Tanzania reimposes a rule banning export of animals, one day after they rescinded the ban put in place 2016

The ban was to be lifted for traders to clear their stocks, and would have been lifted from the start of June to the start of December.

Outrage forced the minister in charge to reverse the change within 24 hours.

WWF the worldwide famous conservation organisation warned on Saturday that relaxing this ban would undermine progress made in wildlife protection, particularly by encouraging poaching which has been on the decline in recent years.

Hosting 50% of Africa’s lions, Tanzania is essential for the thriving of many species and so this is a good thing.

Finally some pushback from leading conservation experts on the outright ban on hunting

I have written on the situation with the British governments attempt to put in an outright ban on trophies from hunting being imported into the UK (though bizarrely they continue to support hunting in the UK).

I strongly disagree with this situation.

While the idea of hunting is relatively repugnant, and I far prefer the excitement of walking in the presence of these animals, but then leaving with them continuing to get on with their lives. I should add in this vein, that during my families trip to the Kruger later this year, I will be going on a 3 day 2 night wilderness trail. This will mean my going to a very small remote camp, and then walking for the 3 days – the likelihood of close encounters with many animals is relatively high.

Anyway, this group of conservationists have just written to the government to get them to reconsider their position.

There are many activities that should be banned outright. Canned lion (or any other animal) hunts should cease to exist. Going into a relatively small area, to kill an animal that in many cases has not been living wild for more than 6 months is not what I call brave, but I would say its disgusting. Another behaviour I dislike, is where a hunting outfit buys a small area on the side of a reserve, then as animals walk out of the reserve onto this hunting area they can be shot. Hunting outfits, should only be able to hunt animals which can fit on their land.

One prime example is the Selous: the largest hunting reserve in the world. Here, they protect an area of land large enough to have a lion population of 5000 or so Lions. From this they kill perhaps 50 out of the estimated population (about 1%) of course this relies on their estimate being accurate. Brink et all (2012) estimated the lion population was about 4300, with the range from 1900 up to 6900. though they admit this was extrapolated from a survey of only 1%. Other surveys have put the number between475 (absolute lower bound) up to 4953. This means that even with hunters wanting to kill the big adult males (deaths of pride leading males almost always lead to deaths as a new male tries to take over, firstly all young cubs are likely to be killed so the new male can sire his own offspring, and then often several mothers who try to defend their cub – 1 male killed might lead to 5-10 deaths as a result).

Never-the-less the Selous does not look like its lions are in danger of extinction. A different place to look at is the WAP complex. This includes 10200 square miles spread out across an area of Burkina Faso, Niger, and Benin. It includes 5 national parks and 14 hunting reserves. Given the lion population is 400 here, and the west lion (recently found to be the same subspecies as the indian lion) is so endangered, having a healthy take here is far harder. It is hard to find sensible numbers on hinting here, but a take of more than 4 per year would be very foolish.

In conclusion, while I would prefer that no one in the world ever went hunting animals for sport (generally all the meat is given to local communities, though this is not the reason for the hunt) there are some places which are so hard to reach or infested with unpleasant parasites (the Selous has an insect that carries something called sleeping sickness), I will accept it with clear documentation from places that can support it. This is because often a hunt will bring in so much money for local communities. However (and this is a big proviso) I believe that there are very few places where this is truly the case: The Selous is one, there are probably areas within the KAZA park that are similarly alright. Similarly in Europe, while I would never wish to hunt a wolf myself, the Sierra de culebra has provided a refuge where the wolf would not be exterminated – specifically because a handful of wolves were killed each year. This new rule that the government is bringing in is too simple, it does not take into account the unique situation in each country. My suggestion would be that each hunting organiser needs to get their hunt approved- perhaps some sort of hunting body, but for now in the UK the government would have to employ someone. That person would have to analyse the whole hunt plan, check that the area has a viable population of the animal in question and any other details. This would enforce far higher standards, so that we could be sure when the wealthy go to hunt that they arent going to create the extinction of a species.

Is Education the key to getting communities involved in conservation?

In Nigeria, the Wildlife Conservation Society has been taking a projector to remote villages around the cross gorillas range.

As in other parts of the world, often the humans that live on the edge of the wild animals range rarely see the animal. Indeed, it is often the case that the only locals who have seen the animal are hunters.

Might it be as simple as showing the locals what we are trying to protect?

It is essential to get local people on board when you are trying to protect mega fauna. One of the difficult things with many of the large mammals is that they breed slowly. As a result it is important to get human populations on side, as even a small number of animals killed can lead to the eventual loss of a whole species.

Conservationists appear to have to learn the same lesson over and over again. Without local people on side, you are almost always fighting a loosing battle. Local populations need to both have a great love for the wildlife that they live alongside, but also the ability for the communities to gain from the presence of the wildlife – whether this is because they get direct finance, or because there are jobs for the people in the village.

Paris agreement for nature?

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.

Continue reading “Paris agreement for nature?”

Nigeria upgrading the status of a reserved that protects about 20 Nigeria Cameroon chimpanzees

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.

Nigeria Cameroon Chimpanzee wild

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.

Liberia is expanding its premier Forest reserve again

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.

One of the most important protected parts of the west african rainforest

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.

Zimbabwe is in the process of moving hundreds of elephants and two prides of lions from hwange National Park due to drought drying up their water pools, as well as shipping dozens to zoos in china

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.

Food for domestic livestock from fish a threat to African penguins?

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.

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