Frontline Dispatches – October 2021 Vol. III, No. 10
Sharing is caring for grizzly bears and people in British Columbia. Biologists and members of the Wuikinuxv (“Oh-wee-key-no”) Nation in British Columbia developed a program to balance the competing need for salmon by native fishermen and grizzly bears, Anthropocene reports. Sockeye salmon made up nearly of two-thirds of the bears’ diets and are culturally important to the 300 people of the Wuikinuxv Nation. The collaboration between biologists and native communities establishes salmon quotas that sustainably allow the Wuikinuxv to harvest salmon while ensuring that enough salmon remain for grizzly bears.
Making the best of a bad situation: game violations fund conservation education programs in Arkansas. This year, $769,000 was distributed to Arkansas schools from fines collected from game violations, the Stuttgart Daily Leader reports. These funds are ear marked for conservation education in the counties where the game violation occurred.
Deer hunters share their harvest to feed the hungry. Fall deer hunting seasons are approaching and in many states hunters can donate harvested deer to local food banks. The positive impact on hungry families is huge. For example, since 2000, deer hunters in Wisconsin have donated 3.8 million pounds of venison, and since 1991, Pennsylvania hunters have donated nearly 2 million pounds of venison.
Insight from North America’s original Conservationists. The Wildlife Society highlights the value of incorporating Indigenous perspectives into the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. The North American Model holds wildlife as a public trust, but Indigenous groups were not often consulted or considered in past wildlife management decisions. Greater inclusion of Indigenous perspectives would benefit conservation and reduce conflict over land use management.
Birds exhibit amazing body transformations for long-haul migrations. Remarkable physiological adaptations by birds are essential for their migration, the Audubon Society reports. In the weeks before migrating, birds go through extreme body transformations, such as shrinking their internal organs and doubling their body weight.
Gray wolf conservation under review in the Western US. The US Fish and Wildlife Service reports in a press release that it will initiate a status review of gray wolves after NGOs petitioned the agency to review their decision to delist wolves in the Western US. Wolf management in the US has been highly contentious, with some states increasing harvest limits, citing an increase in wolf population size and adverse impact on ungulates and cattle, while other stakeholders have called for increased protections for wolves in response to human-caused wolf mortalities. We hope that sound wildlife science will prevail in the listing decision. (Read about wolf problems in Europe in our Europe section).
Bluetongue virus kills Bighorn sheep in British Columbia. As of August 25, 2021, the total loss was over 20 sheep. This number is expected to climb. Members of the Wild Sheep Society of B.C. found the dead animals in the Grand Forks region after a number of collared bighorn sheep stopped moving. The virus is spread by a Culicoides biting fly. Bluetongue is usually fatal in bighorn sheep, and it can also affect other ruminants like white-tailed deer, said B.C.’s provincial wildlife veterinarian, Dr Caeley Thacker. “There is no treatment for this disease in any species, … the only thing that can stop the flies is a frost that disrupts their life cycle and kills them” she stated. Transmission will stop at that point. (Photo supplied, see also WSSBC on Facebook and Instagram)
North American hunter-conservationist organizations oppose trophy ban. 35 leading North American hunter-conservationist organizations sent a letter to the US Fish and Wildlife Service strongly opposing a petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to ban all imports, exports, and interstate shipping of wildlife, whole or in parts. The petition is intentionally void of the many conservation and economic benefits that international hunting provides, and it predatorily capitalizes on the COVID-19 pandemic to misrepresent the sporting community and its stakeholders. Read the letter here. (Note: Born Free USA also launched a campaign targeting legal hunting and trapping in North America)
CONSERVATION 101-Endangered Species
The term Endangered Species is often (mis)used. What does it really mean?
• Endangered species – means a species it is at risk of extinction in most of its range.
• Jaguars, whooping cranes, and leatherback sea turtles are endangered species in the US.
• Bald eagles, gray wolves, and American alligators were once endangered.
• These species have recovered significantly because of conservation efforts and are not endangered.
Meanwhile in Europe, the Humane Society International (HSI) campaigns for hunting bans. HSI developed a multilingual campaign concept with the Vienna/Austria based creative agency Offroad Communications to grow opposition to trophy hunting among European citizens. The campaign aims to completely ban the import, export and re-export of hunting trophies.
Illegal killing is the greatest threat to wolves in Europe. Reports from European member states indicate that illegal killing is a major pressure and threat for the conservation of wolf. To effectively tackle this pressure, in addition to improving enforcement, it is important to promote and support coexistence with protected wildlife, addressing the deeply rooted social and economic conflicts that are often behind illegal killing. Rural voices need to be heard and integrated in wolf management and conservation planning, otherwise there might be coexistence problems. More than 200 participants joined the September 7 online conference on wolf management, organized by the European Parliament’s “Biodiversity, Hunting, Countryside” Intergroup. (Read about wolf problems in the United States in our North American section).
Communities from India bag 2021 UNEP Equator Prize. The two winners are Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar from the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR), an Indigenous people cooperative that markets a diverse range of sustainably collected forest products and organically cultivated crops; and Snehakunja Trust who protects sensitive wetland and coastal ecosystems in the Western Ghats and the Karnataka coast, reported Hindustan Times. Both showcase exceptional achievements in innovative, nature-based sustainable use solutions tackling biodiversity loss, and climate change.
Hkakaborazi landscape in northern Myanmar crucial haven for large mammals. A large-scale camera-trapping study to investigate diversity and distribution of large mammals within and outside of the region’s formally protected areas revealed the presence of Chinese red panda, dhole, Shortridge’s langur, musk deer, sambar deer, sun bear, Cranbrook’s goral and takin, among others. These animals live in in particular altitudinal ranges. The researchers recommend extending national park boundaries to protect forests that are risk of being lost due to agricultural expansion and overhunting.
SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA
Six female ocelots returned to the wild. The environment ministry of Ecuador announced that the cats which were illegally captured by wildlife traffickers were released in the northern part of the country in the Cotacachi Cayapas Reserve near the border with Colombia, after one year of rehabilitation.
Community Leaders Network of Southern Africa (CLN). The CLN platform represents rural communities in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. CLN amplifies the voices of southern African communities on a global stage. CLN objectives are equitable and sustainable use rights of wildlife and other natural resources for social and environmental justice and the economic benefit of present and future generations of rural peoples. CLN chair Maxi Louis (Namibia) will make sure that southern African rural communities occupy their rightful space in policy negotiation, development and implementation processes, and that the demands and rights of rural people to manage their wildlife are reflected at national, regional and international levels.
Conflict brews in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA). The NCA was designed as “multiple use” area, where pastoralists could graze their cattle and preserve their livelihoods alongside conservation and tourism management. Whilst high-end lodges cater to an ever-growing number of wealthy visitors, the share on tourist income destined for community development for the Maasai has dropped sharply. Now, a new rezoning plan changes the land-use mode terms, and threatens to push the Maasai out of Ngorongoro. “They are doing all this to the Maasai communities because they want to push people out and give the wildlife priority, and the only way to do that is to prevent Maasai people from grazing so these areas are just for wildlife,” said the Maasai leader interviewed by Mongabay.
African Parks secures $100 Million for conservation in Africa. African Parks manages 19 protected areas covering 14.7 million hectares in several African countries. Now, the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation’ made extraordinarily generous commitment of $100 million reported Mongabay. The money will be split between a $75 million endowment and near-term support for parks under African Parks’ management and enable the African Parks Network to invest in conserving biodiversity, tackling climate change and supporting local communities.
Divergent views on trophy hunting in Africa. The authors state in the abstract of this brand-new study: “Over the past decade, trophy hunting in Africa has seen increased public and scientific interest. Much of that attention has come from outside of Africa, with little emphasis on local views. We circulated an online survey through international networks to explore demographic and regional differences in opinion regards support for African trophy hunting, trophy import bans, and outside funding of conservation estates supported by hunting. We received ∼5700 responses and found that location, demography, and conservation background influenced opinion. African and North American respondents showed (significantly) more support for trophy hunting than respondents from Europe or other areas, as did respondents with conservation backgrounds. Unlike North Americans, Africans supported external subsidies of wildlife areas presently funded by hunting. Many factors affected opinions on African hunting, but respondent location played a major role. Realistic policy on African trophy hunting should thus integrate African perspectives, in particular those of rural communities.”
Conservation and the Environment in Namibia 2021. The newest issue contains 16 excellent articles and dozens of great photographs which showcase some of the research, conservation work and thinking that is coming out of Namibia. Download the individual articles here.
“Killing the Shepherd” selected best human rights film. The Toronto Independent Film Festival of Cift is an annual celebration of the best of short and feature films in contemporary cinema. Tom Opre’s documentary “Killing the Shepherd” was selected “best human rights film” in Toronto. The film shows how a remote community in Zambia, led by a woman chief, attempts to break the stranglehold of absolute poverty by waging a war on wildlife poaching. Opre’s film has collected already awards at the Scorpiusfest in Park City, Utah, the Hollywood International Diversity Film Festival, and more than 10 other festivals. More background information on Killing the Shepherd, and the newest trailers here.
Cape honey bees kill 63 African penguins. The dead penguins were found on September 17 on Boulder Beach near Simonstown, South Africa. Post-mortems revealed that all of the birds had multiple bee stings, and many dead Cape honey bees were discovered at the site where the penguins had died, reported The Daily Maverick on September 24.
One With Nature Exhibition in Budapest/Hungary. On 25 September, “One With Nature” World of Hunting and Nature exhibition, the biggest nature exhibition of 2021, opened its doors. The central venue is the HUNGEXPO Budapest Congress and Exhibition Center. Here visitors are able to see a wide range of hunting, fishing and nature-related themes in a state-of-the-art environment across an exhibition area of almost 75,000 square metres. In addition, a hunting and wildlife management conference organized at national level, various international conferences, and the World Conservation Forum provide excellent settings for lay people as well as professionals to meet and discuss conservation issues. Find more information, latest news and current events here and https://onewithnature2021.org/en.
Conservation efforts are reaping rewards for tuna. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) latest ‘Red List’ of threatened species four commercially fished tuna species have shown signs of recovery thanks to countries enforcing fishing quotas: Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii), albacore (Thunnus alalunga) and yellowfin tunas (Thunnus albacares). However, southern bluefin tuna is still endangered and some regional tuna populations are struggling.
Freak winters linked to Arctic warming. Unusually cold winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere could be a paradoxical consequence of climate warming in the Arctic. A study based on decades of atmospheric observations shows how rapid Arctic warming can trigger anomalies in the polar vortex, a fast-flowing band of high-altitude winds around the North Pole. It is still unclear whether this represents a long-term trend that will persist as the world heats up. And the idea that Arctic warming might be responsible for cold spells in mid-latitude regions is still hotly debated among climate scientists.
Other Effective Area Based Conservation Measures (OECMs) explained. An OECM is an area that is geographically defined, has some form of management in place, and achieves sustained positive outcomes for biodiversity. Contrary to the IUCN definition of a protected area, where conservation is one of the core management goals, in OECMs the only requirement are sustained conservation benefits, irrespective of the core management goals. Emily Darling is a co-author of the commentary “Biodiversity needs every tool in the box: use OECMs” published a couple of months ago in Nature. Darling said to Mongabay this September that “OECMs can include areas that are managed by small-scale fisheries, by low-impact agroforestry, among many other types of rights holders and actors who manage areas. This can bring a lot more people to the conservation table, and that’s crucial.” Whether OECMs gain traction, and what they could ultimately look like in practice, will depend on which groups choose to engage with the concept and how they do so.
Domestic bushmeat consumption an “urgent” threat to migratory mammals worldwide. The report Impacts of Taking, Trade and Consumption of Terrestrial Migratory Species for Wild Meat has found that many migratory mammals are in grave danger of being hunted for meat for domestic consumption, which in many cases poses a greater risk to population numbers than international trade. The authors also claim that there is strong evidence that wild meat taking and consumption is linked to zoonotic diseases. The authors say that while wild meat consumption cannot be eliminated because it is an indispensable source of nutrition and income for rural communities, improved national regulations and international cooperation is essential to safeguard threatened species. The report was prepared by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and published by the Secretariat of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) in September 2021. In this context we recommend reading Mongabay’s summary article on the report, and Rachel Nuwer’s commentary “Heeding the Pandemic’s Warnings”, published by BioGraphic. (Editor’s note: we expect lively discussions on the report’s contents and conclusions, especially since the CMS press release announcing the report made some sweeping statements on hunting—stay tuned).
IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi) at the World Conservation Congress. SULi hosted the congress session titled ‘Still ruffling feathers: How sustainable use benefits conservation’. The presentations and discussions showed that controversies still exist around the topic of sustainable use, despite the countless case studies showing its effectiveness as a tool to support wildlife conservation and human livelihoods (Editor’s note: to provide historical context, we recommend reading “Assessing the Sustainability of Uses of Wild Species” published by IUCN in 1996). Sustainable use (and the socio-economic and biological benefits associated with sustainable wildlife management) plays also a significant role in the post-2020 biodiversity framework, recently released by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).