Conservation Watch’s round-up of the news about national parks, protected areas and conservation in the Global South. For regular updates, follow @conserwatch on Twitter.
[Sri Lanka] The Human-Elephant Conflict: Moving Towards Solutions
By Kalana Krishantha, Ground Views, 11 December 2017
Recently the famous tusker, “Dala Puttuwa” of Galgamuwa was killed by poachers, renewing the public discussion around the ongoing human -elephant conflict in Sri Lanka.
Investigators found that Dala Puttuwa was killed to sell its tusks and for coveted ‘elephant pearls’ as they are known. Adding to the controversy, a Buddhist monk has been connected with this killing, revealing the widespread nature of this phenomenon. The human elephant conflict dates back centuries, as historical records by Robert Knox reveal. According to data gathered by the Elephant Conservation Unit of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), around 2,844 elephants were killed by farmers and 1,138 people were killed by elephants between the years from 1991 to 2010, while a total of 3,103 homes in Sri Lanka were destroyed by elephants (from 2004 to 2007).
Want to save tigers? Better have your numbers straight
Wildlife Conservation Society, 12 December 2017
A new book co-edited by tiger biologist Dr. Ullas Karanth of (WCS) Wildlife Conservation Society and Dr. James Nichols, an Emeritus statistical ecologist from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), provides an authoritative text on monitoring tigers, their prey, and many other similarly endangered species.
The volume is co-authored by 32 authors, from several leading research and conservation organizations, representing a range of technical expertise from tiger biology to mathematical statistics and modeling. The text provides detailed answers to critical questions in population assessment, such as why, what and how to monitor animal populations, and offers hope that such rigorous audits will greatly help in recovering wild tigers.
[South Africa] Ezemvelo KZN praises community’s anti-poaching efforts
By Shaun Ryan, East Coast Radio, 13 December 2017
That’s despite 218 rhino being poached since the beginning of the year, that’s an increase of about 37 poached animals in comparison to the same period in 2016.
Ezemvelo’s Musa Mntambo says cracking down on poaching incidents remains a priority.
“As long as we have rhinos in our game reserves, it will remain a priority for us. Communities remain the eyes and ears for us, they always tell us whenever they suspect something and we are thankful for their involvement,” he says.
[Namibia] Anti-poaching patrols intensified over festive season
By Albertina Nakale, New Era, 13 December 2017
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has warned poachers that it will intensify its anti-poaching patrols this festive season.
In this regard, the public are warned to refrain from any wildlife crimes that may lead to their arrest, and thus spend the festive season in custody.
The festive season often presents a window of opportunity for poachers to commit their unholy acts, with the hope that many law enforcement officials have taken leave to enjoy the festive season with their families.
Lions to roar again in Malawi at Liwonde National Park thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio
Nyasa Times, 14 December 2017
The Liwonde National Park, one of the Malawi’s wildlife reserves managed by African Parks will soon see the return of lions thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio and the Lion Recovery Fund.
The fund was created by Wildlife Conservation Network and Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to protect lions and their ecosystems across Africa.
The exercise comes after the African Parks completed the Africa’s largest elephant translocation project in history, which saw 500 elephants being relocated from Majete Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Parks to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.
For Papuan villagers practicing conservation, a bid to formalize the familiar
By Christopel Paino, Mongabay, 14 December 2017
It took more than two hours by boat, through a driving rain, to reach the village of Saubeba from the nearest large town of Sausapor in Indonesia’s West Papua province. There, locals had gathered to discuss a government-backed plan to designate Tambrauw district, of which Saubeba is a part, a conservation zone.
On paper, at least, this would seem a no-brainer: 80 percent of the district’s nearly 11,400 square kilometers (4,400 square miles) is lush forest that falls within existing conservation or protected areas; its coast is a hatching ground for the rare leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), and its rainforests home to exotic birds-of-paradise (family: Paradisaeidae).
Consumers in China Widely Support Upcoming Ivory Ban, but Awareness is Low, Largest-ever Ivory Consumer Survey Finds
WWF, 12 December 2017
As a landmark ban on domestic elephant ivory trade comes into effect in China at the end of this month, TRAFFIC and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) surveys found that the ban has widespread support from a majority of consumers surveyed and that it is likely to substantially reduce ivory purchase. However, many citizens are unaware of the upcoming ban.
The ban is widely hailed by the international community as a game changer that, if rigorously implemented, could help to stop the poaching and reverse the decline of wild African elephant populations.
Monkey business: Building a global database of primate conservation studies
By Claire Wordley, Mongabay, 12 December 2017
Primates are our family. From tiny, delicate golden lion tamarins to impressively muscular gorillas, we are part of the same evolutionary lineage; a tree of life stretching back about 65 million years. But while one primate — Homo sapiens — has flourished and spread across the planet, about 60 percent of non-human primate species are threatened with extinction.
Conservation of these intelligent, complex creatures can be challenging on many levels. We must work wisely towards finding the best solutions to the multi-faceted problems threatening their survival.
Mexican conservation group fights threats to Sierra Gorda nature reserve
By Franc Contreras, CGTN, 12 December 2017
Mexico’s Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve is considered one of Latin America’s most unusual nature reserves. It has eight separate ecosystems, where pine forests give way to lowland tropical jungles and hilly, semi-arid deserts.
The reserve has more than 300 species of birds, including the purple breasted hummingbird. Rare black salamanders also live here.
For 30 years, the Sierra Gorda Ecological Group has been working to save this habitat. It creates scores of sustainable businesses for more than 100,000 people living here.
[Cambodia] More rangers needed to protect forests: minister
By Phak Seangly, Phnom Penh Post, 12 December 2017
More rangers are needed to patrol the Kingdom’s protected areas, Ministry of Environment officials said yesterday during the release of a preliminary annual report, which also detailed total seizures from crackdown operations from January through November.
This year some 300 rangers were added to the ministry’s force, bringing the total to 1,260 rangers, according to the report, a far cry from what is needed to patrol the roughly 7 million hectares of land.
“The land to be protected is very large, but there are only about 1,000 park rangers,” Sam Al said, noting that three to four rangers should be assigned for every 100 hectares of protected area.
New maps show shrinking wilderness being ignored at our peril
Wildlife Conservation Society, 12 December 2017
Maps of the world’s most important wilderness areas are now freely available online following a University of Queensland and Wildlife Conservation Society-led study published today.
The authors have made the maps available to assist researchers, conservationists and policy makers to improve wilderness conservation.
UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences PhD student James Allan said these wilderness areas were strongholds for endangered biodiversity and critical in the fight to mitigate climate change.
[Myanmar] Elephants Are Being Slaughtered for Their Skin to Make Jewelry — Tell the UN to Step in Now!
By Natasha Brooks, One Green Planet, 14 December 2017
The world’s elephants face many threats to their survival, including habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, being captured by the tourism and entertainment industries, and of course, poaching for their tusks. However, there is now yet another disturbing threat to elephants — poaching for their skin to make jewelry and bogus “medicine.”
You can view images of this heinous slaughter and jewelry here, but we warn you, it may be too graphic for some people.
A petition on Care2 explains one incident in particular in a riverbed in southwestern Myanmar, where more than two dozen rotting skinned elephant corpses were found; their skins cut and peeled off to be rolled into beaded jewelry and mixed into tonics to be sold to ignorant individuals. To combat these threats to elephants, the World Wildlife Fund has set up poaching patrol units in Myanmar which have already led to the arrest of thirteen poachers.
Soldiers do their best to plug South Africa’s porous borders
By Kim Helfrich, defenceWeb, 14 December 2017
While not soldiering in the true sense of the word, the deployment of more than 2 700 soldiers on “border duty” has done much to prevent even more illegal aliens from settling in South Africa, stopped millions of Rand worth of illegal goods from being sold locally without the necessary duties and kept tons of narcotics off the streets.
The 2017 calendar year, some days short of completion, saw goods, vehicles and livestock conservatively valued at R123 121 542 either confiscated by soldiers or recovered for the rightful owners in the case of livestock and vehicles, according to Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton, Staff Officer, Operational Communication, SANDF Joint Operations Division.
Stop sneezing on the chimpanzees! Primates in Uganda are dying from human cold virus
By Lara Rebello, International Business Times, 14 December 2017
Chimpanzees in Africa have been suffering from the sniffles and it looks like human beings are to blame. Research into an outbreak of respiratory disease in a community of wild chimpanzees in Uganda’s Kibale National Park has identified that a human “common cold” virus known as rhinovirus C was killing healthy chimps.
Scientists believe that the virus could have been transmitted to the primates through researchers, conservationists and tourists who may have come into contact with the animals. They published their findings on 13 December in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
[Kenya] KWS unveils 78 community rangers to curb poaching in Turkana
By Solomon Nuingi, The Star, 14 December 2017
Kenya Wildlife Service on Thursday unveiled 78 new rangers to be deployed in conservancies in Turkana South, Pokot, and Kajiado to curb poaching.
Edin Kalla, the KWS senior assistant director in charge of parks and reserves, said the community rangers will be the agency’s eyes and ears in the said areas.
He spoke during the passing out parade of the group at the KWS law enforcement academy at Manyani in Taita Taveta county.
Kalla said they are focused on wildlife conservation and ecosystem management in the two counties.
[Malaysia] Need investigators to end killing of endangered species
By Stephanie Lee, The Star, 14 December 2017
Sabah needs professional investigators and informers to stop the killing and poaching of endangered species in the state.
Scientific director for HUTAN, a Sabah-based wildlife research and conservation non-governmental organisation, Marc Acrenaz, said there seemed to be an increasing number of cases involving the killing and poaching of endangered animals and this has to stop.
“Many years ago, we know that locals killed animals for food but now, we see that the trend has changed and people are poaching for the international trade and kill because of animal-human conflicts,” he said when contacted.
Two groups that want to save elephants need to find common ground
American Association for the Advancement of Science, 14 December 2017
In this Perspective, Duan Biggs et al. discuss ways in which two groups of people who want to help protect elephants from poaching – but disagree on the means – can achieve their common goal. Poaching for ivory has caused a steep decline in African elephant populations over the past decade, which has fueled debate over what policy would best conserve elephants: banning all ivory trade or enabling regulated trade to incentivize and fund elephant conservation. The authors discuss the pros and cons of each approach, but note that the real divide stems from a failure to recognize the different moral perspectives, or “values,” of stakeholders. Another major problem is that wild elephant ranges span multiple countries, each of which has a different opinion on the best course of action.
Tanzania: New Anti-Poaching Squad Formed
By Bertha Ismail, The Citizen, 14 December 2017
A new anti-poaching unit which will involve members of the police force and other security organs has been formed.
The unit has been tasked to ensure Tanzania is free from poaching by 2020.
This was announced here yesterday by the assistant director in charge of anti-poaching operations in the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism Robert Manda.
He disclosed this when closing a two-day workshop on transboundary environmental crimes experience sharing at the Kibo Palace Hotel.
Legalising rhino horn trade: don’t charge in blind
By Harriet Davies-Mostert, The Conversation, 14 December 2017
Between 2008 and 2016, poachers killed more than 7100 rhinos in Africa. South Africa, which has nearly 80% of Africa’s rhinos, was the worst affected country, with more than 1000 rhinos killed each year over the last four years.
In 2015 and 2016, the total number of rhinos poached represented almost 6% of South Africa’s rhinos (if white and black rhinos are added up together), which is similar to the estimated population growth rate. This suggests that the situation is close to a tipping point where rhino deaths exceed births.
To trade or not to trade? Breaking the ivory deadlock
University of Queensland, 14 December 2017
The debate over whether legal trading of ivory should be allowed to fund elephant conservation, or banned altogether to stop poaching has raged for decades without an end in sight.
Now, an international team including researchers from The University of Queensland and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) is working to break the policy stalemate.
UQ CEED postdoctoral researcher Dr Matthew Holden said the team identified a process aimed to overcome the deadlock on ivory.
[Botswana] Rhinos could go extinct by 203
The Voice, 15 December 2017
Communities need to be sensitized about rhino poaching and other illegal activities that threaten to bring rhinos to extinction by the year 2030.
And as part of Wilderness Safaris’ ongoing Botswana Rhino Reintroduction Project and other conservation partnerships, which have contributed in mitigating the rhino poaching threat in Botswana, the entity recently participated in the Walk for Rhinos Campaign to sensitize the public about the risk that continues to exist across the continent.
What Sustainable Wildlife Conservation Really Looks Like
By Peter Zahler, Wildlife Conservation Society, 14 December 2017
Conservation is a long-term effort. Many of the field programs I have been affiliated with have been in existence for 20 or 30 years. One reason for this is that it takes years to collect the data to really understand the threats and potential solutions to a landscape, whether it is poaching of wildlife (local subsistence? outsiders profiting?), predator conflict (poor livestock management? loss of local prey species?), and so on.
Thailand’s private sector is driving conservation, thanks to tourism
By Andrew Lawton, Global News, 15 December 2017
If you want something done, do it yourself. That’s the ethos embraced by some tourism sector companies in Thailand when it comes to the environment.
In North America, activists may frame corporations as the environment’s enemy. But here, the opposite is true.
Thailand welcomes more than 30 million tourists each year, ranging from culinary to cultural. As travellers seek to be more environmentally conscious, some companies have decided to make investments into the protection of the country’s flora and fauna.
Myanmar companies support saving elephants
Mizzima, 16 December 2017
Two of the largest conglomerates in Myanmar – Kanbawza (KBZ) Group of Companies and Shwe Taung Group – have joined hands with VOICES FOR MOMOS, supporting the nationwide campaign to end the sale of elephant and other illegal wildlife products in Myanmar.
KBZ Group is amplifying the VOICES FOR MOMOS public education efforts through an integrated print, digital and outdoor advertising campaign that kicks off today at the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock) in Mon State, with public service messages printed on the newly-launched cable cars shuttling visitors to one of the country’s most popular pilgrimage sites.
[Tanzania] Hope for one of the world’s rarest primates: First census of Zanzibar Red Colobus monkey
Wildlife Conservation Society, 14 December 2017
A team of WCS scientists recently completed the first-ever range-wide population census of the Zanzibar red colobus monkey (Piliocolobus kirkii) an endangered primate found only on the Zanzibar archipelago off the coast of East Africa.
The good news: there are more than three times as many Zanzibar red colobus monkeys (more than 5,800 individual animals) than previously thought, and many more monkeys living within protected areas than outside of them. And the bad news: survivorship of young animals is very low, species now extinct in 4 areas, forest habitat on which the primates and others species depend are rapidly being cleared for agriculture and tourism development projects and hunting is common.
[Belize] Tribute to Rangers, Our Local Heroes!
Wildlife Conservation Society, 15 December 2017
When was the last time you said “thank you” to a ranger? We know them as fisheries officers, forest officers, park guards or wardens. They work for governments, NGO’s and community groups, often for little reward and/or recognition, risking their lives to protect our wildlife and its fragile ecosystems. It is a fact that these brave men and women stand on the frontline of conservation to safeguard Belize’s wildlife, forests and coastal seas.
Secrets in the mist: New documentary reveals new theory on who killed gorilla conservationist Dian Fossey
By Warren Manger, The Mirror, 4 December 2017
Smiling with motherly affection at the orphaned gorilla clinging to her neck, this is how the world remembers Dian Fossey .
The incredible pictures made her the most famous conservationist on the planet, inspired the Hollywood classic Gorillas in the Mist and helped her save the species from extinction.
But they hide a darker side to her struggle, as desperation to save her gorilla family from poachers drove her to extreme lengths.
She is claimed to have tied up hunters, smeared them with gorilla dung, and whipped their testicles with stinging nettles.
She is even said to have kidnapped one poacher’s son.
[Tanzania] Disconcerting News from Loliondo
By Susanna Nordlund, View from the Termite Mound, 4 December 2017
After the stopping of the long, illegal “operation” on village land in Loliondo, in which at least 250 bomas were burned to the ground, men, women and children were brutally beaten, and cattle illegally seized, and after the almost too good to be true news from the new Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism that OBC – that organise hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai and that for many years have been lobbying for turning the 1,500 km2 of important grazing land that’s their core hunting area into a “protected area”, inciting conflict and violence – will have to leave before January 2018, there is some disconcerting news from Loliondo.
This blog post has many questions and few answers, but is already getting too old and must be published. I hope there will eventually be answers.
The Time Has Come for an EU-Wide Domestic Ivory Ban
By Janice Weatherley-Singh, Wildlife Conservation Society, 7 December 2017
The EU has traditionally been a global leader in tackling the problem of wildlife trafficking and in encouraging other countries to take action. Last year it published a far-reaching Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, which set out a comprehensive list of actions to address the problem.
So why is it dragging its heels when it comes to saving elephants and closing its domestic ivory market?
[India] Noted conservationist Jayachandran receives Sanctuary Wildlife Award
By Meera Bhardwaj, New Indian Express, 10 December 2017
Conservation warrior and leader from the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, Jayachandran S, has won this year’s prestigious Sanctuary Wildlife Award for his pioneering work in key protected areas of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
The Ooty-based conservation activist and long-term conservation partner of Wildlife Conservation Society, India, has won the prestigious ‘Wildlife Service Award’ presented by the Sanctuary Nature Foundation. Since the last three decades, Jayachandran has been a key conservation leader in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and surrounding areas. In 1990, he started the Tamil Nadu Green Movement which has been actively assisting the forest departments in law enforcement and advocacy.
[Indonesia] Extremely Endangered Tiger Losing Habitat—and Fast
By Stephen Leahy, National Geographic, 10 December 2017
As Sumatran rain forests fall to palm oil plantations, their critically endangered tiger may soon vanish from the planet.
There are now only two regions on the Indonesian island with enough breeding females to sustain the species, according to a new study.
“The erosion of large wilderness areas pushes Sumatran tigers one step closer to extinction,” says study leader Matthew Luskin, research fellow with the Smithsonian Institution who’s based at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
[Malaysia] Gopeng Man gets off Lightly for Possessing a Dead Tiger. For Shame
Clean Malaysia, 10 December 2017
A small slap on the wrist is how conservationist groups see the sentence handed down in Ipoh to a man who was convicted of having been in illegal possession of the carcass of a Malayan tiger. The man was caught by Perhilitan officials as he was carrying the dead tiger on his motorcycle at an oil palm plantation in Gopeng in February last year.
He was charged under Section 68(2)(c) of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) and, as the maximum penalty, he faced a fine of up to RM500,000 and a prison term of up to five years.
The Sessions Court in Ipoh, though, went easy on the accused, Wong Chee Leong. The court sentenced the 43-year-old man to a fine of MR100,000 and a single month in prison. If he fails to pay the fine, Wong will have to serve one year in prison.
[South Africa] EWT, African Parks on its conservation story
By Sue Ettmayr, Weekend Review, 10 December 2017
This occurrence managed to restore the population of the species that had in some parts of Malawi, been declared extinct some 20 years ago.
The cheetahs were taken from four reserves; the Mountain Zebra National Park, Amakhala Private Game Reserve, Phinda Private Game Reserve and Welgevonden Private Game Reserve and flown to the park in a FlyUlendo and Robin Pope Safaris sponsored light aircraft. The cheetahs now have more than 300,000 hectares of roaming space.
To the rescue: Zimbabwe’s all-female anti-poaching unit
By Haley Jone Glover, Lady Freethinker, 8 December 2017
The International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting endangered wildlife species across the world, has recently launched a new program with a special name: Akashinga.
Akashinga, meaning “brave ones,” is a revolutionary project designed to provide disadvantaged women in Zimbabwe with meaningful employment as wildlife rangers and managers. The women in the program come from checkered backgrounds: some once gained income through trophy hunting, and many more are either orphans or widows, victims of violence or unemployed wives of imprisoned poachers.
[South Africa] Grim toll as captive lions poached, parts used for ‘medicine’
By Sheree Bega, IOL, 9 December 2017
For the past three years Dr Kelly Marnewick has been involved in a grim body count: keeping track of the mutilated lions poached on private lion breeding farms and sanctuaries.
Mostly, it’s the feet, heads and faces the poachers are after. “It’s a relatively new occurrence and is certainly something we’re watching very closely because of our concern about the impact on wild lions,” explains Marnewick, the senior trade officer at the wildlife in trade programme at the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
Less Than 350 Tigers Left In Malaysian Jungle, WWF Raises Alarm
Malaysia Digest, 9 December 2017
World Wildlife Fund Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) has raised concerns over the dwindling population of Malayan Tigers in the wild, saying that there is a need to protect the endangered big cat from extinction.
Its executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius S.K. Sharma said concerted effort from all parties were important in ensuring the survival of the species, which is also the national symbol of Malaysia.
“In the 1950’s, there were an estimated 3,000 Malayan Tigers. In 1990, statistics by Perhilitan (Department of Wildlife and National Parks) showed there were 500 tigers left.
Abandoned by their sponsors, Madagascar’s orphaned parks struggle on
By Rowan Moore Gerety, Mongabay, 8 December 2017
Karimo and Célice could scarcely believe their luck. Four years of bumper corn harvests have allowed the husband and wife, who each go by a single name, to rebuild their house with a metal roof, buy several new humped cattle, and launch a side business putting on dances in the countryside with a pair of new speakers and an amplifier stacked on the verandah.
In July, Karimo rushed to show off the seed corn he put aside from their most recent harvest, producing four oversize ears with rows of perfect amber kernels. He fanned them out in front of him like a poker hand. “Each ear is one kapoka and a half!” he said with glee. A kapoka is a unit of measure typically made from a discarded condensed milk can. “Usually it takes two ears for one kapoka.”
Report: African wildlife threatened by militia poaching
AFP, 8 December 2017
Sudan’s Janjaweed, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army and other notorious militias are wreaking havoc on wildlife in central Africa, poaching and trafficking elephants, hippopotamuses, buffaloes and other animals, a monitor said Friday.
The threat comes from “highly organized armed groups who are linked to human rights violations and ongoing political instability” as well as state actors, armed pastoralists and poachers, Traffic said in a report.
Wildlife Poaching and Trafficking Prevalent Across Central Africa’s Garamba-Bili-Chinko Landscape
Traffic, 8 December 2017
Foreign armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the Janjaweed (a Sudanese militia), and other non-State militias, are the main perpetrators of wildlife poaching and trafficking across Central Africa’s Garamba-Bili-Chinko Landscape, a region that straddles the northwest border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the southwest border of the Central African Republic, according to a new TRAFFIC report.
The investigation into the poaching and trafficking of wildlife across the landscape—comprised of the Garamba complex and the Bili complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Chinko reserve in the Central African Republic—reveals the enormous pressure placed on existing wildlife populations in these protected areas, particularly from such highly organized armed groups who are linked to human rights violations and ongoing political instability.
[South Africa] War against poaching intensifies
By Mariana Balt, Lowvelder, 8 December 2017
With at least 50 alleged poachers arrested in and around the Kruger National Park (KNP) during November, Frik Rossouw, senior environmental investigator for SANParks, hopes that 2017 may be the first year that more poachers are arrested than rhinos poached.
He spoke to journalists on the scene of such a poaching, while a forensic team was still busy gathering evidence after three rhinos were shot near Skukuza last week. Walter Mhlangani, Xongani Mathebula and Emmanuel Mdluli had already appeared in Skukuza Regional Court on several related charges.
How trained dogs are helping Africa win the battle against poaching
By Kirstin Johnson, Independent, 8 December 2017
The multibillion-dollar illegal trade in African wildlife and their products is fuelling unsustainable levels of killing of elephants, rhinos, lions, and other critical species.
In many sites, the populations of these animals are plummeting. The desire for status symbols such as ivory, skins, and scales, as well as unsubstantiated claims about the medicinal properties of horns and bones, is driving some of Africa’s most iconic animals to extinction.
[South Africa] Hluhluwe-iMfolozi ‘Smart Park’ geared to protect rhino
By Judi Davis, South Coast Herald, 8 December 2017
Kwazulu-Natal’s Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, where the southern white rhino was brought back from the brink of extinction 50 years ago, is often called the birthplace of rhino conservation – but it has recently been hard-hit by an escalation in rhino poaching.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, which manages the game reserve, has subsequently increased its efforts to develop more effective anti-poaching and resource management strategies. Its efforts have been bolstered by a promised R10,6-million donation from the Peace Parks Foundation for the implementation of advanced technology solutions that would for transform Hluhluwe-iMfolozi into a so-called Smart Park.
Tanzania used as case study for quickly and cheaply identifying wildlife corridors in need of conservation
By Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, 8 December 2017
As local wildlife populations around the world are increasingly forced to rely on reserves hemmed in by agricultural land, urban areas, and other human developments, it’s more crucial than ever that we keep corridors open between protected areas. So researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a methodology that they say can help identify the most important wildlife corridors to keep open in a cost-effective and timely manner.
In a study summarizing their results published in the journal PloS one, the UC Davis researchers note that wildlife populations that are isolated due to not having access to corridors that allow them to move between protected areas can suffer from compromised genetic variability and are less able to shift their range in response to global climate change — all of which makes it that much harder to save a species from extinction, if and when it comes down to that.
Papua New Guinea gets its largest-ever conservation area
By Morgan Erickson-Davis, Mongabay, 8 December 2017
Papua New Guinea has been granted its largest-ever conservation area, a 3,600-square kilometer (1,390-square mile) protected area of rainforest in the country’s southeast that stretches from near the ocean up into the mountains. Called Managalas Conservation Area, the move is being celebrated by conservation organizations and local communities that have been working for 32 years to establish more protections for the region.
Managalas Conservation Area was officially declared on November 29 by Minister for Environment and Climate John Pundari and Northern Governor Gary Juffa at Itokama village.
[Philippines] Karapatan asks UN to probe ‘lumad’ deaths
By Jaymee T. Gamil, Inquirer.net, 9 December 2017
A human rights group has asked the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples to look into recent alleged state-perpetrated violence against “lumad” (indigenous peoples) communities in Mindanao, particularly the “massacre” of eight farmers branded by the army as communist insurgents in South Cotabato, and a “food blockade” of relief aid for evacuees fleeing military operations in Surigao del Sur.
In a letter to Victoria Tauli-Corpuz on Thursday, Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay called for an “independent investigation” and for assistance to put a stop to what the group called a “spate of attacks” against indigenous communities.
[South Africa] Eight held in anti-poaching breakthrough
By Gareth Wilson, Herald Live, 6 December 2017
Eastern Cape authorities have bust another rhino poaching syndicate after eight suspected poachers were nabbed during a dramatic 48-hour operation that saw the gang tracked to the Free State. The eight men, mostly foreign nationals, were arrested for allegedly conspiring to poach rhino on the Great Fish River Nature Reserve, between Grahamstown and Fort Beaufort, at the weekend.
According to authorities, the same gang could be responsible for wiping out an entire rhino population at the Wildschutsberg Game Reserve in the Stormberg mountains near Komani in October.
[South Africa] How the campaign against poaching in Kruger is fought
By Jonathan Katzenellenbogen, defenceWeb, 6 December 2017
The man who manages the campaign of South African National Parks (SANParks) against wildlife crime and corruption, says it is his “toughest job ever”. Maj Gen Johan Jooste retired as a Member of the Army General Staff, and after a time in industry was hired by SANParks five years ago as Head of Special Projects to help in the fight against a wave of poaching.
After years of rapid rises in “incidents” in the Kruger Park, including incursions by armed gangs, poaching, and shootouts with rangers, the situation has begun to improve. Incidents declined by more than 20 percent last year, and are further “tapering down” this year, says Jooste.
Kenya to benefit from EU’s Sh3.6 billion to fight poaching
By Graham Kajilwa, The Standard, 6 December 2017
Kenya is among East African countries set to benefit from Sh3.6 billion (30 million euros) from the European Union for fighting poaching. The funds are meant to strengthen anti-poaching in countries adjacent to the Indian Ocean in a new initiative to intercept smuggled wildlife products shipped overseas.And in line with this pledge, the EU yesterday signed a Sh2.06 billion (17.2 million euros) deal with three United Nations institutions that will work jointly in the venture.
As the host nation of the UN headquarters, Kenya was represented by Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu.
[Indonesia] Anti-poaching doubled tigers in Sumatra but deforestation pushing them nearer to extinction, says report
By Rahul K R, International Business Times, 7 December 2017
Despite the increase in the population of endangered tigers in the Sumatra Island, continuing deforestation poses threat to the endemic species in the unique island habitat.
The Rainforests in Sumatra which have been listed under Tropical Heritage zone by the UNESCO has been supporting many rare species but the extensive oil palm plantation in Indonesia has been rapidly depleting the forest cover in the Island, said reports.
[India] Telangana’s protected areas most vulnerable to deforestation
By V Nilesh, New Indian Express, 7 December 2017
Protected forest areas of Telangana are the most vulnerable to deforestation in India, after those located in Assam, Meghalaya and Manipur. The Hyderabad based National Remote Sensing Center (NRSC) in collaboration with Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Kerala conducted a first of its kind study titled ‘Earth observation data for habitat monitoring in protected areas of India’, to monitor 175 protected areas in India using technique of remote sensing.
Africa: Devastating report reveals widespread slaughter of giraffes and elephants for tails, tusks and meat
By Kristin Hugo, Newsweek, 10 December 2017
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the poorest countries on earth, and is also home to unprecedented animal poaching. A new report by TRAFFIC, the global wildlife trade monitoring network, documents the largest problems facing the wildlife of the DRC. Among them are local poachers, pastoralist herders, and the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Unfortunately for people and wildlife alike, 2012 didn’t stop Joseph Kony, the leader of a guerrilla group that aims to “cleanse” the population and install a theocracy. His group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, has been poaching elephants in advanced ways, such as by shooting them from helicopters. They transport the ivory north and sell it for money to buy weapons. Several other militarized groups poach animals to profit from illegal trafficking as well.