Conservation in the news: 6-12 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.

6 November 2017

Intervention – “Accumulation by Restoration: Degradation Neutrality and the Faustian Bargain of Conservation Finance”
By Amber Huff and Andrea Brock, Antipode Foundation, 6 November 2017
In this Intervention, we argue that the emerging paradigm of large-scale land restoration premised on the logic of “degradation neutrality” points to a new dynamic in both land governance and conservation finance. It reflects a fundamental shift from protection and conservation of ecosystems to an “economy of repair” (Fairhead et al. 2012), feeding into a new regime that we frame in terms of accumulation by restoration. We further argue that accumulation by restoration amplifies the exclusionary, racist, and violent trajectory of neoliberal conservation and particularly “green grabbing”, exacerbating socio-economic inequalities and power hierarchies via both material and discursive pathways.

The Threat of Road Expansion to Forest Elephants
By Shimon Shuchat, Elephant Listening Project, 6 November 2017
Due to private enterprise and the desire of Central African governments to become more industrialized there has recently been a large expansion of roads into the rainforests of the Congo basin where forest elephants make their home. These roads are built for easier access to the high quality lumber and minerals found in the forest but they also make it more accessible to poachers and increase conflict between the animals and local people.

Embracing the Ethics of Conservation
By Gregg Howald, Island Conservation, 6 November, 2017
Since its inception, Island Conservation has recognized the importance of animal welfare in the planning and implementation of invasive species removal projects. In a recent paper, we applied our experience and expertise to advance development of formal animal welfare guidelines for pest management professionals. We encourage encourage others to consider the same.
Non-native, damaging (invasive) species are one of the leading causes of extinctions globally, and the leading cause on islands, where most recorded extinctions have occurred. In the race against extinction, conservationists must move quickly.

Researchers delve into zebra droppings to aid conservation efforts, 6 November 2017
Researchers are analysing the droppings of wild zebra in a bid to learn more about their response to the stresses of climate change and habitat destruction.
Scientists from the University of Manchester in England and Chester Zoo have been working in South Africa, using their “poo science” on local populations of the Cape mountain zebra.
To measure the animals’ stress levels, the scientists have been analysing glucocorticoid hormones in the Cape zebra’s droppings. Glucocorticoid hormones are a group of steroid hormones that help regulate the “flight or fight” stress response in animals.

Three rhinos killed in 48 hours in India’s Kaziranga National Park
By Bikash Kumar Bhattacharya, Mongabay, 6 November 2017
Poachers in two separate incidents last week gunned down three greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) — two adult females and a calf — in India’s Kaziranga National Park, crudely removing the animals’ horns and leaving them for dead.
“On Thursday midnight forest personnel reported hearing gunshots and a search operation was immediately launched,” Divisional Forest Officer Rohini Ballav Saikia told Mongabay on Nov. 5. “We found the dehorned carcass of an adult female rhino in an area under the jurisdiction of Tunikati anti-poaching camp in the park’s Burrapahar Range.”

[India] Poachers again start haunting rhinos in KNP
The Sentinel, 6 November 2017
After a brief lull, poachers have once again started stalking rhinos in Kaziranga National Park, gunning down 3 rhinos in last 48 hours by taking advantage of complacent and ineffective anti-poaching policy of the State Forest department.
Three days after an adult female rhino was killed, another female rhino and her calf were shot dead and their horns cut off by poachers near Tunikati Forest Camp under Burapahar range of the national park on Saturday night.

[Malaysia] Sabah becoming key hub for African wildlife trade, says report
FMT news, 6 November 2017
Sabah is emerging as an important transit point for illegal wildlife commodities from Africa, the Maritime Executive, a news journal for the world’s marine shipping industry, reported yesterday.
Traffickers are giving the Borneon state prominence to complement other hubs for wildlife trade in Asia, such as Cambodia and the “Golden Triangle”, a mountainous area overlapping Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.
As evidence, the report said the Malaysian Customs Department in Sabah’s Sepanggar Bay port, near Kota Kinabalu, had seized 8,000kg of pangolin scales that had arrived in 226 sacks in July.

Uganda: Batwa “Pygmy” imprisoned for hunting now released
Survival International, 6 November 2017
A Batwa “Pygmy” man has been released from prison, after spending over seven months behind bars for killing a small antelope inside a protected area from which his people were illegally evicted.
Kafukuzi Valence, who has no birth certificate but reports his age as 72, claims the animal strayed from Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park into a neighboring field.
“They imprisoned me because I caught an animal from the forest and ate it,” Mr Kafukuzi told Survival.

[Tanzania] Migration into Serengeti disturbing conservators
By Marc Nkwame in Loliondo, Daily News, 6 November 2017
Herds of cattle from parts of Loliondo Division in Ngorongoro District have once more started mass migration into Serengeti National Park, much to the dismay of conservators.
Already the ongoing annual wildebeest migration, currently crossing back to Tanzania, heading South from Maasai Mara in Kenya, is suffering the impact of livestock crossing their paths.
While in the past livestock keepers living in villages surrounding Serengeti National Park devised new methods of trespassing into the conserved area, by driving their large herds of cattle into the game park during the night, this time the park encroaching takes place in broad daylight.

Uganda Must Avoid Mistakes If We Are to Reap Big From Rich Tourist Attractions
By Kaddy Sebunya, The Monitor, 6 November 2017
A month ago, President Museveni hosted global tourism investors and operators to showcase investment opportunities in the country’s protected areas. He invited tourism operators, investors and donors to help develop national parks and reserves in a way that catalyses economic growth and plows revenue back to the management and conservation of protected areas.
Uganda is one of the most bio-diverse countries on the planet and ranks second among all African countries in term of its bio-diversity. It supports more than 50 per cent of the critically endangered mountain gorillas, important populations of chimpanzee, lion and elephant and more than 1,200 birds.

7 November 2017

UN Special Rapporteur tackles upholding IPs’ rights thru SDGs
By Margarita C. Gonzalez, The Guidon, 7 November 2017
Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for the United Nations (UN) Victoria Tauli-Corpuz discussed indigenous peoples’ (IPs) rights in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on October 25 at Leong Hall.
Tauli-Corpuz’s talk emphasized upholding the rights of indigenous peoples (IPs) to achieve SDG 1, which aims to end poverty; SDG 2, which aims to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture; and SDG 10, which focuses on reducing inequality.

Don’t Convert Africa’s Savanna to Agricultural Land
By Esther Ngumbi and Sam Dindi, Scientific American, 7 November 2017
To feed the increasing number of Africans who are poor, hungry and malnourished, during the launch of the Transformation of the African Savannah Initiative, the African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina proposed developing Africa’s 400 million hectares of cultivatable savanna lands. The soils are healthy there and can support the cultivation of many crops, including corn and soybeans.
To begin this initiative, the AfDB plans to convert approximately 2 million hectares of savanna into farmland in eight African countries: Ghana, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, and Mozambique. It will be used to cultivate maize and soybeans, and to keep livestock.

[South Africa] Watch: Kevin Pietersen declares ‘all out war’ on rhino poachers
By Alexis Haden, The South African, 7 November 2017
Since Kevin Pietersen became a South African again, he’s had quite a thing for saving rhinos.
So much so that he is building a house near the Kruger National Park to assist with anti-poaching efforts. Pietersen previously said:
“I reckon this will be my last season playing in England. Next year I am building a house and the whole of the English summer I will be at my house in South Africa so I will not be back in England,” he said. “My conservation work is at the time when I should be playing here and that work is more important to me.”

[Zimbabwe] Poachers jailed 280 years
Daily News, 7 November 2017
Courts in Hwange and Victoria Falls last week sentenced 31 wildlife poachers to a combined 280 years in jail following convictions, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks) said.
This comes as the Authority has launched a blitz against poachers, on the back of increased poaching cases.
Only last month, poachers killed 13 elephants using cyanide in the Hwange National Park.
“We have declared a zero tolerance policy to poaching and it seems that it is bearing fruit. Hwange and Victoria Falls have finalised 56 cases of poaching and 31 of them were sentenced to nine years in prison with hard labour. We greatly appreciate what the judiciary has done. Together, we can win this war against poaching.

[Zimbabwe] Former ranger sentenced to nine years for possession of elephant tusks
By Nokuthaba Dlamini, News Day, 7 November 2017
Justice Zulu (38) was sentenced by Hwange magistrate Rose Dube after being on the run since December last year.
Prosecutor Loveness Maseko presented that on December 17 last year, an anti-poaching team was on patrol when they met Zulu and his accomplice Innocent Nyathi, who immediately took to their heels.
The rangers gave chase and managed to arrest Nyathi, while Zulu dropped his sack and disappeared. Zulu was eventually arrested and together with Nyathi appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charge.

[Zimbabwe] Duo ‘poisons’ 13 elephants
By Nonsikelelo Moyo, Chronicle, 7 November 2017
Two men who allegedly killed 13 elephants after poisoning them with cyanide have appeared in court.
Zwelitsha Tshuma (37) from Jambezi and Sitshuwade Msipa (47) from Jabula village outside Victoria Falls appeared before Victoria Falls magistrate, Ms Lindiwe Maphosa, on Friday facing charges of use of a toxic substance on the environment.
The duo allegedly poisoned the elephants last month in Jambezi.
Their alleged accomplice, Shepard Siwela, is still on the run.

8 November 2017

Mapping how to feed 9 billion humans, while avoiding environmental calamity
By Rhett A. Butler, Mongabay, 8 November 2017
Yesterday The Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation unveiled an ambitious plan to protect and connect 50 percent of the world’s land area as part of a broader effort to curb global warming, stave off the global extinction crisis, and ensure food availability for the planet’s growing human population.
The first step of the “Safety Net” initiative is to identify the best opportunities to protect and restore ecosystems that underpin human well-being and sustain healthy wildlife populations. That means incorporating data on variables ranging from species richness to climate trends to deforestation rates for every point on Earth’s surface.

Understanding community engagement is key to conservation
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, 8 November 2017
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has long believed that helping local people is a crucial part of conservation and has built major programs in education, training, health and related areas in recent decades. To take this work to the next level the Fossey Fund recently hired Sarah Tolbert – an expert in studying the relationships and interactions between people and conservation – to serve as community engagement manager.
“It is great to be with an organization that strives not only to implement community-oriented conservation projects, but also to better understand the linkages between well-being and conservation, which have not been well-studied scientifically,” says Tolbert.

Dozens of new wildlife corridors identified for African mammals
By Kat Kerlin,, 8 November 2017
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have identified 52 potential wildlife corridors linking protected areas across Tanzania. Using a cost-effective combination of interviews with local residents and a land conversion dataset for East Africa, they found an additional 23 corridors over those previously identified by Tanzanian government reports.
According to their publication in the journal PLOS ONE, nearly a sixth of all the wildlife corridors previously identified in Tanzania in 2009 potentially have been separated by land conversion, and a third now pass across lands likely to be converted to human use in the near future.

[India] Royal Bengal Tiger, Rhinoceros found dead in Kaziranga
By Samdra Gupta Kashyap, The Indian Express, 8 November 2017
Forest guards in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam on Tuesday found carcasses of a Royal Bengal tiger and a one-horned rhinoceros lying close to each other in the Bagori range, with authorities suspecting the deaths to be a result of a fight between the two animals.
“Carcasses of a rhino and a tiger were discovered on Tuesday lying close to each other, with the preliminary suspicion being that the two had died following a fight. While both carcasses were slightly decomposed, the body parts, including the rhino’s horn, were found intact, thus confirming that it was not a case of poaching,” Kaziranga director Satyendra Singh said.

9 November 2017

Is your conservation having an impact? New toolkit PRISM will find out
By Jessica Law, BirdLife International, 9 November 2017
It makes sense that conservationists want to prioritise their time, energy and funds for carrying out the conservation work itself – but finding out whether it’s having the desired effect is equally necessary. That’s why PRISM, a new evaluation toolkit, has been launched to help conservationists improve the way they evaluate the outcomes and impacts of their projects. It’s designed to be easy to use and completely free, ensuring evaluation it enhances, rather than hinders, a project’s work on the ground.

[Thailand] Golden Triangle is Under Spotlight as illegal Wildlife Trade Hub
Chiang Rai Times, 9 November 2017
The World Wildlife Fund says the 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”.
Tigers, elephants, bears and pangolins are four of the most widely traded species in the Golden Triangle—the border area where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar connect—according to a new report.
The report is entitled “Top 10 Most Wanted: Endangered Species in the Markets of the Golden Triangle” and the full version can be read or downloaded here, in PDF format. It was produced jointly by two non-governmental organisations, WWF and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.

10 November 2017

Four years of World Heritage wins and how you, our supporters, helped us to get there.
WWF, 10 November 2017
On October 20, a small developing country made strides in the right direction. The Prime Minister of Belize brought legislation to the table that will see oil exploration and exploitation completely put to a stop in Belizean waters, which got us thinking about all the incredible milestones you have helped us to achieve throughout the campaign to #SaveOurHeritage.

[India] Three held for elephant poaching near Gudalur
The Covai Post, 10 November 2017
Three persons were taken into custody for their alleged involvement in killing of an elephant and poaching it tusks at Nadugani near Gudalur on Friday.Based on information from the villagers, forest department officials carried out search and nabbed Dharmalingam, Manoharan and Mani near Cherampadi on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border and taken to the department office for questioning.

The fate of the Sumatran rhino is in the Indonesian government’s hands
By Jeremy Hance, Mongabay, 10 November 2017
At 16 months, Delilah is growing fast. So fast, in fact, it’s difficult to tell her apart from her mother, Ratu, to whom she closely sticks. Delilah is slightly smaller than her mom, has stubbier horns and a bit more of a baby face. Other than that, the two are practically twins as they eat their morning breakfast. Delilah was ceremoniously named by Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo; but if ever the Sumatran rhino needed attention from the president and government, it’s now.
Yet while I was visiting some of the last survivors of this species in Indonesia, the government was not talking about their nearly extinct rhino, but about pandas.

Taiwanese rhino poachers get 29 years in Swazi jail
Journal du Cameroon, 10 November 2017
Two Taiwanese men have been convicted for poaching and killing four rhinos, and further sentenced to 29 years’ imprisonment each, APA can report on Friday.
On top of that, Judge John Magagula of the High Court of Swaziland ordered the duo of Hsiao Chen Hao (54) and Chen Bei-Hsun (30) to replace the four rhinos they dehorned by paying $13, 3000.According to court papers in possession of APA, the Taiwanese were convicted of contravening the Game Act of 1953, after they were found in possession of 24 pieces of rhino horns worth about $2.4 million at King Mswati III International Airport on February 25, 2017 while they were on their way to Taiwan.

11 November 2017

Can farming rhinos for their horns save the species?
By Nigel Richardson, The Telegraph, 11 November 2017
The rhino is targeted by a posse of pickups. The lead vehicle accelerates across the grassland, the driver slews to a halt and, standing in the back, I watch as a silver gun barrel pokes through the open window on the passenger side. The rhino, in a group of three, takes a shot to the hindquarters. She swerves and staggers then runs for her life. While we wait for her to drop, the woman who pulled the trigger jumps out of the Land Cruiser and lights up a cigarette.

[India] Elephant corridors in India threatened, says study
By Shiv Sahay Singh and Aathira Perinchery, The Hindu, 11 November 2017
Mapping 101 vital elephant corridors across India, scientists suggest ways to ensure safe passage and mitigate man-elephant conflicts.
Elephant herds are known to migrate across 350-500 sq. km. annually but increasingly fragmented landscapes are driving the giant mammals more frequently into human-dominated areas, giving rise to more man-animal conflicts, experts have found. Maintaining elephant corridors is therefore of crucial importance to both elephant and human habitats.

[India] Animal Poaching: Police Nab Three Suspected Poachers from Kohima
By Aashish Awasthi,, 11 November 2017
Nagaon Police have finally succeeded, the Cops nabbed three suspected poachers from Kohima that were on the run since Wednesday, the police reports said.
According to the sources, these three were suspected to be actively involved in a poaching across various areas, have been identified as Thangsung Lian, Puthyamuyan Tangsing and Lal Saina. All the three are in police custody at present. These three were on the run since Wednesday after police seized their vehicle.

[India] Wildlife department to use camera traps to fight poaching
By Suresh Sharmal, Times of India, 11 November 2017
Officials of Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP), which is a world heritage site, plan to use camera traps to keep an eye on poachers, who often target rare species. Most of the cases of poaching come to the fore during winter months when higher regions experience snowfall and animals descend to lower areas.

12 November 2017

[India] J-K wildlife dept evicts encroachers in Jammu
PTI News, 12 November 2017
Jammu and Kashmir wildlife protection department retrieved more than 1,500 square metres of encroached land in Janitpur area here, an official said today.
An operation to evict the encroachers was carried out yesterday by a team headed by Amit Sharma, Wildlife Warden, Jammu, the department’s spokesman said.
He said the team dismantled illegal structures despite opposition from encroachers.

[India] Six tigers electrocuted in Maharashtra in 1 year
By Dhaval Kulkarni and Virat A. Singh, DNA, 12 November 2017
There is a new danger lurking for Maharashtra’s tigers—that of death by electrocution. Between November 2016 to November 2017, the state lost six tigers due to poaching by electrocution.
This includes Srinivas, who was electrocuted to death in Nagbhid range in April. In 2017, Maharashtra lost 15 tigers to various causes, of which five deaths are due to electrocution.
“Patches around farms are electrified to kill herbivores, but it leads to the deaths of carnivores like tigers and also human beings,” said a senior forest department official. Sometimes, tigers are killed along with the herbivores when the two are electrocuted during the chase.

[India] Kaziranag rhino deaths: Assam to review anti-poaching steps every month
The Indian Express, 12 November 2017
The Assam government has decided to hold monthly meetings at the Kaziranga National Park to keep itself updated about the efficacy of the steps taken to curb poaching of rhinos. At least four rhinos had fallen victims to poachers in the last fortnight.
A meeting was called on Sunday by Chief Secretary V K Pipersenia to chalk out strategies to check poaching at the World Heritage Site with Deputy commissioners, Superintendents of police and forest officials of the five district of Sonitpur, Biswanath, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Nagaon participated.

Tanzania ends hunting deal near Loliondo with UAE royal family; compromised government officials
by Erick Kabendera, The East African, 12 November 2017
Tanzania has terminated a 25-year-old hunting concession with a United Arab Emirates royal family-owned company as it launches investigations into the dealings of the company and former tourism ministers.
Newly appointed Natural Resources Minister Hamisi Kigwangalla has ordered the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) to arrest and investigate Isaac Mollel, executive director of the Ortelo Business Corporation (OBC), which is a game-hunting outfit owned by a Dubai leader, for trying to bribe him and his predecessors. Dr Kigwangalla also called for the investigation of former ministers.

22 international mining activists arrested in Zimbabwe
The Zimbabwean, 12 November 2017
Authorities in Zimbabwe have arrested 22 activists from Latin America and Southern Africa who were attending an event in the controversial diamond-mining town of Marange.
The activists were arrested on Friday and charged with entering a protected area without government permits.
The activists are variously from South Africa, Swaziland, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Brazil.
They were arrested on 10 November and charged with entering a protected area without government permits.

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