Conservation in the news: 27 November – 3 December 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.

27 November 2017

Wild life, wild lives: enough talking already
By Dilys Roe, IIED, 27 November 2017
This week conservation policymakers from across the globe will meet in Geneva to discuss international wildlife trade. One item on the agenda is the role of local people – particularly those who live alongside wildlife – in making decisions about such issues.
International decision-making about wildlife conservation and management rests in the hands of governments, through international treaties such as the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Yet it is often local people who feel the impacts, particularly when decisions made in far-flung cities affect their ability to manage and use the wildlife on their doorsteps.

Bhutan’s Bold Conservation Plan
By Carter Roberts and Tshering Tobgay, U.S. News, 27 November 2017
Bold ideas sometimes come from unexpected places. While the wealthiest nations of the world have made important commitments and invested in solutions to climate change, the people of Bhutan – a small nation bordering India and China – may have offered the boldest approach of all: pledging to remain carbon-neutral for all time.
Now, the royal government of Bhutan is backing up that commitment with action. In doing so, the Himalayan nation is advancing an innovative approach for financing conservation that could serve as a model for the rest of the world.

[Cambodia] Environmental activists blocked from entering national park
By Pech Sotheary, Khmer Times, 27 November 2017
Nearly ten environmental activists were denied entry to the Prey Lang protected forest in Preah Vihear province on Saturday, when they planned to put up anti-logging banners.
Renowned activist Ouch Leng said on Saturday that he joined a group of six people from Phnom Penh to travel to Preah Vihear to put labels and banners saying “Protect Forests Together.”
However, authorities demanded a permission letter from the provincial governor and prevented them from entering.

[India] Elephants Used to Help Evict Residents Living in Protected Forest Areas, 27 November 2017
Police in India have enlisted the help of elephants to evict hundreds of people living illegally in a protected forest area in the country’s remote northeast.
State Forest Minister Pramilla Brahma said the area is an elephant habitat and the unauthorized settlements are forcing the animals to leave in search of food.
Police used bulldozers and the elephants in a show of force, and the forest dwellers responded by hurling rocks, according to reports.
Five protesters were injured in a scuffle after police used tear gas in the Amchang forest area in Assam state, Guwahati Police Commissioner Hiren Nath said.

[India] Guardians of the forests
By Pavan Kumar H, Deccan Herald, 27 November 2017
Doctors at the Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences, Hubballi had almost given up on Bharmappa (name changed), a 48-year-old forest watcher at the Kali Tiger Reserve, who was attacked by a female sloth bear. His lower jaw was ripped apart and his face had several cuts. But six months later, Bharmappa was back to work, doing what he does the best: patrolling the thick forests of Western Ghats and warning the passing tourists not to smoke or litter the forest.
In February 2017, when 28-year-old Murigeppa Tammangol, a forest guard at Kalkere range of Bandipur National Park, got a call from his higher officers regarding the forest fire that had already engulfed 500 hectares of forest area, he rushed to the spot without a second thought and tried to extinguish the fire using weeds. Alas, he did not succeed, and lost his life on duty.

Survival launches global boycott of India’s tiger reserves
Survival International, 27 November 2017
Survival International has launched a worldwide tourist boycott of India’s tiger reserves until the rights of tribal peoples living within them are fully restored and respected.
Indian conservation authorities have banned the recognition of tribal rights in tiger reserves, a move that has provoked widespread condemnation.
Tens of thousands of Indian tribal people have been illegally evicted from villages inside tiger reserves, and forced into lives of poverty and misery on the fringes of mainstream society.
India’s Forest Rights Act guarantees tribal people the right to live on and protect their ancestral land.

[South Africa] Three rhino poachers caught in the act at Kruger National Park
By Siviwe Breakfast, The South African, 27 November 2017
Three men were caught in the act after killing three rhinos at the Kruger National Park on Sunday morning.
Park rangers were alerted after gunshots were fired and rushed to the scene to bust the three perps who were busy dehorning the second rhino at the time.
The men were taken to the Skukuza police station and will appear in the Skukuza Magistrate’s Court following charges of poaching, trespassing and illegal possession of firearms.

[South Africa] Three rhinos killed at Kruger National Park
By Pelane Phakgadi, EWN, 27 November 2017
SANParks has confirmed that three rhinos have been killed at the Kruger National Park overnight.
Three suspects have been arrested for the crime.
Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa announced earlier that over 530 rhinos had been poached in the first half of this year.
Three rhino carcasses were found on Sunday.

South Sudan prepares a conservation and management plan for Boma-Badingilo Migratory Landscape that considers its potential World Heritage values
UNESCO, 27 November 2017
Just a month after the submission of South Sudan’s first ever Tentative List of potential UNESCO World Heritage sites, UNESCO hosted a workshop on 23 November 2017 in Juba in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in order to guide the State Party in the preparation of a conservation and management plan for Boma-Badingilo Migratory Landscape, which could be used as part of the nomination file requesting World Heritage status for the natural heritage site.

28 November 2017

Elephant poaching falls in Eastern Africa
Eruonews, 28 November 2017
Elephant poaching in Eastern Africa has fallen for a fifth consecutive year, according to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Its secretary-general, John E. Scanlon, said a steady decline in illegal killing for ivory has been seen across the continent, but significant gains have yet to be made in central and western Africa. “What we have seen is a great effort across source countries, transit countries and destination countries to play their bit. Domestic markets are being closed, laws are being strengthened, at the demanding, we are seeing people going to jail, five, ten, 15 years for illegal trading in ivory. So there are many measures under way right across the board dealing with supply and demand, and it’s starting to have an impact,” said Scanlon.

[Cambodia] Impunity threatens Mondulkiri preserves
By Phak Seangly and Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon, Phnom Penh Post, 28 November 2017
A commitment to law enforcement is needed to combat the serious threats to Mondulkiri’s protected areas, stakeholders said yesterday, noting that a failure to address systemic problems not only jeopardises local ecosystems, but threatens an ambitious, widely promoted plan to reintroduce tigers to the Kingdom.
Speaking at a workshop hosted by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) on the past four years of conservation in the so-called Eastern Plains Landscape – a project with $1.42 million in funding from the EU and an additional $420,000 from USAID and the WWF – conservationists and representatives of ethnic minority communities pointed to the widespread destruction of forests and wildlife, including within the Srepok and Keo Seima wildlife sanctuaries, that occurs with total impunity.

Indonesian conservation bill stirs debate over geothermal rigs, private guards
By Fidelis E. Satriastanti, Mongabay, 28 November 2017
It was supposed to be about cracking down on the illegal wildlife trade, as traffickers move online.
But a conservation bill now making its way through Indonesia’s parliament is drawing fire for stipulations that would open new forest areas for geothermal drilling and empower plantation-company security guards to make arrests.
Indonesia, a heavily forested archipelago country, is home to incredible biodiversity. But poor governance has allowed the trade in rare animals to flourish, especially as the Internet provides new tools with which to connect with buyers.

Paraguay’s First Digital Indigenous Map Aims to Reduce Land Conflicts
Reuters, 28 November 2017
Indigenous groups in Paraguay, battling to protect their ancestral lands from expanding agriculture and cattle ranching, launched the first online map of their territory Tuesday.
Paraguay’s beef and soy export industries are the main drivers of deforestation in the fast-growing South American nation, often coming into conflict with some 120,000 indigenous people, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI), a think tank.

[South Africa] Lack of resources hinders KNP’s fight against poaching
By Pelane Phakgadi EWN, 28 November 2017
Lack of resources continue plaguing the Kruger National Parks (KNP) in their fight against animal poaching.
The park says that fighting the scourge would not only help the park, but the country as well by conserving the rhinos and elephant, among others.
These two species have become victims of poaching at different parks, both private and national parks.

29 November 2017

[Myanmar] Asian elephants are now being killed for their skin
By Eric Scigliano, National Geography, 29 November 2017
The smell was ghastly and the sight even worse. Twenty-five elephants lay dead in a riverbed in the Ayeyawady (Irrawaddy) delta in southwestern Myanmar. “The stench is what led villagers to the bodies in the first place,” says Aung Myo Chit, the Smithsonian Institution’s Myanmar country coordinator, who also leads a local NGO, Growth for Prosperity, that helps rural residents avoid deadly conflicts with elephants.
It was the trust Aung Myo Chit’s outreach workers had earned that led villagers of Nga Pu Taw Township to reveal the dead elephants. Ordinarily, local people avoid reporting poaching to the authorities for fear they’ll be blamed.

[South Africa] Neighbours in joint bid to tackle poaching
By James Mahlokwane, IOL, 29 November 2017
Rangers from Mozambique and South Africa on Tuesday showcased combined efforts to deal with the daily threats of poaching, which have hit the Kruger National Park and Sabie Game Parks hard.
The Mozambican Sabie Game Park shares a border with the massive South African park, and although the law limits the rangers’ jurisdiction by border, the rangers have an understanding and share information to help each other arrest poachers.
They said poachers, who ran across the border for cover, poached from both sides of the border and in the process threatened thousands of vulnerable rhinos, compelling rangers to intensify security measures to protect the endangered species.

Tanzania: Singita Grumeti Anti-Poaching Crusade Pays Off
Tanania Daily News, 29 November 2017
There is an increase of arrests of poachers and collection of snares in a 350,000- acre concession wildlife reserve under Singita Grumeti which is adjacent to the Serengeti National Park, thanks to deployment of high technology and well trained game scouts.
Singita Grumeti Fund Executive Director, Stephen Cunliffe said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that there were a total of 5,214 arrests of illegal hunters and 1,276 snares were collected due to use of high technology and game scouts by Singita Grumeti Fund.
“The fund has a proactive intelligence unit that enables the apprehension of poachers as they enter the concession area rather than arresting them after animals have been killed,” he said.

Tanzania: Ruaha National Park Named One of the Best Place to Visit in the World
The Citizen, 29 November 2017
Tanzania’s largest park, Ruaha has been named as one of 21 best places to visit in the world in 2018 by National Geographic.
Ruaha, which is located in the southern part of the count is home to about one-tenth of the world’s endangered African lions.
According to National geographic sustainable tourism initiatives help visitors see the big cats–some grouped in prides of 30 or more–and support wildlife preservation in and around the park.

30 November 2017

Despite forest loss, African protected area can support 10s of thousands of elephants
Wildlife Conservation Society press release, 30 November 2017
Despite some forest loss, Mozambique’s sprawling Niassa National Reserve has the potential to support tens of thousands of elephants and 1,000 lions according to a new land-use study published in the journal Parks.
Niassa Reserve is Mozambique’s largest protected area, spanning 42,300 square kilometers (16,300 square miles), and is considered one of the least biologically explored regions in Africa. The reserve supports Mozambique’s largest populations of endangered wildlife. Approximately 40,000 people legally live within its boundaries and harvest its natural resources.

[India] Country’s first high-tech anti-poaching system to be introduced in Rajasthan forests
Pink City Post, 30 November 2017
To put an end to tiger poaching and other anti-wildlife activities in wildlife reserves of Rajasthan, thermal cameras and drones will be part of an advanced anti-poaching surveillance mechanism. This first of its kind system in the country will cover prominent reserves including Sariska and Ranthambore.
The system will also be used at Jawaibandh (Pali) Leopard Conservation Reserve, Jhanana Nature Park (Jaipur), and Mukandara Hills Tiger Reserve (Kota and surrounding region). The project is expected to be completed by March 2018.

Peninsular Malaysians’ taste for exotic meat puts banteng at risk
By Tracy Patrick, FMT news, 30 November 2017
A rising demand for banteng meat in Peninsular Malaysia has resulted in more cases of poaching involving the endangered animal, said Sabah Forestry Department director Sam Mannan.
Sam, who is also known as the chief forest conservator, said that a senior plantation manager in the east coast of Sabah had been identified as a suspect behind recent killings of three banteng last month.
The department, he said, was currently probing the matter and hoped that the suspect could give them more information.
He said the suspect was identified through photographs of him posing with a carcass of the banteng, which is a species of wild cattle.

[Malaysia] Plantation manager in Sabah unmasked as poacher
By Julia Chan, The Malay Mail, 30 November 2017
A senior plantation manager has been identified as a suspect behind one of three banteng killings last month, and of selling the meat for consumption in peninsular Malaysia.
Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said that the suspect was identified through photographs with a carcass of the wild cattle that is known locally as tembadau, an endangered and totally protected species in Sabah.
“We have identified more suspects within this industry. It cannot be anyone else, they belong to a certain ethnic group that we would not expect to be involved in this kind of hunting,” he said.

[Malaysia] Sabah moots ‘killer instinct’ wildlife rangers to fight poachers
By Julia Chan, The Malay Mail, 30 November 2017
An elite team of 50 wildlife rangers equipped with firearms may be the answer to Sabah’s escalating poaching problem.
Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said today that authorities have mooted the idea of a specialised team of rangers who would be trained to look solely into wildlife protection aspects including data and intelligence collection and surveillance, criminal analysing and prosecution.
“They will be armed, and work on shifts. They won’t do anything but 24-hour surveillance. We will give them guns — we have about 95 guns — Glocks, Scorpion and Italian shotguns. It’s not necessarily to shoot people, more for warnings, but if thing get heated, they have to be able to protect themselves,” he said during his speech at the Borneo Banteng international workshop and conference here.

[South Africa] Eutelsat, Sigfox Foundation join forces to fight rhino poaching
Daily News, 30 November 2017
French-based satellite operator Eutelsat and Sigfox Foundation have joined forces to combat rhino poaching by inserting Global Positioning System (GPS) sensors to 3 000 rhinos over the next three years.
This comes as the rhino population has significantly declined due to rampant poaching from an estimated figures of 500 000 across Africa and Asia in the early 1900s to around 29 000 to date, according to Save the Rhino — an international organisation supporting endangered rhinos.

1 December 2017

[China] Regulation to protect national park
Xinhua, 1 December 2017
Authorities in central China’s Hubei have passed a regulation to protect a national park in the province.
The regulation, effective from May 1, 2018, states that Shennongjia National Park will be divided into four major areas, including a “strictly protected area,” which is for scientific research and off limits to visitors.
Construction, reconstruction and expansion of mineral and hydropower projects will be prohibited in the park. A fixed date must be set for similar existing projects in the area. Many prohibited activities are listed in the regulation, such as hunting and fishing.
It also specifies compensation for relocation.

Meet Zimbabwe’s New All-Female Anti-Poaching Unit That Standing Up for Endangered Animals
By Michelle Neff, One Green Planet, 1 December 2017
The International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) is a non-profit organization that helps produce the most effective anti-poaching operations in the world by utilizing state of the art training, equipment, and management to protect highly targeted wildlife species.
IAPF has long been at the forefront of preventing illegal wildlife trafficking and just recently, they launched a new project called “Akashinga” (meaning “the brave ones”). The new project empowers previously disadvantaged African women by employing them to protect wilderness areas, instead of relying on trophy hunting as a means of income.

2 December 2017

US military veterans are fighting a new battle in Africa—against poachers
By Jackie Bischof, Quartz, 2 December 2017
A battle is underway in Africa’s game parks between poachers hunting down wildlife and the rangers protecting them. And the rangers have called in the troops.
Illegal poaching has become such a major crisis that game parks across Africa are increasingly turning to active soldiers, veterans, and military technologies to protect wildlife.

[South Africa] Mother Nature turns on rhinos
By Amanda Citizen, 2 December 2017
The great lumbering odd-toed ungulate could be wiped out in less than 20 years.
Neither poaching, the threat of habitat loss, disease, nor predation of calves, but simply the weather may be responsible for the biggest drop in rhino populations inside the Kruger National Park in recent years.
Combined with a scientific model-based predication, the great lumbering odd-toed ungulate could be wiped out in less than 20 years.
It’s a worrying time for South African National Parks (SANParks) scientists.
“I think the predictions about drought-lag effects will realise in the 2017 census. Those things about birth rates changing for the two different species, the census will confirm those,” said SANParks’ large herbivore scientist Dr Sam Ferreira.

[South Africa] Rhino poaching case breakthrough
By Orrin Singh, Zululand Observer, 2 December 2017
The Magistrate presiding over the case of alleged rhino poaching kingpin, Dumisani Gwala, is facing recusal, amid damning allegations he accepted bribes to prolong the case.
KZN Director of Public Prosecutions, Moipone Noko previously maintained there was not enough evidence for the recusal, but has now reversed that decision and has allowed the application for the recusal of Magistrate K Shandu, to take place next week Wednesday at the Ngwelezane Regional Court.

3 December 2017

Botswana wildlife rangers trained on handling sniffer dogs to detect ivory
Brinkwire, 3 December 2017
The war against elephant poaching in Botswana got a boost on Saturday when wildlife rangers from the southern African country graduated from a ten-week intensive course on handling canines that are used to detect ivory at ports of entry.
Fifteen rangers from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks participated in the course to strengthen their skills in handling sniffer dogs that are an integral part of anti-poaching war.
The course was sponsored by Nairobi based conservation lobby, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and implemented by Canine Specialists Services International based in Arusha, Tanzania.

[Indonesia] Central Kalimantan Unveils New Tourism Destinations to Support Tanjung Puting National Park
Tourism Authority of Lamandau Regency press release, 3 December 2017
The Tourism Authority of Lamandau Regency, Tourism Authority of West Kotawaringin Regency, Swisscontact WISATA, along with local stakeholders – conducted Tanjung Puting Familiarization Trip 2017 fromNovember 25 – 30, 2017. Involving local and international tour operators and media crews – the trip aims to introduce new tourism destinations to support Tanjung Puting National Park, especially through Community Based Tourism Village program.

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