Frontline Dispatches – November 2021 Vol. III, No. 11
Video: Hungry Stomachs Have No Ears. Mike Arnold’s September 26 TEDx talk highlights the work of Zambeze Delta Safaris in Coutada 11, Marromeu Complex, Mozambique. Filmed on location, Mike explains conservation-through- trophy hunting, subsistence fishing programs, improvement of agricultural practises, habitat protection and restoration, as well as the differences between regulated hunting and organized poaching. You will find Mike’s message captivating and thought-provoking. (Mike Arnold is a fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science).
How do you like your meat? Unleaded, please! A national Wildlife Lead Poisoning Working Group to chart the way forward to a non-leaded wildlife industry was recently established in Namibia. The Namibian Chamber of Environment is working with all stakeholders to make lead-free ammunition more widely available and cheaper in Namibia. This transition would be better for our health and environment says Gail Thomson in an article published by Conservation Namibia.
Questionnaire on the Sustainable Use of Wildlife. Resource Africa’s position paper “Indigenous Flora and Fauna, African Resources for African People” argued for the inclusion of the sustainable use of wildlife into the UN Convention of Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Nagoya Protocol. Following a webinar on different perspectives on sustainable wildlife use, Resource Africa has now launched a questionnaire to take you deeper into the topic of the sustainable use of wildlife in Africa.
For dozens of Africans each year including many children, this is the last thing they’ll ever see. The international public often seems unaware that across much lion range, lions live in human-dominated land around and beyond national parks or similarly protected areas. Lion attacks on people are far more common than most people imagine. Amy Dickman and Alayne Cotterill, joint CEOs of Lion Landscapes describe the devastating reality of lion attacks on humans in Africa in their blog “Man-eating lions and the risks of relocation” and discuss the effectiveness of lion relocation versus lethal removal. Tim Tetzlaff’s Facebook post provides context on unintended consequences—it’s easier to fundraise with majestic lion photos and talk about their decline, or even victim- shame, than it is to be honest about the realities that the loss of one man-eating lion can save the lives of people—and lions. Lion conservation must focus on how rural African communities, their livestock and lions can co-exist in landscapes that support viable populations of wild lions and healthy wild prey populations within intact habitats.
11 cheetahs relocated to Mozambique’s Coutada 11. Cheetahs from South Africa and Malawi have been successfully rehomed to the Marromeu Complex in eastern Mozambique. The Cabela Family Foundation, together with Zambeze Delta Safaris, the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, and the National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) are the main drivers of the 12-Cheetahs Project (one animal died in Malawi prior to relocation). All cheetahs are fitted with tracking collars allowing GPS monitoring by a group of on-the-ground zoologists, wildlife experts, and conservationists.
Highly responsive wildlife management in Namibia’s conservancies. The Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations commented (CBNRM stands for Community-based Natural Resource Management) in a recent article published by The Namibian that harvesting quotas must keep track of the rainfall and subsequent wildlife population trends. Under the current quota setting system, a thorough review of wildlife counting data is completed every three years to set a benchmark quota for the next three-year period. The quota is subject annual revision (increase or reduction) based on data collected each year on a conservancy-by-conservancy basis. This adaptive management system responds quickly to wildlife count data, rainfall, and vegetation conditions.
Marshall Murphree—a true giant of Community-Based Natural Resources Management—died, aged 90. Marshall authored more than 80 books and articles, and his wisdom was often referred to as “Murphree’s Laws” on CBNRM. His work was as influential as Elinor Ostrom’s, he just didn’t get a Nobel Prize. Marshall was Chair of IUCN’s Sustainable Use Specialist Group between 1994 and 2000. From 1970 through 1996 he was Director of the Centre for Applied Social Sciences at the University of Zimbabwe; from 1992-1995 he was Chairman of Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wild Life Board.
Video: Namibians reject German Green Party’s anti-trophy hunting stance. South African director Phil Hattingh (SouthernXFilms) follows Naita Hishoono from the Namibian Institute for Democracy NID on a two-week journey through Namibia. Naita meets scientists, representatives of NGOs, and rural community representatives. They discussed the German Green Party’s statement to “effectively preventing commercial wildlife trade and trophy hunting.” Namibians who live and breathe conservation don’t take this kindly (in German).
European Union LIFE program to mitigate large carnivore damages. A new study provides an overview of the use of non-lethal and lethal damage prevention methods. The paper evaluates the functional and perceived effectiveness of 135 LIFE projects. Most projects focused on wolf (Canis lupus) and brown bear (Ursus arctos) in the Mediterranean countries and in Romania. The researchers provide a list of recommendations for improving measuring, and reporting success of implemented interventions to benefit future projects aimed to reduce damages caused by wildlife.
Biodiversity Manifesto of the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation. Europe’s first evidence-based platform shows the crucial contribution of Europe’s hunters to habitat restoration, protected areas, and species monitoring, as well as toward the implementation of the European Union Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. The substantial and growing database covers over 470 hunting-related conservation projects.
Pressure on the Maltese government to take action against illegal hunting. BirdLife Malta released statistics which show that over 523 illegally shot birds were recovered so far in the past four years alone (2018-2021) when compared to the 190 killings in the previous four-year period (2014-2017), reported Malta Today.
In Memoriam: Bernard Lozé, Honorary President of CIC, the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation. A passionate conservationist and hunter, Bernard led the CIC as president from 2011 to 2016. With roots in France and Russia, Bernard was particularly instrumental in shaping conservation policy across Eurasia. His passion for wildlife, the environment and responsible conservation management always focused on the role of people in nature. His many friends around the globe mourn the loss of a fascinating, generous and very persuasive person.
Feds get serious on CWD. The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act, a bipartisan bill, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. CWD is a contagious, fatal disease affecting the nervous system of deer, elk, caribou and moose. Researchers still have a lot of unknowns and this legislation will “support state and tribal efforts to develop and implement management strategies as well as fund research into methods to better detect and prevent CWD.”
Operation Grizzly. In Western Canada, five former military service members participated in a project tracking grizzly bears with wildlife experts. The conservation work puts their unique skills to use, and helps overcoming mental and physical wounds, reports the Guardian. Sponsored by the Invictus Games Foundation and a former journalist, these veterans and wildlife experts tracked grizzlies through the remote Selkirk Mountains.
Didn’t see this one coming…John Oliver’s duck stamp of approval? HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver had some fun with the Federal Duck Stamp contest. The results? Introducing millions of people to the Duck Stamp conservation program, a good laugh, and $99,723 raised for the US Fish and Wildlife Service “to help conserve habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife on our nation’s wildlife refuges,” reports Outdoor Life. Field and Stream got in on the fun and placed the winning bid of $33,200 for one of Oliver’s prized duck stamps.
16.43 million acres of public land are landlocked across 22 states in America. Conservation Frontlines informed you about Jason Matzinger’s film a fortnight ago. Read more about #ProjectLandlocked, and study the Landlocked reports.
Public and private partnership results in thousands of acres for lesser- prairie chickens. New Mexico Game and Fish purchased a 7,560-acre ranch through a public-private partnership with NGL Energy Partners and funds generated through the sale of fishing and hunting licenses, says the Carlsbad Current Argus. The ranch connects two existing state properties and provides over 10,000 acres of habitat that will benefit the lesser prairie-chicken, a species being considered for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Home on the Range. Once thought to be extinct, tule elk have returned to roam across California’s Point Reyes National Seashore, but the park—which also supports beef and dairy cattle—is getting crowded. Read BioGraphic’s Tule Elk story written by Asher Elbein, with photographs by Sarah Killingsworth (image shows Tule elk bulls in velvet rest in a field with cattle, surrounded by barbed wire fencing above Drake’s Beach).
Urban Fishing for a bite to eat. Katie Hill, former Conservation Frontlines intern, explores the benefits of urban fishing to low income participants in “Urban Angling Addresses Inner City Food Insecurity” for MeatEater. The study from Eckerd College in Tampa, Florida showed that in the last year 11% of the city’s anglers fished to avoid hunger for themselves or families. “For some, it’s the difference between eating and not eating.”
Hunter ethics are an increasing priority, which is good news for conservation. Arizona Game and Fish recently introduced “Ethically Hunting Arizona” which is a 10-hour course on ethical hunting with a final exam. Hunters who pass the course receive a lifetime bonus point which increases chances at future hunting opportunities. Additionally, researchers at North Carolina State University found that “ethical meat, not trophies, could inspire new hunters.” Prioritizing and showcasing the value of ethical hunting should result in increased participation in hunting, which will help fund wildlife conservation in North America.
Many bird species migrate southward each fall. What triggers birds to migrate?
• Shorter days
• Lower temperatures
• Reduced food supplies
Watch this mesmerizing figure produced by Cornell University to see when migration peaks near you.
Wild Amur tigers rebound in China. Chinese government environmental stewardship policies are believed to be favouring the re-emergence of Amur tigers in northeastern China. With further efforts to minimize human pressures like poaching, habitat loss and fragmentation, and human-wildlife conflict, and the establishment of ecological corridors between tiger habitats, the tiger population could grow further, reported Mongabay.
Impacts of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the Asia-Pacific region. ASF outbreaks could push the 11 native wild pig species to the edge of extinction, says IUCN. FAO, IUCN SSC, and OIE reflected on the impact on the Vulnerable bearded pig (Sus barbatus) in Sabah, Malaysia, where high mortalities have been reported. ASF is also threatening the Vulnerable Philippines warty pig (Sus philippensis), and there are concerns about wild pig populations in Indonesia. The loss of native wild species could also affect fragile ecological communities by depriving threatened predators of a vital food source.
Video: The Przewalski gazelle is unique to China. After more than 20 years of conservation efforts, the population of this endangered gazelle has increased around 10 times, from 300 to more than 2,700.
Mapping for conserving terrestrial biodiversity, carbon storage and water. A new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution has mapped out the world’s regions where conservation actions can maximize the protection of biodiversity, carbon stocks, and water. The study identifies areas that would be suitable for “conservation management,” which includes sustainable use under any locally appropriate form of governance, including Indigenous reserves.
And threats to terrestrial vertebrates are mapped at global scale, too. A recent study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, uses data from the IUCN Red List to map threats to terrestrial mammals, birds, and amphibians at a global scale. Six major threats are identified: agriculture, [Ed. Note: “unregulated”] hunting and trapping, logging, pollution, invasive species, and climate change. Hunting and trapping is the most geographically widespread threat, across 50% of land for birds and 73% of land for mammals (with hotspots primarily located in the tropics). In a ScienceDaily article on this study, one of the co-authors remarked that “we still know so little about the exact location and intensity of … hunting and trapping … on-the-ground surveys [should give] an accurate local picture of [threat] distribution and impacts, but they are challenging and resource-intensive, therefore difficult to do at the scale at which some conservation decisions [to identify the most appropriate local solutions] are made”. (Editor’s note: “Hunting & Trapping” apparently includes all extractive use of animal species: legal and illegal, managed and unmanaged, subsistence and recreational).
Hidden costs of global illegal wildlife trade. An international team of experts has highlighted (in a paper published in Biological Conservation) that the illegal and unsustainable global wildlife trade negatively impacts species, ecosystems, and society—including people’s health, crime and our economies.
Meanwhile, migratory mammals in grave danger from wild meat consumption. A recent U.N. report has found that many migratory mammals are in grave danger of being hunted (Editor’s note: aka as subsistence hunting, and poaching where it is illegal) for meat for domestic consumption, Mongabay reported in September. The authors admit that wild meat consumption is an indispensable source of nutrition and income for rural communities, but call for improved national regulations and international cooperation to safeguard threatened species. There is also strong evidence that wild meat taking and consumption is linked to zoonotic diseases.
Two dozen countries have joined a pledge to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels. The group, led by
the United States and the European Union, now includes 9 of the world’s top 20 methane emitters, but not the top 3: China, Russia and India. Although methane is a fraction of total greenhouse-gas emissions, it packs an outsize punch: in the first 20 years after release, methane is around 80 times more powerful than CO2 at trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere. The good news is that it breaks down very quickly, so curbing methane emissions will reap quick rewards.
Pandemic pollution. A seahorse off the coast of northern Greece clings to a discarded surgical mask, highlighting the growing environmental toll of pandemic waste. According to some estimates, the pandemic response has generated more than 1.6 million tonnes of plastic waste each day globally, including disposable personal protective equipment such as face masks, gloves and aprons. This photo, captured by Nicholas Samaras, was highly commended in the 2021 Ocean Photography Awards.
And finally—how complicated is the weather and climate system? It’s incredibly complex and interconnected, but the three researchers who won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics describe these complicated physical systems—their work includes foundational research that predicted that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere would raise global temperatures. Hence, modelling climate is solidly based in physical theory and physics, and global warming is resting on solid science.