In the News

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.

[India] As Kaziranga Expands, the Fate of Grazing Communities Hangs in the Balance
By Eleonora Fanari and Pranab Doley, The Wire, 26 February 2018
Bars of sand with fluttering grass, ribboned out by small watercourses, buffaloes and cows scattered all over merge into the green grass spread across terrain framed by a smoky winter sky. Numerous bicycles with jerry cans clinking in non-existent trails as they try to overtake each other to collect their share of milk from herders. Fishermen slowly follow in the silence of the flowing waters, struggling for a good catch in the river where imaginary boundaries stop them. The last to venture out are groups of women off to collect firewood and grass for their daily use.
This is the picture that unfolds in front of you on a normal day in the ever-contested lands of the sixth addition of Kaziranga National Park (KNP), situated in the northern bank of Brahmaputra.

Community-Based Wildlife Conservation in Tanzania Yields Ecological Success
By Derek Lee, Wild Nature Institute, 27 February 2018
Good news about the environment is rare these days, but in Tanzania there are signs that local wildlife conservation efforts can effectively protect the natural resources that provide the lion’s share of revenue for the economy. Eco-tourism is Tanzania’s largest economic sector and biggest dollar earner for this developing nation, but wildlife populations have suffered in recent decades from poaching and clashes with people involved in other economic activities such as farming and mining. The good news comes from a new study that found community-based wildlife conservation can quickly result in clear ecological success, with the largest and smallest species being among the winners.

Seychelles in deep drive to protect blue economy
By Rehana Rossouw, BusinessDay, 27 February 2018
Seychelles is crafting two world-first initiatives to mitigate overfishing and climate change, and to protect its marine stocks and environment.
It has pledged to create two huge new marine parks in return for a large amount of its national debt being written off.
It is also finalising the issuing of the world’s first blue bond, which will mobilise public and private investments for a more profitable and sustainable fisheries sector.

Vanishing species deserve our few cents
By Katarzyna Nowak, Mongabay, 27 February 2018
As a conservation scientist, people often ask me, “What can I do to help save vanishing species?”
In the U.S., you already do something when you pay your taxes. The current budget for multinational species conservation funding is $12 million — that’s 3.6 cents per American citizen (assuming a population of 330 million), or about 10 cents per year contributed by each federal tax-paying American.

[South Africa] Seven rhino butchered in one day at KZN game reserve
By Tony Carnie, Sunday Times, 27 February 2018
The discovery of seven butchered rhinos in a single day has shocked conservationists who are battling gangs of armed poachers in KwaZulu-Natal’s flagship Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesman Musa Mntambi confirmed on Monday that seven rhinos were found poached and dehorned in the Makhamisa section of the park last Wednesday – all within about 800m of each other – although two appeared to have died about two weeks earlier.

Tanzania: How Sh4.5bn Initiative Helped Net 2,617 Suspected Poachers
By Mussa Juma, The Citizen, 27 February 2018
A total of 2,617 suspected poachers were arrested between 2013 and 2015, thanks to a decision by six companies to invest Sh4.5 billion in wildlife conservation.
The suspects were arrested from game reserves, forest reserves and Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), which directly benefit from the Friedkin Conservation Fund (FCF).

[Chile] Recovery: Evicting Rabbits
By Ted Williams, Cool Green Science, 26 February 2018
Early in the 20th century settlers on the islands of Chañaral and Choros off northern Chile had a brainstorm: They’d create a ready supply of fresh meat by unleashing European rabbits.
It worked out as well as rabbit introduction in Australia.
In short order the aliens stripped away a rich array of native plants (many imperiled), reducing the islands to eroding dirt and rubble. They took over the nesting burrows of Humboldt penguins and Peruvian diving-petrels, now listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable and endangered respectively. And they knocked down populations of the Atacama tree iguana, many-spotted tree iguana, braided tree iguana, Chilean slender snake, a spider found only on Chañaral and countless insect species including a beetle found only on Choros.

Debt for dolphins: Seychelles creates huge marine parks in world-first finance scheme
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 22 February 2018
The tropical island nation of Seychelles is to create two huge new marine parks in return for a large amount of its national debt being written off, in the first scheme of its kind in the world.
The novel financial engineering, effectively swapping debt for dolphins and other marine life, aims to throw a lifeline to corals, tuna and turtles being caught in a storm of overfishing and climate change. If it works, it will also secure the economic future of the nation, which depends entirely on tourism and fishing. With other ocean states lining up to follow, the approach could transform large swaths of the planet’s troubled seas.

Just Conservation
By David Macdonald, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, 26 February 2018
What is the right thing to do? In the context of conservation the answer always requires evidence, generally from both natural and social sciences. But as evidence builds into knowledge, deciding what to do requires something more: judgment and, hopefully, wisdom. It is because of our determination to incorporate this ethical dimension that the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) is delighted to welcome, this week, Dr John Vucetich, a leading conservation ethicist now joining WildCRU as an Oxford Martin School Fellow under our Natural Governance Programme.

[Indonesia] Ditching stereotypes to save orangutans
By Liana Chua, Pokok, 27 February 2018
A week and a half ago, Current Biology published an article that made for grim reading. Bearing the names of 41 leading scientists and conservationists, it argued that the population of Bornean orangutans had decreased by over 100,000 between 1999 and 2015. The lead authors blamed this precipitous decline on familiar problems—notably deforestation and the expansion of industrial agriculture. But they also highlighted another less well-known issue: the killing of orangutans by local people, through hunting, poaching and human-wildlife conflict.

Lion defenders: How Tanzania stopped 90% of hunts in a national park
By Sue Watt, The Independent, 28 February 2018
Deep in the night, I hear a lion roaring, a low melancholy call that carries for miles across the plains. It’s a sound of strength and supremacy as the king of the beasts stakes his territorial claims. But with lions becoming increasingly vulnerable due to poaching, habitat loss, hunting and human-wildlife conflict, it’s a sound that could soon be silenced. Today, just 24,000 lions survive in Africa; experts believe they could be extinct by 2050.

Myanmar parks could stop thousands of Karen refugees returning home
By Jared Ferrie, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 21 February 2018
Plans to create two parks to protect swathes of mountainous jungle in Myanmar could stop more than 16,000 refugees who fled conflict from going home, campaigners said on Wednesday.
The parks, totalling 1.3 million acres (5,260 square km), could block the Karen people from returning to 55 villages in the Tanintharyi Region, said a report by the Conservation Alliance of Tanawthari (CAT), an advocacy group.
It said the proposals – which have been demarcated after being proposed in 2002 – should be halted until refugees’ right of return was guaranteed.

British troops en-route to Africa to help Malawi rangers stop poaching
By Dannielle Maguire, Pickle, 22 February 2018
We all love elephants, but we know they need a little help from us humans from time to time.
Take, for example, this little tyke, who had to be pulled free by park rangers are becoming stuck in the mud.
But unfortunately, not all human assistance given to elephants is so wholesome and adorable.

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