Conservation Watch’s round-up of the month’s news on protected areas and conservation in the Global South.
For regular updates, follow @conserwatch on Twitter.
The news links are grouped under the following sub-headings:
- Human rights abuses
- Protected areas
- Communities and conservation
- Financing conservation
- Wildlife law
- Militarisation of conservation
- Big game hunting
Human rights abuses
[Kenya] Water crisis: State and EU meet to tap Sh3.6bn aid
Daily Nation, 4 March 2018
A team of experts drawn from the government and the European Union (EU) is holding talks with the aim of unlocking the Sh3.6 billion suspended aid meant to protect Kenya’s five water towers.
An independent panel of experts from the EU is engaging several stakeholders in pursuit of an amicable solution to the row to enable implementation of the project aimed at protecting water catchment areas.
[Philippines] Aside from U.N. expert, ‘terror’ list includes other rights defenders, even militiamen – Karapatan
InerAksyon, 9 March 2018
The more than 600 persons listed in government’s petition to proscribe the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army as “terrorist organizations” is a hodge-podge that includes not only actual and suspected rebels but also human rights experts and defenders and even members of a pro-government militia.
“There is no doubt that the filing of the petition is an effort to sow fear and panic among (President Rodrigo) Duterte’s detractors, subjectively prepare the public for more intense political repression, and be the front act of a crackdown against the dictator wannabe’s critics,” the human rights Karapatan said.
[India] To Respect Human Rights, the Government Should Strategise to Coexist First, Not to Evict
By Neema Pathak-Broome and Eleonora Fanari, The Wire, 13 March 2018
On September 29, 2017, at the inauguration of Global Wildlife Plan, Harsh Vardhan, the Union environment minister claimed that “India is playing a leadership role in management of wildlife through involvement of local communities” and that “five crore people living around national parks and sanctuaries are working as partners in environment conservation”.
This statement contradicts the situation on the ground. Communities living in and around protected areas remain excluded. Their rights and dignity are continuously violated, their livelihoods disrupted. They are often relocated under coercion, with unsatisfactory facilities at the new site – or they’re simply evicted without any notice.
[Thailand] Kaeng Krachan National Park officers can’t burn down Karen villagers’ homes, court told
By Pratch Rujivanarom, The Nation, 14 March 2018
The Supreme Administrative Court was told yesterday that Kaeng Krachan National Park officers do not have the right to burn down Karen villages.
The court heard evidence in the case of Ban Bangkloi Bon residents against park officers who burned down their properties in 2011 to remove them from the park. While the court still did not deliver a verdict in the case, Surapong Kongchantuk, the head of the legal working group for the villagers, said that the 106-year-old spiritual leader of the Karen community and first plaintiff, Ko-i Mimi, hoped the court would allow him to return to his birthplace at Ban Bangkloi Bon, as his health was declining.
India: Tribes threatened by conservation plan historic protest
Survival International, 15 March 2018
Hundreds of Baiga people from the area that inspired Kipling’s The Jungle Book are rallying to oppose the authorities’ attempts to evict them from the forests that they have lived in and managed since time immemorial.
Baiga tribespeople are joining forces from over 70 different villages in an area of 1,500 square kilometres. The protests have been sparked by official efforts to evict two Baiga communities from a wildlife “corridor”. Dozens of neighboring Baiga communities are now terrified they will be next, as they face poverty, exploitation and misery if forced from their homes.
[Tanzania] Loliondo herders case halted over translation snag
By Zephania Ubwani, The Citizen, 16 March 2018
Hearing of a case in which Loliondo herders have sued the government over forced eviction came to a halt on Wednesday over a translation snag.
Principal state attorney Mark Mulwambo argued that the case cannot proceed because credentials of those who translated the affidavit for the applicants are not known.
National Geographic’s Photography Erased People. It’s Too Late For An Apology.
By Ng’endo Mukii, Bright Magazine, 28 March 2018
There stands a massive library in my father’s house, and as a child I used to rummage through his books. My hands would often settle on this photography book with a picture of a tall-looking, chocolate-colored man with ornaments in his turban and his lips painted black.
When I first saw this man I thought he was a woman, and even after discovering my mistake I preferred to think of him as such. My man-woman stared into the distance, looking mysterious, melancholic, and perhaps a little bit upset that I’d given him a sex change.
‘Only 13 pc of Asia’s tiger protected areas meet global norms’: Survey
Financial Express, 1 March 2018
Only 13 per cent of tiger protected areas across Asia meet global standards, a new survey revealed today, highlighting the seriousness of the existential threat that the big cats face. Even more worryingly, over a third of these areas could lose tigers if measures are not taken urgently, animal protection organisation World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said in a statement here.
Kenyan conservationists protest as Chinese company starts work on railway
AFP, 1 March 2018
Kenyan conservationists have expressed outrage at the construction of a railway line inside Nairobi’s famed national park, saying this defied a court order halting the project.
A proposed extension of the Chinese-built railway – Kenya’s biggest infrastructure project since independence – through the vast wildlife reserve on the outskirts of Nairobi has been tied up in legal battles since 2016.
African Parks NGO recovers Bazaruto Archipelago National Park in Mozambique
MacauHub, 5 March 2018
African Parks, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) focused on biodiversity conservation, plans to spend US$8 million over the next five years to recover the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park in Inhambane province, southern Mozambique, the project’s coordinator said recently in Maputo.
Karen Allen said that the design of the restoration project is currently being finalised, which includes the construction of inspection posts, a workshop, a warehouse, rental of an office in the municipality of Vilanculos, recovery of the park’s headquarters on the island of Bazaruto and introducing improvements to the revenue collection system.
In Colombia, a national park’s expansion announced as deforestation progresses
By Esteban Montano / Semana Sostenible, Mongabay, 6 March 2018
“I ordered Minister Murillo to return to Guaviare tomorrow with Mindefensa (Ministry of Defense) and Prosecutor’s Office to control deforestation outbreaks,” President Juan Manuel Santos wrote on his Twitter account upon his return from Chiribiquete National Park, where he had just made a crucial announcement for the future of the sanctuary located in the heart of the Colombian Amazon.
The announcement came in late February 2018.
Chinese panda park to be twice the size of Yosemite
AP, 8 March 2018
The Bank of China has pledged at least 10bn yuan (£1.1bn) to create a vast panda conservation park in south-west Sichuan province, the Chinese forestry ministry has said.
The Sichuan branch of the central bank signed an agreement with the provincial government to finance the vast national park’s construction by 2023. The park aims to bolster the local economy while providing the endangered animals with an unbroken range in which they can meet and mate with other pandas in order to enrich their gene pool.
[Pakistan] Land grabbers eating up National Park land
By Tahir Niaz, The Nation, 12 March 2018
The land mafia has accelerated levelling earth in Margalla Hills National Park near Shah Allah Ditta to create plots following massive tree cutting, according to the footage available with The Nation.
Cutting of the jungle and illegal occupation of parts of Margalla Hills National Park forest from Burji no. 18 to Burji no. 21 continues under direct supervision of a local leader of a national political party, apparently in connivance with CDA officials. The impunity with which the destruction of forests in the National Park is continuing despite Supreme Court’s notice suggests that the land grabbers are enjoying backing of influential people.
Congo Grants Total Extension to Oil-Exploration License
By William Clowes, Bloomberg, 16 March 2018
The Democratic Republic of Congo granted Total SA a one-year extension to a license allowing it to explore for oil along the Ugandan border.
Total must meet objectives including developing a drilling program before the new permit expires Jan. 26, 2019, Oil Minister Aime Ngoy Mukena said in a written response to questions. The company is also expected to produce a plan for exporting future oil production via a link to a pipeline that will connect western Uganda’s oilfields to Tanzania’s coast.
[Cambodia] Government dissolves two wildlife sanctuaries
By Pech Sotheary, Khmer Times, 19 March 2018
At the request of the government, the King has issued a royal decree to dissolve two wildlife sanctuaries of more than 110,000 hectares in Battambang and Kratie provinces.
The royal decree by King Norodom Sihamoni is dated February 16, but was only disseminated by the Ministry of Environment over the weekend.
It orders the government to dissolve the Snuol Wildlife Sanctuary in Kratie covering 75,000 hectares and the Roneam Daun Sam Wildlife Sanctuary in Battambang province covering 39,961 hectares.
Indonesia launches bid to restore national park that’s home to tigers, elephants
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 19 March 2018
The Indonesian government has unveiled an ambitious plan to restore a heavily degraded national park that is one of the last remaining habitats on Earth for the critically endangered Sumatran tiger.
The restoration of Teso Nilo National Park in Riau province, on the island of Sumatra, has been two years in the planning, and is expected to serve as a model for other national parks across the country if successful.
Belize creates one of Central America’s largest biological corridors
By Shreya Dasgupta, Mongabay, 19 March 2018
Belize is set to establish one of the biggest biological corridors in Central America, connecting two nature reserves that are home to jaguars and pumas, among other wildlife.
The Belize northeastern biological corridor, approved by the government on Feb. 13, will span some 110 square kilometers (42 square miles) of forest, according to a press release from the Corozal Sustainable Future Initiative (CSFI), a conservation NGO in Belize. It aims to provide safe passage for species such as jaguars (Panthera onca), pumas (Puma concolor) and Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii) to move freely between the coastal dry forests of the Shipstern Nature Reserve and the tropical forests of the Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve.
Priorities for managing protected areas are crucial for Bornean elephants
Carnegie Institution for Science press release, 20 March 2018
Degraded forests play a crucial role in the future survival of Bornean elephants. A new study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, finds that forests of surprisingly short stature are ideal for elephants.
“Our study indicates that forests with a mean canopy height of 13 meters (about 43 feet) were those most utilized by Bornean elephants. These forests are consistent with degraded landscapes or those recovering from previous logging, or clearance,” noted lead author Luke Evans, a postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie and Danau Girang Field Centre. “The study utilized GPS tracking data from 29 individual elephants that were collared across Sabah, providing high resolution, multi-year data.”
Bigger isn’t always better for protected areas
University of Queensland, 21 March 2018
Researchers have warned a frenzied race to reach total land area conservation protection targets used by policymakers may in fact risk short-changing the underlying goal of conservation.
ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (ARC CEED) researcher Dr Megan Barnes said global conservation targets are measured using size as the primary measure of success, which risks using up limited political and social capital on protecting areas that don’t maximise conservation benefits.
India begins rhino census at Kaziranga National Park
Xinhua, 26 March 2018
Indian forest authorities Monday began rhino census at the world-famous Kaziranga National Park in the northeastern state of Assam.
Officials said that Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been divided into 74 compartments for the census, which is being carried out by a team of 300 government and non-government organisation officials.
Mexico, Belize and Guatemala seek creation of the first trinational Protected Natural Area for jaguars
Yucatan Times, 27 March 2018
Alejandro del Mazo, head of the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Conanp) explained that Mexico reported that it seeks to create the first trinational Protected Natural Area (ANP) to conserve the jaguar and the Mayan jungle, shared with Belize and Guatemala.
During his participation in the International Jaguar 2030 Forum held at the headquarters of the United Nations (UN), commented on the cultural and ecological value that keeps the figure of this feline animal for the country, this from the pre-Hispanic era.
[India] CAG pulls up Gujarat for not expanding protected areas to make space for the rising lion population
Scroll.in, 29 March 2018
The auditor said the lions’ growing numbers put added pressure on the existing area, and could pose a risk to the animal as well as to humans.
Despite several instances of lions dying outside Gujarat’s Gir Sanctuary, the government has not increased the lions’ protected habitat in the past decade, the Comptroller and Auditor General said in a report.
[South Africa] Protests around Kruger National Park leaves grim footprint
By Stefan de Villiers, Low Vaelder, 29 March 2018
A group of Australian tourists vowed never to return to the Kruger National Park after encountering protesters hindering their visit.
The Paul Kruger, Phabeni and Numbi gates were inaccessible due to service-delivery protests that took place on the R536 and R538 earlier this week.
Col Mtsholi Bhembe said the police swept through the area clean on Tuesday, and in the process arrested 23 protesters for public violence. SANParks’ Rey Thakuli said all gates were open by the time of going to press on Wednesday.
Brazil creates four massive marine protected areas
By Shreya Dasgupta, Mongabay, 30 March 2018
Brazil will soon have four vast marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Atlantic Ocean, covering an area of more than 920,000 square kilometers (355,200 square miles).
The new designation will increase the coverage of Brazilian MPAs from 1.5 percent to about 24.5 percent of the country’s waters, exceeding the international target of protecting at least 10 percent of marine areas by 2020.
Rhino census in India’s Kaziranga park counts 12 more
BBC News, 31 March 2018
A census in India’s Kaziranga National Park has counted 2,413 one-horned rhinos – up 12 from 2015.
The Unesco World Heritage Site, in Assam state, is home to two-thirds of the world’s population of the species.
The census is carried out every three years.
It is an incredible conservation success story given the fact that there were only a few hundred rhinos in the 1970s, says the BBC’s South Asia editor Anbarasan Ethirajan.
However, the conservation effort has not been without controversy.
Communities and conservation
Just conservation is where environmental issues and social justice commingle
Michigan Technological University, 1 March 2018
More people, limited resources. Environmental ethicists consider best practices for conflict resolution and fairness when people and the environment are at odds.
Conservation is increasingly stymied by people who object to particular conservation actions-claiming them to be unfair for one reason or another. In a new paper published in Biological Conservation (DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.02.022), the authors propose principles for resolving such conflicts-principles that redress shortcomings in existing methods for addressing conservation conflicts.
“Social justice and conservation each represent great values of our society,” says John Vucetich, professor of ecology at Michigan Technological University, who led the study. “We aimed to examine those values from first principles to better understand how to respond when social justice and conservation seem to conflict.”
Community-based wildlife conservation is bringing success to Tanzania
By Derek E. Lee, The Conversation, 1 March 2018
Good news about the environment is rare these days. But in Tanzania there are signs that community-based wildlife conservation efforts can effectively protect the natural resources that provide the lion’s share of revenue for the economy.
Tanzania is the most popular tourism destination in the East African region. Tourism generates around US$6 billion annually for the country. It brings in a quarter of its foreign exchange earnings, regularly surpassing the minerals and energy sectors. Most of the country’s offerings fall under the banner of eco-tourism – tourism focused on experiencing natural environments. The sector represents 13% of Tanzania’s total GDP, and employs around 700 000 people directly and 1.5 million people indirectly.
Community conservation is vital to biodiversity, security for Indigenous Peoples of Kenya
Indigenous Information Network and Global Forest Coalition, 6 March 2018
The Maasai and Rendille Indigenous communities in Kenya are facing an existential threat to their lands; development impacts to their wildlife-rich territories are killing off species at an alarming rate. Local communities recently shared their concerns, their community conservation practices, and the threats their territories and efforts are facing. Such community efforts are vital to biodiversity conservation and strengthening Indigenous Peoples’ rights over their lands, and their participation in policy work is crucial if biodiversity loss is to be curbed.
Tiger so near, yet so far
By Anshuman Phadikar and Debraj Mitra, The Telegraph, 8 March 2018
The tiger in Lalgarh came close to the traps set up in Melkhedia forest on Tuesday night but did not enter the cage.
Fresh pug marks were found near both traps early on Wednesday, a senior forest official in Calcutta said.
“We are fairly certain about the location of the tiger. It is just a waiting game now,” said Ravi Kant Sinha, the chief wildlife warden of Bengal.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday asked forest officials to ensure that the tiger did not stray into human habitation.
Forest Communities Join Forces to Fight Land Degradation in Mexico
By Emilio Godoy, IPS, 9 March 2018
Forest communities play a fundamental role in Mexico in combating land degradation, but they need more support to that end.
The owners of forests can make a contribution in this Latin American country where half of the territory suffers from some degree of soil impoverishment, to reach its goal of 8.5 million hectares rehabilitated by 2020, and Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030.
“We cordon off vegetation, we reforest, we install silt filtration dams (natural seepage barriers to stop water erosion). This way we retain moisture, stop the loss of soil and protect natural resources,” Benito Acevedo, in charge of technical management in the community of El Tarahumar, in the northern state of Durango, told IPS.
[Indonesia] Sumatran tiger kills a man in Riau
AFP, 11 March 2018
A Indonesian man has been mauled to death by a Sumatran tiger in a remote village, authorities said Sunday, the second deadly attack this year.
Yusri Effendi, 34, was found with fatal wounds to his neck by workmates and local villagers in Riau province on Sumatra island on Saturday evening, the local conservation agency said.
The victim was working on a building to lure the edible-nest swiftlet in Tanjung Simpang village when the tiger began lurking around the construction site.
[India] Critical Wildlife Habitat guidelines issued; NTCA order superseded
By Ishan Kukreti and Shruti Agarwal, Down to Earth, 16 March 2018
On March 6, 2018, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) wrote a letter to the Principal Chief Secretaries of all states to represent the ministry in the Expert Committee for determination of Critical Wildlife Habitats (CWH). MoTA’s letter came in response to the guidelines prepared by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) for determination and notification of CWH within national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Through this letter, MoTA made it clear that it has accepted the guidelines and does not desire any changes in them. This raised heckles with the forest rights activists, who are criticising this decision to accept MoEF&CC’s guidelines without making any revisions or inviting comments from public.
[India] Baiga Adivasis March Against Displacement Due to Tiger Corridor, Demand Forest Rights
By Poovri Kulkarni, The Wire, 19 March 2018
Protesting against their likely displacement for developing the Kanha-Achanakmar tiger reserve corridor, more than 300 Baiga adivasis from around 20 villages held a two-day long march in western Chhattisgarh. Covering a distance of around 70 kms, the adivasis walked from Bahpani village in the Daladali hills to Pandariya town in Chhattisgarh’s Kawardha district. The march that began on March 17 was concluded with a Baiga assembly at Gandhi chowk on March 19.
The major concern they raised was the frequent threats they receive from forest department officials to vacate their homes as the forests are proposed to be developed for the tiger corridor.
Conservation goals may fall short without protection of intact forests: study
Xinhua, 1 March 2018
The few remaining intact forests that are free from damaging human activities need special protection to meet conservation and climate goals, scientists said in a new study.
With over 80 percent of forests already degraded by human and industrial activities, the study published this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution emphasizes the exceptional value of intact forest ecosystems.
Conserving Big Cats Isn’t Easy, But It’s Possible
By John Robinson, Wildlife Conservation Society, 2 March 2018
While we biologists all have our own favorite animals, surveys of public opinion from all parts of the world indicate that big cats are among the most recognized and beloved species on our planet — from Asia’s tigers and snow leopards, to Africa’s lions, to the jaguars of the Americas.
But big cats are not just symbols. As apex predators, they structure the faunal communities in which they live. Such intact biological communities have many values. Typically they are high in biological diversity and provide ecosystem services like the provision of fresh water and the storage of carbon. They also have resources for rural communities and cultural values for the people that live there.
[Indonesia] Save tigers to save forests, activists say
By Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta Post, 3 March 2018
Protecting Indonesian tigers can help to preserve the country’s forest ecosystems, environmentalists have said.
Healthy forests are important for critically endangered Sumatran tigers as they require expansive territories in the wild. When hunting, they typically require 300 square kilometers of forest.
Sumatran tigers can be saved from extinction by ensuring their habitat is protected from land conversion, said Sunarto, a tiger specialist with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia.
Myanmar, Conservationists Working Together to Save Elephants
Voice of America, 4 March 2018
Elephants have had a rich history in Myanmar, the country also known as Burma. Throughout the country’s past, the animals have been used for everything, including transportation, agriculture and warfare.
The white elephant was a symbol of power for the military that ruled the country for more than 50 years until it gave power to a civilian government in 2016.
The Environment and the Bottom Line
By Melinda Sacks, Stanford Magazine, 5 March 2018
When then-21-year-old Gretchen Daily walked into biology professor Paul Ehrlich’s office in 1985, Ehrlich figured she was another smart Stanford senior with ambitions of being a scientist, like all those he had been advising for the past 19 years. What he didn’t know back then is that Daily would teach him as much as he taught her. Or that her work would identify and protect some of the most precious natural resources on the planet.
Today, Ehrlich, the conservation biologist famous for his 1968 book The Population Bomb, calls Daily “the top environmental scientist under 60 in the world.”
Mapping Earth’s Species to Identify Conservation Priorities
E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, 5 March 2018
The Half-Earth Project has launched online the first phase of their cutting-edge global biodiversity map. This unique, interactive asset uses the latest science and technology to map thousands of species around the world and illuminate where future conservation efforts should be located to best care for our planet and ourselves.
[India] Making conservation work
By Bhumika K, The Hindu, 7 March 2018
Karnataka is home to one of the largest concentrated population of tigers in the country, and to one of the healthiest tiger landscapes in the world. But how did this come to be at a time when we are all bemoaning depleting forests and wildlife?
Second Nature – Saving Tiger Landscapes in the Twenty-First Century, a book by scientist and conservationist Sanjay Gubbi, who has been studying leopards and tigers in the wild, offers an account of everyday conservation battles, specially in the corridors of power, an insight into attitudes towards conservation, and how he has broken down walls to reach decision makers.
[India] Karnataka: A jumbo conflict zone
By Deepthis Sanjiv, Bangalore Mirror, 7 March 2018
On World Wildlife Day, the state lost Forest Officer S Manikandan, who was Field Director of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, after a wild elephant attacked him when he had gone to the area to assess damage caused by a mild fire.
This was just the latest and most high-profile of deaths in a state that is reeling with violent confrontations with elephants. In the last three years, at least 158 people have been killed by elephants in the state. Across India, from 16 states, 1,557 have died since 2014 and in 2017-18 (up to November), 201 people died, of which nine were from Karnataka.
Photos: The last three northern white rhinos in existence
By Johnny Simon, Quartz, 7 March 2018
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino in the world was responding to treatment for an infection, Reuters reported on Wednesday (March 7). The bit of good news has his handler rethinking possible euthanasia, something he was considering if Sudan’s pain got too severe.
Sudan lives with two females in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, part of Kenya’s Laikipia National Park. The northern white rhinocerous, a subspecies that is smaller than the southern white rhino, used to number in the thousands but their numbers have shrunk, partially due to poaching. These three rhinos, under constant protection by armed guards, are all that remain. Southern white rhinos, still number at more than 20,000 according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Protecting Myanmar’s elephants from extinction
By Hein Ko Soe, Frontier, 8 March 2018
A new plan developed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation with input from international conservation groups aims to ensure that Myanmar’s wild elephants are not lost to history.
What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 12 March 2018
What is biodiversity? It is the variety of life on Earth, in all its forms and all its interactions. If that sounds bewilderingly broad, that’s because it is. Biodiversity is the most complex feature of our planet and it is the most vital. “Without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity,” says Prof David Macdonald, at Oxford University. The term was coined in 1985 – a contraction of “biological diversity” – but the huge global biodiversity losses now becoming apparent represent a crisis equalling – or quite possibly surpassing – climate change.
Study shows market-based strategies for ecosystem conservation are surging
By Daniel Melling, University of California, 13 March 2018
Programs in which people pay landholders to support natural systems that provide benefits like flood protection, biodiversity and carbon storage, are expanding around the world, according to a new UCLA-led study.
The paper, published today in Nature Sustainability, is the first peer-reviewed, global assessment of “payments for ecosystem services” mechanisms. Leading the study were James Salzman, Donald Bren Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law at UCLA School of Law and the Bren School of the Environment at UC Santa Barbara, and researchers at Ecosystem Marketplace, an initiative of the non-profit Forest Trends.
Awkward questions about diversity
Ted Benton, John Blewitt, Russell Elliott, Brian Heatley,
Jenneth Parker, Ian Rappel, Pritam Singh, Martin Stott, and Sian Sullivan, letter to the editor, The Guardian, 15 March 2018
Damian Carrington are to be congratulated on a wide-ranging and informative article on the urgency and scale of the current global threat to biodiversity and the Guardian (What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?, theguardian.com, 12 March). However, we of the Beyond Extinction Economics (BEE) network have reservations about the article’s diagnosis of its causes, and proposals for addressing the crisis.
Cerrado: can the empire of soy coexist with savannah conservation?
By Alicia Prager and Flávia Milhorance, Mongabay, 15 March 2018
Soybeans, corn, cotton – seemingly never-ending crops – stretch to the horizon, interrupted often by patches of native vegetation. That’s all there is to see, other than agribusiness signs and big trucks laden with produce as we tool along the arrow-straight asphalt of BR-020 on our 600-kilometer (372 miles) drive northeast from Brasília to Barreiras in Bahia state.
That’s the same direction in which Brazil’s agribusiness is expanding as it marches farther and farther, deeper and deeper, into the Cerrado savannah.
[Chile] Clinging to life at the edge of the world
UNEP, 16 March 2018
Any visitor to southern Chile’s ancient Valdivian rainforest could be excused for missing the tiny and unassuming Barrio’s frog, one of the world’s rarest amphibians.
Blending into the riverbanks and streambeds of its forest home, the frog’s stippled, rust-brown back makes it all but invisible to the untrained eye. Its resonant, drawn-out creaking call is often the only sign of this species on the edge.
Madagascar: Conservation official arrested for killing 11 endangered lemurs
By Riana Raymonde Randrianarisoa, Mongabay, 16 March 2018
Two weeks ago, the bodies of 11 critically endangered lemurs were discovered in Iaroka forest inside the Zahamena Ankeniheny Corridor protected area in eastern Madagascar. The lemurs were allegedly killed by one of the local officials charged with protecting them, to the dismay of conservation leaders.
The protected forest is managed jointly by the NGO Conservation International and a local community forestry group, or vondron’olona ifotony (VOI), called VOI Firaisankina. On Feb. 27, police from the nearby town of Andasibe arrested Jean Yves Ratovoson, the VOI’s vice president, in Andasibe’s rural commune of Antavolobe. On Monday, police undertook a special assignment to arrest his suspected accomplices.
Empty half the Earth of its humans. It’s the only way to save the planet
By Kim Stanley Robinson, The Guardian, 20 March 2018
Discussing cities is like talking about the knots in a net: they’re crucial, but they’re only one part of the larger story of the net and what it’s supposed to do. It makes little sense to talk about knots in isolation when it’s the net that matters.
How Wildlife Conservation Can Alleviate Poverty
By Emily Degn, Borgen Magazine, 20 March 2018
A fact little acknowledged in the human world, the prosperity of mankind is intertwined with the prosperity of wildlife and the animal kingdom. While overpopulation rates have skyrocketed in the past century, so have animal extinctions. Overpopulation is plaguing developing countries, and new problems are being faced in nature.
The depletion of water supplies, deforestation, imbalance in ecosystems, natural disasters, lack of resources and animal extinctions all have dangerous and costly consequences for developing nations. These issues add to the cycle that is mother to child poverty and reinforces overpopulation, therefore adding to natural dilemmas as well as social problems. In recent studies, scientists have found that wildlife conservation can alleviate poverty.
Sudan, World’s Last Male Northern White Rhino, Dies
By Eyder Peralta, NPR, 20 March 2018
Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhinoceros, died in Kenya on Monday, leaving his species one step closer to extinction, even as a group of scientists undertake an unprecedented effort to try to keep this animal from vanishing entirely.
Sudan was 45 years old, and his health had deteriorated in recent weeks after a severe leg infection. In a statement, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy said that his condition worsened and that he was no longer able to stand up, so his veterinary team decided to euthanize him.
Can conservation corridors save nature?
By Mason Campbell, ALERT, 23 March 2018
Humans are quickly chopping up the natural world, isolating wildlife populations and making them more prone to extinction.
This is happening faster today than ever before. Roads have already sliced the world’s natural habitats into more than 600,000 pieces.
Most worryingly, the world’s tropical forests — the biologically-richest ecosystems on Earth — are rapidly approaching a ‘fragmentation threshold’, according to new research in Nature, the world’s top-ranked scientific journal.
Destruction of nature as dangerous as climate change, scientists warn
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 23 March 2018
Human destruction of nature is rapidly eroding the world’s capacity to provide food, water and security to billions of people, according to the most comprehensive biodiversity study in more than a decade.
Such is the rate of decline that the risks posed by biodiversity loss should be considered on the same scale as those of climate change, noted the authors of the UN-backed report, which was released in Medellin, Colombia on Friday.
‘My Africa’ field notes: Good fences can make uneasy neighbors
By Jamey Anderson, Conservation International, 23 March 2018
Kruger National Park in South Africa is as far from the northern plains of Kenya as New York is from Utah. And yet the two places share a common challenge: how to conserve wildlife while delivering justice to communities.
Last year, I traveled to South Africa to report from the villages outside Kruger National Park. These communities reflect a legacy of deep injustice. Here’s one example:
Today, the South African village of Dixie still bears the name of a place that no longer exists. Squeezed between two connecting fence lines, the town now occupies a sliver of communal rangeland, hemmed in by wildlife reserves on two of its three sides. Yet, the name Dixie refers to a more marginalized place still: The original village, kilometers to the north, was subsumed into a wildlife reserve years ago.
The Nature Conservancy looks to catalyse Indian investments in nature
Financial Express, 23 March 2018
Mark Tercek, President of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a conservation organisation operating in more than 72 countries, will be visiting India next week to meet senior government officials and ministers of the central and state governments in New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. Tereck will be accompanied by conservation scientists and experts for the meetings, which will focus on how TNC can support India’s sustainable development goals. He will meet business leaders in Mumbai and speak about how to catalyse private investment in nature. He will also give a talk in Chennai on how investments in nature, such as restoring lakes and wetlands can help build a healthy city.
Was the Death of the Last Male Northern White Rhino the End of a Hoax?
By Janaki Lenin, The Wire, 25 March 2018
Sudan, the last male of his kind, died on March 19, 2018, in Kenya. It’s now curtains for northern white rhinoceroses. His survivors are his daughter Najin and Najin’s daughter, Fatu.
The international media chronicled the poignancy of the 45-year-old’s death at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a private reserve owned and operated by a Kenyan NGO in a long-term agreement with another NGO, Flora and Fauna International, UK.
Logging and conservation efforts can successfully coexist
By Chrissy Sexton, earth.com, 27 March 2018
Research examining the environmental impacts of logging are crucial for implementing regulations and conservation measures in order to prevent population loss and habitat degradation.
The effects of the logging industry on large species such as jaguars can be particularly devastating.
The loss of habitat and biodiversity is becoming a serious concern among conservationists, which is why some countries have implemented reduced impact logging operations as a means to help protect certain species.
Our Congolese leaders: Transforming communities through conservation
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, 27 March 2018
Our groundbreaking work to save critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas in Congo’s unprotected forests is carried out by some very special people, whose dedication, determination and skills make an almost impossible goal a reality. Here are three of our leaders whose work and fortitude make a crucial difference every day.
Leading all our work in Congo is Urbain Ngobobo, who has led the Fossey Fund’s expanding work there since 2011, especially our growing Nkuba Conservation area, where we now have five teams of local Congolese trackers protecting Grauer’s gorillas every day, by working with traditional local landowners to designate their land for conservation and prevent hunting and other activities that threaten the forest.
A blow from an axe: The dangers of privatizing India’s forests
By Ramachandra Guha, The Telegraph, 31 March 2018
Forty five years ago, a group of villagers in the Alakananda valley stopped a group of loggers from felling a patch of ash trees. Thus was born the Chipko Andolan, the peasant movement that focused popular attention on the depredations of commercial forestry in India.
Following Chipko, there were a series of struggles in defence of forest rights across the country; in Gadchiroli, in Bastar, in Singhbhum, in the Western Ghats. These social movements inspired scholars to study the history of forest policy. Books and essays were written on how the British raj had expropriated wooded areas previously under the control of village communities and constituted them as ‘Reserved Forests’. Peasants, artisans and tribals were denied access to these areas, which were now subject to intensive commercial exploitation.
Madagascar’s vanilla wars: Prized spice drives death and deforestation
By Jonathan Watts, Gulf News, 31 March 2018
The vanilla thieves of Anjahana were so confident of their power to intimidate farmers they provided advance warning of raids. “We are coming tonight,” they would write in a note pushed under doors in this remote coastal village in Madagascar. “Prepare what we want.”
But they either undervalued their target commodity or overestimated the meekness of their victims. After one assault too many at the turn of the year, a crowd rounded up five alleged gangsters, dragged them into the village square and then set about the bloody task of mob justice.
Charity in drive to raise funds for elephant protection
By Brian Ngugi, Business Daily, 6 March 2018
A new global campaign is set to raise funds for anti-poaching activities and securing protected habitats for elephants in Kenya.
Individuals can contribute at least Sh500 while corporates can send from Sh50,000. No target has been set for the amount to be raised in the campaign that supports the work of international conservation charity Space for Giants.
Under the campaign, a herd of digital elephants is to march across the world from Thursday to raise awareness on the grave threat faced by the animals in Kenya and the rest of Africa.
Hong Kong’s ivory ban sparks fresh hope for endangered elephants
By Baily Bischoff, Christian Science Monitor, 2 March 2018
Smooth white bracelets, intricate carvings of women in flowing gowns, and majestic horses are among the countless items that are disappearing from shop windows in mainland China as the government implements an ivory trading ban for the world’s largest consumer of ivory.
And now Hong Kong, the largest ivory retail market, is preparing to do the same. Lawmakers voted Jan. 31 to ban the sale of ivory starting in 2021, and increase penalties for wildlife crimes. Both bans include exceptions for certain antiques and cultural relics.
MoU inked between WWF, Pakistan Customs to curb wildlife trafficking
Pakistan Today, 16 March 2018
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan and Pakistan Customs signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Friday to curb illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan.
The collaboration would contribute towards enhancing capacities of the Pakistan Customs and other agencies concerned to help them understand the key aspects of illegal wildlife trade in order to enhance vigilance against wildlife trafficking.
Africa Calls European Union To Ban Ivory Trade
SRJ News, 17 March 2018
More than thirty leaders from Africa have signed a petition to urge European Union (EU) to announce ivory trade as illegal in its territory calling China has taken the lead, Hong Kong has followed, and now it is time for the other countries to implement the same to save elephants.
The population of elephants has declined sharply lately. In 1979 the number was 1.3 million and in 2016 it has dropped to just over 350,000.
China banned ivory trade in the country in December 2017 and about a month later Hong Kong announced the same.
Nigeria: Special Report – Why Nigeria, Cameroon Must Collaborate On Wildlife Protection
By Kolawole Talabi, Premium Times, 25 March 2018
The proximity of Cameroon’s Korup National Park to Nigeria’s Cross River National Park is one example of how contiguous protected areas facilitate cross-border poaching of wildlife. Conservationists have long discovered that parts of the bush meat sold in South-eastern Nigeria is sourced from Cameroon and now advocate that both countries need to further collaborate to stem the loss of endangered species in their border regions.
Bone of contention: Pragmatism versus ideology in countering poaching and wildlife trafficking
By Vanda Felbab.Brown, Brookings, 1 March 2018
Over the past decade, poaching and wildlife trafficking have devastated wildlife populations around the world. Environmental threats, such as climate change, deforestation and other forms of habitat destruction, have also had a large-scale impact on ecosystems. Given the combined effect of these threats, poaching and wildlife trafficking – not to mention badly managed legal trade in wildlife – have the potential to drive species to extinction.
Leopards in Cambodia ‘on brink of extinction due to poaching’, research suggests
By Stephen Beech, The Independent, 4 March 2018
Leopards are on the brink of extinction in Cambodia due to increased poaching, warns new research.
The study has confirmed that the world’s last breeding population of leopards in the South East Asian country is at “immediate risk” of extinction, having declined an astonishing 72 per cent over just five years.
The population represents the last remaining leopards in all of eastern Indochina – incorporating Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
Poaching of elephants, crocodiles, on the increase in Mozambique
By Grace Okogwu, Amore, 4 March 2018
A total of 144 hippos – as well as 111 buffalo, 54 elephants, four crocodiles and two lions – were killed between 2015 and 2016 in a small part of Tete province. In South Africa, a suspected poacher was mauled to death by a pride of Lions.
Dozens of monkeys, warthogs and antelopes were also killed.
But while the number is likely to be far higher, poaching was kept down in the area thanks to wardens working with the Tchuma Tchato community wildlife management programme, BBC reports.
[India] 553 tiger deaths from 2012-2017; 22.1 pc of poaching
India Today, 5 March 2018
Out of 553 tiger deaths from 2012-2017, over 22 per cent were due to poaching, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.
Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Mahesh Sharma, in a written reply to a question, also said that more than 15 per cent of the deaths were related to seizures.
How safe are our wildlife sanctuaries?
By Monica Evans, CIFOR Forests News, 5 March 2018
Protected areas are key to efforts to conserve global biodiversity. But a new study shows that hunting and recreational activities pose significant threats to these would-be sanctuaries around the globe.
The study brings together data from nearly 2000 protected areas (PAs) across 149 countries. Sixty-one percent of the sites surveyed list hunting as a threat, while 55 percent point to recreational activities. The results reveal a geographic split, with recreational activities posing the biggest threat in ‘developed’ areas such as North America and Europe, and hunting dominating in ‘developing’ areas such as Central Africa and parts of South America and Asia.
Tycoon who ate Thai black leopard plans to build highway through ‘pristine’ habitat in Myanmar
By Laim Cochrane, ABC News, 5 March 2018
A Thai businessman caught poaching a rare black leopard plans to build a highway through a pristine forest in Myanmar that is home to endangered leopards and connects two tiger sanctuaries.
Conservationists, residents, and an armed ethnic group have all expressed concerns about the project.
“The very recent scandal, especially the president himself, caught red-handed poaching in the World Heritage site in Thailand … I think that raised a lot of scepticism about the governance of Italian-Thai,” said Petch Manopawitr, deputy director of Indo-Burma for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Tanzania’s lion being poached in large numbers as population drops
By Habel Chidawali, The Citizen, 5 March 2018
A total of 250 lions are killed every year in Tanzania by poachers raising fears of the possible extinction of the “king of the jungle” in the country in the foreseeable future.
An official from the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (Tawiri) Dr Dennis Ikanda said the number of lions has dropped from about 25,000 in 2010 to 16,000 currently.
Gabon put GPS trackers on its elephants to fight illegal poaching
Fast Company, 6 March 2018
Gabon’s elephant population is dwindling, but a new tech-driven anti-poaching project may help slow the loss.
A 2017 Duke University-led study found that more than 25,000 elephants in Gabon’s Minkébé National Park may have been killed for their ivory between 2004 and 2014, contributing to drop in Gabon’s forest elephant population between 78% and 81%, all due to poaching. Now, the government is fighting back with “The Project to Combat Wildlife Crime and Ivory Trafficking in Gabon,” or more simply, “Elephant Project”, iAfrikan reports.
Namibia records 8 rhino poaching cases since January
Xinhua, 6 March 2018
Namibia has recorded eight rhino poaching incidences since January this year, spokesperson for the Environment and Tourism Ministry said on Tuesday.
Romeo Muyunda said that five of the rhinos were poached in Etosha National Park, while the other three were poached in private farms.
[India] Alarming rise in leopard deaths spotted in Maharashtra this year
By Aprajita Vidyarthi, Pune Mirror, 7 March 2018
Experts cite man-animal conflict as 21 big cats found dead already; opportunistic poaching may be secondary cause.
Wildlife experts have been left stunned as Maharashtra stands second in the study of leopard mortality done by the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). While the number of deaths of big cats is 106 since January this year across the country, at least 18 leopards were found dead in Maharashtra in the first two months of 2018. In March alone, three more deaths have been reported.
[Madagascar] Instability of wildlife trade does not encourage trappers to conserve natural habitats
By Dan Worth, University of Kent, 7 March 2018
Much of the global wildlife trade originates in nations with rich biodiversity and high levels of poverty as the act of trapping and trading local wildlife allows people to generate extra income.
Researchers from the University’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, within its School of Anthropology and Conservation, and the School of Economics, examined the extent to which this is the case in Madagascar, one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots.
They interviewed people in several villages in the country to ascertain how many were involved in the legal trade in animals. They found around 13% of households they surveyed were engaged in live animal collection – usually reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. From this they earnt an average of $100 per season. This accounted for a quarter of their yearly income.
[Malaysia] Wire Snares in the Jungle Inflict Torture and Slow Deaths on Our Wildlife
By Melvin Gumal, Wildlife Conservation Society, 7 March 2018
Torture waits in the jungle for animals, waiting to chew off limbs or inflict a slow, painful death. Wire snares or traps don’t care. They don’t discern what they catch.
To a poacher, snares are efficient for harvesting wildlife as many can be set, left unattended, and the animals caught can be collected much later. But this is a brutal “efficiency”, for snares are pure torture, cutting into the legs, or even necks, of animals.
[South Africa] DA calls for urgent action in rhino poaching crisis
By Janine Avery, IOL, 7 March 2018
DA MP Ross Purdon tabled a parliamentary motion this week calling on government departments to revisit this national rhino poaching crisis with the urgency it deserves. In the motion tabled on Monday, he says rhino poaching has reached critical levels in South Africa.
Purdon believes that increased anti-poaching efforts in the Kruger National Park (KNP) have detrimentally affected the country’s other parks.
[USA] Lincoln Park Zoo Assists in Arrest of Notorious Elephant Poachers
By Alex Ruppenthal, Chcago Tonight, 7 March 2018
Armed with a satellite phone and a map, Lincoln Park Zoo conservation scientist David Morgan helped coordinate the arrest of three notorious elephant poachers operating deep inside a remote rainforest in the Republic of Congo.
Morgan, who co-directs a permanent research site for the zoo in the country’s Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, was at his home in St. Louis on Jan. 25 when researchers from his team first heard shots of gunfire and alerted park rangers.
Google, Facebook come down on the side of elephants, rhinos, tigers
By Ethan Baron, The Mercury News, 8 March 2018
A week after the United States quietly lifted a ban on imports of sport-hunted elephants’ ivory and lion parts from certain African countries, the World Wildlife Fund has announced that Google, Facebook and other major tech firms are joining an effort to halt the illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife parts.
“Advances in technology and connectivity across the world, combined with rising buying power and demand for illegal wildlife products, have increased the ease of exchange from poacher to consumer,” the WWF said in a news release.
[India] MP STF arrests notorious wildlife smuggler
By Neeraj Santoshi, Hindustan Times, 8 March 2018
Madhya Pradesh forest department special task force (wildlife crime) has arrested Pawan Pardhi, accused of being a notorious inter-state wildlife smuggler, with sexual organs of monitor lizards, which he claimed are used in tantric rituals to attract girls.
The team led by STF in charge Ritesh Sirothia and members of the Tiger Strike Force from Satna district caught Pawan on Tuesday after they got a tip off about his presence in Katni and Panna districts.
Ivory up in flames, but who really noticed? How messages on elephant poaching might be missed
By Matthew H. Holden, Alexander Richard Braczkowski, Christopher O’Bryan, Duan Biggs, Hugh Possingham, James Allan, and James Watson, The Conversation, 11 March 2018
The tusks of more than ten thousand elephants went up in flames in Kenya on April 30, 2016 – the world’s largest ever ivory burn. It was meant as a powerful display against poaching and the illegal ivory trade.
But did those flames reach their intended target?
Currently, governments, donors and NGOs aren’t monitoring the impact of these ivory burns. So we tracked the media coverage of the Kenyan burn, with the results published this month in Conservation Biology.
Hi-tech conservationists fight Indonesia wildlife crime
By Harry Pearl, Phys.org, 11 March 2018
From cutting-edge DNA barcoding to smartphone apps that can identify illegal wildlife sales, conservationists are turning to hi-tech tools in their battle against Indonesia’s animal traffickers.
Spread across more than 17,000 islands, the Southeast Asian nation’s dense tropical rainforests boast some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, from scaly pangolins to the endangered orangutan.
But that enormous array of flora and fauna means Indonesia is also on the frontline of an illicit global trade estimated to be worth as much as $23 billion a year—a shadowy operation bringing some species to the brink of extinction.
We Can Stop the Poaching of Big Cats. Here’s How.
By Fred Launay and John E. Scanlon, New York Times, 12 March 2018
Just seven years ago in India’s magnificent Manas National Park, there were no tigers to speak of, just a few remnants of a population wiped out after decades of civil unrest that left the park’s wildlife vulnerable to persecution.
Now there are more than 30 tigers in Manas, a remarkable recovery achieved in record time thanks to a robust collaboration among the Indian Forest Department, local and international nongovernmental organizations, and law enforcement agencies, all working together to secure the park and protect it from poachers.
[Indonesia] Protecting tigers could be beneficial for their prey
By Tim Knight (Flora and Flora International), Phys.org, 12 March 2018
Protecting one of Asia’s most formidable apex predators may not seem like the most obvious way to help another species that might be on its dinner menu, but that is precisely what Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is doing in Sumatra’s Kerinci Seblat National Park, the second-largest national park in Southeast Asia.
In theory, a pangolin would make a handy bite-sized snack for a Sumatran tiger, but in reality, an encounter with a hungry feline is the least of its worries. Thanks to their cloak of tough, overlapping scales, pangolins can protect themselves against even the most determined natural predators by the simple expedient of rolling into a virtually impenetrable ball.
Meet the dogs on the anti-poaching front line
By Kate Lewis, The Independent, 13 March 2018
Early evening in the Zimbabwean savannah, the light is fading. Lions begin to rouse from their daytime slumber, minds focused on dinner. But it’s not just lions hunting their prey in the African dusk, humans are too. Three men have been spotted on the conservancy with a rifle and backpack – poachers – hoping for a night-time rhino kill.
Smithsonian Scientists Find Elephant-poaching Crisis Emerging in Myanmar
Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, 13 March 2018
Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) have found that poaching is an emerging crisis for Asian elephants in Myanmar. They published their findings today, March 13, in PLOS ONE.
Researchers first became aware of the crisis while conducting an unrelated telemetry study in which they fitted 19 Asian elephants with satellite GPS collars to better understand elephant movements and reduce human-elephant conflict. Seven of those 19 elephants were poached within a year of being fitted with the collars. The findings suggest that human-elephant conflict, which was thought to be the biggest threat to Myanmar’s wild elephants, may be secondary to poaching. And conservation efforts to help the 1,400 to 2,000 wild elephants in Myanmar should prioritize anti-poaching efforts.
African officials root for sniffer dogs to boost war against wildlife crimes
Xinhua, 14 March 2018
African conservationists, law enforcement and customs officers on Tuesday called on their governments to invest in tracking and detection canines in order to boost the war against illegal trafficking of wildlife products.
Speaking at a regional training workshop in Nairobi, the officials said the deployment of canines at ports of entry will strengthen apprehension and prosecution of criminals trafficking contraband goods like elephant tusks and rhino horns.
Nigeria Customs intercepts elephant tusks, pangolin worth N1.2 billion – Minister
Premium Times, 22 March 2018
The Minister of Environment, Ibrahim Jibril, says the Nigerian Customs Service has intercepted elephant tusks and pangolin, worth about N1.2 billion, between February 15 and March 22.
The minister, represented by Shehu Ahmed, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, said this on Thursday in Abuja at a one-day workshop on how to combat illegal wildlife trade and international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora.
The workshop was organised by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment.
Former Zimbabwe first lady Grace Mugabe accused of running ivory poaching network
By Peta Thornycroft, Ronald Oliphant, and Adrian Blomfield, The Telegraph, 23 March 2018
Zimbabwe police have launched an investigation into former first lady Grace Mugabe over allegations that she headed a poaching and smuggling syndicate which illegally exported tonnes of elephant tusks, gold, and diamonds from the country, the Telegraph can reveal.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the president of Zimbabwe, sanctioned an “urgent” investigation into Mrs Mugabe’s activities after “very strong” evidence was uncovered by Adrian Steirn, an Australian photo journalist, a senior official in the presidential administration said.
Duke researchers find poaching elephants hurts forest ecosystems
By Jenn Marsh, Duke Chronicle, 25 March 2018
Forest elephants are massive animals that can weigh anywhere from two-and-a-half to seven tons. They have big ears, big feet and big tusks that money-seeking poachers will kill for.
John Poulsen, assistant professor of tropical ecology, has been researching the effects of poaching and decline in forest elephant populations of West and Central Africa, as well as the impacts on the forest’s tree species and related ecosystems.
RTI Activist Group Alleges Fudging of Rhino Census Data
By Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty, The Wire, 26 March 2018
In the run-up to the 2016 assembly polls in Assam, the rallying point of political opponents challenging the then-15-year-old Congress government to safeguard the “jati mati bheti” (‘home and hearth’) of the indigenous population of the state included the protection of the state animal: the one-horned rhinoceros.
At the time, Rockybul Hussain, the forest minister of the then Tarun Gogoi government, had been facing flak from the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) about the rising incidents of rhinoceros death due to poaching, particularly in the Kaziranga National Park (KNP). AGP accused Hussain, an MLA from Samaguri, which covers a part of KNP, of being “personally involved in poaching”.
Militarisation of conservation
British Military Support Vital In War On Poaching
By James Knuckey, Forces Network, 20 March 2018
The world’s last male northern white rhino has died in captivity after suffering from old age and illness.
A statement from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya said 45-year-old ‘Sudan’ was put to sleep after his condition “worsened significantly” and he was no longer able to stand.
Sudan was placed under 24-hour armed security whilst in the reserve and experts say that the use of military personnel and military training could be vital in ensuring other species of rhino do not suffer a similar fate.
An expert has told Forces News that military personnel is “needed to save the rhino”.
Kenyan Wildlife Service receives 27 Landcruisers
defenceWeb, 28 February 2018
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has donated 26 Toyota Landcruiser vehicles to boost the anti-poaching operations of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
The vehicles were handed over to Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Tourism Najib Balala, at a ceremony in Nairobi, by US ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec.
The ambassador said the vehicles would help KWS staff intensify counter-poaching operations while fighting the cancer of corruption which undermines the fight against wildlife crimes.
Tanzania about to deploy paramilitary system in its conservancies
Xinhua, 29 March 2018
Tanzania is in final stages to transforming mode of operation for the country’s wildlife and forest institutions into paramilitary in a bid to reinforce anti-poaching battle, a senior official said on Wednesday.
Japhet Hasunga, Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism said that the institutions which are to be operated under paramilitary system include Tanzania National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, Tanzania Wildlife Authority and Tanzania Forest Services.
A bird in the bush equals money in the hand
Wildlife Conservation Society, 1 March 2018
A new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Foundations of Success (FOS) finds that an ecotourism strategy based on “direct payments,” where local people are compensated for the amount of wildlife seen by tourists, has resulted in a reduction in illegal hunting and an increase in wildlife sightings.
Ecotourism payments for more wildlife sightings linked to conservation benefits in Laos
Mongabay, 5 March 2018
Making ecotourism pay for local communities while also protecting wildlife has proven a challenge in many parts of the world. Often, the boost in a local economy doesn’t always convince everyone to put conservation first. But a recent research project in Laos, carried out with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Foundations of Success (FOS), demonstrates that linking cash payments with results, such as the number of animals seen, could be enough to discourage hunting and other practices detrimental to wildlife numbers.
Rwanda’s Inspiring Eco-Tourism Success
By Leah Feiger, Culture Trip, 9 March 2018
Rwanda, known as the land of a thousand hills, is one of the greenest — both literally and figuratively — countries on the planet.
The streets of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, are pristine. Nary a food wrapper or discarded plastic bottle litter the road, making it a contender for East Africa’s cleanest city. Known for their sustainable policies, the Rwandan government makes every effort to keep the country spotless, going as far as banning plastic bags. Likewise, animal conservation efforts in Rwanda — including the resurgence of the endangered mountain gorilla population and the reintroduction of lions and rhinos to Akagera National Park — is beyond impressive.
Jungle tales: village-based tourism in Thailand
By Rachel Dixon, The Guardian, 10 March 2018
“Snake!” My guide’s shout shattered the peace of the lazy Sok river in Khao Sok national park, southern Thailand. He grabbed the rubber ring I was floating in and dragged me to an overhanging branch to gaze up at the black and yellow coils. For someone with ophidiophobia – fear of snakes – it wasn’t the ideal start to my community-based tourism trip. But even terror couldn’t entirely detract from the beauty of the river, meandering between dramatic karsts.
Trash in the Galápagos Reveals the Dark Side of Ecotourism
By Wudan Zan, The Revelator, 14 March 2018
The equatorial rays and humidity welcomed me after I stepped off the plane in Baltra, a small island in the Galápagos that, save for the airport, was otherwise deserted. Waves lapped up against the reddish-brown sand. Small lizards with red bellies darted between the prickly Opunti cacti that dotted the earth. After a short boat ride through the Itabaca Channel — during which I marveled at the opalescent, turquoise waters — I arrived on the island of Santa Cruz and hailed a cab to go to the town center.
Rediscovering the most heavenly corner of Africa
By Lisa Grainger, The Telegraph, 16 March 2018
It is dusk, and from a deck perched on a 6,000ft escarpment above the Loisaba Conservancy in northern Kenya, it feels as if the whole of Africa is stretched out before me. On the horizon, the silhouette of Mount Kenya rises into the hazy lavender sky. Below, the dusty bush echoes with the trumpeting of an elephant at a waterhole. To the east, an eagle soars above the rocky mountain slopes on the lookout for its last prey of the day. And as the sun sinks, the great wash of blue sky turns pink, then red, and finally coal-black, set with sparkling constellations: the Southern Cross, Orion, Taurus, Gemini…
This is the Africa of dreams: the air fragrant with the smell of greenery, alive with the sound of creatures, and, right now, lit up by what seems like a trillion stars. Last spring, however, this idyllic area – Laikipia county – erupted in violence as nomadic herdsmen invaded luxury lodges, ranches and conservancies in search of fresh pasture for their cattle in a severe drought. Mukutan Retreat, a luxury lodge, was torched as tensions grew and a dozen people in the region were killed.
Over $720 million in profit from tourism in Peru’s protected natural areas
By Alexa Eunoé Vélez Zuazo, Mongabay, 22 March 2018
When evaluating a business proposition, we often consider two economic variables: revenue versus investment. If you earn 40 times what you put in, that’s quite clearly a profitable venture. This happens to be the exact result of a new study by the Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF) on the local economic impact of tourism in Peru’s protected areas. CSF works in economically-based conservation solutions – with support from the Andes Amazon Fund (AAF). Economists and biologists worked together for the CSF study, setting out to analyze if tourism is profitable or not for the country.
Upcoming tourist attractions in East Africa
By Apolinari Tairo, eTN Tanzania, 26 March 2018
Distributed in the Eastern and Southern Highlands of Tanzania, the Eastern Arc Mountains are the other, underdeveloped tourist attractive sites rich with nature.
Nature reserves in Tanzania decorate the Eastern Arc Mountains with beautiful, green forests with blossoming flowers, insects, birds, small mammals, reptiles, and scenery set to attract nature-loving tourists.
The Uluguru Nature Reserve is one among the tourist attractive sites under development by its unique natural attractions, mostly montane animals, birds, and insects with different but attractive colors.
Tourism investors lead the way: Program relocates 9,360 snares from Serengeti
By Adam Ihucha, eTN Tanzania, 27 March 2018
Over 9,360 snares have been removed and dispatched from Tanzania’s flagship national park of Serengeti to Arusha, thanks to a unique anti-poaching program.
The de-snaring program’s key objective is to fight against the rampant snares set by local bush meat mongers to catch massive wildlife within the Serengeti national park.
Tourism investors, led by the Chairman of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), Willy Chambulo, along with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), and other stakeholders, are pioneering the de-snaring program in Serengeti to suppress the new fatal poaching method.
Big game hunting
Cecil The Lion Was Allegedly Lured Out Of Protected Area Before Being Shot In 2015
By Hillary Luehring-Jones, uinterview, 7 March 2018
Cecil the Lion was a household name in July 2015 when he was shot and killed by a Minnesota dentist just outside of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
Dr. Walter Palmer allegedly paid $50,000 to hunt in the park, but reports have come out that Cecil was lured out of the protected national park area by an elephant carcass. Palmer then fired an arrow at the 12-year-old big cat, injuring him, and then finished him off with another shot.
A new book, Lion Hearted: The Life and Death of Cecil & the Future of Africa’s Iconic Cats, by Andrew Loveridge claims that Palmer’s hunting guide Theo Bronkhorst and tracker Cornelius Ncube, dragged an elephant carcass earlier that week to an area about 985 feet outside of the animal safe zone.
Trump to allow elephant and lion trophies on case-by-case basis
By Jeremy Hance, Mongabay, 8 March 2018
After months of indecision and confusion, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) says that it will now allow the importation of elephant and lion trophies on an “application-by-application” basis, according to a new memorandum.
In November of last year, the Department of the Interior announced it would end Obama era elephant protections in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Protections for lions had already been quietly taken away the previous month.
But two days later President Trump himself interjected via Twitter, dubbing trophy hunting a “horror show” and putting the decision on hold. Trump said a decision would come a week later – it never did.
[Zimbabwe] Cecil the lion ‘suffered intolerable cruelty for at least 10 hours’
By Denis Bedoya, Infosurhoy, 8 March 2018
The death of an endangered black-maned lion back in 2015 at the hands of a trophy hunter sparked months of outrage and protests across the world.
Cecil the lion’s death came under intense scrutiny from the international media – and the world was left stunned by the cruelty with which he was killed.
Now though, new details released in a book have revealed that he suffered deliberate and unimaginable torture in the hours before he died.
Botswana’s Ian Khama: Trump encouraging elephant poaching
BBC News, 16 March 2018
The outgoing president of Botswana has attacked his US counterpart Donald Trump for “encouraging poaching” by overturning a ban on the import of hunting trophies.
Speaking at an anti-poaching summit in Botswana, two weeks before he steps down, President Ian Khama told the BBC it was not just Mr Trump’s attitude towards wildlife he was concerned about, but his “attitude towards the whole planet”.
[USA] Trump board defends trophy hunting
By Michael Biesecker, AP, 16 March 2018
Big-game hunters tapped by the Trump administration to help rewrite federal rules for importing the heads and hides of African elephants and lions as trophies defended the practice Friday, arguing that threatened and endangered species would go extinct without the anti-poaching programs funded in part by the fees wealthy Americans pay to shoot some of them.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the International Wildlife Conservation Council appointed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is stuffed with celebrity hunting guides, representatives from rifle and bow manufacturers, and wealthy sportspeople who boast of bagging the coveted “Big Five” – elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and Cape buffalo.
Conservation groups sue to overturn trophy hunting decision
By Gregory Wallace and Maegan Vazquez, CNN, 20 March 2018
Several animal conservation groups are challenging in court the Trump administration’s recent decision to consider big game trophy import applications on a case-by-case basis.
The groups — which include the Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International and Humane Society of the United States — said Tuesday that they are asking a federal court in Washington, DC, to rule that the US Fish and Wildlife Service did not follow the proper process to make its March 1 decision, which withdrew a series of Endangered Species Act findings that apply to some African elephants, lions and bontebok, a type of antelope.
The groups also say the decision violates the Endangered Species Act.
Trump’s elephant, lion trophy hunting policy hit with double lawsuits
By Jeremy Hance, Mongabay, 26 March 2018
Just weeks after the Trump administration announced a new policy allowing the importation of dead African elephant and lion parts by U.S. trophy hunters, a group of environmental and wildlife conservation NGOs has filed a lawsuit alleging the move goes against recent court rulings.
Around the same time, Born Free USA filed a second lawsuit against the Interior Department, demanding further information regarding the members of the Trump administration’s newly-formed — and already controversial — International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC). Analysts say the group is stacked with pro-trophy hunting members and those with ties to the gun industry.
Lion defenders: How Tanzania stopped 90% of hunts in a national park
By Sue Watt, The Independent, 28 February 2018
Deep in the night, I hear a lion roaring, a low melancholy call that carries for miles across the plains. It’s a sound of strength and supremacy as the king of the beasts stakes his territorial claims. But with lions becoming increasingly vulnerable due to poaching, habitat loss, hunting and human-wildlife conflict, it’s a sound that could soon be silenced. Today, just 24,000 lions survive in Africa; experts believe they could be extinct by 2050.