At the beginning of January an new agreement was signed by 50 countries who pledged to protect 30% of the earths land and oceans. The intention of this agreement is to stem the flow of extinctions that human activity has been causing for the last few centuries.
The hope is that this agreement can form the basis of a larger agreement at the UN, building on the early commitments from nations such as Nigeria Pakistan Costa Rica Canada and many more.
One of the most endangered subspecies of great is the Nigerian Cameroon chimpanzee. Currently between 3500 and 9000 of these chimpanzees remain in the wild. As with most other primate threatened species the reason for the problem is the reduction in the amount of habitat they have: their forest has been cut down.
The fact that there is such a wide range in estimates of the wild population shows the lack of research into this subspecies, as with many others we are severely endangering wild populations before we even know much about them.
Much of the trespassing into this reserve is for marijuana cultivation. Generally these reserves are setup to carefully manage resources rather than to specifically protect them from destruction, so the upgrading of this protected area should be very good for its future management. As in other national parks while the the chimpanzees are the flagship species that is being protected the fact that the forest they live in will not be cut down me and the saving of many other species that share the same ecosystem.
A survey of a neighbouring States forest reserves last year suggested a 60% reduction in the chimpanzee numbers since the year 2000. This is clearly unsustainable, and given the slow reproduction of chimpanzees it could take a long time to get back to where it was assuming all pressures on this population stop now.
There is already firm moves to to get the agreement from the community surrounding the park so that they can be employed as eco guards. However if well managed and sensible facilities are put in place this could be be the means of improving the standard of living for all these communities in a relatively short period of time. Sustainable tourism could bring in useful funds for the Protection of this forest and the people who rely on it.
The rainforests in much of west Africa have been devastated over the last few decades, however in small regions worker saved ecosystems from the chainsaw.
Sapo national park in East Liberia is one of the most important remaining fragments of rainforest in West Africa. However having been expanded only a few years ago the locals are fully behind a further expansion of this important protected area. More than 40% of Africa’s remaining upper Guinea rainforest lies within Liberia and so any increase in the protected land can only be positive.
Several years ago there was significant poaching within the park and the surrounding area. After the clashes with locals the people who ran the park engage properly with the locals and the surrounding area. As in many other parts of Africa, the locals don’t get much benefit from being next to this large tourism destination, in the past this has led to hunting and mining.
As the Education of locals improved the situation and they stopped taking part in these activities that damage the park authorities found that people were coming in from further afield.
A sensible solution was found for this problem. A team of people were employed in the vicinity of each entry point. Their job was to keep an eye out for Hunters and Miners going into the park and make sure that any news got back to the authorities. For this they were paid $50 each month which meant that they no longer needed to hunt themselves to be able to survive.
This solution lead to both the local people having a greater level of financial security and and greater security for the park with the locals invested in the long term pricing of the wildlife that they live alongside. This is a wonderful solution, though probably works better in places like this where the park is remote and a local population is small, while there are other projects like this we should hope that more of them are set up as they are very successful in reducing poaching where they exist.
Drought hit animals too, and in this instance a Drought in Zimbabwe has hit hwange national park so hard that the animals have started to die in large numbers.
While the number of tourists that come to Zimbabwe have fallen dramatically since Mugabe started doing his more destructive policies, these fall in tourists has started to reverse again. Furthermore, with the economy gradually on its way to recovery people can afford to buy food and thus the pressure on wild areas from poaching has decreased significantly.
The translocation is not insignificant, plans to move 600 elephant 2 prides of lions a pack of wild dogs, 50 buffalo 40 giraffe and 2000 Impala.
In other parts of Africa water is pumped into these areas to refill the watering holes. It is unclear whether this was impossible in this case or merely prohibitively expensive- though the cost of moving this many animals will be significant and does not solve the water problem permanently so so a longer-term solution must be found.
Zimbabwe is calling for the relaxation of rules about utilising animals (in ways other than photographic tourism) , and while this would be capable of giving the Zimbabwean government the money needed to protect these animals given the way they have behaved in recent years the international community cannot be sure that the Zimbabwean government will will behave responsibly towards their are flora and fauna.
It is certainly true that looking after animals like elephants that can hurt humans ( in recent years as much as 200 people have died in human animal conflict) is not cheap, however before the disastrous policies of Mugabe the animals of Zimbabwe bought in a large amount of money for it’s people. Returning to this situation can allow the animals to thrive alongside a higher income for people of the country.
Zimbabwe moving 30 young elephants to China, more to follow
Zimbabwe is also under pressure for sending roughly 30 young elephants to China deal in a did with a country. Supposedly this has to be done for the health of the animals as hwang national park where they come from is suffering from a horrific drought that has killed many elephants. However undercover camera work has already shown these young elephants in concrete and metal enclosures having their will broken, flowers to be more easy to control the circuses and zoos in China. Unfortunately it appears that despite Mugabe having left power in Zimbabwe the current government of Zimbabwe still looks on the wildlife as simply a commodity to be traded away and not say something to be preserved for the future. Tourists should look very carefully before being prepared to spend money on safari in Zimbabwe. In total 90 elephants have been moved to China and Dubai in return for 2.7 million dollars.
We seem to be playing wack-a-mole when it comes to feedstock for farmed animals. In most of the world, livestock can graze for perhaps ¾ of the year. However, in countries with seasons, often in the winter the animals are in barns and are fed.
Often, this feeding fattens up the animal faster than grazing and so in many places is used all year round. However, from a nutrients point of view, this is highly inefficient and it’s far better for humans to simply eat the crop (the land needed to raise feed stock cattle could feed far more people if they simply ate the crop of food). In other places, this feed is made from meat.
In recent years, this foodstock has started to be made from fish, caught off the coast of south Africa.
This, however its not proving good for the local food chain. The majority of these fish are naturally eaten by African penguins, but with these being fished out, they are catching less fish, and having to swim further. As you can imagine, this is significantly affecting the penguin population, having significantly reduced the number of chicks that are raised significantly.
Without rapid action, we could see the eradication of many African penguin colonies. If the fishing continues long-term, it may well guarantee a slow decline to extinction. It is ironic as for many farmers, they switched to fish based feed, to avoid damaging places like the Amazon, which is otherwise cut down to grow the feed stock for cattle.
Iran is an Islamic country in Asia and the people are not given much freedom, as they follow a strict version of Islam.
In some respects this is meant that the wildlife in Iran has done reasonably well since the 1979 Revolution. Much of this country is desert but the ecosystem has been significantly depleted over the last couple of centuries. Into the 19th century Asiatic Lions still roamed parts of Iran.
The mouse deer, a small antelope last seen 30 years ago in Vietnam, has been caught on camera trap again. Also known as the Silver-backed Chevrotain, having been seen on the camera trap, more were set up in the same region and they had many separate encounters with the mouse deer.
The local knowledge was used extensively in making this discovery and there is much effort to engage the local Village in the protection of this species. They are also excited to see what other species might have survived in this part of Vietnam, unknown to science.
As well as fires, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro approach’s to protecting the Amazon has been shown to lead to problems. His stance of supporting farmers and loggers in their theft of land, both from national parks or indigenous tribal land has reached its ultimate and some would say obvious conclusion.
The Chinese government has put off a difficult decision it has to make on whether to lift the ban on trade in rhino horn and tiger body parts. Trade was banned back in 1993, but in October they announced that they would allow these parts to be used for scientific medicinal and cultural reasons.