Wednesday, March 25, 2015

African elephant numbers likely to decline due to continued poaching

A high rate of elephant poaching in parts of Africa was unchanged in 2014 compared to the previous year, meaning that a continued decline in elephant numbers is likely, according to a study released Monday at a conservation meeting in Kasane.

A report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, known as CITES and which regulates wildlife trade, said poaching rates of elephants in areas that are being monitored still exceed their natural birth rates.Conservationists say tens of thousands of elephants have been killed in Africa in recent years as demand for ivory in Asia, particularly China, increases. Past estimates of Africa’s elephant population have ranged from 420,000 to 650,000.

The poaching situation appears to have deteriorated in Central and West Africa, though there are “encouraging signals” in parts of East Africa where overall poaching levels have declined, said John Scanlon, secretary-general of CITES. The study was presented at an international conference on the threat to elephants that was held in the tourist town of Kasane in northern Botswana. A similar meeting was held in 2013 in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

'Elephants massacre must stop'

Urgent action is required to stop the massacre of elephants and the deprivation of rural communities of the opportunity to benefit from their natural resources. 

Speaking at the African elephant meeting in Kasane on March 23, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (MEWT) Mr Elias Mokgosi noted that large scale seizures had become common in recent years, suggesting involvement of sophisticated criminal syndicates. “These syndicates take advantage of conflicts and social unrest, poor governance and corruption in some elephant range states to obtain and transport ivory to their destinations,” he said. 

He noted that tens of thousands of elephants had been killed over the last five years, with 2011 recording the largest number in recent times, adding that the current killing was threatening the existence of African elephants. In Botswana, Mr Mokgosi said while poaching had not yet become a serious threat to the elephant population, there had been encounters between security forces and armed poachers from neighbouring countries.  This, he said, highlighted the needs for cooperation between different countries to counter this threat. “Botswana, Chad, Gabon, Ethiopia and Tanzania have also agreed to the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI), which is intended to build upon other initiatives to address the poaching and illegal trade in ivory and not compete against them,” he said. 

Presenting on illegal trade in ivory, Dr Tom Milliken of Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) noted that prices of ivory per kilogram have increased, thus their value has increased.  “The year 2011 recorded the highest cases of illegal ivory trade with a slight decrease in 2012,” Dr Tom Milliken noted. 

He highlighted that there was improvement in seizures by African countries before ivory left Africa for mostly Asian markets.  “We have, however ,noted a decrease in seizures in China, which leads one to wonder if there is less ivory going into China or weak law enforcement,” he said. 

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Botswana Symposium on Wetlands and Wildlife 2015

What was happening at Botswana Symposium on Wetlands and Wildlife.

Mfundisi shows how participatory of lagoons provides data for management and conflict prevention in

Monggae at symposium explains how can reinvest in Community Based Natural Resources Management

Bartlam-Brooks uses free data to show that migrating respond to cues from and to time their journeys

Selebatso calls for quota based utilisation to preserve the vital Schelle in 's Kalahari

Bourquin at Maun wildlife symposium says programme shows significant reduction in

Bothma at Maun symposium recommends that potential farmers in Botswana avoid species


Govt should restructure fishing policies and lift ban- Ngami Communities

This past week the Minister Enviroment Wildlife and Tourism Tshekedi Khama placed a twelve month ban on fishing due to issues pertaining to sanitation, overcrowding and mispricing by Zambian pirate fishermen at Lake Ngami and Lake Xau in the Maun region.

“It was necessary to ban it until fishermen get organized and proper regulatory policies are put in place,” reassured Bareetsi Bogaisang, Ngami Fishing Cluster Chairman.
This development comes following outrage by local fishermen that government should intervene on the illicit fishing activities going on at Lake Ngami perpetuated by Zambian and Congolese nationals who flood the wetlands in Botswana without permits, causing severe threats including possible extinction of species, economic losses as well as loss of livelihood in the region. They had complained that Batswana remain disadvantaged since they have no market and trade regulations remain very stringent with regards to exporting fish.

An official at the Department of Environmental Affairs, Dr Michael Flyman said that there has been a growing concern about the mushrooming of illegal fishermen who essentially export these fish without proper permits to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and neighboring countries.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pastoralism provides crucial services to humanity, can support green economy transition

Better management of neglected sector would boost water regulation and biodiversity and sequester up to 9.8 per cent of anthropogenic carbon emissions

 Pastoralism—extensive livestock production in the rangelands—provides enormous benefits to humanity and should be supported as a key element of the global transition to a green economy, according to a new report released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Released at the 3rd Scientific Conference of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Cancun, Pastoralism and the Green Economy – a Natural Nexus?, highlights pastoralism’s role in safeguarding natural capital across a quarter of the world’s land area.The report finds that sustainable pastoralism on rangeland ecosystems—such as desert grasslands, woodlands and steppes—maintains soil fertility and soil carbon and contributes to water regulation and biodiversity conservation. It also provides other goods such as high-value food products.

Pastoralism is practiced by up to half a billion people across the globe. Despite its clear benefits, decades of underinvestment have eroded the lifestyle in many developing countries. Reversing this decline and realizing pastoralism’s full green economy potential will require leadership and the establishment of a global development framework for sustainable pastoralism, the report says.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Safeguarding Africa’s Wetlands a Daunting Task

African wetlands are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the continent, covering more than 131 million hectares, according to the Senegalese-based Wetlands International Africa (WIA). Yet, despite their importance and value; wetland areas are experiencing immense pressure across the continent. Commercial development ranks as the major threat for the draining of wetlands, including for tourism facilities and agriculture, where hundreds of thousands of hectares of wetlands have been drained.

Other threats to Africa's wetlands are commercial agriculture, settlements, excessive exploitation by local communities and improperly-planned development activities. The prospect of immense profits from recently discovered oil, coal and gas deposits has also led to an increase in on-and offshore exploration and mining in sensitive ecological areas.

In Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique, for example, wetlands and estuaries coincide with fossil fuel deposits and related infrastructure developments. In northern Kenya, port developments in Lamu are set to take place in the West Indian Ocean Rim's most important mangrove area and fisheries breeding ground.In KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape of South Africa, heavy mineral sands are located in important dune forest ecosystems, and gas is being prospected for in the water-scarce and ecologically unique Karoo. In East Africa, oil discoveries have been made in the tropical Congo Basin rain forest and the Virunga National Park – a world heritage site and a wetland recognised under the Ramsar Convention.

The Okavango Delta in Botswana, one of Africa's most important wetlands and designated as the 1,000th world heritage site by UNESCO, has been home to many threatened species and the main water source of regional wildlife in Southern Africa. Yet it is shrinking due to drier climate, increased grazing and growing pressure from tourism.

"This delta is a true oasis in the middle of the bone-dry Kalahari Sand Basin, a rare untouched wilderness that's been preserved by decades of border and civil wars in the Angolan catchment," said National Geographic explorer Steve Boyes in an interview. "Many people along the Okavango River live like communities did some 400 years ago – and from them I think we can learn a lot about how to be better stewards of the natural world."

Boyes calculated the abundance of life in the delta: more than 530 bird species, thousands of plant species, 160 different mammals, 155 reptiles, scores of frogs and countless insects.

"Everywhere you look you find life. We surveyed bats and we found 17 species in three days. We started looking for praying mantises and found 90 different species," he said.

A recent survey by the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks and the environmentalist group BirdLife Botswana concluded that that the wetland's historical zones of dense reed beds and water fig islands were largely destroyed by hydrological changes and fire. Bush fires and a high grazing pressure further reduced the natural shores of the Okavango Delta.

Studies by BirdLife Botswana also showed that the slaty egret, a vulnerable water bird living only in Southern Africa, with its main breeding grounds in the wetlands of Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana's Okavango Delta, is now estimated to have a total population of only about 4,000 birds.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Enough Resources for the World? Why the G7 Should Engage in the Conservation of Natural Resources

 Speech -  by Achim Steiner to the High-Level Session on Resource Efficiency in the Framework of the German G7 Presidency.

Speech by Achim Steiner to the High-Level Session on Resource Efficiency in the Framework of the German G7 Presidency. - See more at:
Speech by Achim Steiner to the High-Level Session on Resource Efficiency in the Framework of the German G7 Presidency. - See more at:

 Human progress is moving quicker and quicker as time goes on. It's what futurist Ray Kurzweil calls human history's Law of Accelerating Returns: more-advanced societies have the ability to progress at a faster rate than less-advanced societies. And we have witnessed this. Over the last century or so we have cut mortality rates, reduced poverty, if not as evenly as we would have liked, and created technologies we could hardly have dreamt of. Yet this progress has come at a price-through intensive use of our planet's finite resources. 

The "great acceleration" of the last 50 years has seen a rapid transformation of the human relationship with the natural world-more so than in any other period in our history-with escalating use of natural resources leading to environmental degradation. We are, as Nobel Prize winning scientist Paul Crutzen puts it, living in the Age of the Anthropocene-the era in which our activities have a significant and measurable impact on the Earth's ecosystems. 

If we consider the Law of Accelerating Returns, and that the rate of advancement in the 30 years between 1985 and 2015 was higher than the rate between 1955 and 1985, advances are getting bigger and happening more quickly. Yet we don't have to look at our progression as linear; there is an opportunity to radically change the next 30 years by choosing resilient pathways that introduce greater resource efficiency. 

We must ask ourselves what the consequences of this pace of consumption and trajectory of population growth-forecasted to reach nine billion by 2050-will be. By 2009 we were extracting 68 billion tonnes of resources, compared to around 7 billion tonnes in 1900. Under current trends of population growth and expanding middles classes, global extraction of resources is set to reach 140 billion tonnes by 2050. This will probably exceed the availability and accessibility of resources, as well as the carrying capacity of the planet to absorb the impacts of their extraction and use.