Conservation Watch’s news round-up: June 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

[Kenya] Wardens shoot three dead, foil attempt to poach elephants
By Osinde Obare, Standard Digital, 4 June 2018
Three poachers were on Thursday gunned down at the Mt Elgon National Park after a shootout between them and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) wardens on patrol. County Commander Samson ole Kine told The Standard the poachers, believed to be from Uganda, had sneaked into the park and intended to kill elephants and remove their tusks. “KWS officers were on patrol inside the park when they spotted the poachers. A fierce shoot-out ensued and three of the poachers were gunned down while two others escaped. AK-47 rifles were recovered,” said Mr Kine. Kine said no wardens were injured in the incident that lasted more than 30 minutes.

Three Poachers Shot Dead By Kenyan Park Wardens
By Mischa Pearlman, Ladbible, 6 June 2018
Three poachers who had snuck into Kenya’s Mt Elgon National Park were killed on Thursday, it has been announced.
The poachers, who it is reported were from Uganda, had illegally entered the park with the intention of killing elephants and removing their tusks.
A shootout between them and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) wardens who were patrolling the grounds broke out and three of the five poachers were gunned down.

Maasai clash with Tanzania in court over eviction from Serengeti
By Kevin Mwanza, Reuters, 7 June 2018
Maasai herders near Tanzania’s famous Serengeti wildlife park have asked a regional court to stop the government intimidating witnesses supporting their legal bid to return to their ancestral land, a lawyer for the community said on Thursday.
Maasai from four villages in Loliondo, on the outskirts of the Serengeti – famous for its annual wildebeest migration – sued Tanzania in September for the right to return to their villages which have become part of a park.

[Philippines] AFP, cops seek to defer delisting of 7 Igorots from terrorist list
PTV News, 21 June 2018
The Regional Development Council (RDC) in Cordillera is deferring action on a proposed resolution seeking the removal of seven Igorots from the terrorist list of the Department of Justice (DOJ), pending the written recommendation of the intelligence agencies in the region.
The Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Army, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), and other intelligence agencies in Cordillera convened on Monday evening to discuss the issue, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) regional director Milagros Rimando, who co-chairs the RDC, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Wednesday.

Protected areas

Virunga national park in Congo closes to tourists until 2019
By Jason Burke, The Guardian, 4 June 2018
Africa’s oldest national park will close its gates to visitors until 2019 following the death of a ranger and the abduction of two British tourists by local rebels this year.
Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is home to a world-famous population of mountain gorillas but has been hit by rising instability and violence in the country.

Neighbors from hell: Cocoa farmers and elephants clash at boundaries of Ghana national park
By Oliver Nieburg, Food Navigator, 4 June 2018
The chocolate industry should support community-led buffer zones between tropical rainforest and cocoa farms to improve uneasy relations between farmers and their elephant neighbours, says a park manager in Ghana.

A Warning About the Rapid Erosion of Nature’s Strongholds
By James Watson, Sean Maxwell, and Kendall Jones, Wildlife Conservation Society, 5 June 2018
More than 200,000 protected areas have been established around the world. Collectively they cover more than 7.7 million square miles — an area greater than the size of South America. Nations establish these protected areas so that plants and animals can live in spaces without human pressure — pressure that would otherwise drive many of them toward extinction.

Humans put conservation reserves at risk
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 8 June 2018
Many of the world’s conservation reserves, intended to safeguard species at risk of survival, are increasingly unable to provide effective refuge.
At least one third of all the forests, grasslands, wetlands and mangroves notionally protected by laws to safeguard the wild things that evolved with them are under intense human pressure, according to the first detailed study for 25 years.

[Cambodia] Ministry act designates protected land
By Kong Meta, Phnom Penh Post, 8 June 2018
The Environment Ministry has issued a prakas designating 506 hectares inside the Cardamom Mountains as a protected area to preserve the kravanh plant in Pursat province’s Veal Veng district.
The prakas, signed by Environment Minister Say Sam Al on Tuesday, aims to protect and preserve kravanh, a species of plant that is becoming increasingly rare in the Kingdom.
Chea Sam Ang, the director-general of natural resources preservation at the Ministry of Environment, said on Wednesday that the authorities also wished to raise awareness and ensure kravanh exists in the country.

Mozambique govt, Peace Parks to co-develop two reserves
Business Report, 8 June 2018
Transfrontier conservation group Peace Parks Foundation said on Friday it had signed a partnership agreement with Mozambique to support the management and development of the Maputo Special Reserve and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve in the southern part of the country.
It said the agreement was based on a strategic business plan, developed by both partners, and initial funding of $16 million donated by the Reinet Foundation, the Wyss Foundation and other private donors. The World Bank funded MozBio programme was also investing into the development.

Selling the Protected Area Myth
By Richard Conniff, New York Times, 9 June 2018
It’s widely celebrated as one of the few success stories in the push to protect the wildlife we claim to love: Since the early 1990s, governments have roughly doubled the extent of natural areas under protection, with almost 15 percent of the terrestrial Earth and perhaps 5 percent of the oceans now set aside for wildlife. From 2004 to 2014, nations designated an astonishing 43,000 new protected areas.

Asia’s environmental ‘Eden’ in crisis
By Bill Laurance, ALERT, 14 June 2018
Bulldozers running amok in Eden?
That, essentially, is one of the key conclusions of a new landmark study of the Leuser Ecosystem in northern Sumatra, Indonesia — the last place on Earth where orangutans, tigers, elephants, and rhinos still survive together.
The research, from an international team that includes several prominent ALERT scientists, raises just about every red flag imaginable.

[Guatemala, Peru] Jaguars Thrive in Lightly Logged Forests
By Amy Mathews Amos, Scientific American, 19 June 2018
Jaguars, the largest big cats in the Americas, need a lot of space. One male can roam a territory spanning tens of square kilometers in search of mates and prey. But as ranching, crop farming and other forms of development encroach on tropical forests, these fearsome predators are losing ground.
A study published in the April issue of Biological Conservation offers hope. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Peru’s National Forest and Wildlife Service found that in some lightly logged forests in Guatemala and Peru—certified by independent experts as “well managed”—jaguar densities were comparable to those in protected areas or other high-quality habitats. The study adds to a growing body of evidence that such forests can serve as important habitat corridors for the wide-ranging felines.

Peru’s Bahuaja-Sonene National Park at risk over illegal mining
By Vanessa Romo, Mongabay, 19 June 2018
In Peru’s Madre de Dios region, illegal mining is everywhere. From the Interoceanic Highway, which lies just 100 miles from Puerto Maldonado, the region’s capital, one can see that a riverbed has been converted into a long desert-like trail. Those from the area refer to it as the “Dos de Mayo River,” although it is hard for visitors to picture this trail of sand, dredges, and mercury as a river. It is easy to see how the trees were replaced by hills of sand here: mining. Satellite images show that the problem is increasingly widespread.

Roads reduce conservation effectiveness of protected areas in the Western Ghats
By T. V. Padma, Mongabay, 20 June 2018
When rich forests in biodiversity hotspots are carved out as protected areas it is presumed that the notification will help conserve them. But high human density, road building and other construction activities end up undoing the overall protection efforts.
Recent research on India’s Western Ghats, a global biodiversity hotspot and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, highlight growing concerns over road construction in biodiversity-rich areas. The National Green Tribunal, for example, is hearing a plea to stop road construction through the Corbett Park.

Here’s Why Expanding Protected Areas Isn’t Saving Nature
By Richard Conniff, Scientific American, 21 June 2018
For conservationists, it is an alarming and rapidly worsening problem: Natural areas continue to be degraded and species lost at an unprecedented rate, even in the most remote forests—and even as the extent of parks, refuges and other protected areas has dramatically increased. One explanation, a study published this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution argues, is that policy-makers working to designate protected areas need to have far more precise targets.

Warmer world needs more protected habitat
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 25 June 2018
Some time later this century, the world’s need for protected habitat will be more acute even than today.
The greatest danger to the wild vertebrates that roam the planet will not be the intruding humans, their livestock and their pesticides and herbicides. It will be human-induced global warming and climate change.
The conversion of wilderness – forest, grassland and swamp – to urban growth, agriculture and pasture has already caused losses of perhaps one species in 10 in the natural ecosystems disturbed by humankind.

UNESCO to decide 30 world heritage nominations
ECNS, 25 June 2018
The 42nd Session of the World Heritage Committee will discuss 30 applications for recognition on June 29, including five nominations for natural, three nominations for both cultural and natural, and 22 nominations for cultural.
In the meeting from June 24 to July 4 in Manama, Bahrain, China has submitted Fanjing Mountain and the Ancient Quanzhou Citong Relics for recognition.

Wild dogs return to Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park
By Greg Beach, inhabitat, 25 June 2018
A small group of African wild dogs have returned to Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, heralding a potential upswing in a diverse ecosystem that has suffered severe damage in recent decades. In the almost two decades of civil war that plagued the country beginning in the 1970s, more than a million people were killed by violence or famine while much of the wildlife at Gorongosa was also eradicated. Now, thanks to a collaborative effort between a non-profit group founded by American philanthropist Greg Carr and the Mozambican government, the wild dogs have come home. Still, so much has changed and is continuing to change. “We can’t go back to what exactly it was,” Gorongosa science director Marc Stalmans told “Has the environment changed over the last 50 years in a way that certain previous states can no longer be attained?”

Kruger National Park gate closed due to protests
Enca, 28 June 2018
Community protests taking place near Kruger National Park blocked the Paul Kruger entry on Thursday morning, the South African National Parks (SANParks) said.
“Guests of Kruger National Park are informed that Paul Kruger Gate is inaccessible due to protests taking place at communities outside the gate (approximately 20 km away from the park) on the R536, on Thursday, 28 June 2018 and is blocked at the moment.

Timber Smugglers Cut Road Into Protected Forest in Laos
Radio Free Asia, 29 June 2018
Loggers working under the protection of local authorities in Laos have cut a road into a protected forest area in the country’s Sekong province bordering Vietnam, just a short distance from the border, an official charged with monitoring the illegal trade in timber says.
Discovery of the road, built from April to May this year by a Vietnamese businessman in collusion with local officials, alerted central government authorities to the operation in the Xesap conservation forest, bringing the smuggling to a close, the official told RFA’s Lao Service on June 27.

DR Congo explores oil drilling allowed in wildlife parks
BBC News, 30 June 2018
The Democratic Republic of Congo government is looking into whether to allow oil exploration in two protected wildlife parks, Virunga and Salonga.
The move is strongly opposed by environmental activists, who say drilling would place wildlife at risk and contribute to global warming.
Around one-fifth of Virunga national park could be opened to oil drilling.

Communities and conservation

DRC adopts a strategy that will bolster community forestry, conservation group says
By John C. Cannon, Mongabay, 25 June 2018
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has put a new community forest strategy in place, a move that proponents say could help provide Congolese with the chance to have a say in the management of the country’s forests.
The DRC environment minister, Amy Ambatobe, announced the acceptance of the plan on May 31.
“It’s really the first clear restatement of commitment to community forestry that the DRC government has made since it passed into law in 2014,” Simon Counsell, executive director of Rainforest Foundation UK, said in an interview.


Internationalism in the Heart of Africa? The Albert National Park / Virunga National Park
By Raf De Bont, Arcadia, Summer 2018
When set up in 1925, the Albert National Park (ANP, later renamed the Virunga National Park) consisted of only 10,000 hectares in the eastern Kivu region of the Belgian Congo. Initially conceived mostly as a sanctuary for the mountain gorilla, the park’s territory was largely mapped onto the habitat of this one charismatic species. Over the next decade, however, the ANP expanded substantially. By the early 1930s it boasted a size of no less than 856,790 hectares, including expansive steppes and savannahs, marshlands and forest belts, as well as volcanoes with unique Afro-alpine vegetation.

Do Conservation Strategies Need to Be More Compassionate?
By Brandon Keim, Yale Environment 360, 4 June 2018
At a moment of best-selling animal intelligence books and headlines about songbird language and grieving elephants, it’s easy to forget that nonhuman minds were until recently considered — by most serious-minded scientists, anyway — to be quite simple.
Well into this millennium, animal consciousness was regularly dismissed as either nonexistent or profoundly dissimilar to our own. Animals were considered “conscious in the sense of being under stimulus control,” as the famed psychologist B.F. Skinner opined so neatly in 1974, expressing a conventional wisdom that dated to the zoological musings of Aristotle. The notion of animals as thinking, feeling beings was relegated to the edges of serious discourse.

A manifesto to save Planet Earth (and ourselves)
By Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin, BBC News, 7 June 2018
The impacts of human actions on our home planet are now so large that many scientists are declaring a new phase of Earth’s history. The old forces of nature that transformed Earth many millions of years ago, including meteorites and mega-volcanoes are joined by another: us. We have entered a new geological epoch, called the Anthropocene.
As scientists we agree that society has entered a dangerous new time. But what is to be done?
In our new book, The Human Planet, published on Thursday, we present a new view of how humans climbed down from the trees of Africa to become a geological superpower.

Cut more trees! Cambodians challenge conservation
By Jared Ferrie, Reuters, 8 June 2018
The Cambodian rosewood had stood for hundreds of years, but its value finally proved too hard to resist and the giant tree came crashing down – inside a protected forest.
It’s unclear exactly who was behind the felling – nobody has been charged – but it set off a series of events, which culminated in hundreds of villagers rejecting their community forest in favor of cutting more trees.

‘India made a commitment to the cause of tiger conservation’
By Nibedita Saha, Sunday Guardian, 9 June 2018
Biologist and wildlife conservationist, Latika Nath speaks to Nibedita Saha about India’s vanishing tiger population, and the need to streamline our tiger conservation programmes.
Q. Since the launch of the government-sponsored campaign “Project Tiger” in the 1970s, what progress has India made in terms of tiger conservation? And what more needs to be done in this area?
A. India made a commitment to the conservation of the tiger in the wild.
Today, we need much greater political will and support from both state and central governments to the cause.

Blockchain measures impact of conservation in Madagascar
By Lauren Kate Rawlins, IT Web, 11 June 2018
The ixo Foundation has partnered with the Seneca Park Zoo Society to measure impact for global conservation projects using blockchain technology.
The non-profit open source software development organisation is founded by a South African medical doctor.
The ixo Foundation created an open source protocol, using blockchain technology, which allows any individual or organisation to create an ‘impact claim’ (which could range from planting 100 trees, to administering 5 000 vaccinations).

The three most dangerous narratives in conservation
By Chris Sandbrook, Thinking like a human, 12 June 2018
Emery Roe, an American policy scholar, first developed the idea that ‘narratives’ – stories about the world and how it works – are used in policy making processes to cut through complexity and justify a particular course of action. We are a storytelling species, and people find it easy to understand and get behind a compelling story with strong internal logic and a beginning, middle and end. Once a narrative has taken hold they can be very difficult to shake off, at least until an even more compelling ‘counter-narrative’ arrives on the scene. A classic example from resource governance is the ‘resources will be over-exploited unless they are in private ownership’ narrative, based on Garrett Hardin’s 1968 Tragedy of the Common’s article. It took decades of careful scholarship, and ultimately a nobel prize for Elinor Ostrom, to demonstrate that this narrative was compelling, influential, and wrong.

A Third of the World’s ‘Protected’ Areas Are Under Threat
By Michelle Chen, The Nation, 12 June 2018
The world map is peppered with patches of protected land, ostensibly ringed by clear borders that seem to safely shield our few remaining wild areas from human encroachment. But the reality on the ground is much messier. New satellite data show that across huge swaths of the planet—including America—the neatly cordoned “protected” areas are so exposed to pollution, industrial exploitation, and land degradation that they are virtually unprotected from anything.

Giraffe expert raises fears the animal faces extinction if conservation efforts don’t happen soon
By Tessa Chan, South China Morning Post, 12 June 2018
Everybody loves giraffes, with their long lashes and gangly features, but they have, until recently, been largely overlooked when it comes to conservation research. Thanks to the efforts of one man who has dedicated himself to their study for the last two decades, however, things are changing.
Dr Julian Fennessy, co-founder and executive director of Namibia-based Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and co-chair of the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group, has pioneered research and conservation initiatives for the world’s tallest animal, shining light on the threat of their extinction.

Renowned wildlife conservationist Russell Mittermeier awarded 2018 Indianapolis Prize
By Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, 13 June 2018
It was announced yesterday that Dr. Russell Mittermeier has been awarded the 2018 Indianapolis Prize.
Mittermeier, a primatologist, herpetologist, and highly accomplished conservationist, is the seventh recipient of the prestigious prize, which has been awarded by the Indianapolis Zoological Society along with $250,000 in prize money every two years since 2006 to “the most successful animal conservationist in the world,” according to the Indianapolis Prize website.

Mexico’s “Ejido” System Has Brought Communities Together for Forest Conservation, but Often Without Women
By Jason G. Goldman, Teen Vogue, 13 June 2018
Just a few hours drive from the tourist towns of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen sits one of Mexico’s largest protected areas, the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. First established in 1989, the reserve — combined with the neighboring Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala — comprises the largest and least disturbed forest landscape in North and Central America. It’s a biological treasure, home to 18 rare or endangered mammals, including five large cats: jaguars, jaguarundis, ocelots, pumas, and margays. Parrots nest in its trees, monkeys swing from branch to branch, and millions of bats do important work keeping insect populations under control.

The Ornithologist the Internet Called a Murderer
By Kirk Wallace Johnson, The New York Times, 15 June 2018
For some time, I’d been searching for Christopher Filardi, a biologist with decades of field experience in the Solomon Islands. I wanted to interview him for a book I was writing, but the email system at the American Museum of Natural History, which once listed him as the director of Pacific programs at its Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, bounced back my message.
The auto-reply said that he’d moved to another organization, Conservation International. When I wrote him there, another auto-reply informed me that he had moved on. I couldn’t find him on Facebook or Twitter. The man seemed to have vanished.

Here’s Why Expanding Protected Areas Isn’t Saving Nature
By Richard Conniff, Scientific American, 21 June 2018
For conservationists, it is an alarming and rapidly worsening problem: Natural areas continue to be degraded and species lost at an unprecedented rate, even in the most remote forests—and even as the extent of parks, refuges and other protected areas has dramatically increased. One explanation, a study published this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution argues, is that policy-makers working to designate protected areas need to have far more precise targets.

Earth’s intact forests vanishing at accelerating pace: scientists
AFP, 21 June 2018
Earth’s intact forests shrank by an area larger than Austria every year from 2014 to 2016 at a 20 per cent faster rate than during the previous decade, scientists said Wednesday as the UN unveiled an initiative to harness the “untapped potential” of the land sector to fight climate change.
Despite a decades-long effort to halt deforestation, nearly 10 per cent of undisturbed forests have been fragmented, degraded or simply chopped down since 2000, according to the analysis of satellite imagery.

World’s biggest environmental crime investigation
By Marc Montgomery, Radio Canada International, 21 June 2018
Wildlife and forestry crime is the fourth largest crime area internationally after illegal drugs, counterfeiting, and human trafficking.
Things like killing elephonts and rhinos for tusks and horns has long captured world media news, but environmental crime includes much much more.
This past month Interpol worked with 92 countries in countermeasures known as Operation Thunderstorm.
Sheldon Jordan is the Director General of Wildlife Enforcement with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

USAID Awards Tetra Tech $22 Million Contract for Biodiversity Conservation and Community Development in Madagascar
Tetra Tech press release, 21 June 2018
Tetra Tech, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTEK) announced today that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded the Company a $22 million, single-award contract to support biodiversity protection and enhance livelihoods in Madagascar.
The five-year USAID Mikajy activity—which means “taking good care of” in Malagasy, the national language of Madagascar—is part of USAID Madagascar’s Conservation and Communities Project. Through the USAID Mikajy activity, Tetra Tech will support critical biodiversity conservation efforts in forested and coastal ecosystems and empower local communities in these regions to locally manage their natural resources, while also providing new economic opportunities and support for natural resource tenure and property rights.

[South Africa] Significant successes for new lion protection team
By Lisa Isaacs, IOL, 21 June 2018
A new carnivore protection ranger force, the Limpopo Lion Protection Team, has had significant successes in the first few weeks of their deployment in the Limpopo National Park, a core component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA).
Within the first four days of operations they covered 57km and removed 33 snares.

[India] Will the Karnataka govt’s idea to have ‘private forest land’ threaten wildlife?
By Soumya Chatterjee, The News Minute, 23 June 2018
The Karnataka government is toying the idea of having private wildlife reserves alongside existing reserved areas or national parks. And this has left many environmental activists in the state worried.
On the face of it, the new Karnataka Private Conservancy Rules wants to give private persons, (only those owning at least 100 acres of land adjoining to notified forests) permission to create private forests. The purpose of this, the government says, is to establish a safe corridor for wild animals between two forest areas.

[India] How this Bihar sanctuary tripled tiger numbers in 10 yrs
By Abhay Mohan, The Times of India, 24 June 2018
Many of the streams flowing through the Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar, just 1km from the border with Nepal, are dry this summer. As the sun tilts west and the breeze turns gentle, herbivores emerge – spotted, barking and hog deer, monkeys, wild boar. Close to a waterhole is a deer carcass, abandonded by a tiger.

[Philippines] Will PHL become the next land of the dodo?
By Michael A. Bengwayan, Business Mirror, 24 June 2018
Sooner rather than later many of the Philippines’s plants and animals will face the same fate as the proverbial dodo bird.
Its biodiversity is being destroyed at a fast clip, perhaps reaching an irreversible trend.
No country has its plant and animal life being destroyed faster than in the Philippines, to go by the recently released Red List of Threatened and Extinct Species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) based in Switzerland.

[Philippines] The first defense against biodiversity loss: Establishing local conservation areas
By Jonathan L. Mayuga, Business Mirror, 24 June 2018
With limited financial and human resources, the protection and conservation of the rich biological diversity remain a major challenge in the Philippines.
Although not an entirely new concept, many Filipinos, including policy-makers remain oblivious to the word “biodiversity” and its economic importance to ensure sustainable growth and development.

Why global environmentalists are silent on Venezuela’s mining crisis
By Isaac Nahon-Serfaty, The Conversation, 25 June 2018
Venezuela is on a path towards environmental devastation.
In 2016, President Nicolás Maduro opened a large swath of Venezuela to national and foreign mining companies. He was following in the footsteps of his predecessor Hugo Chávez, who first announced plans for the Orinoco Mining Belt, or the Arco Minero del Orinoco.
Chávez was the “father” of the idea, but Maduro implemented it to offset the decline of oil revenue at the national petroleum corporation PDVSA due to alleged corruption and mismanagement.

Black rhino numbers double, a first in 35 years of heightened conservation
By Caroline Chebet, Standard Digital, 26 June 2018
The population of black rhino in the country has doubled for the first time in 35 years following conservation efforts. The current black rhino numbers stands at 750, according to report by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), two-fold increase from 350 in 1983 when the population was at its lowest in the country as a result of intense poaching.

For Madagascar’s park managers, the science literature is out of reach
By Shreya Dasgupta, Mongabay, 26 June 2018
The people responsible for managing Madagascar’s protected areas tend to rely more on experience and “advice from others” than on scientific research to make on-the-ground decisions, a new study has found.
Since 2003, Madagascar has aggressively created new protected areas, quadrupling its protected area coverage by 2016. Much of the conservation research in the country is carried out within these parks. But people who manage the protected areas, such as park directors or conservation managers, use very little of that research, according to the study published in Madagascar Conservation & Development.

Nature retention, not just protection, crucial to maintaining biodiversity and ecosystems: Scientists
By Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, 27 June 2018
Is it time to completely rethink how we design the goals of conservation programs? Some scientists say it is.
In a paper published last week in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, a team of Australian researchers argue that we need to shift conservation goals to focus on diverse and ambitious “nature retention targets” if we’re to truly safeguard the environment, biodiversity, and humanity.

Orangutan study offers hope for conservation efforts
Witney Gazette, 27 June 2018
The evolution of the orangutan has been more heavily influenced by humans than was previously thought, new research suggests.
A team of scientists have shed light on the development of the critically endangered species and their findings offer new possibilities for orangutan conservation.
One of humans’ closest living relatives, the orangutan has become a symbol of nature’s vulnerability in the face of human actions and an icon of rainforest conservation.
But the team argues this view overlooks how humans, over thousands of years, have shaped today’s orangutan.

DRC might explore for oil in protected habitat of mountain gorillas
By William Clowes, Business Day, 27 June 2018
The Democratic Republic of Congo is considering whether to open up swathes of two world-famous national parks to oil exploration.
A decision to allow a search for crude may threaten Virunga National Park, home to many of the about 1,000 mountain gorillas still alive, and Salonga National Park, the world’s second-biggest tropical rainforest reserve.

Rwandan People and Mountain Gorillas Face Changing Climate Together
By Elham Shabahat, Pulitzer Center, 27 June 2018
The mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is one of humanity’s closest relatives, and the largest primate to roam the rainy, high volcanic habitat of Rwanda. Recent conservation efforts have brought this Critically Endangered, charismatic species back from the brink of extinction. But now these great apes, and the people who live near them, face a slower moving, but more insidiously invasive threat – a changing climate.

Is biodiversity treaty a snag to conservation research?
The Hindu, 28 June 2018
It’s a case of a “cure that kills”: an international conservation treaty is hampering conservation research, claim scientists.
In a communication published on June 28 in the journal Science, an international team of scientists — including professors at India’s Kerala Agricultural University and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) – say that the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, of which India is signatory too) is hindering biodiversity research and preventing international collaborations due to regulations that have risen due to its implementation.

Biodiversity is the ‘infrastructure that supports all life’
By Jeremy Hance, The Guardian, 28 June 2018
Dr. Cristiana Pașca Palmer has a big job ahead of her: planning the 2020 UN Biodiversity Convention in Beijing. As the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Pașca Palmer is in charge of forming new goals with governments for the natural world post-2020. At the same time, a growing group of scientists are calling for a serious consideration of the Half Earth idea – where half the planet would be placed under various types of protection in a bid to prevent mass extinction.

Financing conservation

Nearly extinct, elephants in Chad make amazing comeback
By Kristen Arnim, Lady Freethinker, 1 June 2018
Just a few years ago, the elephants of Chad were in a dangerous spiral towards disappearing. Poaching had ravaged the population. Experts predicted their demise in the country by now. But thanks to a bold push to save the elephants and other endangered wildlife, the spiral reversed. The elephants are making a comeback.
Zakouma National Park is home to the elephants, who now make up the largest herd in Africa. Visitors to the park may also see giraffes, hoary buffalo, storks, leopards, and other wildlife that have benefited from the efforts to stop poaching and expand the park.

Gorilla population in Africa rises
By Isaac Mugabi, Reuters, 2 June 2018
The population of mountain gorillas, which survive on the forest-cloaked volcanoes of central Africa, has increased by a quarter to over 1,000 individuals since 2010, wildlife authorities said.
That is despite the threat posed by poachers and armed groups in the Virunga Massif,a spine of volcanic mountains in the western Rift Valley straddling eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda, where most of them reside.

[India] Big cat population on rise in Rajasthan, 49 cubs born in last 6 years
By Schin Saini, Hindustan Times, 3 June 2018
Tiger reserves in Rajasthan have added 49 cubs to its thriving big cat population in last seven years. Thanks to increased monitoring, healthy prey base, and a curb on illegal activities, the state is now home to 85 tigers — including 70 in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve (RTR), 14 in Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR), and a recently translocated male at Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserve (MHTR).

$4k ‘Elephant Tusk’ Joint Sold at Auction
By Chloé Harper Gold, High Times, 15 June 2018
Last night, the new premium cannabis company Stone Road Farms hosted what is sure to be one of the coolest parties of the summer. Thrown at Fig Earth Supplies in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, this party had it all: a full bar, areas where party-goers could customize their own joints (plus pocket a few dozen pre-rolls of Stone Road Farms’ own harvest, and a live performance by the critically acclaimed Gabriel Garzon Montano.
Most importantly, this party was for a good cause.

Cara Gilboy: legit conservationist or fraud?
By Jospeh Ondiek, Chwez! Traveller, 15 June 2018
On October 18, 2016, an appeal for funds to help anti-poaching units throughout Africa was made through GoFundMe by one Cara Gilboy. The target for the drive was $1,000, and according to Gilboy, this money was also to support rangers and their families “who have lost their lives fighting for the future generations of wildlife conservation and communities.”
GoFundMe is a crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for events ranging from life events such as celebrations and graduations to challenging circumstances like accidents and illnesses.

[Philippines] PHL, German embassy mark 10 yrs of climate, biodiversity initiative
Business Mirror, 17 June 2018
Guests from Philippine government agencies, nongovernment organizations, German experts and members of the media celebrated with the German diplomats and experts in the Philippines the 10th anniversary of International Climate Initiative (IKI) on May 30.
German Ambassador Dr. Gordon Kricke welcomed the friends of IKI at his residence in Forbes Park to celebrate the 10 years of Philippine-German cooperation in the fight against climate change and for the conservation of biodiversity.

Does nature conservation deserve a slice of the aid budget?
By Matthew Spencer (Oxfam GB), Business Green, 19 June 2018
It’s a good time to be revisiting the case for integrating poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. Growing economic inequality in fast-growing developing economies is exacerbating threats to biodiversity, as poor farmers are pushed further into frontier wilderness. A combination of climate change and conflict mean that global hunger levels are growing for the first time in many years.

Cryptocurrency to aid rhino conservation
By Laura Pisanello, The Citizen, 20 June 2018
The ‘Rhino Coin’ cryptocurrency will fund the Rhino Coin Foundation, which will work towards protecting rhinos and benefiting communities surrounding rhino reserves.
A new cryptocurrency was launched in Bryanston recently, which will aid in the conservation of rhinos, Sandton Chronicle reports.
The currency, called Rhino Coin, will contribute to a foundation called the Rhino Coin Foundation, and the two will work together to both fund and aid conservation efforts.

Conservationist appeals for funds … As coffers run dry after spending US$100m in life savings to save the rhino
By Emmanuel Koro, The Southern Times, 24 June 2018
At 76 years old, most people focus on enjoying their lifetime earnings and taking a rest from any challenging work. Not so for South Africa-based John Hume, the tireless and fearless world’s biggest rhino breeder.
He has spent US$100 million on white rhino breeding and protection over the past 26 years. Now his rhino conservation funds have run dry but he has not lost hope of saving more than 1,600 white rhinos on his ranch. Three hundred of them were already pregnant, pointing to a further increase in the population and, of course, the cost of protecting them.

Vietnamese, German businesses commit to fight wildlife crimes
Viet Nam News, 29 June 2018
Representatives of 40 Vietnamese and German companies in Việt Nam pledged to adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards wildlife crimes at a workshop here today.
They agreed to take a public stand against the buying, gifting and consumption of wild animals and pass on the message to their clients and staff throughout their companies.

Wildlife trade

How Facebook groups became a bizarre bazaar for elephant tusks
By Issie Lapowsky, Wired, 5 June 2018
Last Fall, a man I’ll call Michael sat down at his computer, logged into Facebook, and prepared to begin his new life as a wildlife trafficker. First, he loaded a fake profile with scenic safari photos from his made-up job in a national park in southern Africa. He sent friend requests to a couple traffickers in Vietnam and joined the Facebook groups they invited him to. Since he’s not fluent in Vietnamese, he used Google Translate to assist with introductions. He posted a couple terms like ngà voi and sừng tê giác.

How China is combating wildlife trafficking in Africa
Xinhua, 8 June 2018
China has upped the ante in the fight against the illegal trade of wildlife, putting in place various measures to tackle the issue, the Chinese ambassador to South Africa said Thursday here at a conference.
Speaking at the Africa – China Wildlife Conservation Conference at Wits university, ambassador Lin Songtian said that China has implemented stringent measures in recent years, demonstrating its commitment to curbing wildlife trafficking.
He used China’s introduction of a ban on ivory trade as an example.

[USA] Humboldt County supervisors take no stance on bill to ban African hunting trophies
By Will Houston, Times Standard, 13 June 2018
Local hunters and the majority of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors had split views on proposed state legislation that would ban the possession of hunting trophies from specific African animals, with the board ultimately deciding not to take a position on the bill Tuesday.
Local hunters and the county’s Fish and Game Advisory Board argued the bill, known as the Iconic African Species Protection Act or SB 1487, would reduce legal hunting in Africa where the revenue from guided hunting trips is used by African conservationists to support anti-poaching efforts for threatened species.

The last hope for the elephants: Can a Chinese law help stop the slaughter in Africa?
By David McKenzie, Brent Swails and Estacio Valoi, CNN, 19 June 2018
It’s no secret where the ivory deals take place in Pemba.
Despite a new blanket ban on the ivory trade in China, the closest major city to Mozambique’s largest nature reserve remains a smuggling hotspot for criminal gangs.
In shabby three-star resorts and half-empty Chinese trading offices, illicit deals are discussed freely, especially the illegal trade in ivory.

Tigers, alligators and exotic birds rescued in sting across 92 countries
By David Brennan, Newsweek, 20 June 2018
A global sting operation across 92 countries has rescued thousands of animals caught up in the wildlife smuggling trade and identified around 1,400 people suspected of related criminal activity.
The operation, code-named “Thunderstorm,” took millions of dollars’ worth of illegal goods off the market, an Interpol press release said. Lasting throughout May, the sting spawned hundreds of other arrests and investigations worldwide.
Police took possession of both live and dead animals. Some of the largest creatures rescued were 14 big cats—lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars—48 primates and 869 alligators and crocodiles. Pelicans, ostriches, parrots and owl were among the almost 4,000 birds rescued, along with 9,590 turtles and 10,000 snakes.

[USA] Legal Fight Expands Over New York Ban on Ivory, Rhino Horn
NRDC, 22 June 2018
A coalition of conservation and animal protection organizations have taken the first step to intervene to help defend New York’s ivory and rhinoceros horn ban against a lawsuit brought by antique traders. New York’s law, enacted in 2014, bans the sale, purchase, trade, and distribution of ivory and rhino horn, but exempts certain products, including bona fide antiques and certain musical instruments. The antique traders’ lawsuit, filed in April in the Southern District of New York, alleges that the New York law is unconstitutional.

Ivory ban failing to stop African elephant slaughter
9 News, 25 June 2018
The slaughter of African elephants continues unabated six months after a much-heralded Chinese ban on the ivory trade.
Illegal poaching has brought the continent’s elephant population to the brink of extinction.
Since 2010, more than 30,000 have been killed yearly, according to a study – The Great Elephant Census.
But China’s law introduced this January that outlawed all trade in ivory was hailed as a game changer.

[China] Research shows benefit of giant panda conservation far exceeds cost
Chinese Academcy of Sciences press release, 28 June 2018
The giant panda is a flagship species of wildlife conservation worldwide, and its black and white pelage and cute appearance attract people all over the world. It is also an umbrella species of wildlife conservation; protecting the giant panda also protects other endangered wildlife sympatric with pandas.
To save this endangered species, the Chinese government has invested a large amount of money in panda conservation and established 67 nature reserves, which play a very important role in the effective conservation of giant pandas.


Kruger’s contested borderlands: Are eco-cocoons the solution to poaching?
By Estacio Valoi, Oxpeckers, June 2018
Massingir district, covering some 580,000ha on the Mozambican side of the border with South Africa, is notorious for its wildlife poachers. An estimated 90% of the 3,960 rhinos poached in the Kruger National Park since 2010 were killed by Mozambican insurgents entering the park across the border, rangers say.
South African conservationists and tourism businesses are developing land on the Mozambican side of the border in an effort to create an anti-poaching buffer zone along the 360km-long fence, to protect the rhinos and elephants which in recent years have been increasingly targeted by the poachers.

This tiny camera aims to catch poachers — before they kill
By Shreya Dasgupta, Mongabay, 1 June 2018
If it wasn’t for the hidden camera, the poachers might have escaped undetected.
A few minutes past midnight on Jan. 19, a camera positioned at an obscure location inside the Grumeti Game Reserve, in the western corridor of the Serengeti ecosystem in Tanzania, captured a blurry photograph of what looked like a man balancing some supplies on his shoulders. The camera relayed the image to computers stationed in Grumeti’s operations room. There, the park’s Special Operations Team, its rapid reaction unit, identified the man as a potential poacher, likely heading toward a camp set up by his gang. The image was a crucial piece of evidence, and the team immediately launched into action.

[Mozambique] As Tigers Become Rarer, Poachers Are Targeting Lions
By Alexandra Fisher, National Geographic, 1 June 2018
The four young lions died where they ate their final meal. They were found lying on sandy ground near the remains of a poisoned calf. No one witnessed the silent slaughter—only the gruesome aftermath. The faces and paws of all four cats had been hacked off.
“It’s not a nice thing to see,” says Marius Steyl understatedly. Steyl, the law enforcement operations manager at Limpopo National Park, in Mozambique, was a member of the team that investigated the killings in late January. “It’s the king of the jungle, and suddenly it’s just being wiped out by humans.”

[Zimbabwe] Grace Mugabe’s Ivory Poaching Case Postponed As Exhibits Remain Under Lock & Key
iHarare, 1 June 2018
Zimbabwe’s former first lady, Grace Mugabe’s ivory poaching case trial has been postponed due to the fact that the state indicated that exhibits were locked up.
This came to light on Thursday after Prosecutor, Francesca Mukumbiri, told court that the person who keeps the keys was not available.
The accused are Fanken Madzinga, 48, a registered dealer of ivory manufacturing and his driver Tafadzwa Pamire who were investigated by an informant Polish photo journalist leading to the air arrest in which they revealed that Grace was a part of the syndicate.
The ivory is being said to be valued at $22 797.

[Laos] Don’t hunt or trade in prohibited wildlife, plants: PM
By Souksakhone Vaenkeo, Vientiane Times, 2 June 2018
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has warned individuals and groups not to hunt or trade in prohibited and endangered wildlife and plant species, saying that violators will face strong measures.
The premier recently issued a four-page order instructing the relevant sectors to step up efforts to regulate and inspect prohibited wildlife and plant species.
He warned all parties to stop hunting wildlife and plant species named as prohibited in List I – the most rigorously prohibited out of three lists.
The import, export, transit, and trade of both living and dead species of these plants and animals, as well as their organs, is prohibited.

[India] Hit by poaching and shrinking habitats, genome sequencing offers hope for the Royal Bengal tiger
By Sahana Ghosh, Mongabay, 4 June 2018
The whole genome of the Royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), India’s national animal, has been decoded for the first time in a bid to understand its natural history and biology as also to shed light on the subspecies’ ability to adapt to different habitats and environmental changes.
A team of scientists of CSIR-Centre for Cellular Molecular Biology (CCMB) and Nucleome Informatics Ltd. Hyderabad has laid bare the genetic blueprint of a nine-month old male tiger cub, named Dhanush. The cub was rescued from Metiguppe Forest Division, Karnataka and it later died in Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, Mysuru.

[South Africa] 40 arrested in KZN marine poaching crackdown
By Thobeka Ngema, IOL, 4 June 2018
More than 40 suspected poachers have been arrested by Fisheries Control Officers from the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries over the past three weeks as the department intensifies efforts to restrict illegal harvesting of marine living resources.
They also confiscated five boats that have allegedly been used in poaching activities.
The department said, in a media statement, it would not just deal with illegal harvesters of marine resources, but also with illegal buyers.

[Tanzania] African Poachers vs. Singita Grumeti’s Canine Unit
By Laura Ratliff, Dogster, 4 June 2018
Four brave rescue dogs are the newest heroes in the fight against African poachers. Tony, Popo, DJ and Radar — all rescues from the Washington, D.C., area — are part of Singita Grumeti’s newly-formed Canine Unit, born out of a single guest’s passion for African conservation.
The new crew now lives at Singita Grumeti, one of the company Singita’s camps just outside of Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, but first spent months in the United States training with Working Dogs for Conservation, an organization that identifies rescue dogs fit for conservation projects. The dogs, two chocolate Labrador Retriever mixes and two Belgian Malinois, have been trained to find and track wildlife contraband, like ivory, rhino horns, pangolin scales and even ammunition and snares. The canine team can search cars, homes or any specific area that Singita’s anti-poaching team believes may contain illegal items.

[South Africa] Massive breakthrough in fight against rhino poaching
By Gaopalelwe Phalaetsile, jacarandafm, 5 June 2018
The South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Hawks have arrested two suspected rhino poaching kingpins.
The two men are suspected of trafficking trafficking rhino horns with a value of R1.5 million.
Both suspect have already appeared in court and were released on bail of R50 000 bail each.
The Hawks’ Johan Jooste says this is a massive development in the fight against poaching.

Microsoft enables South African NPOs to drive greater impact through digital transformation
IT News Africa, 6 June 2018
On Tuesday, Microsoft Philanthropies announced $1M (US) in cash and technology grants to three innovative South African non-profit organisations (NPO) to help further their work in driving greater social impact in South Africa.
The grants to Youth Empowerment Services (YES), Peace Parks Foundation, and the Sunflower Fund will bolster their work to respectively create employment opportunities for youth, combat wildlife crime and support conservation work, and advance healthcare solutions for those with Leukaemia and other life-threatening blood diseases.

We know you hate the Internet of Things, but it’s saving megafauna from poachers
By Sean Gallagher, arsTECHNICA, 6 June 2018
For much of this decade, organizations seeking to protect wildlife have attempted to use emerging technology as a conservation tool, allowing small numbers of people to monitor and manage data from animals over a wide area. Nowhere is that effort more focused—and more desperate—than in the regions of Africa where illegal animal trade is threatening to wipe out endangered animals such as rhinos, elephants, pangolins, and lions. Here, several organizations are applying Internet of Things (IoT) technology to protect animals, providing rangers with data that helps them intercept poachers before they can get to their quarry.

Five dead tiger cubs found trafficked by car in central Vietnam
By Nguyen Hai, VN Express, 6 June 2018
Vietnamese police discovered the corpses of five tiger cubs upon inspecting the trunk of a car in the central province of Nghe An on Tuesday afternoon.
The four-seater car’s occupants Bui Van Hieu, 26, and Hoang Van Thien, 27, said they were transporting the tiger corpses to a local buyer who would have used them to brew wine.
The dried cubs weighed a total of over 10 kilograms (22 pounds) and would’ve been sold for about VND70 million ($3,080), the men said.

Horrifying pictures of Kenya’s lions, elephants and rhinos reveal the harsh reality of poaching
By Sofia Petkar, The Sun, 7 June 2018
Haunting images of Africa’s wildest beasts have painted a poignant picture of the harsh reality of poaching on the continent.
Illegal hunting has put the lives of lions, elephants, zebras and leopards at risk as they face constant danger from trophy hunters and poachers.
The candid images have been captured by British photographer Gary Roberts in his new book ‘Voices from the Savannah’.

Saviours of the Savannah: Anti-poaching rangers reveal dangers they face as they try to protect Africa’s magnificent wild beasts
By Lucy Laing and Connor Boyd, The Daily Mail, 7 June 2018
These poignant pictures of Africa’s wild beasts show how fragile their lives are in the face of poachers, human encroachment and trophy hunters.
The haunting images were captured by British photographer Gary Roberts for his new book ‘Voices from the Savannah’.
The snapper highlights the dangers faced by the anti-poaching patrol as they try to protect elephants, zebras, lions and cheetahs from the money-hungry illegal hunters.

[India] Poachers play deadly ivory game in Kerala forests
By G Anand, The Hindu, 9 June 2018
13 kg of elephant teeth and ivory artefacts seized, exposing resurgent trade linking Thiruvananthapuram and Kolkata.
The word on the street early this April about a hair loss remedy, an oil which contained ground wild elephant teeth kindled the curiosity of forest officers in Kerala.

[India] Forest rangers, guards hone their skills to curb poaching in STR
The Times of India, 9 June 2018
Forest rangers and guards were on Friday provided training to hone their skills to curb poaching in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR) and illegal wildlife trading. The session also dealth with forest related crimes.

Staring Into the Sun: Science Journalism, Objectivity and the African Poaching Crisis
By William H. Funk, The Revelator, 11 June 2018
As recorders of our time, journalists must always be scrupulously accurate in our reporting, in confirming our sources and data, and in delivering our understanding of the world in as compellingly truthful a means as possible.
Science and environmental journalists have accepted the burden of telling the story of our fading natural world as a necessary duty to both our profession and our planet. With regard to the African poaching crisis, which is an existential war in every sense, the time to hesitate, as Jim Morrison wrote, is through. Those who love these splendid beings — lions and rhinos, giraffes and cheetahs — must seize this last tremulous chance to act, to speak the truth in the face of extinction itself, and to do all we can, while we can, to prevent the dawning of an emptied world.

[India] Poacher killed in encounter
By Pranab Kumar Das, The Telegraph, 13 June 2018
Forest guards of Kaziranga National Park shot dead a poacher but not before a rhino had been killed.
The horn, however, could not be taken away.
Six rhinos have been poached in Kaziranga till date this year, including this one.
The encounter took place at Nalahmukh anti-poaching camp under Bagori range of Kaziranga National Park in Nagaon district of central Assam on Monday night.
A group of five poachers entered Kaziranga National Park’s Bagori range and shot dead a rhino and took away its horn.

[South Africa] One of two alleged rhino poaching gangs caught after being shadowed by police
By Adrienne Carlisle, Times Live, 13 June 2018
By 2016‚ police believed there were two groups behind a spate of rhino killings in the Eastern Cape‚ says former provincial head of detectives Brigadier Gary McLaren.
McLaren‚ who has since retired‚ was testifying in the trial of Jabulani Ndlovu‚ 40‚ Forget Ndlovu‚ 37‚ and Sikhumbuzo Ndlovu‚ 38‚ who are facing 50 charges related to the poaching of 13 rhino throughout the Eastern Cape over five years.
The three men‚ who are not related‚ were arrested following a police raid on the Makana holiday resort chalet they were staying at in June 2016.

[Zambia] Anti-poaching: Communities get on board
By Francis Lungu, Zambia Daily Mail, 13 June 2018
Sensitisation of the local people has been identified as one of the major elements needed in natural resource conservation in Zambia.It is envisaged that once the indigenous people appreciate the importance of conserving the godly-endowed natural resources that Zambia boasts of, more benefits would accrue in enhancing the tourism sector’s growth.
Wildlife is one of the country’s major natural resources. It is vital in attracting both local and foreign tourists. Alas! Most animals have been endangered to poaching over the years.

[India] Child-lifter fears get mob to attack Kaziranga staff
Bu Naresh Mitra, The Times of India, 16 June 2018
The Kaziranga National Park authorities have sought additional security cover for the security cover for the security personnel manning the protected area after a mob attacked forest officials following child-lifting rumours on June 6.

[South Africa] Where Female Elephants Without Tusks Roam — and Poachers Stay Away
By Rod Nordland, New York Times, 16 June 2018
Through the narrow slit of the underground hide in front of the water hole, an African morning revealed itself. The sun painted the earth orange. A lion stepped out of the bush and a small herd of perfectly camouflaged kudus, a large antelope-like animal, started and bolted away.
Soon a single bull elephant appeared where the lion had been, shaking his head as if scanning the bush. After a while, five female elephants descended the orange hillside to drink.

Poachers become protectors: How tigers bounced back in an Indian park
By Felix Franz, Christian Science Monitor, 18 June 2018
Kunjumon Chacko freezes. His arm cuts through the air, palm facing out, ordering the group to stop. Behind the peak of a small hill just 100 meters away, a family of five elephants stand alert.
“They can smell us with the wind,” he whispers as the largest elephant begins to growl. “They are more dangerous than the tigers.”

[Botswana] Killing poachers: good or bad policy
By Thomas Dust Nyoni, The Patriot, 18 June 2018
There is no easy answer to this dilemma.
(1) while our ecosystems rely, in part, on the survival of wildlife species, is it worth the risk for villagers caught in the crossfire as anti-poaching unit aims to keep parks clear of poachers?
(2) Conversely, while there is an (unpleasant) argument in favour of trophy hunting (some claim the fee paid to kill one elephant, can pay for the conservation of many more), can we not also say that these beautiful animals are of more value while alive, as thousands of tourists are happy to pay to see them on game drives?

[India] 2 more held for rhino poaching
By Pranab Kumar Das, The Telegraph, 19 June 2018
Two more poachers were arrested from the northern range of the sixth addition of Kaziranga National Park who confessed to have killed a rhino at Panpur in Sonitpur district on May 29.
Sono Ngaihte of Churachandpur in Manipur along with Kamal Tawang of Lakhimpur in Assam were arrested at Gohpur.

[South Africa] Field rangers arrested for suspected rhino poaching
Low Velder, 19 June 2018
Two field rangers suspected of rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park (KNP) were arrested on Monday.
South African National Parks (SANParks) said in a statement the two suspects were based at the Houtboschrand section and are alleged to have shot and dehorned a white rhino in May.
They were apprehende as a result of an intensive joint investigation carried out by the SANParks Environmental Crime Investigative Unit and the SAPS. Their arrest follows a report in May in which shots were reported by tourists and a poached rhino carcass was then found with its horns missing. The two suspects had been deployed in the area at the time of the reports.

[South Africa] Alleged poacher arrested at Kruger National Park
by Mat Potgieter, EWN, 21 June 2018
The South African National Parks has confirmed one person has been arrested following a poaching incident at the Kruger National Park.
This follows three arrests made earlier this week. They had been found in possession of a rifle, as well as ammunition and a pair of rhino horns.

[South Africa] The truth behind poaching syndicates
By Helene Eloff, Low Velder, 22 June 2018
The arrest of alleged poaching kingpin, Petrus Sydney “Mr Big” Mabuza took years. He was charged in the Hazyview Periodical Court last week – 15 years after he first caught the attention of anti-poaching authorities.
Col Johan Jooste, national commander of the Hawks’ Endangered Species Section, gave a thorough account of the nature and functioning of poaching syndicates and explained what Mabuza’s role is believed to be. According to Jooste’s testimony during Mabuza’s bail application, poaching and the trafficking of rhino horn operate on five levels.

In its fight against rhino poachers, India lets the dogs out
By Moushumi Basu, Mongabay, 28 June 2018
It’s 5 a.m. and Officer Zorba is reporting for duty at Kaziranga National Park, the global stronghold of the one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) and the epicenter of a fierce battle to keep poaching at bay. The breeze riffling through his short, coarse hair, Zorba prepares for training: a brief run followed by tracking drills.

[South Africa] Rangers kill alleged rhino poacher
By Tereasa Dias, Lowvelder, 29 June 2018
SANParks spokesman, Janine Raftopoulos confirmed rangers conducting follow-up operations in the Crocodile Bridge section of the park made contact with a group of suspected poachers. During contact one suspect was fatally injured.
A solid source confirmed that one of them ran towards a ranger after being told to stop and was shot and killed. Another poacher got away.

[South Africa] Rhino crisis: Another rhino has been poached in the Eastern Cape
By Andile Sicetsha, The South African, 30 June 2018
Only days after officials of the Kragga Kamma Game Park dehorned three white rhinos, poachers have managed to illegally hunt down the horns of another rhino, according to Herald Live.
In the battle that officials face against poachers, rangers of the Port Elizabeth facility had started dehorning rhinos. This was in an effort to prevent any harm the endangered species has been exposed to.
The police on the scene reported that the 20-year-old white rhino had been shot and had two of its horns removed.

Militarisation of conservation

Virunga National Park Sees Its Worst Violence in a Decade, Director Says
By Jani Actman, National Geographic, 14 June 2018
Emmanuel de Merode’s flight had just landed when he switched on his cell phone and learned the news, by now all too familiar for the director of Virunga National Park: Another of the more than 700 rangers charged with protecting the vast reserve in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had been fatally shot on the job. De Merode had intended to spend time with his daughter, but instead he flew right back to Virunga.
Rachel Masika Baraka, 25, was killed on May 11 while trying to defend two British tourists from armed men who were kidnapping them. (The two were freed soon after, but it’s unclear whether the $200,000 ransom was paid.) Baraka is one of more than 170 rangers who have died during the past two decades protecting wildlife in the park and visitors who come to see the animals, particularly its famed mountain gorillas.


Virunga park closure: DR Congo tourism now looks to Kahuzi-Biega
By Joseph Ondiek, Chwez! Traveller, 14 June 2018
Last month, Africa’s oldest national park, the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was closed to tourists as it goes under a security evaluation following a series of deadly attacks.
The park has recently been beset by violence, with over 12 park rangers reportedly killed by militias and smugglers over the past 11 months. The park is home to the critically endangered mountain gorillas, elephants, chimpanzees and other wildlife.

[South Africa] Want to help save the white rhino? Go see one
By Amiee White Beazley, The Washington Post, 14 June 2018
We’d been driving for close to three hours. The sun was setting in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, casting the bush in a gray and orange haze, our eyes working harder to adjust to the darkness. Soon we’d have to give up the search. Sitting in the tracker’s seat at the front of the Land Rover was Barry Peiser, rhino monitor at Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve. He had been analyzing dung, sections of trampled bush and prints in the mud. Still there was no sight of the southern white rhino.

[Indonesia] Komodo National Park records increase in tourists
The Jakarta Post, 15 June 2018
Tourist visits to Komodo Island have increased significantly ahead of Idul Fitri, the head of Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara, Budi Kurniawan, said as reported by Antara news agency.
The increase in tourists began in early June and is expected to last until August, with foreigners comprising the majority of the tourists.

Could designated safari enclosures for tiger spotting take tourist pressure off India’s wildlife parks?
By Rashme Sehgal, First Post, 22 June 2018
Sighting a tiger in the wild is an unrivalled experience, but not everyone who visits a tiger sanctuary is going to get lucky.
Five of India’s national tiger reserves at Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Kaziranga, Periyar and Corbett offer the option of spotting tigers while sitting on an elephant. But even this requires some amount of luck as tigers spend their time in the thick undergrowth of a reserve, which makes spotting them difficult. It is to facilitate their viewing that the Uttarakhand chief minister TS Rawat has greenlit the setting up of a tiger safari in the Savalde Eco Tourism of Dhela range that falls in the buffer area of the Corbett reserve.

[South Africa] Shooting threat clears rhino poaching kingpin’s bail courtroom
By Helene Elof, Lowvelder, 23 June 2018
Petrus Sydney Mabuza, 49, has been accused of being the kingpin in Kruger Park rhino poaching and may be responsible for 70% of those cases.
A courtroom was hurriedly evacuated in White River this week during the bail hearing of the man called the “Mr Big” at the centre of rhino poaching in Kruger National Park, after someone in the gallery threatened to shoot.
Details are unclear about what happened, but the police tactical response team was called in to clear the area.
Petrus Sydney Mabuza, 49, has been accused of being the kingpin in Kruger rhino poaching.

[South Africa] Two field rangers among five arrested for alleged poaching at the KNP
Low Velder, 23 June 2018
Field rangers Freedom Mabilane (32) and Tshifhiwa Ramuhasi (41) appeared in the Bushbuckridge Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday for the poaching of a white rhino. The case was postponed to June 25 when the suspects will apply for bail.
According to Skukuza SAPS spokesman, WO Willie Broodryk, tourists complained about gunshots in Houtbosrand on May 3. They reported such to Olifants Rest Camp. The ranger contacted his colleague at Houtbosrand. Broodryk said when the ranger went to investigate, two field rangers told him that an elephant had stormed them and they had to protect themselves.

Pursuing poachers and tourism to boost conservation in Mozambique
AFP, 28 June 2018
The dam at Massingir in southwestern Mozambique is like a bridge between two worlds, one a deadly threat to the wildlife in the other.
On one side of the 46-metre high dam lies the vast regional Great Limpopo Transfrontier conservation area and its protected game animals.
On the other sits a town used as a base by those who hunt them illegally.
Set on the reservoir’s southern shore, the town of Massingir has acquired a dubious reputation as a local poaching hub.

Big game hunting

Why use bullets instead of cameras?
By Dave Forbes,, 13 June 2018
Controversy continues to escalate over last week’s hunt of a lion in a private game reserve (PNR) adjacent to Kruger National Park by a rich American hunter.
On the one hand, respected environmental journalist Don Pinnock last week alerted the public to the hunt in the Associated PNR of Umbabat, which has drawn a vitriolic media response from local hunter Peter Flack.
Emotions are running high on social media such as facebook, where the hunting versus conservation adherents are at war. Letters are written to the editor, journalists scurry all over Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Gauteng, conservation NGOs are outraged, lawyers’ letters are written, press releases put out, and the media storm continues unabated.

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