Proposed Trump policy threatens Critically Endangered Grauer’s gorilla

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Animals, Apes, Biodiversity, Bushmeat, Community Forestry, Community-based Conservation, Conflict, Conservation, Corporate Environmental Transgressors, Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Role In Conservation, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corruption, Drivers Of Deforestation, Ecology, Endangered Species, Environment, Environmental Crime, Environmental Law, Featured, Forests, Global Trade, Gold Mining, Gorillas, Great Apes, Illegal Mining, International Trade, Law, Law Enforcement, Mammals, Mining, Pet Trade, Primates, Protected Areas, Rainforest Mining, Rainforest People, Rainforests, Traditional Medicine, Tropical Forests, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.Chimanuka, a silverback Grauer’s gorilla, Kahuzi Biega National Park, highland sector. Photo by Stuart NixonMany people don’t realize when they boot up that the consumer electronics supply chain can stretch all the way to the Congo where violence is regularly being committed against human and wildlife communities by militias mining for conflict minerals. Photo courtesy of GRACE The largest great ape, Grauer’s gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) has nearly disappeared in the past two decades. Numbers have plummeted by 77 percent; perhaps 3,800 remain. This animal, dubbed “the forgotten gorilla” because it was so little studied and was absent from most zoos, is in serious danger of extinction.Their slaughter was precipitated by the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s bloody civil war and by mining for coltan and tin ore, “conflict minerals” used in cell phones, laptops and other electronics. Gorillas are heavily poached by armed militias, miners, and less often, by refugees: the animals are being eaten nearly to extinction.The gorillas could suffer greater harm from warlords and miners if President Trump signs a proposed presidential memorandum leaked to Reuters. It would allow US companies to buy conflict minerals freely without public disclosure, likely increasing mining in the Congo basin — and poaching.Trump’s plan would nullify the current US Conflict Mineral Rule, passed with bipartisan support in 2010 and enacted as part of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Dodd Frank Act. Meanwhile, conservationists are hopeful that the Grauer’s gorilla can be saved — but only with a DRC and planet-wide response. A recent study found that only about 3,800 Grauer’s gorillas remain, which led directly to the IUCN re-listing the subspecies as Critically Endangered at the end of 2016. Photo courtesy of GRACEFor weeks, the primatologists had followed a group of Grauer’s gorillas over rugged terrain — hacking through dense rainforest; following knife-edged ravines; and crossing a nearly impenetrable mountainous landscape in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).Stuart Nixon, Chryso Kaghoma and their Congolese field team tracked Gorilla beringei graueri using GPS. They collected data on where the animals nested each night, what they ate, and other habits. But the researchers kept their distance, trailing a day behind the primate family, so as not to influence the group’s behavior or normalize them to people.Or so the scientists thought. One day, while sitting quietly in the forest, Nixon heard the bushes move some 10 feet away. He looked up and into the blue-black face of a big silverback male. They made eye contact for a few very long seconds before the gorilla turned and ran off with the rest of his family back into the dense undergrowth.An orphan gorilla at the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center. the world’s only sanctuary for orphaned Grauer’s gorillas. Photo courtesy of GRACEIt was a rare sighting of a great ape that was once dubbed “the forgotten gorilla” because it was so little studied and was absent from most of the world’s zoos.In two decades — just one generation — numbers of Grauer’s gorillas have plummeted by 77 percent. Only about 3,800 remain in the wild, according to a major study published in 2016.The reasons: civil war and mining for “conflict minerals” including tin ore and coltan, both used in cell phones, laptops and other consumer electronics. The gorillas are heavily poached by armed militias, miners, and to a lesser degree, refugees, and they are being eaten to near-extinction.“Illegal hunting for bushmeat is the biggest threat,” says Liz Williamson, a researcher at Scotland’s University of Stirling and a member of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group.Proposed Trump policy threatens great apeBoth Grauer’s gorillas and local communities could be placed in even greater danger from warlords, militias and miners if President Donald Trump signs a draft presidential memorandum leaked to Reuters in early February.A female Grauer’s gorilla protecting her infant. Photo by Damien Caillaud/Dian Fossey Gorilla FundThe new policy would allow US companies to buy conflict minerals freely — including gold, tin, tantalum, coltan and tungsten — without public disclosure. It would likely increase mining activities in the Congo basin, bringing in more workers that will hunt bushmeat to survive.Trump’s memorandum would nullify the Conflict Mineral Rule for two years. The rule was passed with bipartisan support from Congress in 2010 as part of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Dodd Frank Act. At the time, it was opposed by business interests, while human rights groups and environmentalists supported it.The regulation as it currently exists requires companies to disclose conflict minerals that come from the DRC or an adjoining country. When it was passed, then-SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro said, “In adopting this statute, Congress expressed its hope that the reporting requirements of the securities laws will help to curb the violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.”The Trump memorandum’s reasoning for the proposed rule suspension is that it has led to “some job loss” in the past. The administration did not respond to requests for comment from Mongabay.African nations, however, immediately expressed concern: “This might ultimately lead to a generalized proliferation of terrorist groups, trans-boundary money laundering and illicit financial flows in the region,” the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) told Reuters. The ICGLR includes 12 African member states.Counting Grauer’s gorillasIn the 2016 survey — the largest ever conducted for Grauer’s gorillas — park staff, local people and scientists led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Fauna & Flora International combed 7,450 square kilometers (nearly 3,000 square miles) to count the animals in the eastern part of the Congo, the only place they live. Researchers then used statistical analysis and computer modeling to estimate population size.Their finding sparked international news coverage and a triage reaction from the conservation community.An orphaned graueri confiscated by the DRC government in the Maiko region in 2014. It died before it could be sent to the GRACE gorilla sanctuary. Photo by Stuart NixonWithin months, Grauer’s status was changed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to the red-alert last stage before extinction in the wild: Critically Endangered.Grauer’s joined three other gorilla subspecies on the IUCN list: the western lowland (G. g. gorilla) and Cross River gorillas (G. g. diehli), along with the other and far more famous eastern gorilla subspecies, the mountain gorilla (G. b. beringei), which attracts tourists from around the globe who come to see them in the Virunga Mountains.All gorillas are now Critically Endangered.“Most people have never heard of [Grauer’s gorillas], and [yet] they might be the first great ape to go extinct,” says Sonya Kahlenberg, who directs the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE), the world’s only sanctuary for orphaned Grauer’s gorillas.Catastrophic declineBack in 1994 when the Wildlife Conservation Society surveyed Grauer’s gorillas (in what was then Zaire), researchers estimated a population of 17,000.But then in April of 1994, the Hutu ethnic majority in neighboring Rwanda launched a murderous campaign against the Tutsi minority, a genocide that pushed some two million refugees across the border into Zaire and Uganda. Many took refuge in national parks and forests, and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and other militias set up operations there. Many survived on bushmeat, sparking what has become an ongoing gorilla “ecocide.”The DRC government distributed arms to local communities to fight back. Many people fled. Forests became a major casualty — illegally logged both for fuel and the timber market. Hunting was rampant because of a deadly combination of hungry people and readily-available guns. Rangers and other law enforcement were forced to abandon national parks and other protected lands. The forests turned into slaughter grounds.Tropical forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — the only country where Grauer’s gorillas live, and a nation with very large conflict mineral deposits. Photo courtesy of GRACEThe stocky Grauer’s gorilla became a popular target. They are easy to track, moving on the ground in groups, and the animals provides lots of meat per bullet: they’re the world’s largest primate, with an average male weighing in at about 400 pounds. The largest tower six-feet three inches and weigh 600 pounds.Conflict minerals stir the potBy the time the war was declared over in 2003, some 5.4 million people were dead. But conflict still reigns in the eastern DRC — the Grauer’s homeland — fueled by a quest for the region’s abundant minerals.Although the country has the world’s second lowest GDP, it’s considered to be the richest in natural resources, with mineral deposits worth at least $24 trillion, according to the nonprofit World Without Genocide. That includes an estimated $28 billion worth of gold and a vast supply of columbite-tantalite, or coltan, coveted for its use in electronics.Thousands of miners working in the eastern DRC dig for “conflict minerals” — coltan, tin ore, gold and other valuable minerals. They also are hunting Grauer’s gorillas to near-extinction. Here, Magloire Vyalengerera from Fauna and Flora International stands with artisanal gold miners in the Lubutu region. Photo by Stuart NixonMore than 1,000 mines operate in the DRC — most of them illegal. This is the entrance to an artisanal coltan mine in Oso, Maniema province. Photo by Stuart NixonExploitation of these riches has attracted hoards of artisanal miners, unscrupulous corporations, the military and corrupt government officials. Insecurity has flourished. But the greatest threat comes from more than 70 heavily armed militias, says Damien Caillaud, who is research director for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Grauer’s gorilla program in DRC and a professor at the University of California, Davis.Many of the militias control “conflict mineral” mines that have become the equivalent of fiefdoms, existing beyond government control, sometimes employing slave labor, and using profits to buy weapons and to support ongoing armed struggle.Miners now operate deep within DRC national parks as well as in unprotected forests — the places where some gorilla groups managed to survive the civil war, and some of the last areas where Grauer’s gorillas live. The Belgium-based International Peace Information Service has documented more than 1,000 mines in the region, nearly all of them illegal.The rogue miners present the greatest threat to Grauer’s ultimate survival.It is illegal under national and international law to kill, capture or trade in either live gorillas or their parts and products. But armed groups and miners are hunting the apes at an astonishing rate, and at the same time, laying waste to the land, reducing lush rainforest to polluted, muddy moonscapes.People, in close proximity to the great apes, also pose a pathogenic threat: gorillas are so closely related to homo sapiens that they are susceptible to human respiratory infections and other illnesses. The common cold can kill a gorilla.Illegal hunting for bushmeat is the greatest threat to the Grauer’s gorilla’s long-term survival. This bushmeat seller is en-route to market south of Kisangani with an endemic owl-faced guenon (Cercopithecus hamlyni), an endangered species. Photo by Stuart NixonGorillas snaredA US-based organization, Gorilla Doctors provides care, when possible, for gorillas stuck in snares. One hopeful note amidst the carnage: more Congolese veterinary students are training in great ape medicine than ever, a discipline requiring a specialized skill set nearly as complex as caring for a human.Killing one gorilla can have large collateral damage, ultimately causing the deaths of four or five others, says Caillaud, who explains why. Ninety percent of Grauer’s gorillas live in groups dominated by just one male, the silverback leader. Hunters generally target him, both because he’s the biggest, with the most meat, and because he’ll attack to protect his family. If he’s killed, the group disbands. No babies will be born until females find a new group to join. For those that already have a baby, it might not survive: a silverback may kill another male’s offspring, as lions do.Rescuing orphansThere was no place to care for young Grauer’s gorilla orphans that were seized by wildlife authorities until 2010. That’s when the GRACE sanctuary was founded in the DRC with the goal of raising orphaned gorillas and teaching them the skills they need to survive in the forest as a new family. The first four gorillas were airlifted to GRACE on a helicopter operated by the United Nations peacekeeping force in the DRC.Orphans require significant care and often suffer from a variety of psychological and physical trauma. In 2011, for example, a 17 month-old male was discovered in a village where he had been illegally offered for sale. He was too young to be weaned, but had been given no milk and was fed only cassava for months — which is not gorilla food. When “Lubutu” arrived at GRACE, he was severely malnourished, had lost much of his hair, and was weak and dehydrated. But he’s one of the lucky ones; he survived and is thriving.Veterinarians from Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Detroit Zoo help GRACE staff examine an orphaned gorilla. Photo courtesy of GRACEAt the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center, the goal is to reintroduce at least some of the gorillas back into the wild. Photo courtesy of GRACEToday, GRACE cares for 14 Grauer’s gorillas, ranging from a two year-old toddler to a 16 year-old adult. The apes live in forest habitat in a surrogate family group where the older gorillas take on mothering roles, carrying and protecting newcomers. Human contact is kept at a minimum.“Gorillas are social animals and we see orphans turn around quickly once they are reconnected with gorillas. They need each other as much as they need emergency care,” says Kahlenberg.One reason GRACE is so successful at saving orphans, she explains, is that the facility partners with some of the world’s best zoos, whose gorilla experts train and advise the all-Congolese sanctuary staff. Zoos are consulted via frequent Skype calls, and experts have made 63 separate trips to GRACE since 2010.Schoolchildren volunteer at the gorilla food farm as part of the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center. Photo courtesy of GRACEA key Fossey Gorilla Fund community project teaches small-scale farming to local families, helping them to grow crops that can provide protein and replace bushmeat. Photo by Urbain Ngobobo/Dian Fossey Gorilla FundThe region suffered some of the worst atrocities during the war, and almost everyone on the GRACE staff lost a family member during the conflict or after.But the local community wants to move forward and is strongly committed to conservation. GRACE recently started a farm to grow food for the gorillas, says Kahlenberg, and every week about 40 kids show up after school to help weed and care for the crops. “I get so much hope from the people here!” she says.With fewer gorillas now left in the wild, the sanctuary arrival rate is dropping. Last year, it received just one. The goal is to eventually reintroduce at least some gorillas to the wild, aiding isolated forest populations. GRACE has pinpointed one potential release site. But this is uncharted territory: nobody has ever sent captive Grauer’s gorillas back into the wild.Wild gorillas do accept changes to their family groupings, reveals Kahlenberg, “but we don’t know how much is group-learned. We don’t know how the [sanctuary-raised animals] will react around a wild silverback. There are so many question marks.”When “Lubutu” arrived at GRACE in 2011, he was severely malnourished, had lost much of his hair, and was weak and dehydrated. Photo by S. DemianLubutu, present day. Photo by A. Bernard/GRACEProtection and research: a risky businessDefending wildlife in the DRC is an extremely dangerous business. Access to these remote areas by law enforcement agencies, including national park service rangers or environment ministry personnel, is very difficult and risky. More than 200 park guards have been murdered over the last 20 years defending wildlife. The two most recent victims are Oscar Mianziro and Munganga Nzonga Jacques, who were ambushed in separate incidents by armed militias in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in 2016.Many of those who have lost their lives fighting to conserve gorillas, elephants and other animals, had large families of their own, with eight, nine, ten kids, says Stuart Nixon (who works now as the Africa Field program coordinator for the Chester Zoo, UK). Those murders not only impact the families, but also the tight knit village communities where the men lived. “It’s quite humbling,” says Nixon. “You don’t often see that kind of dedication in the West, let alone in the developing world.”Lawlessness and violence in the DRC has made it nearly impossible to study Grauer’s gorillas. As a result, much of what scientists “know” has been extrapolated from a half-century of research on mountain gorillas living in the nearby Virunga Mountains within the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.Bushmeat hunters with a locally fabricated shotgun, as seen in the Lubutu region of the DRC. Photo by Stuart NixonAn artisanal cassiterite mining site in the heart of the Congo rainforest. Photo by Urbain Ngobobo/Dian Fossey Gorilla FundG. b. graueri was named for Rudolf Grauer, an Austrian zoologist who worked in Africa at the turn of the 20th century. He was the first to recognize this great ape as a distinct subspecies. While these animals resemble their mountain gorilla relatives, their limbs are longer, they have shorter hair, and they live at lower altitudes, from 1,900 feet to 9,500 feet above sea level.This last distinction is important, notes Caillaud, because habitat significantly shapes behavior. That means that mountain gorilla research isn’t 100 percent relatable: the size and use of habitat, for example, can differ between lowland and upland gorilla subspecies. So does diet — researchers know that Grauer’s rely more heavily on fruits than their high-mountain dwelling cousins. These differences can sharply impact great ape social systems and habits.Despite the constant risk of violence, researchers including Andy Plumptre (a biologist with WCS), Williamson, Nixon and others have continued working in the DRC rainforests for years.Rare camera trap image of a low-altitude Grauer’s gorilla group. This group is protected by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund teams. Photo by Escobar Binyinyi/Dian Fossey Gorilla FundNixon contacted eminent field biologist George Schaller before a major trip to ask him about his research, field work that dated to 1959 — the first on-the-ground study of Grauer’s gorillas. Using the maps Schaller shared with him, Nixon located about 15 groups that were living in the exact same locations they’d been in more than a half-century before. “They were surrounded by thousands of square miles of forest, but they hadn’t expanded their range,” says Nixon. “We don’t know why.”Nixon’s 2005 study produced some disturbing results: “We were starting to realize that there were big areas where [Grauer’s had been] in the 1960s — and they were gone,” he says. New sub-populations that his team discovered that year were hunted out by 2010. “We had a feeling that the decline was catastrophic. But you have to think about what’s left,” he says.Those working to conserve Grauer’s gorillas — government officials, park guards, conservationists and local community members — came together in 2012 to draw up a Conservation Action Plan. It identified cooperative strategies to build sustainable community livelihoods, and defined roles and collaborations for constituents, including the underfunded Ministry of Environment and Congolese Wildlife Authority, tasked with protecting DRC wildlife.A Grauer’s gorilla silverback male and his three-year old son. Photo by Damien Caillaud/Dian Fossey Gorilla FundThe consortium realized the need to quantify the severity of the Grauer’s decline with a broad survey. From 2013 to 2015, huge teams, often numbering 10-15 people, roamed the rainforest on physically challenging expeditions. Many surviving gorilla groups live in nearly inaccessible places, some as much as 30 miles from the nearest village or drivable road. All gear and rations had to be carried in on people’s backs, and security was a constant concern.That exhaustive survey confirmed the continued, drastic decline of Grauer’s gorilla and led directly to the IUCN’s reclassification of the subspecies as Critically Endangered.Points of light “It’s possible that this terrible period is slowly coming to an end,” says Liz Williamson with surprising optimism. “In some places [national] park guards have regained control.”She points to one relative success in an area key to the gorillas’ survival: the highland sector of Kahuzi-Biega National Park, site of the first-ever gorilla tourism in the 1970s. Before the civil war, this area was home to about 270 Grauer’s, a population that was halved by the slaughter.Mukisi, a captive Grauer’s gorilla at the Chester Zoo UK, circa 1983. In the last two decades — just one generation — numbers of Grauer’s gorillas have plummeted by 77 percent. Photographer unknown, courtesy of Chester Zoo archiveAreas of the park that are now relatively stable have been secured through dedicated, cooperative efforts between the Congolese government; the country’s parks authority (ICCN); Fauna & Flora International, WCS and other nonprofits; park guards (working beside the military); along with local communities. Kahuzi-Biega has seen some level of protection since 2003, says Nixon. Today the population of G. b. graueri in one part of the park is back up to about 200 individuals.There is also hope for gorillas in remote regions such as Usala forest, at the heart of the eastern Congo’s 30,000 square kilometer (11,600 square mile) Maiko-Tayna region. Nixon’s team investigated anecdotal reports from Schaller and confirmed the Grauer’s presence in 2007. Since the area is very far from roads or settlements, there is a chance the great apes could survive here over the long term.“Despite all the pressure, this proves that with focus and targeted resources, these successes are possible,” Nixon says.The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has run a field station in the isolated heart of Grauer’s territory since 2012, in unprotected forest that lies between reserves. The facility’s Congolese staff patrols and collects gorilla data, and works closely with eight families who own vast tracts of land. Together, they are conserving gorillas and other wildlife. The families are poor villagers, not rich property owners, but they have chosen to control and reduce human activities on their land. As a result, wildlife is slowly increasing. “In just a few years, protection has had a detectable impact,” reports Caillaud.About 25 percent of Grauer’s gorilla habitat first mapped by George Schaller had been razed by 2008. But today, even though some populations are isolated, there is still plenty of rainforest left. Though conservationists note that with growing human population, that won’t be the case forever.So efforts are underway to protect key forest areas, with 2016 bringing a big success on that front. A new multiple-use protected area was created that benefits both wildlife and people — the Itombwe Natural Reserve, which stretches from lowlands to mountains and is one of the most biodiverse in Africa.Staff from GRACE and Gorilla Doctors, plus advisors from Disney’s Animal Kingdom transfer an anesthetized gorilla orphan to GRACE. Photo courtesy of GRACEPlant leaves and stems constitute the main food of Grauer’s gorillas. Hunting by humans for bushmeat is their gravest threat. Photo by Damien Caillaud/Dian Fossey Gorilla FundAn orphan gorilla at the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center. When hunters kill a mother gorilla, they often grab her infant, too, hoping to sell it to illegal wildlife traffickers. Few of the animals survive the trade. Photo courtesy of GRACEConsumer choices can help save gorillasFew people realize when they buy electronics that the supply chain for those items can stretch deep into African rainforests. Parts for these products may come from mines that are run by ruthless militias and can contain “blood coltan.”The insatiable international hunger for Playstations, laptops and cell phones — if not adequately regulated — contributes to insecurity, threatens the safety of local people and is killing gorillas and other animals. If the Trump administration’s presidential memorandum again allows US companies to buy conflict minerals freely, without public disclosure, the gorillas — and many communities — will face even greater danger as mines expand.“I’d hope this makes people think about the supply chain for this equipment,” says Williamson, commenting on the real cost of conflict minerals. It comes down to consumer choices: if people care about African communities and great apes, “they should pressure the manufacturers and find out if they’re getting materials from credible, legitimate sources, which is difficult in DRC.” Even when mining operations are legal, supply chains may rely on militia that act as middlemen, she warns.Conservationists note that consumers can help by upgrading electronics less frequently.The stakes are high: Few Grauer’s gorillas exist in captivity, Kahlenberg concludes. And if this great ape becomes extinct in the wild, it will be effectively lost forever. Article published by Glenn Schererlast_img read more

How acoustic monitoring gave us a last chance to save the vaquita

first_imgMonitoring the vaquita’s vocalizations has allowed scientists to closely and accurately monitor the species’ unfortunate decline.Illegal fishing for totoaba is the biggest threat to the vaquita. They are killed as bycatch, drowning in nets meant for the fish.Conservationists say the next step is to capture vaquitas for captivity, a highly controversial plan with major risks. Thanks to a five-year acoustic monitoring program, conservationists have detected the rapid decline of the vaquita before it is too late – giving them one last shot to save the species. By monitoring the vaquita’s clicking vocalizations, a new paper in Conservation Biology announced that the population of the vaquita has dropped to fewer than 30 animals. Until recently the exact population size was unknown, hindering conservation efforts and further risking the species’ survival.The size of a large dog, the vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is the world’s most endangered porpoise. Unlike most cetaceans, its range is restricted to a small northern portion of the Gulf of California. Only discovered in 1958, the vaquita was already considered Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List by 1986. Today it is Critically Endangered.Beginning in 2011, the Acoustic Monitoring Program is an international collaborative effort between scientists from NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center and Mexico’s National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change. Since the project commenced, scientists estimate the total vaquita population has declined a staggering 90 percent, taking the global population down from an already troublingly low 200 individuals to less than 30.While researchers knew the vaquita was critically endangered, they were not expecting to document anything like this.“The [Acoustic Monitoring Program] was designed to detect the anticipated recovery of vaquitas. Instead we documented the consequence of the rise of the illegal [totoaba] fishery,” Dr. Barbara Taylor, lead author of the study, said.An acoustic monitoring program has revealed that there are fewer than 30 vaquitas left in the wild. Photo by Paula Olson, NOAA.The totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi) is a fish roughly the size of a vaquita that is prized for its swim bladder in China. The illegal trade is so lucrative that a single swim bladder can fetch up to $5,000 on the black market. Unfortunately, the gillnets used to capture these fish are the perfect size to ensnare and kill vaquitas, and the secretive nature of the enterprise has made it impossible to measure the extent to which vaquitas are caught as bycatch.While the Mexican government declared a fishing ban inside the Gulf of California’s Vaquita Refuge in 2008, the illegal toataba fishery has only continued to expand.Until the results of the monitoring program were released, scientists were unsure about the impact of this secretive illegal fishery within the refuge.“[I had thought that] our ability to monitor vaquitas was so poor that they were likely to go extinct before we could prove they were declining,” said Taylor. “Fortunately, acoustic methods changed all that.”Unlike visual surveys or estimating population decline from bycatch, passive acoustic monitoring does not require scientists to see the notoriously shy vaquita to know they are there. Instead, the researchers, led by Dr. Jaramillo-Legoretta, deployed 48 acoustic detectors in the Vaquita Refuge over a five-year period. These detectors pick up the vaquitas’ echolocation clicks, allowing researchers to develop a population estimate based on the total number of clicks per 24-hour period. In order to ensure that seasonal or tidal variations did not compromise the data, researchers deployed detectors 24 hours a day during the same three-month period each year.Preliminary results released in 2014 led to a two-year gillnet ban throughout the vaquita’s entire range. Updated results released in 2016 led to the launch of an emergency action plan called VaquitaCPR just last month. According the plan, researchers will locate and capture a number of vaquitas using Navy trained dolphins under the leadership of Mexico’s Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT).This solution of holding vaquitas in temporary captivity for safekeeping is not without controversy. Vaquitas have never been successfully kept in captivity before, let alone successfully bred. And cetaceans are notoriously difficult to keep alive in captivity. Some scientists argue that this plan could wind up killing the very vaquitas it sets out to protect. However, conservationists are running out of options.“Given the rapid and continuing decline, saving at least some vaquitas is a wise conservation course recommended by the recovery team,” said Taylor. She stressed that it is a temporary fix. Long-term actions that protect vaquitas in their natural environment, including a permanent gillnet ban and development of alternative fishing gear, will still take top priority.The vaquita Acoustic Monitoring Program proves that continuously monitoring endangered species is critically important. Without such measures, scientists might not notice unexpected or unseen threats until it is too late to save the species. In the case of the vaquita, there is still a very real risk of extinction – but without acoustic monitoring, that risk could have been an inevitability.Citation:Jaramillo‐Legorreta, A., Cardenas‐Hinojosa, G., Nieto‐Garcia, E., Rojas‐Bracho, L., Ver Hoef, J., Moore, J., Tregenze, N., Barlow, J., Gerrodette, T., Thomas, L., & Taylor, B. (2016). Passive acoustic monitoring of the decline of Mexico’s critically endangered vaquita. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12789 Animals, Biodiversity, Cetaceans, Conservation, Endangered Species, Extinction, Fisheries, Illegal Trade, Interns, Oceans, Technology, Vaquita, Wildlife, Wildtech Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Article published by Maria Salazarlast_img read more

The Spirit of the Steppes: Saving Central Asia’s saiga

first_imgAnimals, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Bushmeat, Climate Change, Climate Change And Biodiversity, Climate Change And Conservation, Climate Change And Extreme Weather, Conservation, Diseases, Drought, Ecological Restoration, Ecology, Ecosystems, Endangered Species, Environment, Extinction, Featured, Forgotten Species, Global Warming, Habitat, Habitat Degradation, Habitat Destruction, Habitat Loss, Hunting, Mammals, Mass Extinction, Over-hunting, Overconsumption, Overpopulation, Restoration, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking The Critically Endangered saiga (Saiga tatarica) once numbered in the millions. This large antelope was perhaps best known for making one of the last of the world’s remaining great mammal migrations — a trek sweeping twice per year across the steppes of Central Asia.Saiga populations declined more than 95 percent by 2004, according to the IUCN. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan banned hunting in the 1990s, but the horns of male saiga are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine, and illegal trafficking is a major threat; if not curtailed the trade could doom the species.In the 21st century, international NGOs and regional organizations such as the Saiga Conservation Alliance (SCA) and Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK) formed partnerships with Central Asian nations to better conserve the species. And their work was paying off, until 2015.That’s when disease killed over 200,000 adult saiga of the Betpak Dala population in Central Kazakhstan. At the end of 2016, the Mongolian herd was hit hard by a new viral infection, with 4,000 saiga carcasses buried so far. But the saiga is reproductively resilient, and could be saved, if the species receives sufficient attention, say conservationists. The Critically Endangered saiga is targeted by traffickers for its horns and hunted for its meat. This steppe antelope also faces threats from disease, habitat degradation, and climate change which is causing seasonal water sources to dry up earlier, forcing the species to shift northward. Photo by Andrey Gilev, Karina Karenina, courtesy of the Saiga Resource CentreThe beauty of the saiga belies first impressions. It may be hard to look beyond the big nose — a bulbous schnozz that looks like a chunk of an elephant’s trunk. And those spindly legs could make anyone wonder how this sturdy antelope can run so fast and far.Yet, this awkward looking beast is beautiful in its own right; perfectly designed for its life on the arid, windswept steppes of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia and the far reaches of southern Russia.In that harsh unforgiving climate, the saiga’s prodigious nose can filter out clouds of fine dry dust rising in summer, or it can warm sub-zero air to keep from freezing the lungs during winter. And those legs, built for speed and endurance, are the best defense in a landscape largely devoid of cover and requiring long annual treks for survival.Unfortunately for the Critically Endangered saiga, the species can’t outrun the rapidly and drastically changing Asian ecology or national economies now threatening its survival. Although the saiga’s prehistoric past is preserved in ancient cave paintings, conservationists worry that the future of this “spirit of the steppe” may be imperiled.Saving the saiga will also conserve the steppes. As the saiga graze and follow their seasonal routes, they help maintain healthy forage that supports other endangered wildlife such as the Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius), one of the most threatened birds on the Eurasian steppes, with breeding grounds in Kazakhstan. Good grazing also benefits the local communities that have herdstock. Photo by Valeri Maleev from the Russian, pre-caspian population. Courtesy of the Saiga Resource CentreResilient traveler of the arid plainAside from its extraordinary looks, the saiga (Saiga tatarica) is known for making one of the last of the world’s remaining great mammal migrations. Each spring and autumn, the antelope scattered across the vast steppe, merge into one massive cinnamon-hued herd, surging across a landscape the species has inhabited since the ice age.Once counted in the millions, saiga populations declined more than 95 percent by 2004, prompting a Critically Endangered species listing by the IUCN. One of the biggest threats: the critically endangered antelope is targeted by poachers for its horns and hunted for its meat. The saiga is also challenged by extreme drought — increasingly common as climate change escalates — and by competition for grasslands from domestic grazing stock, along with land use shifts favoring fossil fuel production.Already in jeopardy, an unexpected blow to the saiga came in 2015 when a sudden sickness killed nearly two-thirds of the world’s population in a single month, with numbers plummeting to a mere 31,300 saiga in Kazakhstan and about 100,000 worldwide.The species was just beginning to recover — with its population topping 100,000 adult animals dispersed in four nations as of June 2016 — when, in December 2016, disease struck again. This time, a virus that typically infects domestic goats and sheep, called peste des petits ruminants, began taking saiga lives in Mongolian herds. Winter snows and remote habitat may currently conceal the full impact of this new epidemic, saidEnkhtuvshin Shiilegdamba, a wildlife veterinarian in Mongolia with the Wildlife Conservation Society, in a February 2017 New York Times article.“The saiga are built for catastrophe and bounce back,” notes E.J. Milner-Gulland, a zoologist the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, who has been fascinated by these large herbivores since she first travelled to Russia as a doctoral student.A 2-day old saiga. Photo by Kate Surzhok, courtesy of the Saiga Resource Centre.One way in which the steppe antelope has adapted to the extreme climate in which it lives is to evolve as one of the most fecund ungulates on the planet, says Milner-Gulland. Females can live and reproduce for about 12 years, giving birth by their first year, and routinely twinning from the second year onward.That reproductive evolutionary strategy doesn’t make existence on the steppe any less precarious for individual animals, though. When the saiga gather in huge herds, their sheer numbers can help deter predators ranging from golden eagles, to grey wolves and red foxes. But calving among so many big grazing animals, crammed together, has its own risks, which are compounded by highly erratic weather — with the herd buffeted by high winds one minute, then pelted by hailstones the next. All this can cause saiga stress levels to spike, says Milner-Gulland.So, life for the steppe antelope remains a harsh dance, in which great susceptibility to rapidly shifting conditions is balanced by the species’ high reproductive resilience. If not harmed by humans, saiga populations will naturally rise — and crash — then rebound.Conserving the herdsOne of the most at-risk saiga populations lives on the Ustyurt Plateau, a desert known for its extreme daily temperature shifts and scant rainfall, located between Central Asia’s Caspian and Aral Seas.This vast area covers roughly 200,000 square kilometers (about 77,000 square miles) and is shared by the countries of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Most saiga there migrate seasonally back and forth across national borders, spending summer in Kazakhstan, then heading south to Uzbekistan when winter snows cover forage in the north.Saiga distribution in Central Asia, excluding the Mongolian herds. Map courtesy of Steffen ZutherOnly about 2,000 animals remain in this trans-boundary herd today, down from 200,000 less then two decades ago. These huge declines occurred despite many years of conservation action by the governments of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, added to by an array of NGO partners.Uzbekistan has banned the hunting of saiga since 1991, and established the one-million hectare (3,861 square mile) Saigachy Reserve, in part, to protect Saiga breeding grounds. Kazakhstan banned hunting by 1998.But it wasn’t enough. The Ustyurt population kept decreasing, even as conservation for the other populations began to gain momentum, in particular for the Betpak-Dala herd.Enter the SCA and ADCIIn 2006, a coalition of Asian governments, along with NGOs such as the Saiga Conservation Alliance (SCA), signed the Convention on Migratory Species’ Memorandum of Understanding to protect saiga.The resilience of the species is rooted in their reproductive capability, says Milner-Gulland. Photo by Andrey Gilev, Karina Karenina, courtesy of the Saiga Resource CentreBy 2010, all five saiga range states (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, and the Russian Federation) were taking steps to fulfill a conservation action plan. That same year, the Saiga Conservation Alliance became a formal non-profit organization, rather than a loose network of groups. SCA’s goal was to link up conservationists, researchers, NGOs and governments in all the range states, including Mongolia, and in saiga consumer states in China.“We try to bring everyone together,” says SCA chair Milner-Gulland, who first learned about saiga during her graduate studies on the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade. In Traditional Chinese Medicines saiga horn has long been used in similar ways to rhino horn, especially when the antelope were more plentiful.Since 2005, the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative (ADCI) has worked to conserve the Betpak-Dala saiga population. The ADCI partnership includes the Kazakh Committee of Forestry and Wildlife, the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK), Fauna & Flora International, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. While the ADCI didn’t single out the saiga for conservation, participants understood that anything that helped the antelope would also likely improve the steppe ecology for other plants and animals.2011 Whitley award winner Elena Bykova, with her students in Uzbekistan. Community outreach is an important part of saiga conservation. Photo by Alexander Esipov, courtesy of the Saiga Resource CentreSeveral years later, the SCA joined other NGOs and local partners to launch a long-term project to better define the boundaries of the Saigachy Reserve, while also improving wildlife corridors for saiga travel between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Within eight years, in 2015, the Saigachy Reserve was re-designated, becoming the largest protected area in Uzbekistan, covering 7,000 square kilometers (2,700 square miles), and providing safer passage to calving and mating places.Another landscape-scale effort, the Ustyurt Landscape Conservation Initiative, was funded by USAID from 2009 to 2014. Projects conducted in partnership with ACBK and Fauna & Flora International include gaining a better understanding of the region’s biodiversity; establishing school eco-clubs for young people; and boosting wildlife law enforcement. Anti-trafficking efforts were ramped up with the addition of four “sniffer dogs” that worked the Kazakhstan border to help detect illegal saiga horn trafficking. In 2007, Saiga Day was established in Uzbekistan and then became an international festival, promoting conservation in communities across the saiga’s entire range.Sudden die-off, sudden setbackJust when it looked as though all these conservation efforts were starting to pay off, the die-off hit. It was May 2015 and the peak of calving season. In less than a month, the grasslands were dotted with more than 200,000 dead adult saiga. The Betpak-Dala herd of central Kazakhstan was almost wiped out. The count of the dead steppe antelope would eventually top more than 200,000 animals.E.J. Milner-Gulland, chair of the Saiga Conservation Alliance, holding a saiga calf. With a passion for all things Russian, her graduate studies on the illegal trade in rhino horn gave her an opportunity to work with saiga. In traditional Chinese medicine saiga horn is often used alongside rhino horn. Courtesy of the Saiga Resource Centre“It was a tragedy,” recalls Milner-Gulland. “It had just got to the point when colleagues doing the aerial surveys were saying: ‘This really looks like the way it was before all the poaching.’”It wasn’t the first big die-off the ungulates suffered, however. Mass mortality events were recorded in the same population in 1981 and 1988, and die-offs occurred in other herds too. Yet the saiga have always come back.Although bacteria caused the 2015 die-off, researchers are still sorting out why the antelopes were so susceptible. The infection, caused by Pasteurella, is considered to be opportunistic — something else must have first weakened the saigas’ immune systems in order to allow this run-of-the-mill bacteria to suddenly become a virulent killer.“With so few antelope left, we need to understand exactly what happened,” says ADCI international coordinator Steffen Zuther at ACBK. “We also need to focus on guaranteeing viable population sizes that could cope with [future] big catastrophes.”The concerns are slightly different — but no less dire — for the Mongolian herds, a unique subspecies (Saiga tatarica mongolica), that is succumbing to a virus spread from infected domestic sheep and goats. The outbreak of “goat plague” was previously recorded in areas where the saiga were later stricken, according to reports from the World Wildlife Fund in Mongolia. Although vaccines against the virus have been deployed for domestic herds, most recent reports say that 4,000 saiga carcasses have been buried so far. Worse, experts have found that other wild hoofstock are also infected, including ibex and Goitered gazelles.Saiga horn traffickingIf those viable populations are ever to be nurtured back into existence and permanently maintained, the very serious challenges presented by rampant poaching must be met.Male saiga possess ridged horns that fetch up to US $3,000 per kilogram and which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. It takes about three dead saiga to make a kilogram of the powdered horn.Poachers who kill males for their horns do the species a double disservice: they skew the population ratios so that there are too few males to attract a harem of females, and often the surviving males are younger animals who are sometimes not experienced enough, or mature enough, to breed effectively.Poaching is the biggest obstacle to saiga population recovery. The demand for saiga horn is worldwide, notes Elena Bykova, a mammalogist and the Saiga Conservation Alliance executive secretary. It’s not only the Chinese market that drives the demand, it’s also Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Photo by Eva Klebelsberg/Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan, courtesy of the Saiga Resource CentreThe Kazakh government supports ranger services, notes ACBK’s Zuther. But, as with poaching hotspots in Africa, the high prices available for saiga horn attract organized crime, which is difficult to fight.Also, the country is huge — close to three million square kilometers (1,052,085 square miles), roughly the size of Western Europe. Much saiga territory is rugged and nearly impossible to patrol, so the species cannot practically be protected across its entire range — or at least not at any reasonable price.Zuther also sees a bigger problem: “Saiga horn is never discussed at big international forums about wildlife crime,” he explains. “Everybody talks about rhinos and elephants. That’s important, but there’s something beyond that: saiga. They need to be part of the conversation.”Big oil, big problemsWhile poaching is rooted in poor economies, saiga also paradoxically suffer due to Kazakhstan’s oil boom. Already the biggest former Soviet oil producer after Russia, last summer the Kazakh government made a $36.8 billion dollar deal with investors to boost production at the country’s Tengiz field on the northeast edge of the Caspian Sea.Those plans have resulted in a building boom in gas pipelines, railroads and roads, all of which hinder herd movement. The saiga can run up to 80 kilometers per hour, but they cannot leap across pipeline construction or safely navigate the railways and roads of the new transportation infrastructure.Other human obstructions have impeded the saiga. In 2012, barbed wire went up along the Kazakh-Uzbek border, in part to help prevent drug smuggling, but the fence also blocked much of the saiga migration route. Animals stalled at the fence became easy targets for poachers. The efforts of conservation organizations has since resulted in the government beginning to modify fence sections so the saiga can get through.Fossil fuel production presents still another major long-term challenge for the saiga: climate change. “With higher temperatures, the quality of the grass is affected and the temporary watering holes dry up earlier in the season,” explains Elena Bykova, executive secretary of the Saiga Conservation Alliance and a leader for saiga protection in her native country of Uzbekistan. Slowly, the saiga herds are moving their calving grounds to the north.More than 60 percent of the world’s saiga population died in central Kazakhstan in May 2015, just after the peak of calving season. Mostly female and babies were lost. Although the antelope died from an overwhelming bacterial infection, researchers are still seeking the underlying cause. Photo by Sergei Khomenko, FAO. Courtesy of the Saiga Resource Centre.Climate change may even have triggered the 2015 die-off, suggests Bykova. Higher temperatures and humidity could have created optimal conditions for growth of the Pasteurella bacteria, overwhelming the saiga at a time when the herds were already stressed from calving. Another possibility: the world’s insidious global warming trend could have weakened the species’ vaunted reproductive resilience.Another unexpected threat has come due to the shrinking of the Aral Sea. This vast inland water body, located in the pre-Caspian lowlands of Eurasia, started fading away in the mid-20th century — mostly due to the siphoning off of Aral Sea freshwater feeder streams to irrigate Uzbekistan’s massive cotton crop.Over time, the inland sea receded, leaving behind a desert that degrades saiga habitat, explains Bykova. The sea’s loss has helped raise land and air temperatures, adding dust and air pollution. Also, fishermen who lived near the now vanished sea, are without livelihood, and so look to saiga poaching as a new means of income.“There needs to be a way that saiga can be helped to adapt to climate change,” says Milner-Gulland. “All they need is space, really. They can’t be boxed in. That’s what makes them such wonderful creatures.”The saiga are an important cultural icon and flagship species of the steppes. “Once you see them, you would love them and do everything possible to save the species,” says Steffen Zuther, international coordinator for the ADCI. He first encountered the steppe antelope when he moved to Kazakhstan 10 years ago. Photo by Pavel Sorokin, courtesy of the Saiga Resource CentreThe long viewIf there’s a silver lining to the die-offs, the tragic disease outbreaks may have shocked the world into recognizing the precarious condition of these awkward looking antelope of the steppes.“They are this amazing adaptive species that have survived [past] terrible climate catastrophes, so now it is the responsibility of the people who have impacted the saiga to help them,” says Bykova. She was a 2011 Whitley Award winner, honored for her rallying of diverse communities (women’s groups, schools, government officials, and even ex-hunters) to saiga conservation.Looking ahead, Bykova enumerates the next key steps for saiga conservation: she points to the importance of sharing scientific data as well as best conservation practices between nations, and of building stronger partnerships between NGOs, governments and the industries that impact saiga habitat.Above all, she says, the trafficking of saiga horn must be stopped.Can the saiga recover? The new viral epidemic may take a huge toll on the Mongolian population, which hovered around 10,000 animals before the outbreak. However, one year after the mass die-off of 2015, calving appears to be normal again, reports Milner-Gulland. “I don’t think we should give up on them,” she says. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Article published by Glenn Schererlast_img read more

SpongeBob SquarePants and the ‘last frontier’ of the Philippines

first_imgArticle published by Isabel Esterman Activism, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Hotspots, Coral Reefs, Ecotourism, Environment, Islands, Marine Animals, Marine Conservation, Oceans, Tourism, Wildlife The 100-hectare resort, announced last month, is to be part of the Coral World Park, which bills itself as the ‘largest Marine Reserve and Coral Reef Conservation program in Asia.’Local environment activists say they have never heard of Coral World Park, or of conservation programs funded by its parent organization, the Dr. AB Moñozca Foundation.Palawan, a globally significant biodiversity hotspot, is already grappling with the social and environmental impacts of a rapidly growing tourism industry. Palawan, a slender archipelagic province whose furthest reaches lie more than 500 miles southwest of Manila, is famed as the “last frontier” of the Philippines. A hotspot of endemism and biodiversity in an extraordinarily biologically rich country, Palawan hosts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites and some of the Philippines’ last primary forests.Palawan and its outlying islands are also famed for their extraordinary beauty. Turquoise and emerald water laps against white, palm-fringed beaches, while dramatic limestone cliffs and craggy foothills cascade up to a lush and rugged interior. In recent years, these natural bounties have won Palawan accolades as the world’s “best” or “most beautiful” island from the likes of Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler magazines.Given Palawan’s ecological significance and its growing global fame, it should perhaps come as little surprise that the January announcement of plans to build a “Nickelodeon undersea attraction and resort” on Palawan’s Coron Island was met with both shock and outrage.Viacom, Nickelodeon’s parent company, announced it would be collaborating with Coral World Park Undersea Resorts Inc., “Asia’s first underwater resort developer,”  to build a 100-hectare (247-acre) undersea attraction and resort. Slated to open in 2020, the resort “will be inspired by some of Nickelodeon’s most iconic properties like SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Dora the Explorer,” the company said.The resort, it added, would advocate for ocean protection, while also featuring underwater restaurants and lounges and visits to a cluster of white-sand islands “[five] to 20 minutes apart by speedboat.”Within days, an online petition against the project gathered more than 200,000 signatures.  “For a channel that targets children, Nickelodeon is setting a terrible example to the younger generation by taking away their right to enjoy our natural resources. We don’t need an underwater theme park — our underwater life is fascinating, entertaining, and educational on its own,” the petition read.Limestone rock formations in Busuanga Island, Palawan, the Philippines. Photo by Matt Kieffer/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0Who is behind the project?For activists in Palawan and elsewhere in the Philippines — including petition-launcher Anna Oposa, co-founder of the NGO Save Philippine Seas — the Jan. 9 press release from Viacom was the first they heard of the project.Even officials said they were caught by surprise. Environment minister Gina Lopez told reporters she only heard about the project through the media. “I never officially got anything,” she said in a television interview. Meanwhile, in the days following the announcement, Palawan’s governor, and the mayor and tourism officer of Coron denied having been contacted by the developers.In the face of growing public outcry, the resort’s local developer Coral World Park (CWP) stepped in to clarify some of the details, and filed an official letter of intent on January 25.CWP also clarified that, contrary to activists’ worst fears, the underwater structures would not be built directly on coral reefs. Instead, CWP Marketing Director Susan Lee said the restaurants and lounges would be floating, “just like a glass bottom boat.” Nor would the park feature roller-coasters: it would be an underwater-themed park, not a theme park.A healthy reef with full of hard and colorful coral in Coron, Palawan. Photo by Steve De Neef/Greenpeace.However, the developers left numerous key questions unanswered. A master-plan for the Coral World Park – the larger, 400-hectare (988-acre) development in which the Nickelodeon resort will be situated – has not been released. On Jan. 27, Lee told Mongabay the master-plan would be published in “another two months.” The other companies involved in the project will be revealed “at the right time,” she said, adding that, for now, details about CWP’s collaboration with Viacom cannot be released due to “the confidentiality of the agreement.”Questions also remain about the Dr. AB Moñozca Foundation, which, according to promotional materials, founded CWP “to address the conservation of coral reefs and its marine life.” The foundation bills itself as “a European … based foundation and trust entity which supports various philanthropic initiatives.” Its Coral World Park initiative is described as “the largest Marine Reserve and Coral Reef Conservation program in Asia.”The foundation’s website provides little additional information about its marine-related philanthropy, nor are there media accounts detailing the foundation’s conservation programs. The Moñozca Foundation’s known projects include a proposed American Basketball Association-themed park and resort,  and an ill-fated trip to America by Filipino race-car drivers that eventually became known as “NASCAM.”A school of juvenile bigeye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus ) swims in the shallows of Dimakya Island, Palawan, Philippines. Photo by Steve De Neef/Greenpeace.“They claim to be the largest coral conservation organization in Asia, but no local organizations have heard of them,” said Oposa of Save Philippine Seas.The Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI), a coalition of 22 organizations working in the province, is also not familiar with the Moñozca Foundation’s conservation work. “Our network (PNNI) sits in the [Palawan Council for Sustainable Development], the highest policy-making and regulatory body for environment issues, and we have not heard of this project nor these conservationist,” PNNI head Bobby Chan said in an email.“With due respect to their claim, they have no known track record on marine conservation,” said Grizelda Mayo-Anda, the Palawan-based executive director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center. “For the last decade, we haven’t heard about them, so what marine conservation project are they talking about?”According to CWP’s Susan Lee, the company is “bound by confidentiality,” not to provide details about the Moñozca Foundation’s conservation programs in the Philippines or elsewhere. When asked about partner organizations or consulting scientists, Lee said they “will be announced soon.” On Feb. 21, Lee notified Mongabay that “our executives are overseas collaborating with a Florida based lab on Coral Reef Conservation initiatives,” but did not provide further details.Lee also stated that the foundation has acquired 16 islands under a “‘no development – coral reef conservation only’ program,” and has committed to supporting 18 marine park sites in Coron.  She provided a list of 10 existing Marine Protected Areas in Coron, (image) saying CWP is supporting them in coordination with the local government, but did not provide additional documentation.“I hope Nickelodeon and Viacom do due diligence,” Oposa said.When contacted about the project, Viacom’s press office referred queries to CWP.The entrance to the Puerto Princesa Underground River. The first 2.7 miles of the subterranean river are navigable by boat. Photo by Mike Gonzalez/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0Islands in transitionIn defense of the project, Lee notes that Coron Island, the proposed location for the resort, is situated firmly on the beaten path. “Contrary to some media reports, our area is already buzzing with tourism and not in pristine islands,” she said.Although this argument may somewhat undermine the CWP’s sales pitch — it promises a chance to experience “the most private place on earth” — it is no doubt true. The growing fame of Palawan and its outlying islands has brought with it an influx of domestic and international tourists. Visitor arrivals to the province skyrocketed from 14,249 in 1992 to more than 1 million in 2013. When the finally tally is in for 2016, visitor numbers are expected to reach 2.3 million.“The emergence of Palawan as a regional and global ecotourism destination has been a long time in the works,” said the University of Melbourne’s Wolfram Dressler, an expert on the politics of conservation and development. “Now, however, it’s just taken off and been catalyzed by a range of high-profile events.”Dressler pointed, in particular, to the increasing prominence of the Puerto Princesa Underground River, a five-mile-long stretch of the Cabayugan River that runs underground through a limestone cave. The river, and the park around it, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. In 2012, the park was also designated one of the “New7Wonders of Nature.”A young boy and his grandmother sit in their house in Relocation Golden Valley in Barangay Pagkakaisa outside of Puerto Princesa, Palawan in the Philippines. Despite the booming tourist economy, roughly 20 percent Palawan’s families live in poverty, according to government figures. Photo by Sanjit Das/Greenpeace.Initially, Dressler said, efforts to promote such sites were connected to conservation initiatives. When it became clear to local businesses and officials how quickly investment flowed into the sector, motivations shifted. “Nature was no longer drawing money for conservation purposes, but was being exploited for mass tourism development,” he said.This shift coincided with broader changes Philippine society throughout the 1990s. “The middle class in the Philippines, particularly in certain sections of urban areas, was also expanding,” he said. “With certain sections having more disposable income, and becoming increasingly aware that they could spend this on different experiences in nature, they, of course, were increasingly enticed to go to more exotic locales and spend their money there. And of course Palawan Island was one of the main hotspots.”As domestic tourism mushroomed, word trickled out regionally and eventually globally. Palawan, Dressler said, managed to tap into a modern, urban desire to experience nature as simultaneously exotic, pristine and easily accessed.This tourism explosion has brought enormous wealth to some sectors of Palawan – particularly people who already had access to land or capital that could be used to launch tourism projects — while others have been left behind.“Resort developers would apply for legal instruments covering forest land, while poor communities would not be able to compete,” said Mayo-Anda. This, she said, has created “competition, conflict between local communities and tourism proponents.” Although both Dressler and Mayo-Anda point to successful examples small, community-based eco-tourism projects, such efforts are overwhelmed by the surge of mass tourism and the projects that have sprung up to cater to it. “The usual players are the ones who are dominating the scene,” Mayo-Anda said.Dugong, pictured here in the Red Sea, are one of the many species whose habitats are threatened by the rapid development of coastal tourism in Palawan. Photo by Julien Willem/Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0Inevitably, the growth in tourism has brought with it a host of environmental problems. “The resorts are being built along the coast, so there will be impact on mangroves,” said Mayo-Anda. Palawan also faces a growing waste-management problem. “More people, more tourists, more waste,” she said.These problems are already threatening some of Palawan’s most celebrated species. “Most coastal areas and small islands are turtle nesting sites and dugong sea grasses areas. These are also the nesting sites of our Tabon bird, whose egg is bigger than the bird,” said Bobby Chan of PNNI.Even if CWP is sincerely committed to conserving Palawan’s marine environment, environmental advocates are skeptical about the utility of a large-scale coastal development project aimed at protecting the ocean. “You can commune with the wildlife just by going swimming,” says Mayo-Anda. “You don’t have to build a hotel room. It’s really out of place in a unique, rustic and biodiversity rich province and country. It doesn’t make sense.”FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

More than 25,000 elephants were killed in a Gabon national park in one decade

first_imgArticle published by Mike Gaworecki Animals, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Elephants, Environment, Forest Elephants, Illegal Trade, Ivory, Ivory Trade, Mammals, Poaching, Protected Areas, Research, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img A decline of somewhere between 78 and 81 percent in the park’s forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) population over the span of just one decade was largely driven by poachers who crossed the border into Gabon from its neighbor to the north, Cameroon, according to a new study led by researchers with Duke University and published in the journal Current Biology this week.The fact that Cameroon’s national road is so close to the park makes it relatively easy for poachers to slip into the park, make their illegal kills, and then transport elephant tusks back to Cameroon’s largest city, Douala, which has become a major hub of the international ivory trade.Nearly half of Central Africa’s estimated 100,000 forest elephants are thought to live in Gabon, making the loss of 25,000 elephants from a key sanctuary a considerable setback for the preservation of the species, according to John Poulsen, assistant professor of tropical ecology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and the lead author of the study. New research suggests that more than 25,000 forest elephants were killed for their ivory in Gabon’s Minkébé National Park, one of the largest and most important wildlife preserves in Central Africa, between 2004 and 2014.That’s a decline of somewhere between 78 and 81 percent in the park’s forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) population over the span of just one decade, and it was largely driven by poachers who crossed the border into Gabon from its neighbor to the north, Cameroon, according to a new study led by researchers with Duke University and published in the journal Current Biology this week.“With nearly half of Central Africa’s estimated 100,000 forest elephants thought to live in Gabon, the loss of 25,000 elephants from this key sanctuary is a considerable setback for the preservation of the species,” John Poulsen, assistant professor of tropical ecology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and the lead author of the study, said in a statement.This is a small group of forest elephants in Gabon’s Minkébé National Park. Poaching for the illegal ivory trade has reduced their numbers by 80 percent, according to a new study. Photo Credit: John Poulsen, Duke University.Thanks to booming consumer demand, particularly in Asia, wildlife trafficking operations are so militarized today that poachers are frequently armed with enough weaponry and other equipment to outgun local park rangers. The most dangerous poachers in Africa are often employed by professional wildlife trafficking rings and have access to resources well beyond what was available to poachers during earlier crises, from financial support to military-grade equipment such as armored vehicles, helicopters, and machine guns.Poulsen and his colleagues arrived at their estimate of forest elephant population losses in Minkébé National Park by comparing the results of two large-scale elephant dung surveys. The researchers identified two distinct “fronts” of poaching pressure after analyzing the surveys’ data on abundance and distribution of elephant dung in the park.“Elephant numbers in the south of the park, which is 58 kilometers from the nearest major Gabonese road, have been somewhat reduced,” Poulsen said. “By comparison, the central and northern parts of the park — which, at one point, are just 6.1 kilometers from Cameroon’s national road — have been emptied.”The fact that Cameroon’s national road is so close to the park makes it relatively easy for poachers to slip into the park, make their illegal kills, and then transport elephant tusks back to Cameroon’s largest city, Douala, which has become a major hub of the international ivory trade.This is a lone forest elephant in Gabon’s Minkébé National Park. From 2004 to 2014, an estimated 25,000 elephants in the park were killed for the illegal ivory trade. Photo Credit: John Poulsen, Duke University.Poached ivory makes its way into the illegal market very quickly. A September 2016 study found that as much as 90 percent of the elephant tusks seized in Africa comes from elephants killed within the past three years, as opposed to the illegal trade being fueled by older ivory leaking into the market, as was previously believed to be the case.Poulsen notes that the Gabonese government has made several major moves intended to rein in poaching in Minkébé National Park, such as elevating forest elephants’ to “fully protected” status, creating a National Park Police force, doubling the national park agency’s budget, and burning all of the ivory it has seized from illegal traders (becoming the first African nation to do so).While these initiatives are commendable and may have helped reduce poaching activities that originate from within Gabon, according to Poulsen, he says that his team’s research demonstrates that the illegal cross-border trafficking of poached ivory has not been curbed and that new approaches to protecting elephants may be called for.“To save Central Africa’s forest elephants, we need to create new multinational protected areas and coordinate international law enforcement to ensure the prosecution of foreign nationals who commit or encourage wildlife crimes in other countries,” Poulsen added.“Studies showing sharp declines in forest elephant populations are nothing new, but a 78 to 81 percent loss in a single decade from one of the largest, most remote protected areas in Central Africa is a startling warning that no place is safe from poaching.”Forest elephant in Gabon. Photo by Rhett Butler.CITATIONSCerling, T.E., et al. (2016). Radiocarbon dating of seized ivory confirms rapid decline in African elephant populations and provides insight into illegal trade. PNAS. doi:1073/pnas.1614938113Poulsen, J.R., Koerner, S.E., Moore, S., et. al. (2017). Poaching empties critical Central African wilderness of forest elephants. Current Biology 27(4). doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.01.023FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

Environmental lawyer killed in the Philippines

first_imgArticle published by Isabel Esterman Mia Mascariñas-Green, a lawyer with the NGO Environmental Legal Assistance Center who also handled civil and criminal cases, was ambushed in broad daylight.Police believe her death was connected to her work on a property-dispute case in the resort island of Panglao.The Philippines is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for environment and land defenders; according to tallies by rights groups, more than 100 have been killed since 2002. Environment and human rights advocates in the Philippines gathered Tuesday to honor their colleague Mia Mascariñas-Green, who was shot dead Feb. 15.Mascariñas-Green, a lawyer for the NGO Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) who also worked on civil and criminal cases, was ambushed while driving her three young children in Tagbilaran City, on Bohol Island in the Central Visayas region.“We condemn the unspeakable cruelty and act of sheer cowardice by the murderers and the masterminds who shot Mia more than 20 times in front of her .. daughter and her two-year-old twins and their nanny,” her colleagues at ELAC said in a press statement. “Such ambush in broad daylight by still unidentified assassins riding motorbikes fits the pattern of violence that has become an all too familiar scene that has petrified our nation.”The Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environment activists. At least 100 environment and land defenders were killed between 2002 and 2015, according to data collected by Global Witness. According to local rights groups, 10 Filipino environment activists were killed in the seven months following the inauguration of President Rodrigo Duterte on June 30, 2016.A banner demands justice for Mia Mascarinas-Green. Photo courtesy of LezGrIB New Gen Unlimited, one of the many groups that attended a Feb. 18 mass held on the stretch of road where the 49-year-old environmental lawyer was assassinated. A public memorial service was also held in Manila on Feb. 21.A dangerous professionInvestigators believe Mascariñas-Green’s death was linked to her legal work on a property-dispute case in Panglao, a resort island off Bohol. Police have pointed to the opposing party in that case, Lloyd Lancer Gonzaga, as the alleged mastermind of her murder and raided Gonzaga’s property on Friday. Gonzaga and an alleged accomplice remain at large.Mascariñas-Green’s family and supporters recall her as a devoted advocate for the environment and for women’s and children’s rights. “From a young age, Mia always believed that everyone, young or old, rich or poor had rights and that ultimately the legal system would work for them,” her family said in a statement.According to her family, Mascariñas-Green had received death threats in the past as a result of her work, reflecting the extreme risks facing activists in the Philippines. “She said that getting a death threat was to some extent just part of the job of being a lawyer … But she never backed down from any situation, dutifully doing her work and faithfully following the creed of her profession as a lawyer,” they recalled.Mourners lay flowers for Mascariñas-Green on Feb. 18. According to her family, “thousands of people from all walks of life – the fishers, farmers, tricycle drivers, community workers, public servants, civil society members, religious groups, the young and old, men and women,” paid their respects. Photo courtesy of LezGrIB New Gen Unlimited.The murders of environment and other rights activists in the Philippines occur within a broader climate of impunity. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 7,000 Filipinos have been killed in a brutal anti-drug campaign launched during Duterte’s presidency. As of last month, HRW was not aware of any police officers being prosecuted for extrajudicial executions or other crimes related to the campaign. Under previous administrations, the country was also gained notoriety for un-punished killings of left-wing activists and journalists.Mascariñas-Green’s ELAC colleagues said her death will not deter them from their work: “We honor Atty. Mia’s death with a renewal of our own vows to pursue the passion for the environment that she had left, and more than that, to fight the culture of impunity that has blanketed our society today.” Activism, Endangered Environmentalists, Environment, Environmental Activism, Environmental Heroes, Environmental Law, Land Conflict, Murdered Activists center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Cruise ship wrecks one of Indonesia’s best coral reefs at Raja Ampat

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Coastal Ecosystems, Coral Reefs, Corporate Environmental Transgressors, Ecotourism, Environment, Environmental Crime, Law Enforcement, Marine Protected Areas, National Parks, Oceans, Protected Areas Article published by mongabayauthorcenter_img The ship ran aground on an uncharted shoal off the coast of New Guinea after it was caught in low tide.An official evaluation team is assessing the damage. One investigator told Mongabay the company should pay $1.28 million-$1.92 million in compensation.The company responsible, UK-based tour operator Noble Caledonia, said it deeply regretted the incident and that it was cooperating with authorities. JAKARTA — One of the main coral reefs at Raja Ampat, an Indonesian island chain home to perhaps the world’s richest marine biodiversity, was severely damaged last week when a Bahamian-flagged cruise ship smashed into it at low tide, according to an official report.The 90-meter Caledonian Sky, owned by tour operator Noble Caledonia, ran aground in an uncharted shoal in West Papua province after completing a bird-watching trip on Waigeo Island on Mar. 4.The British-headquartered company described the incident as “unfortunate” and said it was “cooperating fully with the relevant authorities.” Damage to the vessel was minimal and it has already set sail after being questioned by investigators.An official evaluation team found that the ship had been caught in low tide despite being equipped with GPS and radar instruments, according to team member Ricardo Tapilatu, head of the Research Center for Pacific Marine Resources at the University of Papua.“A tugboat from Sorong city was deployed to help refloat the cruise ship, which is something that shouldn’t have happened because it damaged the reef even worse,” Tapilatu said. “They should’ve waited for high tide” to refloat the vessel.The Caledonian Sky after it ran aground at Raja Ampat. Photo courtesy of Stay Raja AmpatThe 4,290-tonne Caledonian Sky, which was carrying 102 passengers and 79 crew on a 16-night journey from Papua New Guinea to the Philippines, damaged approximately 1,600 square meters of coral at a diving site known as Crossover Reef.The incident resulted in the destruction of the ecosystem’s structural habitat and the reduction or loss of diversity of eight coral genera, including acropora, porites, montipora and stylophora.“This is what we found during our investigation into the site,” Tapilatu said. “We are currently finishing the report and will submit our recommendations to the district office next week.”Local homestay operator Stay Raja Ampat posted on Facebook: “How can this happen? Was a 12 year old at the wheel? Anchor damage from ships like these is bad enough, but actually grounding a ship on a reef takes it to a whole new level.”Healthy corals just outside the impact zone, top, compared with those destroyed in the impact, above. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Venables/Marine Megafauna FoundationDue to Raja Ampat’s special biodiversity and its status as one of the world’s most popular dive sites, as well as the fact that the damage occurred in a national park, the evaluation team will recommend the company pay compensation of $800-$1,200 per square meter, for a total of $1.28 million-$1.92 million, according to Tapilatu. The standard rate is $200-$400 per square meter.“If the ship’s owner disagrees with the claim, then typically the government will take it to court,” Tapilatu said. If the company and government can reach an agreement, it will likely take a year or two for the district administration to receive the cash.Tapilatu said the money would be used to revive the reef, a process he estimated could take a decade; to set more mooring buoys across the area to prevent ships from sailing into shallow zones; and to map out sailing tracks.Raja Ampat in 2014. Photo by Ratha Grimes/Flickr“The government has had talks about compensation with the ship company, and I’m optimistic that this won’t go to court. Unfortunately, there will not be any moves for coral revival until we get the money.”Andi Rusandi, director for conservation and marine biodiversity at the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said local conservation and revival efforts were within the local government’s authority, but he said he would follow the situation.In its statement, Noble Caldeonia said it was “firmly committed to protection of the environment, which is why it is imperative that the reasons for it are fully investigated, understood and any lessons learned incorporated in operating procedures.”Banner image: A clownfish in Raja Ampat. Photo by Neil Stead/Flickr*A previous version of this article described the company as British-owned. It is headquartered in the UK.last_img read more

New bill aims to cut protection of 1M hectares of Brazilian rainforest

first_imgState legislators presented the proposal early last month to President Michel Temer’s Chief of Staff, which included changes to five protected areas in the southern state of Amazonas.When presenting the proposal, the legislators argued that the “protected” classification undermines the legal security of rural producers and economic investments that have already been made in the region.Conservation groups worry that, if approved, the bid would put more than a million hectares of rainforest at risk to deforestation.When surveying documents filed with Brazil’s National Department of Mineral Production, WWF reportedly uncovered a link between the proposed bill and applications for prospecting and mining in southern Amazonas. A proposal under review by the Brazilian government aims to shrink four protected areas in the Amazon and eliminate another area entirely, Greenpeace says. If approved, the bid would put more than a million hectares of rainforest at risk to deforestation.“Removing protection from these areas will lead to more deforestation,” Cristiane Mazzetti, a campaigner with Greenpeace Brazil, told Mongabay. “This moves us in the opposite direction of where we need to go now that deforestation rates are once again out of control.”Indeed, 2016 marked the highest rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon since 2008, contrasting the country’s much-heralded efforts to curtail forest loss just a few years back.State legislators presented the proposal early last month to President Michel Temer’s Chief of Staff, which included changes to five protected areas in the southern state of Amazonas. Among them is the complete removal of the Campos de Manicoré Environmental Conservation Area and a 40 percent reduction in the area of four other reserves: Acari National Park, Manicoré Biological Reserve, and Aripuanã and Urupadi National Forests. If ratified on the senate floor, the proposed bill would shrink protected Amazon forest by more than a million hectares – an area well over the size of Delaware.The bid comes less than a year after the five areas were officially gazetted by former president Dilma Rousseff under a program called “Terra Legal,” the non-profit Observatorio do Clima reports. By legalizing use of vacant public land, Terra Legal aims to reduce illegal occupation and land-grabbing – two common drivers of deforestation in Amazonas. Protected areas, also known as “conservation units,” are but one of many classifications under the program, which include urban expansion, settlements, and indigenous lands.An upwards look into the Brazilian rainforests’s canopy. Photo by Rhett A. ButlerBut there’s a flip-side to protection, Amazonas state legislators say. When presenting the proposal, the legislators argued that the “protected” classification undermines the legal security of rural producers and economic investments that have already been made in the region.“The conservation units are hampering the expansion of economic activities, Senator Omar Aziz said, according to a translated press release from the Ministry of the Environment. “And its creation created very serious legal insecurity throughout the southern state.”In a comment on Facebook, Deputy Átila Lins, an official who spearheaded the effort, added that populations are “on the verge of being withdrawn” from the protected areas and indicated that “large investments” have been made in the region. Those investments would be lost, he said.But exactly which “populations” and what “investments” are impacted aren’t clear from the legislators’ rhetoric – or from the 20-page proposal itself.In search of answers that might reveal the underlying motivations to reduce the protected areas, environmental groups did their own research – albeit unconventional.Greenpeace took to the skies. Aboard a small plane cruising over the five protected areas, Greenpeace looked for signs of human occupation and economic activities that might validate the legislators’ claims.“They said that investments were already made in those protected areas, producers would be impacted, and people would have to be removed, so we decided to fly over those areas to see if what the legislators was claiming was true,” Mazzetti said.They saw few signs of occupation. What they saw plenty of was forest – large, intact tracts of jungle, for which the state is famous.“What we saw was a few spots of human activity but the majority of the areas are still preserved,” Mazzetti said. “These lands are far from infrastructure.”Mazzetti argues instead that the proposal is about making these protected lands viable for economic expansion. And that argument is supported by new research by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).”That’s where research by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) comes in.By surveying documents filed with Brazil’s National Department of Mineral Production, WWF reportedly uncovered a link between the proposed bill and applications for prospecting and mining in southern Amazonas. In fact, most of the requests overlap precisely with the areas that may soon lose their protection status, WWF says.“We noticed that the majority of those exploitation requests are within the limits of the Conservation Units that the new bill wants to cut,” Mariana Ferreira, the science coordinator for WWF-Brazil, told the Thompson Reuters Foundation back in February.In Acari National Park alone, about 40 requests for prospecting or mining minerals have been filed – some of which have already been authorized, WWF writes.Tree cover loss data from the Brazilian government show the protected areas – shown here together – form a relatively undisturbed area surrounded by deforestation. Data from the University of Maryland indicate they are comprised mostly of intact forest landscapes, which are areas of original vegetation large and pristine enough to contain their native biodiversity levels.Global Forest Watch shows the protected areas also comprise many mining concessions.Environmental groups are concerned – 21 of them to be exact.“We understand that the maintenance of these protected areas as originally established is crucial for the conservation of regional biodiversity,” they wrote in a letter (translated here) to President Temer and several other senior officials, which 21 organizations signed, including The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Conservation International. “Removing the protection of one million hectares will contribute to the – already remarkable – deforestation in the Amazon.”The move could also “jeopardize” commitments under national and international accords, such as the 2015 Paris Agreement, which entered into effect last November, they said. Indeed, research suggests that protected areas may store large carbon stocks, and deforestation already accounts for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil.The bid might put international financing at risk as well, Mazzetti says.“It will affect the country’s international credibility and the investments that international financiers are promising to make,” she said. “Donors might start questioning how effective the money is that they’ve invested in Brazil.”Germany, one of the Brazilian Amazon’s biggest donors, invested over $100 million in the Protected Areas of the Amazon Program – the very initiative that helped put these five areas in place. Norway has also dished up substantial sums of money.Brazil’s Ministry of the Environment declined multiple requests for comment. But earlier this week, the Minister of the Environment Sarney Filho announced that a committee – including researchers from the Ministry, businessmen, and politicians – would be reviewing the proposal and visiting the protected areas in question. At a meeting in Brasilia, Filho expressed that he’s open to dialogue, but noted that there are “conflicting points” between the proposal and the Ministry’s official data.“It is fundamental to resolve doubts about the existence of settlements within these areas and other types of economic activities,” the minister said in a translated statement. “We have no prejudice against proposals, but in this case it is necessary to clarify the doubts that have been raised.”The minister also highlighted that these five areas protect a region facing heightened pressure from deforestation. From 2015 to 2016, forest loss in Amazonas increased by 54 percent, according to the National Institute for Space Research of Brazil – much of which was concentrated in the region where these areas lie, called the “Arc of Deforestation.”Filho’s statements come just weeks after the Ministry announced that a priority of 2017 is to expand Brazil’s protected area network, which currently includes 327 federal areas. But if the proposal becomes a bill, it will likely pass on the senate floor, Mazzetti says – rolling that number back to 326.“It’s very likely that if it goes to congress it will be passed – these projects usually get approved,” she said. “We know that congress has lots of representatives of the business lobby, and for them it’s important to open new areas.”But before it becomes a bill, environmental groups have more leverage, she adds.“If we apply pressure [now], I believe we can stop it,” she said. “Our plan is to try to stop this from the very beginning.” Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Morgan Erickson-Daviscenter_img Environment, Forest Destruction, Forests, Habitat Destruction, Indigenous Peoples, Law, Mining, National Parks, Primary Forests, Protected Areas, Rainforests, Tropical Forests last_img read more

Notorious elephant poacher, ‘The Devil’, sentenced to 12 years in jail

first_imgAnimals, Conservation, Elephants, Environment, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Illegal Trade, Ivory, Ivory Trade, Mammals, Poachers, Poaching, Trade, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking Article published by Shreya Dasgupta Mariango was arrested in October 2015 with his brothers Lucas Mathayo Malyango and Abdallah Ally Chaoga while attempting to smuggle 118 tusks worth over $863,000.Aged 47, Mariango was one of the poachers featured in the Netflix documentary film, The Ivory Game, produced by Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio.He also stands accused of supplying ivory to Yang Feng Glan, a Chinese national nicknamed “Queen of Ivory,” who is on trial in Tanzania for smuggling ivory worth $2.5 million. On March 3, a Tanzanian court sentenced one of the country’s most wanted elephant poachers to 12 years in prison.Boniface Matthew Mariango, nicknamed “The Devil” by law enforcement officials (or “Shetani” in Kiswahili), stands accused of killing thousands of elephants and of having links to 15 poaching gangs in five countries: Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia, Mozambique and southern Kenya.He was arrested in October 2015 with his brothers Lucas Mathayo Malyango and Abdallah Ally Chaoga while attempting to smuggle 118 tusks worth over $863,000. Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) caught the men on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam after a manhunt that lasted over a year.Mariango, aged 47, was one of the poachers featured in the Netflix documentary film, The Ivory Game, produced by Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio.“WWF congratulates the Tanzanian authorities involved in Shetani’s arrest and successful prosecution,” Amani Ngusaru, WWF-Tanzania Country Director, said in a statement. “Poaching elephants for ivory is robbing Tanzania of its heritage. This prosecution sends out a strong message that Tanzania’s authorities are taking it seriously and are working to eliminate poaching in the country.”#Tanzania jails notorious #elephant poacher, nicknamed #Shetani, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison https://t.co/lUoKQURJPR pic.twitter.com/UD2d15xCDE— WildLeaks (@Wildleaks) March 6, 2017Mariango has a few other pending cases against him. He also stands accused of supplying ivory to Yang Feng Glan, a Chinese national nicknamed “Queen of Ivory,” who is on trial in Tanzania for smuggling 706 elephant tusks with a street value of $2.5 million in 2015.“This sentencing is a message to the people that the government of Tanzania is serious, and is going to catch and make sure that the big guys are prosecuted,” Robert Munde, Assistant Director of Tanzania’s anti-poaching unit, told CGTN Africa.About 30,000 African elephants are killed for their ivory every year, with Tanzania being one of the worst affected areas. A recent report found that the country lost 60 percent of its elephant population in just five years, between 2009 and 2014.China is one of the world’s biggest markets for ivory. But in December last year, the Chinese government announced that it would close its domestic commercial ivory market by the end of 2017, a move conservation groups have called a “game-changer” for elephants.About 30,000 elephants are killed for their ivory every year. Photo by Rhett Butler.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Living above a century-old coal fire, Jharia residents pay the price for India’s mining ambitions

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored The Jharia coalfields, in India’s Jharkhand state, contain high-grade coal and have been continuously mined since 1894.The first underground fire was recorded in 1916. By the 1970s, around 17.32 square kilometers (6.68 square miles) were affected by fires. Mine executives say that has now been reduced to around 2.18 square kilometers.More than 100,000 families are affected by the fires and need to be relocated.Doctors say the average life expectancy of people living in the coalfields is reduced by 10 years, due to air and water pollution. DHANBAD, India — In the heart of India’s coal capital of Dhanbad lies one of the country’s oldest mines: the Jharia coalfields, endowed with India’s sole reserves of prime coking coal, a high-grade coal used for making steel.This economic boon has become the bane of this densely populated coal belt: For more than a century, underground mine fires have been raging.“There is fire just below the soil surface in our village, said Mohammad Manir, a resident Baesbarah, a small settlement in the Sijua Area of Jharia coalfields. “It often gets very hot and the ground crackles — suddenly tearing apart here and there, fuming out pungent smelling, white noxious gasses or even leaping tongues of flames. The walls of our houses have cracked and are crumbling apart.”Flanked by overburden dumps and boulders, dotted by barren trees, Baesbarah is home to about 100 families. Abandoned homes, strewn with debris are a common sight in the village. Even a portion of the local mosque recently subsided.A portion of the Baesbarah mosque subsided recently. The structure has been partitioned, apparently to keep the devotees safe as they squeeze within the “protected limit” to pray. Photo by Moushumi Basu.The 280-square-kilometer (110-square-mile) coalfields have been mined since 1894 — first by British companies, then by a succession of Gujarati, Rajasthani and Bengali firms. In 1972, as part of a countrywide nationalization of coking coal mines, production at the Jharia coalfields was taken over by Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), a subsidiary unit of government-owned Coal India Limited (CIL).The company inherited a legacy of more than 70 mine fires, covering an area of 17.32 square kilometers (6.68 square miles).The first of these fires was detected in 1916, in the Bhowrah area of the coalfield. In the early days of the mine, coal was extracted using a primitive method that left behind pillars of coal to support shallow mining tunnels, explained Arun Kumar Charanpahari, former general manager (mining) at CIL. Eventually, some of these pillars collapsed, creating subsidence and surface cracks that allowed atmospheric oxygen to enter the mine and react with exposed lumps of coal. With insufficient ventilation in these tunnels, heat gradually built up, igniting and spreading coal seam fires.Spurred on by soaring profits, a succession of owners and operators have nonetheless continued to extract coal. At present, 44 mines are operating in the area, producing 35.86 million tonnes of coal in the last financial year.A child works as an illegal coal picker in Jharia coal mine. Illegal coal pickers from Bokahapadi village successfully negotiate a daylight raid and hurry home to safely burn the hard coal for sale. Photo by Peter Caton/Greenpeace.Fighting the fireVarious attempts have been made to contain the fire while still carrying out coal production. Mine officials have attempted to isolate the fires by trenching, digging out burning coal or smothering flames with sand, soil or inert gasses. By 1996, the surface area affected by fires was reduced to 8.9 square kilometers (3.43 square miles). At present, the fire-affected area has been reduced to 2.18 square kilometers (0.84 square miles), according to Debal Gangopadhyay, director (technical) of BCCL.However, such figures and statements mean little for the residents of affected villages like Baesbarah. “The area near our village has a known history of mine fires,” said Mohammad Naushad. “BCCL carried out mining operations here in the 1970 and ’80s, but work had to be stopped because of the fire. However, the company then ensured our safety by digging deep trenches to separate our village from the fire.”Between 2008 and 2009, BCCL outsourced coal production to a private company and the mines were reopened, the villagers said. This stoked the already existing fire. Then,  the fiery rubble extracted from the mine was dumped in the trench cutting across the village. “Mining operations have been discontinued (about 3-4 years ago) but our existence in the village has been imperiled,” said Naushad.Now, villagers like Manir and Naushad — who have lived there for decades and claim to hold legal title deeds to the land — have no choice but to relocate.Fires are clearly visible in parts of the Jharia coalfields. The area has been affected by fires for more than 100 years, but mining in the area has never ceased. Photo by Moushumi Basu.A state-government-run agency was set up in 2004 to manage the resettlement of non-BCCL personnel living in affected areas: the Jharia Rehabilitation and Development Authority (JRDA). The JRDA is partly funded through a levy of 10 rupees per tonne of coal sold by BCCL, which is set aside for the rehabilitation of fire affected victims. This generates about 3 billion rupees (about $45 million) per annum, part of which is paid to the JRDA. During the last three years 5 billion rupees (around $75 million) has been transferred to the agency, Gangopadhyay said.Despite this pool of funding, the JRDA has faced numerous problems in organizing resettlement, particularly when it comes to procuring land to build houses on. In Baesbarah,  traditional land owners have protested because the houses being constructed by the JDRA for resettlement do not suit them. Most of the villagers live in extended family homes with multiple rooms; for JRDA, finding land to build even the prescribed norm of a two-room house per family is a challenging task.Adding to the JRDA’s difficulties, the number of fire-affected families has almost doubled since the 2008 master plan was created. “From the given target of 54,159 of non-BCCL employees as per the 2008 master plan, the figures today have exceeded [100,000] families,” said Vijay Kumar Gupta, officer-in-charge of JRDA. He said 2,103 families have so far been allotted homes in Belgharia — the upcoming relocation site — 1,566 of whom have already moved.  By the end of 2017, he said he hopes at least 10,000 two-roomed new homes will be ready for occupation.In other areas, relocation is going less smoothly. Gupta admitted the agency is facing problems with land acquisition. In Lipania, a non-coal-bearing site selected for relocation, they are locked in controversies and disputes with the land owners, he said.Efforts by the coal company to relocate the families of its workers are also underway. According to official data from BCCL’s Gangopadhyay, 6,500 families of its employees have already been shifted to safer areas as of 2016. By 2021, the company aims to relocate 15,000 families.Photographed in 2008, Bhagwat Saw, then 69, in the emergency section at Life Line Hospital. Bhagwat worked as a coal loader for over 40 years and was discovered to be suffering from pneumoconiosis before having hernia surgery. Photo by Peter Caton/Greenpeace (2008).Health impacts“Large goaves (hollows) have appeared in our village, belching out fire and smoke,” said Rajkishore Singh, a resident of the Dobari Khaad Village in the Bastacola Area. “The latest of these occurred about a fortnight ago, just 14 feet, 15 feet away from our homes. Two cows of my neighbor also perished in one of these incidents.” The mine management offered to fill up the goaves, but villagers resisted, fearing that this would make their land even more vulnerable to subsidence.In addition to the hazards of fire, people in villages like Dobari Khaad, which is adjacent to an open cast mine, face a host of health problems. “Mining operations raise huge dust, coal particles and stones — there is coal powder in the food we eat, all over our clothes, in our eyes and throats,” said resident Ajay Kumar.On average, the life expectancy of people living near the Jharia coalfields is reduced by at least ten years, said Om Prakash Agarwal, founder of Life Line Hospital in Jharia.The biggest culprit is airborne particulate matter (PM), which is largely associated with mining, storing and transporting coal, explained Biswajit Paul, an associate professor at the Centre of Mining Environment of Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad — the oldest institute of its kind in the country.A worker carries coal in Jharia coal mine. Miners work in teams to initially lift the coal on to their heads. Photo by Peter Caton/Greenpeace.According to Paul, high levels of both PM10 and the finer and even more dangerous PM2.5 are fairly high in the coal belt. The average concentration of PM10 has been found to exceed India’s air quality standards by three to four times, he said. PM2.5 levels are also elevated, exceeding national standards by as much as 66 percent, a problem made worse by automobile emissions and the transport of uncovered coal.Oxides of sulfur, nitrogen and carbon released by coal fires further pollute the ambient air.Together, these pollutants result in chronic respiratory diseases like bronchitis and asthma. Their incidences are at least 35 – 40 percent higher in the coal-belt than in other parts of the country, said Agarwal. Patients frequently arrive at his hospital with symptoms of pneumoconiosis — a disease caused by the accumulation of fine dust particles (of the order of PM2.5) in the lungs. Coal miners in particular may develop anthracosis, also known as Black Lung Disease, resulting from deposits of minute coal dust in the lungs. Such ailments, Agarwal added, can even lead to lung cancer.Diseases like Hepatitis and other gastrointestinal problems also occur due to water pollution caused by the discharge of mine water and other waste in local waterways.Early morning at Aina Village as a woman walks to collect coal illegally at the Rajapur Mining Project in Jharia coal mine. Photo by Peter Caton/Greenpeace.Even as troubles continue to mount regarding the safety and welfare of coal belt denizens, environmentalists have not given up hope. Simple solutions could help reduce the health impacts of the mine, said the Indian School of Mines’ Paul. “One effective way is to capture the dust at its generation point, to minimize its propagation in the ambient air,” he said. Paul also advocates for the compulsory use of dust extractors for trapping dust. At present, he said, most extractors are lying defunct, due to lack of maintenance.New technologies like mist sprays for prolonged and effective dust control should also be adopted, Paul said. Even simple preventative measures make a big difference: sprinkling water on coal-laden trucks traveling short distances, or covering long-haul coal trucks with tarpaulins, can help reduce the spread of coal dust.According to BCCL Technical Director Gangopadhyay, such measures are already being put in place. A “Rapid Loading System” of closed-circuit silos is being built at one of the company’s railway sidings, and two more have been proposed.  This will not only speed up the loading process but also stop dust from going to the surrounding air, he said. The company is also procuring fifteen mist sprinklers to reduce particulate concentration.Efforts are also on to process the abundantly available but polluted mine water. Pradeep Kumar Singh, director of the Central Institute of Mining & Fuel Research (CIMFR) and Kalendra Bahadur Singh, chief scientist at Natural Resources & Environmental Management have developed a pilot project to convert waste mine water for drinking. It comprises a reverse osmosis filtration plant that can purify 4,000 liters of mine wastewater per hour. It was handed over to BCCL in November 2014 and installed in its office at Putki Balihari area.  Since then, with a capacity of 40,000 liters per day, it is providing drinking water for 4,050 people, said the scientists from CIMFR. The project is expected to be replicated in other subsidiaries of CIL.Soil that has been degraded by mining operations is also being taken care of by the coal company. BCCL has set an example by growing three-tier forest cover on its bare overburden dumps. “We have covered about 204 hectares since 2011 and hope to cover 40 hectares in 2017-18,” said Gangopadhyay. In association with the local Forest Department, the company is also working on a target of establishing 100,000 tree plantations along the roads of the coal belt between 2016-2021.“We are not just extracting coal from the face of earth, but also greening the black rock and trying to reduce carbon footprints for our future generations,” he said. Meanwhile, the present residents of the Jharia coalfields, who are currently bearing the brunt of the mine fire, hope to see benefits like better health and livelihood options in their own lifetimes.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Coal, Corporate Environmental Transgressors, Corporate Social Responsibility, Energy, Environment, Featured, Fires, Fossil Fuels, Mining, Pollution center_img Article published by Isabel Estermanlast_img read more