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Conservation (articles and reports)

Matias Offline
Regular Member

Flora & Fauna Internacional published this article that I present. Downloading the "practical toolkit" will bring an engaging understanding of what this action represents against the illegal wildlife trade. 

Illegal wildlife trade – Is there a better way to solve this problem?

By Sarah Gluszek, 1st December 2021

Quote:What is the first thought that comes to mind when you hear about a poaching incident on the news? Catching the poachers? Punishing them with imprisonment? Sadness over another animal or plant being taken from the wild and the impact on the species as a whole?

How about preventing poaching in the first place? There’s no need for investigation or punishment if there is no crime.

But how can you prevent crime?

Criminologists have spent decades exploring this question, looking at whether we can achieve this by focusing support on vulnerable individuals during their childhood, by reshaping their psychology, or by influencing their wider communities or the immediate environment around them.


Imagine this. You see a £1 coin on the ground in a train station. Do you pick it up? Say that the train station is empty, does this change your mind? How about if you notice that people are watching you or looking in the general direction of the coin; does that put you off? What if it is actually a £50 note – are you more tempted then? Or, conversely, if it is only a 1p coin, is it worth the effort? You notice that all your friends are picking up coins from the ground; do you join in? And what if you notice that it is glued down to the floor – do you go to the extra effort of removing it?

These are some of the ideas that situational crime prevention explores. It questions the immediate decision-making of a rational individual and what makes them choose option A over option B. It also guides interventions towards being more targeted and specific enough to influence those decisions at crucial moments in an individual’s decision-making process in order to make the criminal activity more difficult and risky, as well as making it less rewarding, less excusable, and removing provocations.

And so situational crime prevention focuses on reducing the opportunities to engage in crime, rather than on the individuals themselves. It helps practitioners identify which changes to the conditions around a person – who may otherwise be motivated to engage in illicit activity – would nudge them away from choosing to do so.

In the context of the illegal wildlife trade, this would mean finding ways to divert a motivated individual away from taking, killing, trading or possessing wildlife in contravention of national or international laws.
Link: HERE
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peter Offline
Co-owner of Wildfact
( This post was last modified: 12-09-2021, 09:07 AM by peter )


Interesting article. Could you find some time to get to a summary? The reason is the topic discussed will become much more real.   

Wildlife crime is very common in many places. The new insights (and the proposal to focus on prevention in particular) sound promising. Same for the toolkits that were developed. 

In the end, it depends on the situation and the region. Education and prevention are needed everywhere, but this, I agree, is not always true for fines and imprisonment. You don't want to hurt people unable to survive a crisis. 

On the other hand. 

People have been discussing the costs and benefits of imprisonment for a very long time. All of those involved know the discussion had few, if any, results. Reality says most of those convicted will return to prison sooner or later. A bloody shame, but there you have it. 

We should never give up hope, but that's without the factor time. In the last two decades, thousands of wild tigers have been killed in southeastern Asia. In most countries, they're all but gone. The amount of snares still present in the, otherwise intact, forests is enormous (millions). Tigers just don't stand a chance. Same for all other animals.  

If we want to protect the natural world, we have to acknowledge wildlife crime is very big business attracting very motivated, able and often ruthless people. Don't forget many dozens of rangers have been killed doing their work. We need something that compares to stand a chance. 

Most of us know Russia is very serious about conservation. If you kill a tiger, you face years of imprisonment. Many don't know China is as serious. If you kill a tiger in China, the penalty is even heavier. 

Anything known about the effects of new legislation? Yes. If anything, it's limited. Very limited. In spite of many decades of protection and the interest of Putin, the number of wild Amur tigers in Russia only very slowly increases. My guess is many tigers are still killed every year.  

We can discuss crime and punishment for a long time, but time is limited. If those involved in poaching and trafficking get a free ride, tigers will be gone in a decade from now. The reason is they represent serious money. Most people involved in trafficking are professionals. They know about the risks and got to a decision. I agree it's not likely poachers will change their ideas in prison, but the question is if they want to. Another question is if society really is prepared to tackle crime. Asking the question is answering it, they say. For now, the conclusion is we have to deal with crime. It's part of life.   

Humans are individuals. Everyone is different. Most of us would be prepared to contribute to society in some way or another, but most is not all. Some people are great surgeons, but others are as able in crime or murder and all want a career. In the seventies, quite a few interested in the human mind were convinced people now described as sociopaths had to be approached in a different way. A new therapy was developed and it was applied in some countries. I talked to a few people who were there and read a few books. I can keep it real short and tell you the sociopaths won. It wasn't even close. 

Compared to the natural world, the world of humans seems tough and very complex. But what about those making their home in the deep blue sea and the emerald forest? According to some involved in animal rescue of some kind, this isn't true. The victims of skilled predators are unaware of the dangers lurking in the dark, they say. Right.  

I definitely like the human world. Humans are, or more accurately, can be, very creative. Not, as many think, in a material way, but in a, ehh, spiritual way. The natural world is very different from our world. Older, more profound and much more serene. It really has an effect if you have the good fortune to live and feel it for a period of time. I'm convinced it will survive the ages. Not quite true for the human world. It seems we're lacking something to get there. Respect? I'm not sure if we belong there, but I do think we should try to stay out of it. 

Very interesting topic. Let's see if we can develop this thread.
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Matias Offline
Regular Member

Hi, Peter

I appreciate your opinion, your vision is at the vertex of the conservation needs of wildlife areas dependent on legal action and effective policing (such as the Tiger Strip in Russia and China). It was also pleasant to hear his opinion of crime and punishment, in a malleable, reflective and correct way, as well as his analysis of the psychological aspects of the human world. The article presents proposals for practical action as well as ideologies in their wake. I'm not in favor of sunk tolerances and victimistic views, and I see that both of us would easily reach common ground, like a good beer so the hours would pass unnoticed. The article elaborates new and other forgotten elements of the “toolbox” that, the broader and more focused on the pressing needs of the place and the people, interweaving the multiple web of human impacts, it is possible to achieve better results. I have no doubt that the strong law in the Amur tiger landscape is fully consistent with local needs and must be maintained, expanded and encouraged, not least because of the tiger being the focus of the intense trade of its parts. However, we must expand measures in line with preventive actions, being an integral part of this immense landscape as well – both are undoubtedly necessary. There is no conservation without taking care of people. Thus, actions aimed at individuals and their families and/or communities, even in the Far East, people are there and are part of the landscape and, when endowed with adequate sources of income for their needs, as well as individual aspirations are reached, the tigers will have better chances of survival. But there are always exceptions where only the iron hand of the Law is able to dissuade some people from practicing their daily crimes. Deterring people from the wild target is far better than fighting crime, that's the message of the article, somewhat conceptual but a message that, in the right hands and in the right places, we can gain some conservation advantage. “As we well know my friend, knowledge requires effort and interest in diverse and long readings”.

The development of conservation themes depends on the interests of the members. This is not easy to do as it depends on one's individual perspectives. Much of the Wildfact – constructed by the interests of its members – is directed towards dynamics that accentuate aspects, say, focused on the species. Your interactions and clashes. Much is discussed about body size, weight, strength, which is part of the process of understanding animals and the natural world. But it shouldn't be a bit hegemonic here. Upon opening the site, we are inundated with topics that go directly to lion coalitions in the Greater Kruger. Pride A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H...

And no one who follows the soap opera life of these groups of lions, discusses the context that led to the formation and survival of these huge groups in this landscape, notably in the private reserves adjacent to the park, after the great Act of 1991 (giving tenure to all wildlife that was in a private fenced environment – property and usufruct rights – the fences were removed and a new landscape, rich in woody vegetation and grasses revealed a new Eden for the animals of Kruger). But this eden for lions may be threatened, in response to the decline in the ecology of natural vegetation in the Sabi Sands reserves and those associated with the APNR, affecting the existential dynamics of a variety of herbivores (grazers and navigators). There is a huge pool of diseases waiting for a natural catastrophe to take hold. Recently I looked at many videos of lions in the Greater Kruger and I saw a huge amount of adults and cubs suffering from serious skin problems, mainly as a result of blood eating flie. It is my personal perspective that this dynamic of life that imposes itself and regulates the prevalence of large groups of male lions here, is not synonymous with stability, but an intensely disputed environment where males and females live with high levels of stress. 

For those interested, I leave here the Kruger Park Management Plan and the three very interesting opinion articles by Dr. Salomon Joubert that discuss the park's plant resources and the impact of elephants on the landscape. 

Park Management plan

Dr. Salomon Joubert 1

Dr. Salomon Joubert 2

Dr. Salomon Joubert 3

It is not about accepting what is being addressed, but understanding that Kruger's ecosystem needs urgent corrective action. The park premisse is to conserve its biodiversity and not just its emblematic animals. 

Each one has its focus Peter, but yes, we can evolve with good content and abundant material, with good articles written by scientists and conservation professionals who have experience and actions supported in the sustainable use of natural resources. Perhaps this is a problem, as conservation of wildlife does not mesh with animal rights and visions based in personal aspirations and preferences. Conservation education requires pragmatism, tolerance, open-mindedness and targeting people. Only in preservationist strongholds can we manage animals and not people – when wildlife is enclosed behind fences.

Associate the forum need to be interested and give their opinion. We must not condition that opinions are strongly supported by scientific study or skilled conservation personnel (biologists, zoologists, geneticists) to be of value. It is necessary to value the opinions that bring good reflections. Work takes me a lot, and there are times when I read almost nothing because of the daily stress. This is part of all of us and so we focus on what we love the most. Me in conservation, others in the world of lions, bears, tigers..., and so, Wildfact revolves around all of us.
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peter Offline
Co-owner of Wildfact

Great post, Matias. 

My proposal is to start a thread about the (political, social and environmental) situation in southern Africa. It no doubt would be much appreciated by members interested in lions and those visiting lion country. Background information is important when you want to get to a bit of insight. 

The advantage of starting a thread is it offers you the opportunity to do it your way. It's different from moderation, but then not quite. If interested, just contact Sanjay or one of the lion mods.  

If you have little time, you could consider posting a bit more often in the lion extinction thread. It has good information about lions, but also has a lot of background information.
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Matias Offline
Regular Member

Are We In the Midst of a Silent Mass Extinction?

A new modeling technique aims to help scientists and policymakers detect declines in genetic diversity based on habitat loss.

Quote:Nearly one fifth of the genetic diversity of the planet’s most vulnerable species may already be lost, an analysis published today (September 22) in Science finds. If accurate, it would mean that many species are already below a conservation threshold proposed last year by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) a part of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Calculating lost genetic diversity

Moisés Expósito-Alonso was in his back yard in Menlo Park, California, last year reading a monograph on the unified theory of biodiversity—“kind of a nerd thing to do,” he says—when an idea dawned on him. He kept seeing concepts related to biodiversity and realized that those concepts should also relate to the genetic diversity of a given species.

Expósito-Alonso, an evolutionary geneticist and ecologist at Stanford University, says that one equation in particular caught his eye: the species-area relationship (SAR), a function that predicts that species-level biodiversity becomes richer as habitat area expands. Essentially, it says that “when you explore ecosystems, you continuously find more species because you find more little niches to which different species have adapted,” he says. And as humans have increasingly carved up ecosystems for our own purposes, the SAR holds that the reverse is also true—shrinking habitat areas diminish species biodiversity. Researchers have used the SAR to estimate extinction rates, and it has been cited in policy-making decisions, Expósito-Alonso says; so, he began to wonder if a genetic diversity equivalent existed that could analogously predict how habitat loss reduces genetic diversity.

Unlike species extinctions that can be observed, genetic diversity loss is much harder to detect. “I feel it’s like an invisible extinction to our eyes, but it’s probably one of the largest extinctions that is happening,” he says. And, so far, it hasn’t been garnering the attention Expósito-Alonso says it deserved.

Access Here
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Matias Offline
Regular Member

Beware of ‘Shark Week’: Scientists watched 202 episodes and found them filled with junk science, misinformation and white male ‘experts’ named Mike

Quote:The Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week is the longest-running cable television series in history, filling screens with sharky content every summer since 1988. It causes one of the largest temporary increases in U.S. viewers’ attention to any science or conservation topic.

It’s also the largest stage in marine biology, giving scientists who appear on it access to an audience of millions. Being featured by high-profile media outlets can help researchers attract attention and funding that can help super-charge their careers.

Unfortunately, Shark Week is also a missed opportunity. As scientists and conservationists have long argued, it is a major source of misinformation and nonsense about sharks, the scientists who study them, and how people can help protect endangered species from extinction.

I am a marine biologist who recently worked with five colleagues to scientifically analyze the content of Shark Week episodes. We tracked down copies of 202 episodes, watched them all and coded their content based on more than 15 variables, including locations, which experts were interviewed, which shark species were mentioned, what scientific research tools were used, whether the episodes mentioned shark conservation and how sharks were portrayed.

Even as longtime Shark Week critics, we were staggered by our findings. The episodes that we reviewed were full of incorrect information and provided a wildly misleading picture of the field of shark research. Some episodes glorified wildlife harassment, and many missed countless chances to teach a massive audience about shark conservation.

Not only shark week needs more realistic and useful information. Channels with a focus on wildlife should have an authentic commitment to uniting entertainment with good information.

What about the Animal Planet Channel with its program focused "on monster hunters" - what insanity!
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Matias Offline
Regular Member

In Patagonia, a puma’s life is decided by political borders

  • Human-wildlife conflict has caused a decline in the puma population in parts of Argentinian Patagonia, research shows.
  • One of Patagonia’s emblematic species, the puma is treated very differently by Argentina and Chile, the two countries that share the region.
  • The Argentinian province of Chubut pays a puma bounty to incentivize the hunting of pumas, as a measure to counter livestock killings.
  • Chile has outlawed puma hunting and has found a delicate balance between ranching and conservation.

“As a boy, my father killed pumas,” says Vincente Navarra, whose family has been raising sheep against the backdrop of Argentina’s Patagonian wilderness for generations. Navarra, a 71-year-old rancher who raises livestock on Patagonia’s Chilean side was the first in his family to cross the border to produce wool there.

Not many people can endure the harsh conditions of Patagonia, a region spread across more than 1 million square kilometers (386,000 square miles), split between Chile to the west and Argentina to the east. Ranchers are among them. But pumas’ appetite for livestock has made it difficult for ranchers to peacefully share a territory with the big cat.

“We were taught to fear the puma and that made it easier to hunt them,” Navarra tells Mongabay about Patagonia’s biggest predator and its relationship with the ranchers inhabiting the region.

*This image is copyright of its original author
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Matias Offline
Regular Member

Aerial wildlife count of the Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, October 2022

Dr Marc Stalmans, Dr Mike Peel & Dominique Gonçalves

To learn more about the park, visit its page:
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Matias Offline
Regular Member

Predator-Friendly Beef Certification as an Economic Strategy to Promote Coexistence Between Ranchers and Wolves

Quote:We held a total of 78 meetings (67 individual interviews and 11 focus group interviews with 37 people) to interview 104 people. Stakeholder groups interviewed included ranchers (n = 45), NGO employees (n = 11), wildlife agency staff (n = 19), wildlife agency commissioners (n = 2), beef industry (n = 4), hunters (n = 9), FFA (n = 5), elected officials (n = 4), and range riders (n = 2). Ranchers interviewed had varying levels of dependence on the income from their ranches. Large scale ranchers derived their entire livelihood from the ranches while some smaller scale ranchers had alternative jobs in addition to ranching. There were two ranchers who identified as hobby ranchers, and two for whom ranching was a second career after retiring from their first career.

We deduced five major findings (Table 1): (1) Both economic and social factors were mentioned as motivating or dissuading ranchers to participate in predator-friendly beef programs. (2) Most ranchers who responded positively toward predator-friendly beef labeling perceived marketing their products as predator-friendly to be more of an education and outreach opportunity than as a new source of income. (3) Some ranchers expressed that labeling their ranch products as predator-friendly would make them more socially accepted by the general public, but at the cost of being ostracized by their neighbors and fellow ranchers. (4) Predator-friendly labeling was considered inferior to grass-finished or organic beef labels, and many ranchers interviewed feared being burdened to prove their beef is legitimately predator-friendly, especially if their neighbors were not participating in the certification program. (5) All stakeholders except county commissioners and FFA perceived an economic opportunity for predator-friendly beef facilitated by existing pro-environmental markets and the existence of a private beef processing plant.

Matias Offline
Regular Member

Lion Carbon Making forests and wildlife more valuable to local people

An compensation project developed by Lion Landscapes.

The Ruaha Carnivore Project (Dr. Amy Dickman) is in the process of merging with the NGO Lion Landscapes (Dr. Alayne Cotterill). Lion Landscapes - Joining Forces.
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Matias Offline
Regular Member

Carbon credits from award-winning Kenyan offset suspended by Verra

Quote:A changing world for Kenyan herders

Whatever the offset’s climate benefits, Survival International says there’s another, more immediate problem with the project. For it to work, Indigenous communities in the conservancies need to agree to bring their herding practices under a new form of management, with the ultimate goal being to convert them into a monetizable carbon credit. That means that older systems of livestock management that already existed in those communities are giving way to that new system. Not everyone is pleased with the change.

“It’s already automatic that we look after our vegetation and environment so that we can keep our livestock there,” said Abdullahi Gonjobe, chairman of the Borana Council of Elders, in a phone interview with Mongabay. “It’s not something that we are supposed to be told. We are born with it, it’s Indigenous knowledge that we have.”

But NRT says the changes aren’t just good for the environment, they’re good for the communities themselves. While most of the revenue from the sale of the carbon credits either goes to the consultancy firm that markets the credits and helped set up the project, or direct operating costs for the conservancies, around a quarter of the proceeds end up in a “carbon community fund” that can be used to finance drought relief, scholarships and other local priorities.

Some researchers say those funds, and the bodies set up to administer them, can themselves be a source of division within pastoralist communities at times, though.

“With these conservancies, for communities there are pros and cons,” said Tahira Shariff, an anthropologist who studies pastoralism in Kenya. “There are a few members of the communities who support the conservancies because of the benefits, but for the majority of the population, especially in the pastoral areas where I come from, it has brought about a lot of division because of feelings of exclusion and that only a minority is involved in decision-making.”

NRT and its technical experts say they don’t agree that the new conservancy grazing councils are a major departure from preexisting systems. The grazing plans that form the basis of the offset are collaboratively written with the community’s leaders, they say, and then implemented directly by local conservancy managers, not outsiders.

“At no time in the project have we ever told people, this is where you should go and this is how many animals you should have,” Ritchie said. “The only thing the project has ever done is say that in order to regenerate your rangeland you need the following two rules of thumb: you never graze in any one area longer than a month, and when the grass gets shorter than a certain height, you leave.”

Describing the changes as a radical shift from centuries-old Indigenous practices is misleading, Ritchie told Mongabay. Those practices already changed after independence, when previously nomadic communities began to build more permanent settlements in areas where they could access government services, creating new pressures on local ecosystems and leading to unsustainable grazing.

“All of the decisions about where the herders go are still totally made by the communities,” he added. “They’re not made by the project at all.”

But Shariff bristled at the idea that herders need an external intervention to help them manage a landscape that’s been their home since long before Kenya was a state at all.

“I think one major problem that pastoralists have is these assumptions and this narrative that they’ve been doing things wrongly and need to be guided the right way,” she said. “For example, the Borana pastoralists that I’ve been researching for the last four years have a very sophisticated and organized way of managing grazing patterns.”

While Indigenous groups in the region are less nomadic than they used to be, the meager presence of government services in a few areas is only part of the explanation for why they’ve stopped moving around as much as they used to. The presence of infrastructure and conservation projects surrounding them on all sides is a bigger factor, Shariff said, not lack of knowledge or care about their ecosystem.

“I really disagree with the idea that pastoralists are grazing in an unplanned manner and now they need to be governed,” she said. “Actually it will bring lots of complication and competition among them.”

There’s also a cruel irony under the surface of the offset’s relationship with the conservancies. While emissions-heavy corporations in the U.S. purchase carbon credits generated by it, allowing them to claim progress toward their net-zero climate goals, the pastoralists who produce those credits are suffering some of climate change’s most devastating impacts. This year’s drought in Kenya is so bad that President Ruto has been urged to declare it a national disaster.

“Today, due to the prolonged drought, the livestock has perished,” said Gonjobe, the Borana elder. “Ninety percent of our livestock is gone. We are poor now.”

In the long run, the question of whether Netflix can confidently tell its customers that some of the emissions caused by their weekend streaming binge are being cleansed by Kenya’s soil may be moot — at least for those who’ve been walking on it for the past few thousand years.

“This drought is actually exacerbated by these land pressures, whereby people have to compete with development infrastructure, conservancies and farming groups,” Shariff said. “And pastoralists are dying squeezed in between them.”

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