of time.

5 November 2017

The Times hails Belgian royal’s conservation of the Congo – a place ravaged by Belgian royals
RT, 5 November 2017
“Why would a Belgian royal risk his life to save a Congolese wilderness?” reads a somehow unironic headline in the Times Magazine this weekend. The question is posed alongside an introduction to Belgium’s Prince Emmanuel de Merode.
According to the profile, de Merode is “battling to preserve the Virunga National Park – and the people and animals who live there.” The story follows de Merode’s conservation efforts in the eastern Congo where the royal is leading the redevelopment of Virunga’s internal infrastructure, including the costly construction of a two-mile canal and a series of hydroelectric plants.

[India] Rhino, Calf Shot Dead In Kaziranga National Park In Assam
NDTV, 5 November 2017
Three days an adult female rhino was killed, another female rhino and her calf were shot dead and their horns removed by poachers at the Kaziranga National Park in upper Assam last night, a forest department official said.
The rhino and her calf were gunned down near Tunekati Forest Camp under Burapahar Range of the park yesterday, Kaziranga National Park Divisional Forest Officer, Ruhini Ballab Saikia told news agency Press Trust of India.

[India] Rhino shot in Kaziranga National Park, manhunt on
By Manoj Anand, The Asian Age, 5 November 2017
After nearly seven months, the poachers killed another rhino at the Kaziranga National Park on Friday.
The park authorities who had succeeded in keeping the poachers away said that the rhino was killed in the jungle between Tunikati and Chanak anti-poaching camp on Thursday night.
This falls under the park’s Burhapahar range. On hearing gunshots, the forest staff launched an operation but the poachers managed to flee the spot. The miscreants chopped off the animal’s horns.

Kenyan anti-poaching patrol gets training and equipment from Orange County CSI
By Shelley Henderson, Orange Country Breeze, 5 November 2017
Trained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Ravi Perera can usually be found meticulously investigating crime scenes for a local police department in northwest Orange County.
Twice a year, he can also be found in Kenya, east Africa, training personnel in forensic techniques in support of anti-poaching efforts. He volunteers his time, and arranges for delivery of donated equipment. (The anti-poaching patrols especially need compact digital cameras to record evidence at crime scenes.)

[South Africa] Google Street View for SA national parks
By Dhivana Rajopaul, Business Report, 5 November 2017
Using Google Street View, people can view all of South Africa’s national parks, according to Tech Central.
Google, who worked with a South African team, has released a large collection of 360 degree images from the parks. The company announced the news about the new imagery at the 10th anniversary celebration, on the opening of their first African office.
The announcement of 170 new trails in South Africa’s national parks and reserves comes after The Mzansi Experience launched in March 2016 which showcased popular tourist attractions like the Kruger National Park and Table Mountain.

[South Africa] ‘Ban on rhino horn sales not protecting the animals’
By Fred Kockott, IOL, 5 November 2017
Calls to legalise the trade in rhino horn are to come under the spotlight at this week’s 2017 Symposium of Contemporary Conservation Practice, which gets under way in Howick in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands on Monday.
More than 350 scientists, conservationists, legal experts, wildlife managers and environmentalists will gather to share ideas about what can be done to address biodiversity loss, wildlife crime, habitat destruction and pollution of the ocean and river catchments.

[Zambia] Solomon Chidunuka entered poachers’ lair and got a medal
By Ireen Nganga, Daily Mail, 5 November 2017
Perhaps, no one put it better than Martin Fletcher, when he wrote about the heroes saving Africa’s wildlife.
“As a junior ranger in Zambia in 1999, Solomon Chidunuka dressed in old clothes, took a bus to a notorious poachers’ lair, and won their confidence by pretending to be an ivory buyer. He then summoned colleagues who arrested 25 suspects and put many in prison – and he never looked back,” Fletcher wrote in British The Telegraph.
“During a career that has seen him become senior wildlife warden in charge of three national parks, he has participated in numerous undercover missions. He has built up intelligence networks that often alert him before poachers have entered a protected area.

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