Conservation Watch’s news round-up: May 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

A precarious environment for the Rohingya refugees
By Endrea Dekrout, UN Environment, May 2018
Andrea Dekrout is Senior Environmental Coordinator for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Based in Geneva, Dekrout is responsible for ensuring sustainable environmental management in UNHCR operations and refugee camps. In her work, she helps refugees and their host communities maintain a clean and healthy environment. We sat down with her to discuss the situation in Cox’s Bazar, a coastal city that has recently seen an enormous influx of refugees.

She Stands Up to Power. Now, She’s Afraid to Go Home.
By Somini Sengupta, New York Times, 3 May 2018
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is a tiny woman who’s used to standing up to power.
A lifelong rights activist who is now the United Nations special rapporteur for the rights of indigenous peoples, her job is to hold governments accountable for violations. For years, she has traveled the world to hear the grievances of indigenous people and press for their rights at the highest levels.
Each time, after a week or two on the road, she has returned home to the Philippines. Returned to her family, her friends, her beloved pine forests.

No evidence of Al-Shabaab role in elephant poaching, US says
By Kevin J. Kelley, Daily Nation, 10 May 2018
A senior State Department official said on Tuesday the US has no evidence that violent extremist groups such as Al-Shabaab are financing their operations through elephant poaching.
The comments by Mr Richard Glenn, the department’s top monitor of wildlife trafficking and transnational crime in Africa, contradict an earlier assertion by Ms Hillary Clinton, former US secretary of state, as well as claims by an elephant-protection NGO.

Ecotourism is being used to displace one of East Africa’s long-standing indigenous people
By Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz, 15 May 2018
Government officials and foreign companies in Tanzania are using ecotourism and conservation laws to displace indigenous Maasai people, evicting them and denying them access to watering holes and vital grazing for their livestock.

[Kenya] Compensate Ogiek for Mau eviction, says KNCHR chair
By Rita Damary, The Star, 28 May 2018
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights chairperson Kagwiria Mbogori has urged the state to put structures in place to compensate the Ogiek community.
On May 26 last year, the African Court on Human and People’s Rights ruled in the community’s favour. The court recognised their right to live in the Mau Forest as their ancestral home.
Mbogori spoke on Saturday at Nessuit, Mau Forest, during the Ogiek’s anniversary celebrations for the ruling. At the same time, she urged the state to extend the commission’s tenure.

Suspected poachers shot dead in Kenyan national park
Reuters, 30 May 2018
Wildlife troopers shot dead three armed men in Kenya’s Mount Elgon National Park on Wednesday while two other suspected poachers were injured but escaped, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said.
“The officers were on routine patrol inside the park when they encountered five poachers, two of whom were armed,” KWS said in a statement.

Protected areas

Democratic Republic of Congo plans to allow oil exploration in national parks home to endangered mountain gorillas
By Chloe Farand, The Independent, 4 May 2018
The Democratic Republic of Congo is planning to reclassify two protected national parks to allow oil exploration.
Documents seen by The Independent show the government wants to redraw the boundaries of the Salonga and Virunga national parks, which are home to critically endangered species such as mountain gorillas, to remove protected status from certain areas.

DENR: Protected areas now open for private use
By Louise Maureen Simeon, The Philippine Star, 6 May 2018
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will resume acceptance of applications for special use agreement for protected areas (SAPA).
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu recently issued a memorandum that orders all regional offices to resume enforcement of the rules and regulations governing the issuance of the tenurial instrument for protected areas.

Network lauds decision to return Doi Suthep site to national park
By Patinya Srisupamart, The Nation, 7 May 2018
The Chiang Mai people’s network was yesterday satisfied with the decision to return the site of the controversial residential project for court officials at the foot of the Doi Suthep Mountain to the Treasury Department.
The decision was conveyed to them during a meeting with PM’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana in Chiang Mai province.

[Philippines] Greenpeace to DENR: Opening protected areas to businesses leads to exploitation
By Keith Anthony S. Fabro, Rappler, 9 May 2018
Non-governmental organization Greenpeace Philippines is concerned over the decision of the environment department to lift the suspension of the issuance of special use agreement for protected areas (SAPA), claiming it will open the areas to exploitation.

Tanzania: Land Dispute Threatens Tarangire Park Security
By Sylivester Domasa and Bernard Lugongo, Tanzania Daily News, 9 May 2018
Special Seats MP, Anna Joram Gidarya (Chadema) has said a land dispute between villagers in Gedamar and Ayamango in Babati and the Tarangire National Park is the greatest security threat in the area.
For eleven years now, she said the dispute remains unresolved resulting in majority of citizens failing to access health and education services while their economy also decline relatively.

Under-threat DR Congo national park bans tree-felling
PhysOrg, 10 May 2018
The threatened Virunga National Park in DR Congo announced on Thursday it has banned the felling of trees throughout the nature reserve.
“The management of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature wishes to bring to the attention of the resident of Beni and its surroundings that it is forbidden to fell trees in the park,” a statement read.
“The incentives to destroy the park are contrary to the rule of law and destroy the common heritage for the benefit of individual and illicit enrichment.”

Can India’s ‘People’s Forest’ also serve as a haven for rhinos?
By Bikash Kumar Bhattacharya, Mongabay, 10 May 2018
In 1980, the social forestry wing of the Assam state forest department in northeastern India launched an experimental program that aimed to measure how well tree cover could protect against rapid and catastrophic floods and erosion. Over the course of five years, thousands of trees were to be planted on a 200-hectare (494-acre) plot of land on Aruna Chapori, a barren sandbar in the middle of the Brahmaputra River.

DR Congo: British tourists kidnapped in Virunga National Park
BBC News, 12 May 2018
Two British tourists are among three people to have been kidnapped in a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The director of the Virunga National Park – known for its endangered mountain gorillas – said their vehicle was ambushed by gunmen who killed a park ranger and also seized the driver.
The incident took place just north of the city of Goma, North Kivu province.

Congolese army and park rangers launch operation to rescue British tourists kidnapped in Virunga National Park
By Chloe Farand, The Independent, 12 May 2018
The Congolese army and park rangers have launched an operation to locate the two British tourists kidnapped in the Virunga National Park, an army spokesman said.
Two British citizens, who have not been named, were abducted while visiting the park in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), wildlife officials have said. The driver of the group’s vehicle was also seized.

The global battle to protect our protected areas
By Jeremy Hance, ALERT, 13 May 2018
Nearly everywhere one looks, protected areas are under assault.
There are, of course, many illegal threats — such as land invasions, mining, logging, and poaching happening inside protected areas.
But just as scary is a wide range of legal or quasi-legal dangers.
In Brazil, for instance, conservative President Michel Temer has tried to use legal tactics to open up the vast RENCA Reserve Network in eastern Amazonia for industrial mining — a plan that was only halted at the very last moment by a judge’s decree.

New research says location of protected areas vital to wildlife survival
University of British Columbia press release, 14 May 2018
Location, location, location is not just a buzzword for homebuyers. A new study, by 17 conservation scientists and environmental scholars, say the exact location of protective wild spaces is just as vital as committing to set these areas aside.
“Where Canada protects land is a significant decision,” says UBC Okanagan researcher Laura Coristine, the study’s lead author. “We wouldn’t build a school in the highest traffic density area in a city—especially if few children live there. Selecting a site for a protected area similarly needs to guard against current threats to species and safeguard biodiversity into the future.”

Kidnappings, Killings in DR Congo’s Virunga National Park
By Ida Sawyer, Human Rights Watch, 15 May 2018
Unidentified assailants killed 25-year-old park ranger Rachel Masika Baraka and kidnapped two British tourists and their Congolese driver in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park on Friday.
They were part of an organized tourist trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to stunning volcanos and incredible biodiversity, including the critically endangered mountain gorillas. The three were released on Sunday. No information was made public on whether ransoms were paid.

World’s protected areas being rapidly destroyed by humanity
University of Queensland press release, 17 May 2018
One-third of the world’s protected land is under intense human pressure, according to an international study described as ‘a stunning reality check’ on efforts to avert a biodiversity crisis.
The University of Queensland-led research has found six million square kilometres of protected land – equivalent to two-thirds the size of China – is in a state unlikely to conserve endangered biodiversity.

A Third of Protected Areas Face Human Pressure—What Does it Mean?
By Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, 17 May 2018
Protected areas are a tool used by environmentalists to protect resources and biodiversity. By officially cordoning off parks, preserves, and wildlife sanctuaries, natural habitats and species can flourish.
But a new report in the journal Science found that a third of those protected areas are under intense pressure from human encroachment.

Indonesia looking to turn three national parks into new biosphere reserves
By Una-Minh Kavanagh, Lonely Planet, 17 May 2018
Indonesia is set to propose that three of its naturally beautiful national parks as new biosphere reserves: Sembilang National Park, Betung Kerihun National Park and Mount Rinjani National Park. The new proposal is to be announced at Man and the Biosphere Program International Coordinating Council in July.

Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Will Reopen to Travelers on June 4
By Erin Florio, Conde Nast Traveller, 18 May 2018
Virunga National Park, a reserve in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, has announced that it will reopen to tourism on June 4, which will mark three weeks after visitation to the park was suspended following the kidnapping, and eventual release, of two travelers on May 11. The two British tourists were kidnapped along with their driver in the Nyiragongo territory, north of Goma. A 25-year-old female park ranger was killed in the ambush. In a statement released by Virunga, park officials stated that the decision to close the park temporarily was “a precautionary measure whilst an investigation is undertaken surrounding the recent security incident.”

[Philippines] Managing protected areas through PPP
By Jonathan L. Mayuga, Business Mirror, 20 May 2018
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is ready to accept applications for Special-Use Agreement in Protected Areas (Sapa) after Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu recently announced the lifting of the moratorium that stopped the awarding of tenurial instruments in protected areas.

Lessons for developing countries in expansion of Madagascar’s protected area network
By Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, 21 May 2018
Developing countries worldwide are expanding their protected area networks, and a recent paper that examines how Madagascar greatly expanded its own protected area system over the past decade and a half may have valuable lessons for how they should proceed.

[Bolivia] Is This the World’s Most Diverse National Park?
By James Gorman, New York Times, 22 May 2018
Madidi National Park in Bolivia goes from lowland to mountaintop, from 600 feet to almost 20,000 feet above sea level. It covers more than 7,000 square miles of wildly different habitats. It is, says Rob Wallace, an ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society in Bolivia, “a place where the Amazon meets the Andes.”

How Chad’s Zakouma National Park became one of Africa’s greatest conservation success stories
By AnneMarie McCarthy, Lonely Planet, 27 May 2018
Chad declared Zakouma a national park in 1963, yet it’s only in the last decade it has truly flourished. Now with the reintroduction of an endangered species, there are fresh hopes for conservation and tourism in the area.
Since 2010, the area has been managed by African Parks, a South African-based NGO, and their biggest challenge was to reduce the rampant poaching in the area. Prior to their takeover, the elephant population had plummeted 95%, from 4000 to just 450.

Communities and conservation

Local communities: the overlooked first line of defence for wildlife
IIED, May 2018
The long-term survival of wildlife, and in particular the success of efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade (IWT) in high-value commodities such as elephant ivory and rhino horn, depends to a large extent on the willing support of local communities living alongside it. But communities themselves are rarely consulted on what they think about IWT and how best to tackle it. The First Line of Defence (FLoD) initiative is an approach that directly engages with the communities that are targeted by IWT projects, seeking to understand and give voice to their perspectives.

[Cambodia] Wild elephants destroy crops in Mondulkiri
By Khouth Sophak Chakrya, Phnom Penh Post, 1 May 2018
A herd of 15 wild elephants living in the forest in Mondulkiri province’s Sen Monorom district are eating crops and destroying property, according to villagers, who have called on the authorities and wildlife NGOs to help drive the herd away.
According to local authorities, the elephants have destroyed cassava crops and hundreds of banana, cashew, jackfruit and mango trees in his commune over the course of a few days, mostly near Andoung Kralueng village.

Democracy in the Woods: Environmental Conservation and Social Justice in India, Tanzania and Mexico
By Adeniyi P. Asiyanbi, Environmental Politics, 2 May 2018
Democracy in the Woods is a provocative invitation to rethink explanations for the significantly different levels of rights recognition accorded to forest peasants in different countries. Kashwan argues that the social justice outcomes of forest conservation are directly linked to formal and informal political institutions, state–society relations and the mechanisms through which local mobilisation influences wider political and policy processes.

Addressing peoples’ needs critical to forest protection
By Melanie Sison, SciDev, 5 May 2018
An international meet on rainforests heard scientists and other attendees calling for responsible land use, land-use change and forestry as vital for countries to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).
Participants at the 3rd Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit, held 23—25 April in Yogyakarta, said while forest conservation and management were critical, an integrated approach was needed to achieve the NDCs, which each UN-member country identified as part of commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions under the Paris Agreement.

UN Permanent Forum spotlights Indigenous Peoples’ contributions to global goals
By Jamie Kalliongis, Rights and Resources Institute, 9 May 2018
“There is a direct link between respecting collective rights to lands, territories, and resources and the solutions we need to solve the problems of climate change, biodiversity erosion, and cultural erosion,” UN Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz said last month at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Each year, the Permanent Forum brings together Indigenous Peoples, governments, civil society, and academics in New York to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Indigenous Peoples around the world. The Forum then reports to the UN and advises on ways that member states can better protect indigenous rights.

IUCN partners put focus on communities to combat wildlife trafficking
Africa Times, 11 May 2018
There’s a new strategy to combat the illegal wildlife trade in Africa, and it relies on local communities and their role in curbing elephant, rhino and other wildlife trafficking.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature, in partnership with the International Institute for International Development (IIED), rolled out a toolkit and guidance this week for implementing the “Local Communities: First Line of Defense against Illegal Wildlife Trade (FloD)” strategy.

How to convince communities to sustain conservation efforts
By Subhojit Goswami, Down to Earth, 14 May 2018
Conserving our ecology can no more be seen as an act of altruism or manifestation of our magnanimity, but a dire necessity. Though current conservation scenario raises alarm (and eyebrows), the assault on biodiversity continues. Wetlands are being encroached upon, wildlife corridors are disappearing, natural flow of rivers is being disrupted and soil is being ripped off its nutrients. Despite such cataclysmic circumstances, we have to let go of the ‘doom and gloom’ narrative and focus on positive stories. Fear psychosis may work in politics, but not in conservation. This is a major learning for me from the last week’s seminar on community-based conservation hosted by the Centre of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at OP Jindal Global University, under the aegis of Professor Amit Lahiri.

Indigenous and Local People Lead Major Conservation Initiative in Mexico
Rainforest Alliance, 30 May 2018
Indigenous and local people know best how to manage their forests: age-old traditions, community values, and intimate knowledge of ancestral land all set the stage for both strong forests and healthy communities.
That’s why the World Bank Strategic Climate Fund’s innovative new financing program, the Dedicated Grant Mechanism (DGM), is so promising — and unique. Indigenous people and local communities are both leaders and beneficiaries of the initiative, which is currently being piloted in 14 countries around the world — including Mexico, where the Rainforest Alliance has been named the executing agency.

Public Authority through the eyes of a Dead Fish
By Duncan Green, Oxfam Blogs, 31 May 2018
One of the highlights of last week’s conference in Ghent was a presentation by Esther Marijnen about her research Esther Marijnenin the Eastern Congo, conducted with Chrispin Mvano. Esther is trying to understand how rebel groups (of which DRC has many) see nature – across Africa, there is a long tradition of insurgents setting up bases in national parks. To do this she looked at (il)legal fishing in Virunga National Park (famous for its gorillas, where park rangers were recently shot by rebels/poachers).


Half of Western Lowland Gorillas May Vanish by 2040. Here’s How We Can Prevent That
By Fiona Maisels, Samantha Strindberg, and Liz Williamson, Live Science, 2 May 2018
The first time one of us (Fiona Maisels) came face-to-face with a gorilla, in 1988, the animal shouted loudly and repeatedly charged within a few feet of her for half an hour. It felt like an eternity. The research station director, Caroline Tutin, had given sage advice: “If charged, stand, avoid eye contact, stay calm and pretend to eat leaves until the silverback (mature male) is convinced you are a harmless, herbivorous visitor to his home.”

Sending a message about rhino conservation in Nepal
By Giovanni Ortolani, Mongabay, 2 May 2018
Last May, a fire in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park sent a clear message to the whole world. More than 4,000 wildlife parts from 48 different species, including 357 rhino horns, were set ablaze, and not just as a means of managing a stockpile confiscated over 20 years. The photo opportunity provided an image that was both striking and evocative, which was picked up by media ranging from The Kathmandu Post to the BBC. The government had gathered not only representatives of conservation agencies and NGOs, but also security chiefs, foreign diplomats and aid agencies, civil society groups, local communities and global media to the bonfire intended to serve as an emblem of Nepal’s commitment to stamping out wildlife crime.

Six black rhino make their way to Chad from SA
ENCA, 3 May 2018
The Zakouma National Park in southeastern Chad’s Salamat Region on Thursday, said they were fully equipped to ensure that the six rhinos from Addo Elephant Park, close to Port Elizabeth in South Africa, were safe.
With hours remaining before the rhino arrive, park manager Leon Lamprecht said they took extra measures to ensure the safety of the animals.
“By providing communities with the security they provide us with information and we react,” Lamprecht said.

[Indonesia] There is still a chance to save the Sumatran rhino
By Margaret Kinnaird and Jon Paul Rodriguez, Mongabay, 3 May 2018
Captive breeding has been a key strategy to save species on the brink of extinction, but it is frequently not applied until wild populations have dwindled to a very small size. Under these circumstances, it becomes a challenging and risky undertaking, from the unpredictable nature of capturing and relocating wild animals to the vagaries of advanced reproductive technology or unsuccessful coupling. The ultimate goal is to keep remaining animals in human care until the threats have been addressed and the population is large enough to reestablish them in the wild.

Will China wipe out the world’s rarest ape?
By Bill Laurance, ALERT, 4 May 2018
Will a desperately imperiled ape become a tragic icon of China’s trillion-dollar infrastructure-expansion plans—hundreds of mega-projects that will stretch across Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Pacific?
The ape, called the Tapanuli Orangutan, is one of the rarest animals on Earth.
Its great vulnerability isn’t stopping Chinese corporations and banks from building a US$1.6 billion hydropower project right in the heart of its tiny population.
The forest destruction has already begun.

A Census of Gorillas and Chimpanzees Finds More Than Expected
By Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times, 4 May 2018
There are many more gorillas and chimpanzees than previously believed, new research finds. Nonetheless, their numbers are rapidly declining.
All great apes are protected species under national and international conventions; it is illegal to kill or capture them, or to buy and sell their body parts. But they are threatened by illegal poaching and the destruction of their habitats. And various diseases, particularly Ebola, have been devastating for the animals.

How Botswana Revived Africa’s Largest Mammal Migration
By Michaela Trimble, National Geographic, 4 May 2018
Drenched in water and completely covered in greenery, it’s nearly impossible to imagine Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans as an arid landscape. A region marked by seasonally visible, horizon-bending salt flats connected by the Kalahari Desert’s sandy terrain, the Makgadikgadi Pans merge to form the largest contiguous salt flats in the world, outsizing the singular Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. Although travelers seldom visit during the January to April rainy season, it’s when the Makgadikgadi Pans are lush and wet, transforming the land into a haven for herbivores.

Black rhinos return to Chad 50 years after poaching wiped them out
By Josh Gabbatiss, The Independent, 5 May 2018
Black rhinos have been reintroduced to Chad 50 years after they were wiped out there entirely by poaching.
Six of the horned mammals were transported safely to the central African nation’s Zakouma National Park, having been flown 3,000 miles from South Africa.

The ecologists who think moving to cities will save the planet
By Matt Reynolds, Wired, 6 May 2018
As far as professions go, conservationists are not known for their optimism. And, with the future of the planet looking so bleak, who can blame them? By 2100, the world is on track for more than three degrees of warming, sliding past the targets set by the Paris climate accord in 2015. By the middle of this century, between 15 and 37 per cent of species sampled in one study could be completely gone. In 2016, it became clear that giraffe populations had declined by 40 per cent over the last 30 years, earning the animals a spot on the endangered species list.

Redefining ‘impact’ so research can help real people right away, even before becoming a journal article
By Anne Toomey, The Conversation, 7 May 2018
Scientists are increasingly expected to produce research with impact that goes beyond the confines of academia. When funding organizations such as the National Science Foundation consider grants to researchers, they ask about “broader impacts.” They want to support science that directly contributes to the “achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.” It’s not enough for researchers to call it a day, after they publish their results in journal articles read by a handful of colleagues and few, if any, people outside the ivory tower.

Bridging the gaps in global conservation
American Institute of Biological Sciences press release, 9 May 2018
To date, the conservation of global biodiversity has relied on a patchwork of international goals and national- and regional-level plans. Hampered by poor planning, competing interests, and an incomplete view of large-scale ecosystem function, these efforts are failing. Effective biodiversity conservation will instead require a broad-based approach that relies on the empirical evaluation of ecosystem dynamics and conservation actions. Writing in BioScience, Will Arlidge, E. J. Milner-Gulland, and colleagues present a unified framework to address these challenges: global mitigation hierarchies.

Nature Needs Half: Keeping ecosystems healthy means giving them enough space to thrive
By Gregory Beatty, Planet S, 10 May 2018
When it comes to impending ecological catastrophes, climate change is probably the one that gets the most publicity. It’s not the only environmental challenge facing us, though. We’re also in the midst of what scientists describe as a sixth mass extinction — an ecological event where thousands of plant and animal species around the world are in danger of disappearing.

In pictures: Kenya’s coastal conservation heroes
UN Environment, 10 May 2018
Just 30 km south of the booming port town of Mombasa, residents of two tranquil Kenyan villages are making history.
Here, amongst the mud-walled houses and coconut trees, the people of Gazi and Makongeni villages have become the world’s first communities to harness the carbon market through mangrove conservation.

Black Rhinos Roam Chad for the First Time in 46 Years
By Sandra E. Garcia, New York Times, 11 May 2018
Pigs don’t fly yet, but rhinos do.
Six black rhinoceroses were flown from South Africa to Zakouma National Park in Chad last week, reuniting the threatened animal with a land it has not roamed in nearly five decades.
Chad is one of several African countries that have recently sought to start their own small black rhino populations in an attempt to protect the species from extinction. It is a participant in the African Rhino Conservation Plan, which hopes to significantly grow the number of rhinos in Africa over the next five years.

[India] Legal instruments, partnerships needed for conserving wildlife corridors: WWF
Times of India, 11 May 2018
Legal instruments and partnerships need to be in place to build a stronger framework for conserving and securing wildlife corridors and landscapes, a global wildlife body has said.
In a three-day workshop here experts from wildlife and environment organisations and officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change discussed the importance and challenges of maintaining and securing wildlife landscapes in an increasingly crowded space, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), India, said in a statement.

USAID project helps Vietnam’s wildlife protection
Nhan Dan, 11 May 2018
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) launched the USAID Saving Species project in Hanoi on May 11.
The launched was attended by diplomats from embassies of the US, the United Kingdom, and South Africa alongside international organisations and governmental stakeholders.

Podcast #3: The Dark Side of Conservation?
By Gianluca Cerullo,, 13 May 2018
In episode 3 of Conservation Uncut, Gianluca Cerullo chats with Francis Masse about how biodiversity conservation intersects with security, the impacts of different anti-poaching approaches for protecting the rhino, the growing trend of military involvement and military techniques in conservation, whether ivory funds terrorism, and the challenges of a community-based ranger programme in Mozambique. They also discuss the Greater Lembobo Conservancy in Mozambique, a protected area which runs along the border of Kruger national park that has been called the most critical piece of land on the planet for rhino conservation , but which has also courted controversy for its resettlement of agricultural communities.

Reports say forest cover decreasing, contrary to government claims
By T.V. Padma, Mongabay, 15 May 2018
Natural forests across India are slowly disappearing, with some serious decline in core forest area and large protected forests, says recent research. These finding are contrary to the government’s claims of increasing forest cover.
The scientific reports are based on a mix of satellite data, ground vegetation observations and historical maps. According to their findings, the Eastern Ghats have lost 15.83% of its forest area over a span of almost 100 years, tropical montane forests continue to disappear in the Sikkim Himalayas, particularly at the lower heights and there is a noticeable decline across all forest types in India.

Tanzania opens pristine World Heritage reserve to logging
By Adam Cruise, IOL, 16 May 2018
Tanzania is proposing large-scale logging in the middle of the Selous Game Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most iconic wildlife areas in Africa.
Tender documents have revealed plans for extensive timber harvesting in the middle of the Selous Game Reserve which is also one of the oldest and largest game reserves in the world, covering an area of 54 600 km2. The reserve is an important refuge for Elephants and lions as well as the critically endangered African Wild dog and a host of other species.

Sacred sites have a biodiversity advantage that could help world conservation
By John Healey, John Halley, and Kalliopi Stara, The Conversation, 17 May 2018
Since the dawn of history, human societies have ascribed sacred status to certain places. Areas such as ancestral burial grounds, temples and churchyards have been given protection through taboo and religious belief. As many of these places have been carefully managed for many years an interesting side effect has occurred – the sites often retain more of their natural condition than surrounding areas used for farming or human habitation. As a result, they are often called “sacred natural sites” (SNS).

Conservation Conundrum: Is Focusing on a Single Species a Good Strategy?
By Richard Conniff, Yale Environment 360, 17 May 2018
Conservationists often criticize state fish and game departments for focusing single-mindedly on one species to the detriment of everything else — for instance, improving habitat for elk, which then browse down habitat for songbirds. But what if conservationists — who don’t have that traditional hook-and-bullet mindset — nonetheless inadvertently do much the same thing?

Village Enterprise and African Wildlife Foundation Team Up to Alleviate Poverty and Protect Bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Village Enterprise press release, 21 May 2018
Village Enterprise and the African Wildlife Foundation announced a new partnership funded by the Arcus Foundation to reduce poverty and to protect the endangered Bonobo population in the biodiverse Lomako region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Bonobos, which are humankind’s closest living relative, are only found in the DRC and are threatened due to poverty and conflict that fuel the hunting of wild animals for food.

Deep in the Honduran rain forests, an ecological swat team sxplores a lost world
By Douglas Preston, The New Yorker, 21 May 2018
A little more than three years ago, I joined a team of archeologists on an expedition to La Mosquitia, a remote mountain wilderness in eastern Honduras. For centuries, the region had been rumored to contain a lost city, known as the City of the Monkey God or the White City, and now, thanks to a combination of luck and modern technology, an ancient settlement had been found. Although it was probably not the lost city of legend, it was a very real place, built by a mysterious civilization that flourished long before Columbus arrived in the Americas. Hidden in a densely forested valley, it had never been explored.

Darwin Initiative: £10 million for international conservation projects
Darwin Intitiative press release, 22 May 2018
On International Day for Biological Diversity (22 May) the UK Government has announced the latest round of successful funding bids from the Darwin Initiative to deliver on flagship commitments set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan.
Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, awarded a total package of £10.6 million to 52 projects over the next three years from across the globe that will support and enhance biodiversity.

Private capital in conservation: addressing cost concerns
By Keon Kusters, CIFOR Landscape News, 22 May 2018
Attracting private capital into conservation is a hot topic. Conservation agencies, governments and financial institutions are increasingly joining hands to generate the funds needed to address the world’s environmental challenges.
However, there are also concerns that private investments in nature could have negative effects on local communities. A recent white paper by Althelia and Ecosphere+ addresses these concerns, arguing that involved organizations should hold themselves to the highest standards of accountability to both investors and local communities.

Eating to extinction—urban appetite for bushmeat sparks wildlife crisis in Cambodia
By Tim Knight (Fauna and Flora International), PhysOrg, 22 May 2018
From baby elephants to sun bears and pangolins, escalating demand for bushmeat in towns and cities is taking an increasingly heavy toll on some of Cambodia’s most endangered wildlife.
The extensive and growing use of snares to supply the burgeoning bushmeat market is resulting in the indiscriminate slaughter of wildlife, including Asian elephant calves and other species injured and killed accidentally in wire traps set for other animals.

Scientists See Promise in Resurrecting These Rhinos That Are Nearly Extinct
By Steph Yin, New York Times, 24 May 2018
When the last male northern white rhinoceros died in March, people mourned the beloved mammal’s step toward extinction.
With no members of the subspecies left in the wild and just two females remaining in captivity, it felt like the last bit of sand was draining through the rhino’s hourglass.
But several teams of scientists are working to flip the hourglass back over.

Conservation International Commits US$1M for Liberia Protected Areas
By Edwin M. Fayia, III, Daily Observer, 25 May 2018
Conservation International (CI) and the Government of Liberia on May 22 launched the “Liberia Conservation Fund (LCF), the first of its kind aimed at providing sustainable, long term financing for Liberia’s protected areas. The fund was launched with an initial commitment of US$1 million, provided by CI’s Global Conservation Fund, with pledges made by the Government of Liberia through the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).

Why India Is The World’s Deadliest Country For Forest Rangers
By Perna Singh Bindra, India Spend, 26 May 2018
On February 20, 2017, range forest officer (RFO) Daulat Ram Lader was having his ritual after-dinner tea with wife Pushpa when there was a knock at the door. Lader was posted at Lailunga, Dharamjaigarh forest division, in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh district.
Lader opened the door and stepped out to speak with the visitors. An hour later, his body, hacked to death, was found some 40 yards from his home, just across the local police thana (outpost).

Look beyond protected areas for conservation of endangered hangul in Kashmir: Study
By S. Suresh Ramanan, The Hindu, 30 May 2018
For long-term conservation of the critically endangered red deer or hangul in Kashmir, it is necessary to take up conservation efforts beyond protected areas, a new study has suggested.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir has only about 200 hanguls in the wild. Systematic efforts are underway to conserve them at Dachigam National park on the outskirts of Srinagar. However, continuous inbreeding and geographic isolation have reduced their genetic diversity and any natural calamity or disease outbreak can cause local extinction of this species, the study published in journal Current Science has warned.

The enlightenment of Steven Pinker: Eco-modernism as rationalizing the arrogance (and violence) of empire
By Bijay Kolinjivadi, Entitle Blog, 31 May 2018
This essay responds to experimental psychologist Steven Pinker’s latest book Enlightenment Now, which celebrates the successes of modern technological progress and rationality, while placing substantial optimism in “big data” as the savior for addressing crises such as climate change. While there have been numerous engaged critiques recently published, which review Pinker’s latest book (e.g. this, this, this, this, and this), few have expounded on the colonial relativism and mechanistic human-nature dualisms inherent in his brutal defense of rationalism at all costs.

[DR Congo] Mountain gorilla population rises above 1,000
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 31 May 2018
It is one of the most recognisable animals in the world and one of the most endangered, but a new census reveals the surviving mountain gorilla population has now risen above 1,000.
This represents a rise of 25% since 2010 in its heartland of the Virunga Massif in central Africa. It also marks success for intensive conservation work in a region riven by armed conflict, and where six park guards were murdered in April.

Wildlife trade

Couple busted at Sea-Tac Airport with dozens of illegal ivory items
By Jennifer Sullivan, Komo News, May 2018
Nearly three-dozen intricately carved figurines, daggers, even tusks – all seized from a battered cardboard box at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Earlier this month U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents confiscated the ivory, which is illegal in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife it’s the largest ivory seizure at Sea-Tac in years.

Chelsea Clinton Calls for Ivory Ban at Tiffany Panel
By Rob Bates, JCK, 1 May 2018
Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton called for a ban on all sales of ivory at a Tiffany & Co. Foundation–hosted panel discussion, held on April 26 at Milk Studios in New York City.
“Ivory is the grease of the wheels of so many horrific trades, including traffic in drugs and traffic in people,” said Clinton (pictured), who currently serves as the vice chair of the Clinton Foundation.”

Local links across Africa provide key clues to fighting the illegal ivory trade
By Kristof Titeca, The Conversation, 3 May 2018
The population of African elephants is estimated to have declined by 111 000 over the past ten years. Eastern Africa, for example, has experienced an almost 50% reduction in its elephant population.
What does academic research tell us about these dynamics? There’s a wealth of research giving fascinating insights into poaching, the largely disputed terrorism-poaching, ivory markets, ivory confiscations, and a range of other factors. Missing from this research is one aspect: ivory smuggling. Very little is known about how ivory is traded on the continent. There is therefore a gap and a need for a better understanding of ivory’s trade structure.

Namibia: N$178 Million to Combat Wildlife Crime
By Albertina Nakale, New Era, 3 May 2018
With the escalating incidences of poaching reported in Namibia, an amount of N$178.6 million has been allocated for wildlife and protected area management aimed to establish and implement measures and strategies for the protection and conservation of flora and fauna.
In 2017, 32 rhinos were poached compared to 61 during 2016, while 22 elephants were killed in 2017 compared to 101 in 2016.

Seven Down, Forty-three To Go
By Ashley Prout McAvery, Tusk Task Force, 14 May 2018
Earth is currently in its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals — an extinction greater than the loss of dinosaurs 65 million years ago. We are losing 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural “background” rate of 1–5 species per year with loss of dozens each day. Unlike the past five mass extinctions which were caused by natural occurrences such as asteroids and volcanoes, this one has one main culprit: Humans.

Rhino horn used to comfort the terminally ill in Vietnam
University of Copenhagen press release, 14 May 2018
From treating cancer and erectile dysfunction to managing hangovers, the horns of endangered wild rhinoceros are widely used as a medical cure-all in parts of Asia. A new Danish-Vietnamese study from the University of Copenhagen uncovers new reasons for why Vietnamese consumers buy illegal rhino horn. This knowledge can now be used in campaigns to save endangered rhinoceros.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that 1,054 rhino were killed by poachers in South Africa in 2016 and the worldwide number of rhinos remaining is estimated to be 30.000.

Will China’s new ban on the ivory trade help or hurt?
By Karl Ammann, Mongabay, 16 May 2018
At the end of 2017, China announced it had closed down the domestic trade in ivory. Conservation establishment players did victory laps declaring the move a major step in curtailing elephant poaching. The news website featured an opinion piece titled “More efforts are needed to stamp out the ivory trade” that essentially proclaimed that China had now done its bit and it was up to the international community to follow suit.

[Myanmar] China meat market threatens elephants
By Nyein Zaw Lin, Myanmar Times, 18 May 2018
Rising demand for ivory is not the only factor putting the lives of Myanmar elephants at risk. Natural Resource and Environmental Conservation Ministry officials said there is a growing market in China for elephant meat.
According to the ministry, the number of wild elephants killed has increased alarmingly year after year for the past decade.

In unsuspecting Indian villages, the international rhino horn trade takes a toll
By Moushumi Basu, Mongabay, 22 May 2018
Tucked among the tall trees of Jaldapara National Park, in the Himalayan foothills of India’s West Bengal state, Kodalbasti village is home to about 265 families. The corrugated rooftops of their homes dot the green landscape, slender betel palm trees swaying above. Despite the peaceful scenery, a current of suspicion runs through the village. Outsiders who pass through are met with wary stares, surreptitiously followed, and even questioned about the purpose of their visits.

Saving rhinos: South Africa’s fight against Chinese demand for horns that’s pushing species to extinction
By Kate Whitehead, South China Morning Post, 26 May 2018
It is just after 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon and a trio of Project Rhino team members are kicking back in the lounge adjacent to their operations room. The armchairs and sofa are covered in camouflage fabric – even here, there’s no forgetting that a war is raging in KwaZulu-Natal: a war on the rhino­ceros, funded by Chinese demand for the animal’s horn, which is worth more on the black market than its weight in gold.


Book Review: Enter the dangerous world of the South African poaching industry with Tony Park’s Captive
By Jodie B. Sloan, The AU Review, 1 May 2018
Eager Australian lawyer Kerry Maxwell arrives in South Africa, ready and raring to help veterinarian Graham Baird in his fight against poachers in the country’s national parks. But Baird is not what she expects – he’s drunk, jaded, and, worst of all, he’s behind bars in Mozambique. Baird is responsible for the death of the brother of corrupt politician and poaching kingpin Fidel Costa, and faces a violent form of justice. But when Kerry tries to intervene, the situation only intensifies, throwing the idealistic young professional way in over her head.

[Kenya] Poachers kill three rhinos in Meru park
By Kennedy Kimanthi, Daily Nation, 3 May 2018
Wildlife conservation suffered a blow after three rhinos were killed and their horns cut off in the Meru National Park on Wednesday.
The Kenya Wildlife Service said two black rhinos and a calf were killed in the park’s rhino sanctuary at 6.30pm.
Rangers efforts to lay an ambush for the poachers were unsuccessful, the service said.

Mozambique: Govt Plants to Invest 100 Million Dollars in Anti-Poaching Strategy
All Africa, 3 May 2018
The Mozambican government plans to invest, over the next five years, 100 million US dollars in building infrastructures and stimulating conservation agriculture in those districts where national parks and reserves are located.
The Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia, announced this intention on Wednesday at the opening ceremony of a meeting to discuss national plans to combat trafficking in ivory.

Meet the Black Mambas, South Africa’s Fierce Female Anti-Poaching Unit
By Mary Holland, Conde Nast Traveler, 3 May 2018
There’s a war raging across the African continent, but we don’t hear much about the hard work done on the front lines. At the center of the conflict? Rhino horns. They’re highly sought after on the black market, worth more than gold, and people will kill—or be killed—to poach them. In South Africa, home to about 80 percent of the world’s rhino population, 1,028 rhino were poached in 2017, amounting to nearly three rhinos killed every day, per official stats from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs.

Under Siege – Part 1: KNP under threat from Moz crime syndicates
By De Wet Potgieter, Lowvelder, 4 May 2018
As a result of this lawlessness on its doorstep, the KNP is increasingly coming under threat from rhino poachers invading from the Mozambican side. Some of these poachers, arrested on the South African side, simply jump bail and return to the criminal syndicates in the border villages.
According to a Lowvelder investigation, the cross-border Transnational Park that includes KNP and the Greater Lebombo Conservancy are under siege from the crime syndicates who barter rhino horn for heroin and other contraband smuggled from the Sàbiè/Moamba districts into South Africa.

Under Siege – Part 2: Rhinoceros butchered while president preaches conservation
By De Wet Potgieter, Lowvelder, 4 May 2018
The rhino was part of a viable breeding herd brought into Mozambique to restore the extinct species back into the neighbouring country. According to Sandy McDonald, second-generation owner of Sàbiè Game Park (SGP), the Mozambican president is very aware of the problems that they face in the area.

Chinese Embassy invests in SA’s anti-poaching efforts
By Jarryd Subroyen, EastCoastRadio, 4 May 2018
The donation of R200 000 is being made by the Chinese Embassy and Chinese Community in South Africa.
China is one of the Asian countries where rhino horn is illegally traded.
A number of Chinese nationals have also been arrested in South Africa – some of them convicted of rhino poaching.

Three rhinos killed by poachers in Kenya National Park – Ministry
Africa News, 4 May 2018
Three rhinos were found dead with their horns missing in Kenya’s Rhino Sanctuary in Meru National Park on Wednesday in what the country’s Ministry of Tourism is calling an act of poaching.
The incident happened at around 6.30pm, where security at the sanctuary heard gunshots and rushed towards the direction of the sounds but failed to see the suspected poachers.

[India] Most wanted rhino poacher arrested
By Pranab Kumar Das, The Telegraph, 5 May 2018
Parci Ronfar, a most wanted poacher, has been arrested from Natun Danga under Jakhalabanda police station in Nagaon district on Thursday.
Sources said Ronfar, 45, had been involved in several rhino-poaching cases in Kaziranga National Park. He was the mastermind behind several poaching incidents and used to help his Manipuri counterparts kill rhinos inside the park, a source said.

Dimension Data and Cisco expand anti-poaching programme in Africa
IT News Africa, 9 May 2018
Global technology companies, Dimension Data and Cisco have announced the expansion of their anti-poaching Connected Conservation programme into Zambia, Kenya, and Mozambique to continue protecting rhino, as well as help fight the war on the numbers of African savanna elephant being poached. According to the companies, the expansion follows a successful pilot in South Africa which reduced rhino poaching incidents by 96 percent.

Police arrest seven suspected poachers in southern Tanzania
Xinhua, 9 May 2018
Tanzanian police on Tuesday said they, in collaboration with officers of the anti-poaching unit, have arrested seven suspected poachers in the southern part of the east African nation.
Yahaya Athuman, acting Ruvuma Regional Police Commander, said the suspected poachers were arrested in different areas of Namtumbo District, Ruvuma Region with two of them being caught red-handed with hippos’ meat.

Poachers Kill Fourth Rhino in Kaziranga This Year, Decamp With Horn
By Karishma Hasnat, News 18, 11 May 2018
Poachers killed yet another one-horned rhino in Kaziranga National Park on Friday morning and decamped with its horn. This is the fourth rhino death in Kaziranga this year.
“Shots were heard at around 7:20am today at the Kukurakata Reserve Forest hilltop under the Burapahar range. The body of the rhino was recovered near the Chirakhuwa anti-poaching camp,” said Bhaskar Buragohain, Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF), Kaziranga National Park.

China pledges N$15 million towards anti-poaching
By Albertina Nakale, New Era, 17 May 2018
In its bilateral efforts, the Chinese government has given a grant worth N$15 million to the Namibian government for the procurement of equipment that will be used by law-enforcement agents deployed to the anti-poaching unit.
The visiting Chairperson of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China Li Zhanshu who met Namibian National Assembly Speaker Professor Peter Katjavivi on Tuesday gave this donation.

[South Africa] Anti-poaching war trilogy – Part 3: Poaching kingpins on our doorstep
By De Wet Pogeiter, Lowvelder, 18 May 2018
“One should look at the magnitude of the money involved to realise that poaching operations in an area like the KNP and the Greater Lebombo Conservancy are well organised and pre-funded by the syndicate bosses nestled and protected by the communities of Babtine, Curroman and Sabie Town,” one of the sources told Lowvelder.
“Look no further than the enclave from where the crime syndicates strategically plan and execute the poaching operations into the KNP.”

Rhino poaching ‘kingpin’ case postponed – again
By Orrin Singh, Zululand Observer, 21 May 2018
The case against Dumisani Gwala, accused of being a ‘kingpin’ in the trade of rhino horn, has once again been postponed – this time to 18 June.

Rangers find 109,217 snares in a single park in Cambodia
By Jeremy Hance, The Guardian, 22 May 2018
A simple brake cable for motorbikes can kill a tiger, a bear, even a young elephant in Southeast Asia. Local hunters use these ubiquitous wires to create snares – indiscriminate forest bombs – that are crippling and killing Southeast Asia’s most charismatic species and many lesser-known animals as well. A fact from a new paper in Biodiversity Conservation highlights the scale of this epidemic: in Cambodia’s Southern Cardamom National Park rangers with the Wildlife Alliance removed 109,217 snares over just six years.

Nepal and India to run joint operation to check wildlife poaching
By Bhawani Bhatta, Kathmandu Post, 22 May 2018
Nepal and India are planning to conduct a joint operation to control wildlife poaching and trafficking of animal parts in Shuklaphanta National Park in Kanchanpur district on Nepal’s side and Krishnapur Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh state of India.
Since the two reserves are contiguous to each other, the two sides have decided to work together to conserve and protect the their wildlife.

Guardians of India’s rhinos find it takes a village to fight poachers
By Moushumi Basu, Mongabay 24 May 2018
Poachers killed a rhino in Jaldapara National Park, in India’s West Bengal state, in February this year, but by March 10 there was some good news for conservationists here. Eight poachers from the surrounding villages surrendered to the forest management, pledging to give up poaching and work instead for rhino and forest conservation.

South Africa: Project Rhino – How Conservationists Risk Their Lives to Combat Poachers
news24wire, 24 May 2018
In the picturesque, rolling hills of Northern KwaZulu-Natal there is a group of South Africans who have dedicated their lives to saving rhino.
They work and even reside deep in the heart of the natural beauty of the Somkhanda Game Reserve, between the remote towns of Pongola and Mkuzi.
The reserve is home to the big five, South Africa’s most coveted and jealously-guarded tourist attraction.

Tanzania: Anti-Poaching Drive Gets Tour Operators’ Support
By Adam Ihucha, The Citizen, 25 May 2018
Investors in Tourism have donated a new Toyota Land Cruiser worth $40,000 (about Sh90 million) to boost the anti-poaching project in Tanzania’s flagship national park, Serengeti.
Poaching remains a major challenge to conservation and has prompted tourism players in Serengeti to embark on supporting the Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa) through the Frankfurt Zoological Society, by funding the Serengeti De-Snaring Programme.

Controversial rhino horn sales eyed as solution to poaching crisis
By Lara Logan, CBC News, 27 May 2018
We think of the rhinoceros lumbering through the bush on its tank-like body; a magnificent, if cumbersome, creature of the wild.
But in South Africa’s parks and game reserves, rhino are being slaughtered at the rate of three a day, targeted by poachers who want their horns.
Tonight we’ll show you an unusual and controversial plan to save the rhino by removing them from the wild and, instead, farming them like cattle.

How chopping off their horns helps save rhinos from poachers
By Tony Carnie, The Guardian, 31 May 2018
Armed with a dart gun in a helicopter hovering above Somkhanda game reserve in South Africa, the vet Dr Mike Toft has just shot a powerful cocktail of drugs into the massive white rhino below.
The 2,000kg (315st) bull starts to stagger and sinks slowly to its knees as the drugs take effect. Though immobilised, the rhino is conscious. So, once it has been moved into the right position by a team on the ground, foam earmuffs and a blindfold are placed on its head to reduce stress levels.
After marking the ideal cutting point to avoid damaging the living growth plates at the base of the horns, Toft fires up a chainsaw and slices both of them off.

Militarisation of conservation

Army Malawi Deployment ‘Incredibly Important’ In Poaching Fight
Forces Network, May 2018
The Defence Secretary said the deployment of troops to Malawi to give anti-poaching training is “so incredibly important”, as he met the personnel who will be carrying out the teaching.
The Army will deploy to two national parks in the African nation, where they will work with rangers teaching them techniques including intelligence, tracking and medical skills.

In Africa, technology is the final weapon in the deadly poaching war
By Clair MacDougall, Wired, 2 May 2018
As day bleeds into night in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, Ntayia Lema Langas, the deputy warden of the Mara Conservancy, barrels across the landscape in a Land Rover flanked by rangers, crossing an invisible border into neighbouring Tanzania.
A pickup full of Tanzanian rangers heading back across the border stops and the vehicles’ occupants greet each other. A senior officer shows photographs of poachers they had arrested earlier in the day at a makeshift camp. He flicks through photographs on his smartphone of hacked zebra meat, spread out on the dry grassland.

[South Africa] Soldiers part of multi-agency collaboration taking on rhino poachers
defenceWeb, 2 May 2018
Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said the arrest of 10 alleged poachers in the Kruger National Park was yet another example of “successful collaboration” between security forces and SANParks, the national conservation agency.
She pointed out that rhino poaching remained a national priority crime with no less than five government departments and two national agencies part and parcel of the national anti-poaching strategy.

Tanzania in drive to enhance war against poaching
Xinhua, 6 May 2018
The Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) has partnered with security agencies to enhance the fight against poaching in all 16 national parks across the east African nation.
“The fight against poaching is complex as some poachers are now using sophisticated weapons,” TANAPA Director General Allan Kijazi told a meeting here on Sunday.
He said TANAPA has been working with the police force in arresting and taking to court poachers.

British army to tackle African elephant poachers who fund their Islamic extremism efforts with illicit ivory sales
By Larisa Brown, Daily Mail, 12 May 2018
British soldiers have been deployed to the African jungle to help to stop elephant poachers that fund Islamist extremism.
Thousands of the animals have been slaughtered in the rainforests of Gabon and their ivory sold to raise money for Islamic State-linked jihadists.
More than a dozen soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Rifles were sent to the West African nation last month to train rangers, or ‘eco guards’, in skills such as intelligence and patrolling.

Rangers turn to military methods to protect Africa’s dying wildlife from violent poachers
By Tom Bawden, iNews, 18 May 2018
The “war for wildlife” is becoming increasingly deadly, with more than 500 park rangers killed protecting megafauna such as rhinoceros and elephants in the last five years, i can reveal. Huge amounts of money can be made from killing animals for their ivory or other body parts in Africa and Asia. The resulting pressure put on poachers by organised criminal gangs is leading to increasingly desperate violent confrontations and an arms race between the hunters and those who protect wildlife.

Botswana withdraws arms of war from anti-poaching units
APA News, 21 May 2018
The Botswana government has withdrawn arms of war from its anti-poaching units on patrol along the country’s borders with its neighbours, Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi said here Monday.“Government has decided to withdraw military weapons and equipment from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks,” said Morupisi.
According to Morupisi the Department of Wildlife and National Parks was not involved in any armed military activities.
He would not be drawn into explaining how the department had procured military weapons in the first place.

[DR Congo] This Photographer Was Caught in a Deadly Rebel Ambush
By Adriane Ohanesian, National Geographic, 21 May 2018
Is this a wedding procession? joked a Congolese ranger about the casual speed of our overloaded pickup truck. It was a misty morning in July, and the abnormally slow pace was set by the presence of three foreign journalists. We had just left the rangers’ headquarters in the town of Epulu and were crawling along the road through the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As the sun rose, I stood in the bed of the truck photographing the rangers and the villages we passed.

The British expat taking on the ivory trade in Gabon
By Jerome Starkey, The Times, 26 May 2018
When Lee White was growing up he never dreamt of being a soldier. Nature was far more enchanting.
His mother, Glenys, had adopted an orphaned chimpanzee – which she called Cedric – when he was four years old and cared for it at their home in Uganda with his infant sister, Alison.

Defence Secretary praises troops about to embark on countering elephant and rhino poaching operation
Ministry of Defence press release, 29 May 2018
The Defence Secretary met several personnel at West Midlands Safari Park today as they prepare to deploy to East Africa next month. The personnel met zoological experts at the park, which works with conservation bodies to help protect threatened species such as African elephants.


Botswana: Safari adventures for the rich (and famous?)
By Dr. Elionro Garely, eTN, 5 May 2018
Botswana recently reached celebrity status when it was revealed that Prince Harry presented Meghan Markle with an engagement ring from this African country at a (rumored) remote safari camp in the western part of Botswana’s Makgadikegadi Pans National Park.

Like the fossil fuel industry, trophy hunting is unsustainable
By Ian Michler, Daily Maverick, 10 May 2018
Trophy hunting is like the fossil fuel industry. They’re both messy, unsustainable, in need of an alternative approach and, ultimately, fail to deliver on their promises.
Trophy hunting is a colonial construct with an anachronistic view on the environment. While it has served certain interests, its failures to effectively deliver on wider conservation promises and its negative impacts outweigh any benefits it accrues. It’s time to search for more effective and sustainable alternatives.

Hunting facts versus animal rights fiction
By Peter Flack, Daily Maverick, 15 May 2018
Africa needs more legal, fair chase hunting of wildlife in its natural environments on a sustainable basis, not less, if the conservation of wildlife habitat and wildlife is to have any chance of success. The proven, long-term South African and Namibian conservation successes show beyond a shadow of doubt that this is the case.
I carefully read Ian Michler’s Opinionista piece entitled Like the fossil fuel industry, trophy hunting is unsustainable. Like almost all his writings on this important topic, it is all but devoid of relevant facts and, more importantly, a practical, tried and tested, successful alternative to fair chase hunting as a key conservation tool.

[USA] Hunters represented on International Wildlife Conservation Council
By H. Sterling Burnett, Heartland Institute, 18 May 2018
Representatives from a number of pro-hunting conservation organizations are included in the membership of the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC), which was established by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in November 2017.
Zinke established IWCC to advise the Department of Interior concerning actions to improve wildlife conservation abroad and expand the public’s awareness of hunters’ contributions to wildlife conservation and in helping wildlife law enforcement.

Why, and Where, Harry and Meghan Will Likely Take an African Safari Honeymoon
By Tom Sykes, The Daily Beast, 21 May 2018
The British family and foreign safaris go back a long way, so it is little surprise that Harry and Meghan are being hotly tipped to go on a wildlife adventure in Africa for their honeymoon.
Although they will not be traveling immediately after their wedding—the couple have arranged to make an appearance next week in support of Harry’s Invictus Games—and the palace is not giving out any details, they are widely expected to take an extended African break beginning in late May or early June, when the dry season, the best time for observing animals, begins.

Existing research not comprehensive, does not address all principles of ecotourism in India: Study
Business Standard, 27 May 2018
Existing research is neither comprehensive nor does it equally address all the principles of ecotourism in India, claims a new study.
Titled Trends and pathways for ecotourism research in India”, the study identifies research gaps requiring immediate attention in terms of scientific data and analysis of the economics and conservation around ecotourism in India.

Rwanda’s Recent Gorilla Permit Price Hike Could Draw Tourists to This Central African Country Next Door
By Jennifer Salerno, Travel + Leisure, 30 May 2018
Rwanda is one of the most exciting ecotourism destinations in all of Africa, attracting travelers with its families of mountain gorillas and beautiful Volcanoes National Park. But with Rwandan permits now pricier than ever — just an hour with gorillas will run you $1,500 — outfitters are doubling down on their offerings in the more affordable Democratic Republic of Congo.

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