Conservation Watch’s news round up: April 2018

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

[Myanmar] Karen group says plan to protect forests ignores people’s rights
By Su Myat Mon, Frontier Myanmar, 11 April 2018
The forested hills of Tanintharyi Region seem to roll on forever; except where they have been cleared for villages and palm oil, or for rubber and areca nut plantations, all which appear on the horizon in different shades of green.
Tanintharyi has the largest remaining intact areas of low-elevation evergreen forests in Southeast Asia, says the Conservation Alliance for Thanawthari, a coalition of seven Karen community groups that are concerned about the human impact of government plans for the region.

[Kenya] Locals blame police after houses torched in Laikipia
By Steve Njuguna, Daily Nation, 28 April 2018
Hundreds of houses have been burnt down at Kisiriri and Rumuruti in Laikipia County.
Local residents on Saturday pointed the finger at police officers who are hunting for armed raiders who shot and killed two county employees at the expansive Laikipia Nature Conservancy run by renowned conservationist Kuki Gallman.
But police have denied the villagers’ accusation, saying they have nothing to do with the torching of their houses.

Are indigenous people united under the United Nations?
By Graham Cameron, The Spinoff, 29 April 2018
Law professor Valmaine Toki is purported to have described the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues as a “huge Waitangi Tribunal.” Did she mean unpopular, underfunded and ignored or an opportunity for indigenous peoples to tell our story and achieve some semblance of justice?
Probably a bit of both.

Protected areas

Brazil has greatly expanded its protected areas in the last two years
Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, 6 April 2018
Brazil has recently created five new protected areas to strengthen conservation efforts in the country. The measures created the Boqueirão da Onça National Park and Environmental Protection Area (APA), both in countryside Bahia, and the Itapetininga, Arapiranga-Tromaí and Baía do Tubarão extractive reserves in the state of Maranhão. These will now join the 333 protected areas currently managed by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio).

[DRC] The saving of the Luki Biosphere Reserve with WWF support
WWF, 9 April 2018
WWF DRC’s conservation agenda has highlighted the Luki Natural Reserve, the biodiversity of which was once threatened, and has effectively contributed to the ownership of the conservation program by local communities and other key actors such as ERAIFT – Regional School / Postgraduate degree in Integrated Planning and Management of Forests and Tropical Territories – through a participatory approach.
WWF DRC officially announced the closing of its program in the Kongo-Central province after 14 years of activities implementation and support that pro-duced visible and very encouraging results like the presence of chimpanzees and other large mammals in the Luki Natural Reserve.

Colombia takes ‘unprecedented’ step to stop farms gobbling forests
By Anastasia Moloney, Reuters, 11 April 2018
Indigenous communities that depend on Colombia’s Amazon rainforest for their survival will have more say over their ancestral lands, as Colombia adds 8 million hectares to its protected areas in an effort to stem forest loss.
The new measures announced by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday aim to create a buffer zone for the country’s southern Amazon region.

[Thailand] National parks set to multiply
Bangkok Post, 25 April 2018
More than 20 areas are in the line to become national parks, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. They include seven forest and waterfall areas that were approved for the upgrade by the National Park Committee at a meeting on Tuesday.

[India] Illegal mining inside Bannerghatta National Park, mark boundaries immediately say activists
By Meghana Wunnava, The News Minute, 25 April 2018
The illegal mining activities surrounding Bengaluru’s Bannerghatta National Park has been a long-standing issue. However, now, activists and environmentalists allege that illegal mining is taking place in the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of Bannerghatta National Park (BNP).
The dynamite explosions, that require Class II explosives, is causing inconvenience to the residents of 47 villages that are situated there. These residents depend solely on agriculture for their livelihood.

Communities and conservation

Uncontacted tribes’ rights recognized in Peru’s historic land pledge
Survival International, 5 April 2018
Peru is to create two Amazonian reserves for the protection of uncontacted tribes , covering more than 2.5 million hectares. At least seven distinct groups of uncontacted tribes, including Matsés Indians, are known to be living in the areas comprising the new Yavari Tapiche and Yavari Mirin reserves in Peru’s NE Amazon state of Loreto.
The remote region has been under intense pressure from oil exploration, logging and a proposed road that could wreak devastation on the tribes. Those wishing to exploit the area’s natural resources have long denied the existence of tribes living in these forests, whose presence would obstruct their plans.

[Cambodia] Conservation orgs urge government to halt destruction of Phnom Tnout sanctuary
By Yesenia Amaro, Phnom Penh Post, 19 April 2018
Conservation organisations are urging the Cambodian government to take immediate action to halt the “rapid rate of destruction” of the recently created Phnom Tnout Wildlife Sanctuary in Preah Vihear province and the endangered species found in the protected area.
A group of eight organsations, including the World Wildlife Fund, the Wildlife Alliance and the Wildlife Conservation Society, released a statement on Wednesday expressing “great concern” at the situation in the sanctuary.

Conservation

Conservation message too complex for Kenyan youth
By Evelyne Makena, MediaMax, 1 April 2018
A camera follows Omar Ibrahim through a winding alley lined with shanty structures. The neighbourhood, which bears broken sewer lines, heaps of garbage and a murky river flowing through it, is the only home Omar has known his entire life.
“When I was little, I used to swim. It’s not something our parents allowed us to do. But we would sneak out and go swimming,” says Omar referring to the once clean river in Kibera that now chokes with waste. A short film Mabingwa captures how the 23-year-old man and other young Kenyans perceive conservation and wildlife; two related concepts that Omar has a hazy understanding of.
Even though he had heard about lions while growing up, he only got to see them during a recent trip to Masai Mara National Reserve.

Fourth suspicious fire breaks out at Hong Kong wetland conservation area Nam Sang Wai
By Shirley Zhao, South China Morning Post, 2 April 2018
Another case of suspected arson took place in a popular Hong Kong wetland conservation area on Monday morning, the fourth such fire in the area in weeks.
The Nam Sang Wai wetland in Yuen Long has been at the centre of a long-lasting land dispute between its private owner, environmentalists and town planners over whether the area should be developed or conserved.

[Mexico] Tiny Tulum goes from beach paradise to eco nightmare
By Andreane Williams, DW, 3 April 2018
With its eco-chic hotels, yoga retreats, Mayan ruins, luscious jungles and turquoise ocean, the Mexican town of Tulum has become the new bohemian hotspot. But at a devastating cost to the environment.
Driving down the Mexico’s sunny Caribbean coast, environmental activists Dario Ferreira Piña, Carlos Meade and Michelle Cuervo express despair at the new constructions springing up in the once sleepy town of Tulum.

[Peru] Voices of the Alto Mayo: Women in charge
By Maria Hernandez, Conservation International blog, 3 April 2018
Editor’s note: Despite its protected status, Peru’s Alto Mayo Protected Forest — a swath of Amazonian rainforest twice the size of New York City — has seen some of the country’s highest rates of deforestation. Since 2012, Conservation International has sought to halt the loss of forests by brokering “conservation agreements” with local communities, who agree to stop clearing forests in exchange for technical and financial advice.
To date, nearly 1,000 agreements have been signed, reducing deforestation and helping create a culture of sustainable development.

‘My Africa’ field notes: Portraits of hope for Africa’s elephants
By Jamey Anderson, Conservation International blog, 4 April 2018
Editor’s note: On April 20, Conservation International will release its new virtual reality film, “My Africa,” at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, with a world release on April 30. The film tells the story of a young Samburu woman in Kenya whose community is working to save elephants, reknitting an ancient coexistence between people and wildlife. In anticipation of the launch, Human Nature is highlighting stories about the people, places and wildlife of “My Africa.”

‘My Africa’ field notes: Portraits of hope for Africa’s elephants
By Jamey Anderson, Conservation International blog, 4 April 2018
At the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Kenya, photographers working with Conservation International and its partners capture remarkable scenes that remain seared into our minds. The sanctuary is the first elephant orphanage in Africa owned and operated by the local community, which provides income and jobs for the region. Through a partnership with Conservation InternationaI, Reteti focuses on rescuing injured and orphaned elephants and returning them to the wild when possible in a world where elephants are threatened by ivory-seeking poachers and other forms of conflict.

[Cambodia] Ranger arrested for shooting in Jolie-Pitt Foundation area
By Phak Seangly, Phnom Penh Post, 4 April 2018
An environmental ranger and a community forest member on Tuesday were released from prison under court supervision following their brief detention after allegedly firing at a suspect hauling timber within a protected area supported by the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation in Battambang province.
The Ministry of Environment ranger, Sok Toeut, 43, and the forest community member, Dieb Somuntha, 60, were patrolling the Samlot protected area on Friday when they spotted a tractor loaded with wood and ordered the driver to stop. When he refused, Somuntha allegedly shot at him.

Ethiopia: Conserving Nature – Protecting Wild Life
By Tameru Regasa, The Ethiopian Herald, 4 April 2018
Even though there is magnificent diversity and presence of wildlife with high endemism and expansion of protected areas, the income that the country obtains from wild life tourism and related potential is not enough due to various factors.
As shown in different documents in our country there are 320 mammalian species of which 36 are endemic. There are also 862 species of birds of which 18 are endemic to Ethiopia. And from the 240 species of reptiles 15 species are endemic. And out of the 71 amphibian species 30 are endemic. Moreover, there are 41 species of endemic fish out of 150 species.

[India] Kaziranga’s rhino census finds the population is growing, but more slowly than expected
By Moushumi Basu, Mongabay, 5 April 2018
The good news for conservationists is that the population of greater one-horned rhinos in India’s Kaziranga National Park is still on the rise. According to the official rhino census, concluded on March 28, the park’s population now stands at 2,413, up by a dozen from the last tally in 2015.
The not-so-good news, however, is that officials had anticipated a higher number. “The results indicate that there has been undercounting and there are plans to conduct the census once more next year,” said N.K. Vasu, chief wildlife warden of the state of Assam.

Kenya marks rhinos in conservation drive
Reuters, 5 April 2018
Kenya started marking rhinos on Thursday and aims to tag and identify 22 of them in two weeks at a cost of $600,000, senior government officials said on Thursday, as part of conserving their dwindling numbers.

Indonesian conservation bill is weak on wildlife crime, critics say
By Basten Gokkon, Mongabay, 6 April 2018
Environmental advocates have warned that proposed revisions to Indonesia’s conservation act could provide new loopholes for wildlife traffickers, who already enjoy a thriving trade in one of the world’s most biodiverse countries.

[Central African Republic] Choosing Animals Over People?
By Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, 7 April 2018
The cutest primates on earth may be Inguka and Inganda, gorilla toddler twins who playfully tumble over each other here in the vast Dzanga Sangha rain forest, one of the best places to see gorillas, antelopes and elephants play.
The only risk: They are so heedless and unafraid of people that they may tumble almost into your lap — and then their 375-pound silverback dad may get upset. His name is Makumba and he expresses displeasure with a full-speed charge, hurtling toward you until he’s only inches away.

[India] All the rhinoceroses
By Rahul Karmakar, The Hindu, 7 April 2018
Counting one-horned rhinos in Kaziranga National Park, home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s population of the ‘vulnerable’ species, is no easy task. Rahul Karmakar reports on the unique challenges faced by the officials in the recently concluded census.

Author Tony Park’s take on African animal conservation
By Laura Trieste, The Daily Telegraph (Australia), 8 April 2018
Tony Park feels just at home living among African wildlife as he does in his two-bedroom apartment in Artarmon.
For the past two decades, the author, who grew up in Campbelltown, and his wife have spent half of each year living in South Africa, where they have a house on the border of Kruger National Park.
“It’s hard to describe whether it’s the animals or the landscape or the people but it’s a place that can take hold of you,” Park says.

[Kenya] Why road in Nairobi Park may not be good for wildlife
By Kennedy Kimanthi, Daily Nation, 8 April 2018
In the development plan expected to transform Kenya into an industrialised middle-level income country by 2030, the government underscores the importance of securing wildlife corridors and migratory routes.
However, the same authorities could be flouting the very rules they drafted.

[India] Is the new forest policy draft missing the wood for the trees?
By S. Gopikrishna Warrier, Mongabay, 9 April 2018
The national government has initiated the process of revamping the National Forest Policy. The policy that is in place currently was announced 30 years ago and is known as the National Forest Policy 1988 (NFP-1988). The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has published for public comments the Draft National Forest Policy 2018 (DNFP-2018).

Smoke in the woods
By Sharchchandra Lele, The Hindu, 9 April 2018
Government policy documents are statements of goals, priorities and strategies. If old strategies have failed or circumstances have changed, they should be revised. Given that our Forest Policy was last revised in 1988, changes are perhaps overdue. The new draft Forest Policy 2018, however, ignores the lessons from this period and returns to the state-managed forestry of the 1950s, but with a neoliberal twist.

Spearheading protection of Malagasy rainforest
Northern Illinois University, 9 April 2018
An international nonprofit organization founded by two Northern Illinois University professors and a foreign colleague is now spearheading the creation of a 65,000-acre, high-altitude rainforest preserve in Madagascar.
Anthropology professor Mitch Irwin and biological sciences professor Karen Samonds of NIU, along with Jean-Luc Raharison of the University of Antananarivo, founded the Malagasy non-governmental organization, known as Sadabe, in 2009.

[Tanzania] Battle to save Africa’s elephants is gaining some ground
AP, 13 April 2018
The elephant staggered and keeled over in the tall grass in southern Tanzania, where some of the world’s worst poaching has happened.
It wasn’t a killer who targeted her but a conservation official, immobilizing her with a dart containing drugs. Soon she was snoring loudly, and they propped open her trunk with a twig to help her breathe. They slid a 26-pound (12-kilogram) GPS tracking collar around the rough skin of her neck and injected an antidote, bringing her back to her feet. After inspecting the contraption with her trunk, she ambled back to her family herd.

Pride of lions poisoned in Ugandan national park
The Week, 13 April 2018
Eleven lions have been killed at Uganda’s most popular wildlife reserve, authorities have confirmed.
Three lionesses and their eight cubs were found dead at Hamkungu village, an enclave of Queen Elizabeth National Park on Wednesday.
There are estimated to be fewer than 100 lions in the park and just 400 in the entire country, the Ugandan Daily Monitor reports.

Dame Daphne Sheldrick dead: Family of pioneering elephant conservation worker pledge legacy will live on for generations
By Jane Dalton, The Independent, 14 April 2018
The family of one of the world’s leading elephant conservation pioneers has pledged that her legacy will live on “for generations to come” following her death.
Wildlife lovers around the world are mourning the passing of Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE, founder of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), who dedicated her life to saving young elephants and rhinos and pioneered ways to rear newborn animals by hand.

[India] Environment is not at odds with economic opportunities
By Ashish Rukhaiyar, The Hindu, 14 April 2018
We encourage firms to make a difference to nature: Tercek
Awareness about environment and climate issues is rising in India and with progressive regulations like mandatory contribution by companies towards CSR, one can look at private capital for environment conservation, says Mark Tercek, global chief executive officer, The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The 70-year-old global non-profit entity is working on projects related to cleansing rivers like Ganga and Narmada apart from addressing air pollution, drought and wetland issues across cities like New Delhi and Chennai.

[USA] The Circle that Brandborg Built
By Michael Reinemer, The Wilderness Society, 16 April 201
Chiseled into the rockface of the nation’s conservation legacy are deep and lasting imprints from many outsized visionaries — from nature writer John Muir, conservationist Aldo Leopold, science writer Rachel Carson, Arctic activists Olaus and Mardy Murie and wilderness champion Stewart Brandborg.
Brandborg, who served at the helm of The Wilderness Society from 1964 to 1976, is among those whose inspiration and endless toil galvanized action and secured a wilderness legacy in America for generations to come. He passed away on April 14.

Escape from Protection: The Catastrophe of Conservation in Panama
By nash Landesman, Foreign Policy Journal, 18 April 2018
Typified by The Nature Conservancy and The World Wildlife Fund, Global Conservation as such is really an arm of colonialist foreign policy going back at least a century, and its fundamental aims have not changed.

Save intact forests for humanity’s sake, urge experts
Mongabay.com, 20 April 2018
The world’s largest forests can help solve some of the biggest problems facing humanity, but only if we move to safeguard them, argue two experts in a New York Times op-ed published ahead of Earth Day.
Tom Lovejoy, a distinguished Amazon rainforest researcher who serves as Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation, and John Reid, an economist who applies economic modeling in service of forests and wildlands, make a case for protecting the planet’s last “intact forest landscapes” — areas of at least 500 square kilometers of unbroken natural tree cover — for the role they can play in reversing three critical challenges: “climate change, the sixth great extinction crisis and the loss of human cultures.”

[India] A corridor for elephants
By Pooja Patel, DNA, 22 April 2018
India, the land where the Elephant God is worshipped, sees deaths of elephants across its length and breadth. According to Dr Varun R Goswami, who leads the elephant programme for Wildlife Conservation Society in India, each year, 400 to 450 human deaths and 100 elephant deaths are attributed to the human-elephant conflict. This conflict rings the death knell not just for these heavy weights, but also for locals living around the forests. Added to this, there’s loss of crops, the livelihood of farmers, whose farms elephants visit.

Conservation Effectiveness series sparks action, dialogue
By Shreya Dasgupta and Zuzana Burivalova, Mongabay, 23 April 2018
Some strategies for protecting forests and wildlife, such as protected areas and community forestry, have become immensely popular around the world.
But do these conservation strategies truly achieve the objectives they set out to realize? How much scientific evidence do we have about their effectiveness? What is the quality of that evidence? What are the information gaps?

Big Cat Populations Are In Serious Danger and It’s Our Fault – Here’s What We Can Do to Protect Them
By Arianna Pittman, One Green Planet, 23 April 2018
The species that inhabit our planet are beautiful, iconic, and sadly, exploited. They are placed in danger every day and are going extinct at a rate 1,000 times faster than normal because of our actions. An estimated 80 percent of wild cats are in danger, especially big cats like tigers, jaguars, and snow leopards. As apex predators, big cats play an important role in keeping ecosystems in balance. When they kill smaller prey animals, big cats help keep populations regulated which, by chain reaction, regulates species further down the food chain. And new research shows that they may even help regulate plant life by spreading plant seeds in their scat.

[Bolivia] We Neglect the One Planet We’ve Got at Our Own Peril
By Rob Wallace, WCS, 23 April 2018
The Amazon is home to incredible cultural diversity, with more than 385 indigenous groups committed to keeping intact Amazonian forests sustainable. Since the 1980s indigenous people have worked with the Amazonian governments for the formal recognition of their territorial rights. Established protected areas, together with indigenous territorial demands, have been retained for nearly half of the Amazon basin, including a forested area roughly the size of India.

[India] Panel to study mystery deaths of rhinos
By Rastriya Samachar Amiti, Kathmandu Post, 23 April 2018
The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation is investigating into the phenomenon that is leading to untimely deaths of one-horned rhinoceros inside Chitwan National Park.
Since 1998, at least 269 park rhinos have died of unknown causes; 38 of them died in the last two years alone. Park officials and conservationists are not sure what caused their deaths.

Preserving Indonesia’s marine paradise as tourists flock to West Papau islands
By Carolyn Beasley, Southeast Asia Globe, 23 April 2018
Indonesia’s Raja Ampat archipelago is the most biodiverse marine environment in the world. But as word of its magnificence gets out, and visitors swoop in, locals and expats alike are striving to protect their little piece of paradise.

Six Ways Sound Data Is Changing Conservation
By Justine E. Hausheer, Cool Green Science, 25 April 2018
The world is a noisy place — and scientists can use that sound to help protect wildlife and wild places.
Acoustic recorders are like audible camera traps, capturing bird song, frog calls, insect stridulations, bat or marine mammal echolocation, and even the sounds that humans and our technology produce. This new emerging field of ecoacoustics (or bioacoustics) is already changing how conservation gets done, and scientists predict that it will revolutionize how we monitor species, assess ecosystem health, and evaluate human impact.

Gorillas are far more numerous than previously thought, survey reveals
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 25 April 2018
There are far more gorillas left in the world than previously thought, according to a landmark new survey, with numbers as much as double earlier estimates.
However, their populations are continuing to fall fast, down 20% in just eight years, leaving them critically endangered. Furthermore, 80% of the remaining gorilla troops do not live in protected areas, leaving them vulnerable to the threats the researchers summarise as “guns, germs and [felled] trees”.

‘My Africa’ field notes: Capturing baby elephants in virtual reality
By Jamey Anderson, Conservation International blog, 26 April 2018
On April 20, Conservation International will release its new virtual reality film, “My Africa,” at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, with a worldwide release on April 30.
“My Africa” tells the story of a young Samburu woman in Kenya whose community is working to save elephants, reknitting an ancient coexistence between people and wildlife. Melina Formisano, Conservation International’s vice president for marketing, was on location during filming. Here, she offers a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges and inspirations of filming “My Africa.”

[India] Glare on Kaziranga tiger count
By Roopak Goswami, The Telegraph, 27 April 2018
Kaziranga tiger reserve (KTR) is being run without a tiger conservation plan, according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the apex tiger authority in the country.
The NTCA, in its report on rampant mining in Karbi Anglong Hills in adjoining Kaziranga tiger reserve, says the KTR, despite being declared a tiger reserve on August 3, 2007, does not have an approved tiger conservation plan. “It is a matter of great concern that a protected area like the KTR, a World Heritage Site, is being managed without a properly planned tiger conservation plan,” the report says.
The report was released on April 20 and sent to the Assam government.

[India] Conservationists oppose artificial highlands within Kaziranga to save animals during flood
By Naresh Mitral, Times of India, 29 April 2018
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s instruction on constructing artificial highlands in the World Heritage Site Kaziranga National Park (KNP) for providing shelter to animals during flood did not go down well with the conservationists.

Tanzania’s controversial hydroelectric project on heritage site could start with AfDB funding
By Feranmi Akeredolu, Ventures Africa, 30 April 2018
Tanzania presses on with its ambition to build a 2,100-megawatts (MW) hydroelectric power plant in the Selous Game Reserve despite warnings from conservationists about the adverse effect of such a project on animals in one of the world’s largest game reserves.
During the weekend, Tanzania’s finance ministry said in a statement that President John Magufuli, who is personally pushing the long-delayed project, made the financing request to Africa Development Bank’s President, Akinwumi Adesina during talks in Tanzania’s administrative capital Dodoma.

Wildlife law

UK outlaws sales of all ivory goods to save elephants from extinction
By John Ingham, Daily Express, 3 April 2018
Britain is introducing one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales to save elephants from extinction. Environment Secretary Michael Gove said sales of ivory of all ages including antiques would be outlawed.

U.K. ban relegates legal ivory trade to ‘a thing of the past’
Mongabay, 3 April 2018
The government of the United Kingdom announced today that it plans to introduce a stringent ban on the trade of ivory.
“Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol, so we will introduce one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales to protect elephants for future generations,” Environment Secretary Michael Gove said in a statement. “The ban on ivory sales we will bring into law will reaffirm the UK’s global leadership on this critical issue, demonstrating our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past.”

WCS Praises UK Decision to Ban Its Domestic Ivory Trade
Wildlife Conservation Society, 3 April 2018
WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) President and CEO Cristián Samper issued the following statement praising the UK for announcing a national ban on commercial trade in elephant ivory:
“Today, elephant conservation received a tremendous boost when the United Kingdom announced an end to all exports, imports and domestic sales of elephant ivory with very few narrow exemptions.”

Australian ivory trade’s role in encouraging poaching to come under scrutiny
By Melissa Clarke, ABC News, 4 April 2018
Australian trade in ivory items could be encouraging poachers and contributing to scores of African elephants being killed each day.
A parliamentary inquiry has been set up to examine whether lax regulations are allowing newly poached ivory to be passed off as antiques in Australia.

[Myanmar] WWF Confident Govt Set to Launch Crackdown on Illegal Wildlife Trade
By Zue Zue, The Irrawaddy, 4 April 2018
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) expressed hope that its six-month campaign to raise awareness of elephant poaching and wildlife smuggling, which ended Wednesday, would lead to the closure of illegal wildlife markets in Yangon.
“We’re hoping the [illegal wildlife] markets in Shwedagon [Pagoda] and Bogyoke Market close in April. We have initiated steps for their closure, and are now waiting for the government to make an announcement,” WWF Myanmar partnership director Daw May Moe War said on Wednesday.

Empowering African policymakers to combat wildlife trafficking
UNEP, 9 April 2018
In the past decade, the African elephant population has declined by an estimated 111,000, according to a 2016 report, primarily due to poaching.
Malawi, identified by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as a “country of primary concern”, has lost 50 per cent of its elephant population since the 1980s.

The ivory trade is alive and well, thanks to Facebook
By Zoë Schlanger, Quartz, 11 April 2018
As Mark Zuckerberg testifies in Congress this week about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and his social media’s vulnerability to election manipulation, another unsavory aspect of Facebook has come to light. Facebook is apparently host to a vast illegal wildlife trade, and selling ads on group pages that market elephant ivory and other body parts of critically threatened species, according to the Associated Press.

East Africa: The Debate On Rhino Horn Trading
The Namibian, 12 April 2018
Africa’s rhino population figures are at a critical all-time low. In 2015, Cites reported that only about 19 000 – 21 000 white rhinos and 5 000 – 5 500 black rhinos remain in Africa.
Namibia and South Africa have the largest rhino populations, with a total of approximately 2 760 rhinos in Namibia, and 20 300 rhinos in South Africa. Smaller rhino populations can be found in Kenya, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

The Real Ivory Game
By Karl Ammann, Daily Maverick, 17 April 2018
China’s new domestic ban on the ivory trade presents all the makings of an excellent global public-relations exercise. But it is a meaningless move in a country where enforcement against wildlife crimes is often just another exercise in window-dressing and lip service.

[Madagascar] Stench Leads to Home Crawling With Stolen Tortoises—10,000 of Them
By Jani Actman, National Geographic, 20 April 2018
Soary Randrianjafizanaka set out with police, colleagues, and others earlier this month to investigate a rancid smell coming from a two-story house in Toliara, a town on the southwestern coast of Madagascar. She arrived at a scene unlike any she’d seen before in her role as a regional head of Madagascar’s environmental agency: thousands of tortoises of varying sizes covering the floors, jammed up against one another with no room to move.
Randrianjafizanaka said the stench of feces and urine was overwhelming.
“You cannot imagine. It was so awful,” she said. “They had tortoises in the bathroom, in the kitchen, everywhere in the house.”

Why understanding demand for rhino horn will make or break their survival
By Tony Carnie, BusinessDay, 20 April 2018
Security researchers say the emphasis on arresting poachers and beefing up protection for SA’s rhinos is unlikely to succeed without stronger, parallel efforts to research the demand for horn products in China and Vietnam.
Institute for Security Studies (ISS) researchers Ciara Aucoin and Sumien Deetlefs write in a new policy briefing on transnational organised crime that too little is being done to understand or reduce the demand for rhino horn in East Asia.
The researchers, who are based in Pretoria, advocate for a more thorough, market-based approach to tackling the organised transnational syndicates that coordinate the poaching and trafficking of rhino horns.

Asian elephants face new threat in skin trade
By Denis D. Gray, Nikkei Asian Review, 24 April 2018
Once targeted for their ivory tusks, Asia’s already endangered elephants are facing a new threat to their survival: Poachers in Myanmar and elsewhere are selling their hides to be turned into purported cures for stomach ulcers and cancer as well as jewelry and prayer beads for sale in China. Elsewhere, the skins are being turned into luxury leather goods from golf bags and designer boots to wallets, belts and even motorcycle seats.

[Kenya] Consumptive utilization of wildlife won’t lead to hunting and poaching – Balala
By Gilbert Koech and Vevaline Gwa, The Star, 27 April 2018
Tourism CS Najib Balala on Thursday denied claims that the introduction of consumptive utilization of wildlife will open up hunting in the country.
Balala said Kenya is known globally as the champion of conservation, a trend that will be maintained at all cost.
“All wildlife belongs to the government and the government is determined to keep the recognition of the industry world wide in the wildlife sector,”he said.

Poaching

Suspected poacher shot dead in Kenya’s Solio Ranch
The Citizen, 1 April 2018
The other suspected poacher, who was believed to be wounded, escaped in the darkness. He is being pursued.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has launched a major operation to track down and arrest an armed suspected poacher who escaped during a shoot-out in Solio Ranch in which his accomplice, a notorious suspected poacher, was shot dead, the KWS said on Sunday.
“An intrusion of a section of the ranch fence was detected at around [10.25pm] on 30th March 2018, causing a reorganisation of the ambushes, and at about [2am], one of the ambush teams sighted two suspected poachers walking towards them.

[Kenya] Poachers should get life in jail, says CS Balala
By Carolyne Chebet and Jacinta Mutura, Standard Digital, 1 April 2018
Poachers deserve harsher sentences, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said. Speaking at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki during the memorial service of Sudan, the last Northern male white rhino that died two weeks ago, Mr Balala said light punishments have contributed to a rise in poaching.
“We are going to change the laws so that anyone who kills an animal or caught with animal trophies will be jailed for life. We want tougher penalties to protect our heritage,” he said.

How poaching was curbed in Kaziranga, and what it would take to step up conservation
By Jay Mazoomdaar, The Indian Express, 2 April 2018
The latest rhinoceros census in Kaziranga reported a gain of just 12 rhinos since 2015. From 2,401 to 2,413, that is a jump by barely half a percent. Predictably, it did not make big headlines. But to many, this has been the best news from the famed rhino haven in a while. Kaziranga, finally, is getting real.
To put things in context, Kaziranga lost over 500 rhinos in the last two decades of the twentieth century. The situation improved in the new millennium when an average annual loss to poaching came down to single digit, and the park reported a population of 1,855 rhinos in 2006. What followed was an intriguing pattern.

Galaxy-hunting tech used to stop poachers hunting endangered animals
By Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph, 3 April 2018
Star-hunting technology designed to pick out galaxies in the night sky is being repurposed to spot poachers who are threatening the world’s most endangered animals.
The Royal Astronomical Society has teamed up with ecologists at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) to conduct trials using drones which are fitted with infrared cameras capable of automatically detecting the thermal signatures of creatures in the dark.

South Africa hosts regional anti-poaching meeting
Xinhua, 4 April 2018
South Africa on Wednesday hosted an anti-poaching meeting of defense and security chiefs from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Taking place on the outskirts of the Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa, the 4th Multilateral Forum of the Defence and Security Chiefs on Anti-Poaching kicked off with a pledge to stem the scourge of poaching.

Thailand to indict construction tycoon for wildlife poaching
Reuters, 4 April 2018
Prosecutors said on Wednesday they are seeking to indict the president of Thailand’s largest construction company for poaching wildlife, a case that has raised concern about impunity for the rich and powerful.
Premchai Karnasuta, president of Italian-Thai Development Pcl, and three others were arrested in the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi province in early February.

Tanzania: US Supports Wildlife Antipoaching Crusade
Tanzania Daily News, 5 April 2018
US government has donated three Toyota Land Cruisers vehicles to Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) to support the fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking.
The support is part of US government’s wildlife anti-trafficking and counter illicit trade training and capacity building programme. The Charge’ d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Tanzania Dr Inmi Patterson said in a statement that the three vehicles would increase the rangers’ ability to conduct anti- poaching patrols in the Rungwa/Kizigo/Muhesi Game Reserve.”

[India] Salman Khan: Bollywood superstar jailed for poaching
BBC News, 5 April 2018
An Indian court has sentenced Bollywood superstar Salman Khan to five years in jail for poaching rare antelope back in 1998.
The court in Jodhpur also fined him 10,000 rupees ($154; £109) for the crime. He has since been taken to jail.
Khan killed the two blackbucks, a protected species, in the western state of Rajasthan while shooting a film.

Zimbabwe: Cites Lauds Zim for Reducing Poaching
The Herald, 5 April 2018
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has praised Zimbabwe for the reduction in poaching cases so far this year, owing to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s zero tolerance for the vice.
From January to March this year, only one elephant and a black rhino have been lost to poachers compared to 12 elephants, five black rhinos and two white rhinos, in the same period last year.

Empowering African policymakers to combat wildlife trafficking
UNEP, 9 April 2018
In the past decade, the African elephant population has declined by an estimated 111,000, according to a 2016 report, primarily due to poaching.
Malawi, identified by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as a “country of primary concern”, has lost 50 per cent of its elephant population since the 1980s.

Poaching in Botswana On the Rise
By Innocent Molato, Daily News, 9 April 2018
Even though Botswana is pinning her hopes on tourism to diversify the economy, poaching, which is on the rise, remains a challenge and hinders the country’s efforts in diversifying the economy.
According to a report from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, in 2017/18, 62 elephants were killed compared to 42 in 2016/17. Similarly, there has been an increase in trafficking of elephant tusks as evident that 109 tusks have been trafficked in 2017/2018 (as of end of February) compared to 48 in 2016/2017.

[Kenya] Let’s all partner in war against poaching
By Ruth Nduta, Daily Nation, 10 April 2018
Wildlife plays a major role in Kenya’s economy. As a major tourist attraction, it accounts for some 12 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and provides over 300,000 jobs.
Unfortunately, reports of illegal trade of endangered wildlife trophies intercepted while on transit are common, with the Mombasa port identified as a key conduit. That is often blamed on factors such as corruption and lack of stringent monitoring systems at key border points.

Tanzania: Dar, Nairobi Launch 85bn/ – Wildlife Conservation Projects
By Marc Nkwame, Tanzania Daily News, 10 April 2018
Tanzania and Kenya have through the European Union (EU) backing launched three 85bn/- new wildlife cross-border projects.
The EU Delegation to Tanzania and East African Community (EAC), together with EU Delegation to Kenya, Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA) and Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism met here recently to launch the ambitious projects.

How Grace Mugabe poaching claims benefit Zimbabwe’s new president
By Keith Somerville, Times Live, 13 April 2018
The headline on the Zimbabwe Herald could not have made it clearer: “Police tighten noose on Grace Mugabe.”
The newspaper, for 37 years the mouthpiece of Robert Mugabe’s government, is now the voice of the new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. He replaced Mugabe when the long-time leader was deposed in late 2017. Over the last couple of months the Herald and a number of other Zimbabwean media outlets have published detailed accounts on police investigations into former first lady Grace Mugabe’s suspected role in ivory smuggling.

African elephants slowly recovering from years of poaching
By Kay Vandette, Earth.com, 16 April 2018
Elephant populations in Africa may be on the long road to recovery after years of poaching and illegal ivory trading have devastated the animals.
A new report from the Associated Press reveals the potential progress for elephant conservation and protection in Tanzania as AP journalists were recently allowed a rare inside look at Tanzania’s Mikumi National Park.

[South Africa] Rhino poaching in KNP declining, elephant deaths up
By Amanda Watson, The Citizen, 17 April 2018
Nothing is off the table anymore when it comes to protecting South Africa’s core population of black and white rhinoceros kept at South African National Parks’ Kruger National Park (KNP).
That’s according to Kruger head ranger Ken Maggs who said yesterday even the extreme idea of fencing populations in, surrounded by lights and rangers, was an option when it came to protecting the ungulate.

[Namibia] Suspected poacher killed by police
By Lugeretzia Kooper, The Namibian, 18 April 2018
Police in the Zambezi region are calling on community members who have a missing relative to come and identify the body of a suspected poacher who was killed during a chase over the weekend in the Bwabwata National Park.
Zambezi regional police commissioner Karel Theron yesterday said the man was killed during a shoot-out between the police, members of the anti-poaching unit, and suspected poachers on Saturday.

South Africa rhino poaching: ‘Web of corruption’ blamed
By Alastair Leithead, BBC News, 19 April 2018
Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and conservationist Jane Goodall have joined a list of famous names who have signed an open letter to South Africa’s government calling for an end to rhino poaching.
More than 1,000 rhinos were killed across the country in 2017 for the fifth year running.
The international monitoring group Traffic says nearly 5,500 rhinos have been killed over a five-year period.
Only 20,000 or so rhinos remain in South Africa – the vast majority of the 25,000 animals left across the whole continent, says Traffic.

[South Africa] Unemployment drives young poaching gangs
By Sihle Manda, IOL, 19 April 2018
Efforts to curb rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park are facing the threat of being deemed futile by the high unemployment rates in the communities surrounding one of the country’s national treasures.
This is seen as the root cause of the sprouting poaching syndicates.
The park’s chief ranger, Ben Maggs, said unemployment in the surrounding communities needed to be addressed.

[India] Poachers killed, skinned Corbett tigers in daytime: NTCA report
By Nihi Sharma, Hindustan Times, 21 April 2018
Exposing security lapse in border areas of the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) in Uttarakhand, a report of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) said poachers moved freely during daytime and killed big cats in 2016 without any fear of detection.
Five tiger skins and 125 kg of big cat bones were seized on March 14, 2016 by the Uttarakhand police Special Task Force (STF) in Haridwar. Ramchander of Bhatinda in Punjab was arrested with the wildlife parts.

[South Africa] Kruger National Park rangers gun down 3, arrest 9 alleged poachers
IOL, 23 April 2018
Three suspected poachers have been shot dead and nine have been arrested following several anti-poaching operations across South Africa’s Kruger National Park the past weekend, the South African National Parks (SANParks) said on Monday.
In a statement, SANParks said rangers arrested three suspects on Friday, one of them identified as “a recently retired Frelimo Commander who was in full camouflage uniform, when nabbed. They were found in possession of a high calibre hunting rifle, ammunition, poaching equipment and a fresh set of rhino horns.”

[Myanmar] Two Elephant Poachers Detained in Chaungtha Forest Reserve
By Salai Thant Zin, The Irrawaddy, 23 April 2018
Two suspected poachers were detained by a combined team of authorities after an elephant carcass and weapons used for poaching were discovered in Chaungtha Forest Reserve near Ngwesaung Beach, Pathein Township in Irrawaddy Region on Sunday afternoon.
After receiving a tip-off about an elephant carcass, authorities questioned two suspects from Thitphyu Village, leading to the discovery of the carcass and weapons used in hunting the elephant.

[Rwanda] Man arrested over poaching in Nyungwe park
The New Times, 24 April 2018
Police have arrested a man for allegedly poaching in Nyungwe National Park.
At the time of his arrest he was carrying four animals which he’s suspected to have killed in the park, police said.
The suspect (name withheld) was arrested in Bweyeye Sector in Rusizi District.

Thai construction mogul says he will stay in post despite poaching case
By Yukako Ono, Nikkei Asian Review, 25 April 2018
Premchai Karnasuta, president of Thailand’s largest construction company Italian-Thai Development, who was arrested for poaching wild animals in a World Heritage sanctuary, said on Wednesday that he will stay in office while fighting the case in court.
The high-profile tycoon, who is now on bail, was talking to reporters on the sidelines of the company’s shareholders’ meeting in Bangkok. Asked if he intends to continue serving in his position, he said: “Of course, unless I am put in jail.”

[Uganda] Suspected poacher killed in Mgahinga National Park
By Kate Atuzarirwe, New Vision, 27 April 2018
A 38-year-old suspected poacher has been killed in Mgahinga National Park in Kisoro district.
The deceased has been identified by Police as Jonath Habingoma, a resident of Nyakakyege village Muramba Sub-County. He was reportedly shot by rangers Monday at about 4:00pm, while in the park and his body was taken to Kisoro Hospital mortuary.

[South Africa] New Alarm System May Stop Poachers In Their Tracks
By Laurel Neme, National Geographic, 27 April 2018
When you’ve heard a shot, it’s already too late. In all likelihood the rhino is dead, and the best outcome is that the poacher is found and arrested.
But now a potent new weapon has been added to the anti-poaching arsenal, helping rangers get ahead of disaster. It’s an integrated system called Connected Conservation, and it uses a combination of technologies—WiFi, thermal cameras, scanners, closed-circuit televisions, and sensors—to provide early warnings about suspicious activity. Rangers can deploy as soon as the perimeter of a protected area is breached and intercept intruders faster and with less risk to life and limb.

[India] Poaching in Rajaji: Activists demand suspension of chief wildlife warden
By Nihi Sharma, Hindustan Times, 28 April 2018
Days after chief wildlife warden DVS Khati demanded a SIT probe into leopard poaching incident in Rajaji Tiger Reserve, two activists on Saturday demanded his expulsion along with two other officers of the reserve over the poaching incidents.
Leopard poaching was reported on March 22 in the Motichur (core) area of Rajaji. The investigation was done by Komal Singh, warden of the area.

[India] Poaching in Rajaji: Activists demand suspension of chief wildlife warden
By Nihi Sharma, Hindustan Times, 28 April 2018
Days after chief wildlife warden DVS Khati demanded a SIT probe into leopard poaching incident in Rajaji Tiger Reserve, two activists on Saturday demanded his expulsion along with two other officers of the reserve over the poaching incidents.
Leopard poaching was reported on March 22 in the Motichur (core) area of Rajaji. The investigation was done by Komal Singh, warden of the area.

Scientists considering creating elephant-mammoth hybrid to battle against poachers
By Tom Parry, The Mirror, 29 April 2018
It sounds like a Jurassic Park-style fantasy.
But scientists from Harvard University are considering the creation of an elephant-mammoth hybrid which could help in the battle against poachers.
After they successfully identified the woolly mammoth’s DNA blueprint from perfectly preserved remains found in the Arctic tundra, experts believe they can now construct an artificial womb in which the animal could grow.

Refugio rancher saving South African rhinos from poachers
By Taylor Alanis, Kiiitv, 29 April 2018
A South African Conservationist and a Refugio rancher teamed up to help save the remaining rhino population in Africa.
“A huge iconic animal like a rhino falling into extinction,” Ivan Carter said. “How can we let that happen?”
Carter made it his life mission to help save endangered species.
He said Rhino horn is one of the most expensive commodities known to man. and it is worth ten times the value of cocaine on the street.

Colorado man pleads guilty after poaching elephant in Zimbabwe
By Kitty Block, Humane Society International, 30 April 2018
Three years after Americans were outraged by the killing of Cecil the lion by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, yet another wealthy American trophy hunter is in the news for an act just as shameful: the poaching of an elephant in Zimbabwe with a plan to sell the animal’s tusks. And here’s the clincher to this sickening story: the hunter, Ross Jackson, was serving as a director of the Dallas Safari Club until last week.

Militarisation of conservation

Tanzania Tourism set to take wildlife protection through paramilitary training
By Apolinari Tairo, eTN Tanzania, 10 April 2018
Looking to protect wildlife and forests from poachers, the Tanzania government plans to change from civilian to paramilitary strategies in wildlife protection, aiming to equip rangers with better skills in combating poaching of wildlife and forests.
The special training to involve key personnel in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, will transform mode of operation for wildlife and forest institutions into paramilitary units to reinforce the anti-poaching drive.

UNESCO condemns killing of rangers protecting mountain gorillas at renowned DR Congo wildlife park
UN News, 11 April 2018
“I condemn this deadly attack on six guards of the Virunga National Park and their driver,” said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on Wednesday.
“I call on the Democratic Republic of the Congo to take all the necessary legal measures to put an end to these repetitive attacks,” added.

[South Africa] We are fighting a war
By Madeleine Chaput, Go! & Express Live, 12 April 2018
The war against poaching was placed at the forefront during a talk by Green Scorpions director, Div de Villiers, at the Marjorie Courtenay Latimer Hall at the East London Museum on Monday evening.
The evening was hosted by Rotary Arcadia with De Villiers sharing successes and disappointments in the field.

The Bloody Toll of Congo’s Elephant Wars
By Tristan McConnell, GQ, 16 April 2018
In Garamba National Park, in Democratic Republic of Congo, 13 park rangers have been killed in the past three years, and 256 elephants have been taken for their tusks—and these days, the poachers often arrive in uniform, with an arsenal of weapons to match.

What It’s Like to Be an Environmental Defender in the Congo
By Katherine Wei, Sierra, 20 April 2018
Park ranger Rodrigue Katembo had lost count of how many times he’d been whipped, but he knew it would be a while until they reached 100—the number of lashes ordered by the Congolese army colonel in charge of his arrest. Katembo’s team of park rangers was forced to watch as he was tied to a tree and writhed beneath the lash.

‘Jungle police’ risking their lives for endangered gorillas in the DR Congo
By Alex Crawford, Sky News, 22 April 2018
The rangers of Kahuzi-Biega National Park take part in a parade every morning before setting out to do their jobs guarding one of the world’s most critically endangered group of gorillas.
The parade is aimed at bolstering discipline and morale in a group of men and women who know that every time they step into the jungle their lives are at risk.

Tourism

[UK] Wildlife and safari show to focus on conservation
TTG media, 5 April 2018
The travel trade is being urged to take part in a new wildlife and conservation focused travel show.
The two-day event takes place in Harrogate Convention Centre, September 29-30, combining an exhibitor hall with expert talks.
Some 30 exhibitors are confirmed, including the Zambia and Botswana tourist boards; cruise lines Silversea and Hurtigruten; and operators Mahlatini Luxury Travel, Bespoke Latin America and Wildlife Worldwide.

The endangered Asiatic lion faces a new threat: wildlife tourism
By Meena Venkataraman, The Hindu, 7 April 2018
The lion’s growing population and dispersal outside Gir has spurred unregulated wildlife tourism.
“I love lions. I love to watch them,” declared a farmer I was interviewing in Dalkhaniya village in Gujarat’s Amreli district as part of my social survey in the agrarian landscape outside the Gir Protected Area (PA). I found myself beaming at him and concluded that this reflected a remarkable local acceptance and love for lions.

[DRC] It’s Still Safe to Visit the Gorillas of Virunga National Park
By Sophy Roberts, Conde Nast Traveler, 19 April 2018
On April 10, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo shot back into the headlines. This time, it wasn’t because of an Oscar nomination (the Netflix documentary, Virunga, shone a spotlight on the park working to save its rare mountain gorillas), but with the deaths of five rangers and a staff driver, ambushed by MaiMai militia in Virunga’s remote Central Sector. This brings the total number of rangers killed in the last 20 years to 175.

Can Indonesia’s Komodo dragons survive Chinese tourists?
By Ernest Kao, South China Morning Post, 28 April 2018
The Komodo dragon can smell blood up to 4km away – and Agus, a forest ranger and guide at Komodo National Park, the only place in the world where this ancient lizard can be observed in the wild, can testify to their lethality.
Recently, a village carpenter had to have his leg sawed off after being bitten by one. And last year, a Singaporean tourist was attacked while trying to take a photo.
The reptiles have more than a dozen types of venom in their saliva that can prevent blood clotting.

Big game hunting

They are male, rich, politically connected, celebrities. And occasionally, they hunt wildlife
By Vivek Menon, The Hindu, 14 April 2018
‘But these are not real poachers, honey, they are sport hunters,’ a well-known model tried to defend her friends
Celebrities live on a different planet than the rest of us. The planet may look similar to Earth but there are subtle differences. Most of its landmass is covered in dense forests of kale, under whose iron-rich leaves roam ravenous packs of magazine photographers. Poverty and disease are non-existent, and people subsist mostly on unicorn tears.” Thus evocatively an anonymous travel blogger captured the world of stardom — in this world, the residents are bound by a different set of life rules, or so it seems.

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