Saturday, September 7, 2013

Elephants, Vultures and Poaching

I read the news via my iPad;  CNN, MSNBC, Google News, Huffington Post and so on.  Syria, Iraq, Dennis Rodman, Riddick and the Australian elections seemed to dominate.  It was only when I opened the Salon app that this story appeared:  41 Zimbabwe Elephants Poisoned In Worse National Case Ever.   It was one of those "WTF" moments.

Elephants are sentient intelligent beings.  Their brains are 11 pounds compared to our puny human brains.  They grieve their dead, possess a complex social structure, language, tool use and so on.  Many conclude (as do I) that keeping them chained in zoos is immoral.  Yet, they are seen by many in China, Thailand and Viet Nam as a commodity.   They don't kill them for meat.  They want the elephant tusks for bogus medicinal purposes, status and for decorative trinkets.  

Currently, a genocide is taking place in Africa.  Last year 30, 000 elephants were ruthlessly murdered for their ivory tusks.  Millions of dollars is at stake in its blackmarket trade.  Poachers are generally poor desperate people the smugglers rely on to do the dirty work.  Poachers, when caught are given slaps on the wrist with shockingly light sentences.  It comes as no surprise, we probably will witness the extinction of all wild elephants in Africa disappear in the next 12 years!   

The sophistication of elephant poaching is brutal and quite efficient.  Now, vultures are being poisoned so authorities and game wardens won't be warned by the birds circling the carrion.   The African white-backed vultures are endangered.  Yes, things do go from bad to worse.  The poison used to kill the birds are spread through the ecosystem.  Definitely, a dark time.

What can you do?  I know, the situation appears hopeless.  The reality of the slaughter is depressing.  However, don't give up the battle!  Below are some links.  Maybe, just maybe the elephants and birds might have a fighting chance.

----Louis Vassmer MS, Pres., PWA

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Enlightened Conservation In The Third World by Donnie Dann

By Donnie R. Dann

Enlightened Conservation in the Third World

Our planet continues to lose its natural habitats. Tropical forests, coral reefs, native grasslands and other precious havens that provide humans with the biodiversity necessary to support life are disappearing at an increasingly alarming rate. To remedy this, well-meaning conservation organizations urge third world countries to set aside portions of their pristine places as “national parks.” But will this action really avoid deforestation, conversion to agriculture, and wildlife poaching?

Far too often, experience has demonstrated that a mere declaration of land as a protected park becomes just another “paper park” and a far cry from achieving real conservation. Rosaleen Duffy, in her 2010 book Nature Crime: How We're Getting Conservation Wrong, investigates and exposes the failings of international conservation efforts. She told the Guardian that when wildlife reserves are established, local communities suddenly find that their everyday subsistence activities, such as hunting and collecting wood, have been outlawed. This outcome could be the opposite of what's intended.

Many environmental groups are recognizing that to achieve valid habitat and wildlife protection you must have the buy-in of local people. Here are comments from the CEOs of three effective conservation organizations on the role of the people who live in these communities.

George Fenwick, American Bird Conservancy “Community engagement is a necessary component of our conservation work in almost every project in which we work. Local people need to be aware of the benefits that the birds, the biodiversity and the ecosystem services provide them, and they need to be offered ways to make a living while still respecting the protected area.  While guards may be critical in stopping many illegal activities, without the support of the local community there can never be enough guards to keep a reserve protected.”

Mark Tercek, The Nature Conservancy “We need to get better at connecting nature to what concerns people most—how to make their lives better, protect their health, create jobs, and get the economy moving.”

Brett Jenks, Rare Center “The people who inhabit the world’s most biologically diverse forests, grasslands, and coastlines have a disproportionate influence over the conservation of natural resources. Conservation is about people. Without their involvement, without their active leadership, conservation never works. This is the philosophy that guides all of Rare’s work in 50 countries and thousands of communities around the world.”

If you have the privilege of traveling to areas of high biodiversity that are being pressured by the forces of development, recognize that the dollars you spend on restaurants, lodges, nature guides, etc—especially those sponsored by local conservation organizations—all help with their enduring protection. Many ecotourism companies set aside a portion of your fees just for this purpose. Travel aside, support these and similar groups that protect the natural world and improve the lives of local people.

This may be excerpted, reproduced or circulated without limitation. 

Thank you, Donnie for your article!  If anyone would like to submit an item for the blog, please drop us a note!---Ed.....