POMRFL completes preliminary finals

first_imgIn the U19 division finals today, Brothers beat Paga Panthers 16-12 while Defence beat West 6-4.Brothers will meet Defence in the grand final.For the A grade men’s, Brothers were too strong for Souths winning 30-20. The other game saw Royals edge out Kone Storms 14-12.Brothers will play Royals in the grand final.The one women’s preliminary final today between Paga Panthers and Royals was won by Royals 20-16.Royals will lock horns with Souths in the grand final.last_img

Extremely rare bay cat filmed in Borneo

first_imgAnimals, Biodiversity, Cats, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environment, Forests, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Mammals, Rainforests, Species Discovery, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Article published by Shreya Dasgupta Researchers photographed the bay cat while conducting a wildlife survey in the Rungan Landscape in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.The forests in this landscape include peat swamps and heath, a habitat type in which bay cats have not previously been recorded, scientists say.The team has not released the exact location of the potentially new population of bay cats because the forest where the cat was filmed is not legally protected. Scientists have filmed the extremely secretive bay cat (Catopuma badia) in a new location that is about 64 kilometers (40 miles) outside its currently known distribution range in Borneo.The chestnut-colored cat, also called the Bornean cat, is found only in Borneo and is one of the least known wild cats in the world. It is currently listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.A team of researchers from the Oxford Brookes University, Muhammadiyah University Palangka Raya, Indonesia, and the University of Exeter, UK, photographed the bay cat while conducting a wildlife survey in the Rungan Landscape in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. The team had set up 54 camera traps over 28 locations across the Rungan Landscape, and the bay cat was photographed after 28 days.The forests in this landscape include peat swamps and heath, a habitat type in which bay cats have not previously been recorded, scientists report in Cat News.“The type of tropical forest where we carried out our research is generally considered to be of relatively poor conservation value. However, we have found that this landscape actually represents a mosaic of forest types that supports a high diversity of wildlife, including a number of endangered species,” Frank Van Veen of the University of Exeter said in a statement. “The discovery of the bay cat here illustrates that we cannot just make assumptions about the conservation value of remaining areas of rainforest, and that research on the ground is essential for well-informed conservation.”(Video courtesy of Borneo Nature Foundation)The team has not released the exact location of the potentially new population of bay cats because the forest where the cat was filmed is not legally protected and the species continues to be threatened by habitat loss and hunting.“There is still a lot we don’t know about the forests of Borneo and the clock is ticking,” the team said. “More surveys are needed to understand the distribution and ecological needs of Borneo’s wildlife if we are to save species on the brink of extinction.”Male bay cat photographed in Borneo. Photo by Borneo Nature Foundation.Citation:Cheyne SM (2017) First record of the bay cat in mosaic heath/peat-swamp forest, Kalimantan, Indonesia. CATnews.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Anti-trafficking activist held without trial in Madagascar

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Activism, Biodiversity, Cites, Conservation, Corruption, Deforestation, Ecology, Endangered Environmentalists, Environment, Environmental Activism, Environmental Crime, Environmental Policy, Forest Destruction, Forest Loss, Forest Products, Forests, Governance, Government, Green, Human Rights, Illegal Logging, Law Enforcement, Logging, National Parks, Organized Crime, Parks, Protected Areas, Rainforest Conservation, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Rosewood, Trees Article published by Rebecca Kesslercenter_img Clovis Razafimalala has been working to end rosewood trafficking in Madagascar since 2009.He has been imprisoned since September on charges of unauthorized rebellion and burning state files and property during a protest he maintains he did not participate in.No trial date has been announced, although one is supposed to be set by May 26.Activists say his case raises concern for the civil rights of Malagasy environmental activists. Clovis Razafimalala heads Lampogno, an organization seeking an end to illegal rosewood trafficking in northeastern Madagascar. Charged with unauthorized rebellion and burning state files and property during a protest he maintains he did not participate in, he has been imprisoned without trial since September 2016.Rosewood, a suite of species in the genus Dalbergia, is one of the world’s most sought-after hardwoods, primarily to feed demand in China for the manufacture of luxury furniture. Several species endemic to Madagascar are listed as endangered or vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These have been subject to heavy, destructive logging particularly in the country’s national parks and protected areas, a situation that flared up following a 2009 coup.Malagasy law prohibits the export of rosewood, and its trade is currently banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).In a phone call and an emailed statement from prison in the eastern city of Tamatave, Razafimalala recently told Mongabay that his fight against rosewood traffickers has been going on for years. He and his fellow activists have sought to raise public awareness, held workshops and press conferences, and lobbied officials, all the while operating under threats of death or imprisonment, he said.Clovis Razafimalala. Photo courtesy of Clovis Razafimalala.According to Razafimalala the story started in April 2009, soon after the coup. That’s when he and five friends began hosting a weekly public education program on a local radio station, Radio 2000, in the northeastern seaport town of Maroantsetra, a hotbed of illegal harvesting and export of rosewood and ebony. “Over time, denouncing the massive destruction of the Malagasy environment and most of all within the two national parks Makira and Masoala became our priority,” Razafimalala said.However, he said it was his discovery of an authorization to transfer approximately 5,700 rosewood logs issued by the Ministry of Environment, Ecology, and Forests to a powerful local businessperson that marked the beginning of the threats against Razafimalala.In May 2009, a few weeks after asking questions about the documents at a meeting of local and regional authorities, Razafimalala said unknown assailants set fire to his house. Luckily, the fire was contained before it could ignite an unexploded Molotov cocktail found under the stilted house, and only the main door and a computer were burned. Radio 2000 was the target of a similar attack two days later, he said. The owner suspended Razafimalala and his friends’ show, reinstating it only after they agreed to speak less about rosewood trafficking.Undeterred, the group joined forces with a local association of older people and forged a new organization dedicated to getting the authorities to crack down on rosewood trafficking. Only a few members participated, though, because authorities threatened them individually, he said. Eventually an association of ecotourism guides joined in and Razafimalala and two guides came to lead the effort against rosewood trafficking in Maroantsetra.Maroantsetra on Antongil Bay, Madagascar. Map courtesy of Google Maps.One key battle began toward the end of 2010, when the Malagasy government ordered the closure of customs services in Maroantsetra, apparently at the behest of rosewood traffickers, and the customs building was occupied by the National Gendarmerie, Razafimalala said. By then, Antongil Bay around Maroantsetra had become a major rosewood embarkation point. “It was a total mess,” said Razafimalala. He and his colleagues began lobbying the government to reopen the customs services.Another front opened in 2014 when, due to the poor condition of the local airstrip, Air Madagascar cancelled all flights to Maroantsetra and the Malagasy government’s Civil Aviation Authority threatened to close the airport, he said.“This decision was manipulated by rosewood traffickers,” Razafimalala said, “tourists coming to visit Masoala were bothering them a lot because they took photos and watched their activities.” He said he and his colleagues joined calls for the airport to be rehabilitated, lobbying the government in the capital city of Antananarivo, this time successfully.Soon after, Razafimalala helped create a civil society group called Lampogno MaMaBaie (for Masoala and Makira national parks and Baie d’Antongil, as Antongil Bay is known in French). The group has been working to stop illicit natural resource trafficking in Antongil Bay, with a major goal being to get the custom services reopened.“I have received many threats of death and imprisonment. At times I have been offered bribes in exchange for dissolving our organization, a proposal I have always refused,” Razafimalala said.Rosewood trafficking boats in Maroantsetra, Madagascar, in 2012. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.From August to September 2016, Razafimalala said he traveled to Antananarivo on Lampogno business, taking advantage of the trip to lobby government officials on the customs issue and securing a promise to reopen the Maroantsetra customs services before the end of the year.According to Razafimalala, the day after he returned to Maroantsetra, protests erupted there on September 14. A legal dispute between two local businessmen had ended with a court victory for one of them allegedly involved in rosewood trafficking and whom Razafimalala had publicly criticized. Many people in Maroantsetra believed the decision was a corrupt one made in favor of the wealthy and powerful businessman, and the protest turned violent. Razafimalala maintained that he knew nothing about the protest and was not present at it.The next afternoon, he said he and five others were arrested and held in custody by officers of the National Gendarmerie. Around 4 a.m. on the morning of September 16, Razafimalala said he the others were transferred by private plane to the city of Tamatave, some 250 miles away, where they were held at the Criminal Investigation Section. They were not permitted to contact their families, or to bring clothes or money, he said.Transferring prisoners by private plane is highly unusual in Madagascar, according to Corrine Huynh Rahoeliarisoa of the National Coalition for Environmental Advocacy (CNPE).“How could the government, if we imagine it was the government, have the financial means to hire a private plan for transferring seven or eight persons from Maroantsetra? It’s impossible,” Rahoeliarisoa told Mongabay. She added that she feels certain the alleged rosewood trafficker paid for the flight, though she admitted she has no proof.For ten days, Razafimalala said he and the others were held at the Criminal Investigation Section then deferred to the Court of First Instance in Tamatave to answer to charges of rebellion without authorization, destruction of state-owned assets, and burning of state documents. They were then sent to a local prison for eight months of pre-trial detention.Razafimalala claims a breach of procedure in his case. Trials are normally held in the same town where a defendant is arrested, but he said no official notice from the Maroantsetra court has been disclosed that would justify the Court of First Instance in Tamatave taking control of his case.Razafimalala said he is well treated in jail. But a week after his incarceration, poison threats were circulating in the prison, he said, adding “My wife had to come here to Tamatave with my two children to ensure the meals (so they wouldn’t pass through any middle men).”The pre-trial detention is supposed to end by May 26, but so far no trial date has been announced. Razafimalala’s four requests for interim release were denied. However the requests of two others arrested the same day were granted. The latest development for Razafimalala and the three others who remain in custody was the issuance of a legal order guaranteeing their release 30 months after their arrest if no trial date is set.Rosewood awaiting shipment in Maroantsetra, Madagascar in 2012. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.Since Razafimalala’s arrest, Lampogno has been weakened, according to a member who requested anonymity because of constant safety threats. The source said that members knowledgeable about the illegal rosewood trade were now refusing to speak out due to fear. And Maroantsetra customs services remains closed, according to Razafimalala.Rahoeliarisoa of the CNPE said that in her opinion “Clovis was trapped.”She said the CNPE, a coalition of environmental groups including Lampogno, has Razafimalala’s liberation as a top priority. The coalition held two press briefings in February calling for his immediate release. A worldwide petition launched separately by the German NGO Sauvons la Forêt has gathered more than 108,000 signatures.In Madagascar, rosewood trafficking continued to worsen after the 2009 coup, despite a government commitment to end the illicit timber trade in 2013. In September 2016, the CITES Standing Committee called upon the country to implement a “timber action plan” to protect its forests or face potential trade sanctions.The detention of Razafimalala is not an isolated case. In 2015 one of Razafimalala’s fellow anti-trafficking activists, ecotourism guide Armand Marozafy, spent five months in prison on defamation charges for naming two businessmen allegedly involved in rosewood logging via a private email sent to a foreign contact that was later posted on Facebook.The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an international organization dedicated to unveiling environmental crimes, has expressed concern about the situation for Malagasy environmental activists.“As long as civil society is not able to operate freely and independently in Madagascar, the very basic conditions for even starting to implement the CITES action plan are not in place,” Susanne Breitkopf, EIA policy director told Mongabay. “While illegal timber barons have nothing to worry [about], the very people who are standing up to protect their forests from criminal elements are being incarcerated.”May 9, 2017 UPDATE: Amnesty International has launched a campaign on behalf of Clovis Razafimalala.Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) in Madagascar. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

An evolving IUCN Red List needs to be both innovative and rigorous (commentary)

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species guides conservationists in their race against extinction by assessing the threats faced by species around the globe. Over 86,000 have been assessed so far.A recent Biological Conservation study suggested that using citizen science data in Red List assessments could help estimate the range bird species inhabit more accurately. When it comes to the importance of citizen science, IUCN couldn’t be more in agreement with the authors of the study.But just as it is important to embrace cutting-edge technologies, it is also fundamental to respect the rigorous system for assessing extinction risk for the Red List. Ramesh et al. made a fundamental error by confusing two definitions normally used in assessments.This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species guides conservationists in their race against extinction by assessing the threats faced by species around the globe. Over 86,000 have been assessed so far. The way we assess extinction threat evolves as new techniques emerge, giving ever more accurate data. But as the IUCN Red List changes it is crucial to respect the rigorous assessment process, developed over half a century, that makes the Red List a reliable and consistent barometer of life on earth.A recent Biological Conservation study suggested that using citizen science data in Red List assessments could help estimate the range bird species inhabit more accurately. The study, Ramesh et al. (2017), used the citizen science database eBird to recalculate the ranges of 18 birds found in the Western Ghats mountain range in India, a biodiversity hotspot. According to the authors, the recalculated range areas were much smaller than those used in Red List assessments for those species. They suggested that the Red List ranges were inaccurate, and that consequently threats may be underestimated for 10 of the 18 species it looked at. The study recommended using citizen science to give more accurate range data.When it comes to the importance of citizen science, IUCN couldn’t be more in agreement with the authors of the study. The IUCN Red List bird assessments already use data from citizen science repositories, including eBird, BirdTrack, and xeno-canto, to map species distributions as accurately as possible. We will continue to capitalise on the wealth of data generated by citizen science, and welcome the study authors’ conclusion that greater use of data-driven approaches can improve accuracy.But just as it is important to embrace cutting-edge technologies, it is also fundamental to respect the rigorous system for assessing extinction risk for the Red List. Ramesh et al. made a fundamental error by confusing two definitions normally used in assessments. They measured the area of suitable habitat for a selection of species, but instead of using this to assess the area each species occupies (or “area of occupancy”), they equated it with the degree to which the species’ distribution spreads extinction risk (“extent of occurrence”). Comparing their figures with the “extent of occurrence” thresholds, which are an order of magnitude larger, inevitably — and incorrectly — implies a higher level of threat for many of the bird species.Take, for example, the black-and-orange flycatcher (Ficedula nigrorufa), a small bird that inhabits the high plateaus of India’s Western Ghats mountains. It faces threats from people harvesting wood, building roads, and constructing hydroelectric power stations in the forests it inhabits. The flycatcher is classified as Near Threatened because it has an extent of occurrence that closely approaches the thresholds for Vulnerable and there is a continuing decline in habitat.Ramesh et al. argue this species should be moved to Vulnerable on the Red List, because they calculate the area of suitable habitat to cover 9,300 square kilometers (or close to 3,600 square miles). However, the extent of suitable habitat represents the maximum possible area actually occupied by the species – or maximum “area of occupancy.” To be considered for listing as Vulnerable, the area of occupancy must be below 2,000 km2 (about 772 square miles). This means the black-and-orange flycatcher does not qualify as Vulnerable on this basis even before other factors are taken into account. The mistake made by Ramesh et al. was to compare their figure against the much larger threshold for the “extent of occurrence” — 20,000 km2 (a little over 7,700 square miles). Extent of occurrence is a very different metric — relating to the spread of extinction risk. To ensure consistency between assessments, the IUCN Red List Guidelines are clear that it has to be measured in a very specific way — as the ‘minimum convex polygon’ around the range margins.If we compare the areas from the study with the correct threshold, just two of the 18 birds the authors looked at may potentially qualify for a higher risk status. However, to qualify under the relevant Red List criterion, other factors also have to meet particular thresholds, including degree of habitat fragmentation and declines in habitat quality among others. More detailed assessment on a case by case basis will now be undertaken for these species.It is crucially important to continue improving the accuracy of data — and IUCN is doing just that. One example of the Red List embracing new monitoring techniques is the recent drive to incorporate high-resolution, remotely sensed data on tree-cover loss into assessments. A 2016 paper, Tracewski et al. (2016), uses these high-precision data to calculate the extent of suitable habitat for over 11,000 species — all forest-dependent birds, mammals and amphibians worldwide. It then compares these against the correct Red List threshold, and identifies a range of candidates for potential listing at higher threat categories after case by case assessment.The results of the Tracewski et al. study are now feeding into updates of the IUCN Red List for birds, mammals, and amphibians, to be published in the next few years. The study authors collaborated with engineers at Google’s Earth Engine to create the code behind their analysis. Efforts are now underway to automatically feed such analyses into Red List updates through a formal partnership between Global Forest Watch, which uses satellite imagery to annually update deforestation data, and IUCN, BirdLife International, and other Red List partners. Similar approaches are underway with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre for remote sensing of wetlands. IUCN also recently called for more investment in on-the-ground monitoring of biodiversity, including ‘citizen science’ projects such as eBird.Ramesh et al. conclude that even if they have been over-conservative in assessing extinction risk, it is better to give certain bird species too much protection rather than too little. This argument might hold in a perfect world with unlimited resources for conservation. Unfortunately, as things stand, conservation resources are spread far too thinly across a vast number of highly threatened species. This means that, if we exaggerated the threats to some species through a conservative approach, we potentially divert resources from species that are genuinely more threatened. An over-conservative approach could also seriously undermine the credibility of conservation efforts.To avoid bias, it is essential that all species across all groups are assessed in a consistent and rigorous way on the IUCN Red List, in order to make sure that scarce resources are allocated as efficiently as possible. Faced with a rising wave of extinctions, an approach that is both innovative and rigorous is now more important than ever.A black-and-orange flycatcher (Ficedula nigrorufa) photographed in a shola forest in Munnar, a town in the Western Ghats mountain range in India’s Kerala state. Photo via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Birds, Citizen Science, Commentary, Editorials, Endangered Species, Environment, Extinction, Research, Researcher Perspective Series, Saving Species From Extinction center_img Article published by Mike Gaworeckilast_img read more

Conservation group African Parks to look after West African wildlife

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored The 10-year agreement includes funding of $26 million.African Parks and the government of Benin aim to double wildlife populations in the park by training guards and shoring up protections from poaching.The effort will create some 400 jobs and benefit the overall economy, say representatives of the government and the NGO. The conservation NGO African Parks has signed an agreement with the government of Benin to rejuvenate a little-known park in the West African country of Benin. The organization will help manage Pendjari National Park, part of the W-Arly-Pendjari – or WAP – complex connected with reserves and parks in two adjacent countries.“It’s a critical and progressive moment for conservation and the entire region,” said Peter Fearnhead, the CEO of African Parks, in a statement from the organization. “Pendjari along with the WAP complex is arguably the most important wildlife area and largest intact and functioning ecosystem left in all of West Africa.”Data from the World Database on Protected Areas accessed through Global Forest Watch shows the location of Pendjari National Park, as well as adjacent protected areas in Burkina Faso and Niger.At 4,800 square kilometers (1,853 square miles) according to African Parks, Pendjari is home to some of the continent’s best-known species, such as elephants (Loxodonta africana), leopards (Panthera pardus), and lions (Panthera leo), along with lesser-known animals such as waterbucks (Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa). The mix of woodland and savanna stretches into the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso and Niger.But the local human population is growing around Pendjari, and poaching has become a problem for the park’s wildlife. To address those issues, African Parks and leaders in Benin have secured $26 million in funding for the next 10 years to train guards, expand ecotourism in the park, and provide regular counts of resident animal populations.“Pendjari National Park is an exceptional reserve, which requires us to act quickly to protect and [revitalize],” said José Pliya, director of Benin’s National Agency for the Heritage and Tourism, in the statement. “Through this partnership, we intend to reveal its full potential.”The Saharan cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki) is one of the rarest cats in the world, with some 250 adults spread over four countries, including Benin. Photo © Steve Wilson [CC BY-SA 3.0] via FlickrAfrican Parks and the Beninese government have set a goal of doubling the park’s wildlife numbers in the timespan of the project. Of particular interest are lions, belonging to a Critically Endangered West African subpopulation, and the Northwest African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki), which African Parks calls the statement calls the park’s “prize species.” The results of an IUCN inventory published in 2008 found that at most 250 adult cheetahs live in four North and West African countries. Sometimes also called the Saharan cheetah, it’s also listed as Critically Endangered.Part of the funding will go to the construction of fences, roads and airfields, in addition to guard training, to bolster the park’s defenses against poaching. African Parks works with seven other governments to manage some 65,000 square kilometers (26,097 square miles) of parks and reserves.Investment in Pendjari is one of 45 projects as part of the Revealing Benin program, launched in 2016 by President Patrice Talon’s office to boost the country’s economy. The National Agency for the Heritage and Tourism will head the initiative in Pendjari.The West African subpopulation of African lion (Panthera leo), found in Pendjari National Park and pictured here in Cameroon, is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Photo by Fawaz.tairou (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsWith a gross national income of less than $2,000 per person, Benin ranks 167 out 188 countries on the UN’s Human Development Index. Economic gains are expected to ripple outward from the park as a result of invigorating the tourism sector, the statement said.One of the aims of the project is to create around 400 jobs, many of which will be guides, drivers and reception staff at the park’s lodge, the statement said.“We will put in place the necessary structures to preserve the fauna and the flora, but also make its development sustainable,” Pliya said. “It is a project of conservation, sustainable tourism and social development.”CITATIONSBelbachir, F. (2008). Acinonyx jubatus hecki. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T221A13035738. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T221A13035738.en. Downloaded on June 5, 2017.Henschel, P., Bauer, H., Sogbohoussou, E. & Nowell, K. (2015). Panthera leo (West Africa subpopulation). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T68933833A54067639. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T68933833A54067639.en. Downloaded on June 5, 2017.IUCN and UNEP-WCMC (2017), The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) [On-line], May, 2017, Cambridge, UK: UNEP-WCMC. Available at: www.protectedplanet.net. Accessed through Global Forest Watch in June 2017. www.globalforestwatch.orgFEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.Banner image of waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa), pictured in Tanzania, by John C. Cannon. Article published by John Cannoncenter_img Animals, Anti-poaching, Big Cats, Biodiversity, Cats, Conservation, Dry Forests, Ecosystem Restoration, Ecotourism, Endangered Species, Environment, Forests, Fragmentation, Grasslands, Hunting, Ivory, Ivory Trade, Mammals, Protected Areas, Top Predators, Wildlife, Wildlife Rangers last_img read more

Doubts cloud Kenya’s renewed palm oil ambitions

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Agriculture, carbon, Carbon Dioxide, Climate Change, Community Development, Crops, Deforestation, Drought, Environment, Farming, Forests, Global Warming, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Industrial Agriculture, Oil Palm, Palm Oil, Plantations, Tropical Forests Kenya is looking to increase its own production to reduce reliance on imports. Officials say producing palm oil domestically would reduce importation costs while opening new income streams for farmers.Kenya is also looking to cash in on the industry’s profitability and efficiency as global demand for palm oil rises.But critics worry that increasing palm oil production in Kenya may come at a cost. They say smallholder farmers could lose out to industrial producers, and clearing land for oil palm plantations could increase deforestation and carbon emissions. ISIMICHINI, Kenya — In the 10 years Arthur Inzofu has been growing oil palm trees at his farm in Isimichini village in western Kenya, he has seen few benefits. But he is not about to give up on the plant quite yet.The 70-year-old farmer is among the few who have held onto the plant, despite what he says is years of government neglect when it comes to ensuring a ready market for the palm oil produced by oil palm growers.However, renewed interest by the government in domestic palm oil production is giving Inzofu hope that his fortunes may turn.Kenya is looking to increase its own production to reduce its reliance on imports. According to Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Willie Bett, the country spends over Ksh 16 billion (about $1.6 million) annually on imported palm oil. Growing the plant domestically would reduce this cost while opening new income streams for farmers, officials said.Inzofu agrees: “It can be a very lucrative crop for farmers if only we are supported with a ready market by the government,” he said, adding that a single tree gives him at least 20 clusters of fruit in a year.Arthur Inzofu takes a look at growing cluster of oil palm fruit at his farm in Isimichini village, western Kenya. Photo by David Njagi for Mongabay.A single fruit generates about a liter of processed palm oil, he said. “I have a machine which I use to process the fruits into palm oil. I use some of this at home for cooking and sell the surplus to neighbors,” he said, adding that a liter fetches about Ksh 150 ($0.15).This is way below market price; a liter of processed palm oil sold in local supermarkets costs double the price of what he gets at home, said the father of three.Inzofu’s concerns are echoed by hundreds of farmers who took up palm oil growing across Kenya when the government introduced the plant in 2003, according to Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Organization (KARLO) palm oil project leader Lusike Wasilwa.Insufficient supportIn addition to an insufficient market for his palm oil, Inzofu criticizes what he says is a lack of growing and processing support. He says that unlike other plantation crops in the region like sugarcane that have factories where farmers can take their produce for processing, Inzofu must process his harvest at home.“The fruits are attacked by birds while a whole plant can be felled by earth moles,” he said. “It is like the government abandoned us after introducing the plant because they have never come to show us how to deal with production challenges.”Arthur Inzofu inspects his oil palm plot in Isimichini village, western Kenya. Photo by David Njagi for Mongabay.According to Wasilwa, the government did not abandon farmers outright. Rather, a lack of funding stalled the pace at which the project could proceed. She said there was also pressure from environmental groups that argued growing the plant may encroach onto land used to grow staple crops like maize, leading to food insecurity and associated deforestation.Yet palm oil prevailed, Wasilwa contends.“Palm oil growing in Kenya was initially meant to enable farmers to use the oil at home to boost their families’ vitamin A [intakes],” she said. “Its successful uptake means the country can grow the plant for commercial use.”To enhance its domestic palm oil production, the Kenya government is pumping some Ksh. 87 million (about $870,000) into the sector, Wasilwa said.New seed varieties that produce a shorter plant, mature earlier and yield more fruit are being acquired from India, according to Cabinet Secretary Bett.“Our intention is to increase the productivity of palm oil in Kenya so that our manufacturing industry can grow,” Bett said in an interview with Mongabay. “Revitalizing its production in Kenya means that we will build factories to do value addition locally.”In addition to a desire to get away from reliance on palm oil imports, Kenya is also looking to cash in on the industry’s profitability and efficiency. Palm oil is one of the most ubiquitous vegetable oils in the world, and is found in a multitude of products from cooking fat and cookies to soaps and cosmetics. Research conducted in 2016 indicates the global demand for palm oil has been rising since the 1970s, making it worth some $50 billion a year, a number that’s projected to rise to $88 billion by 2022.Palm oil is produced from the fruit of the oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis). Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.The oil palm tree also yields more oil per hectare cultivated compared to other vegetable oils like sunflower or soy. According to KARLO, an oil palm plantation can yield more than 10 metric tons of fruit per hectare every year. In comparison, Kenya’s leading cash crops like tea and coffee yield less than eight metric tons for the same area.Smallholder concernsHowever, not everyone is convinced Kenya should embrace industrial palm oil production.Kazungu Jumwa, a farmer who has been growing oil palm in Kenya’s coastal region for the past five years fears that growing the plant for industrial extraction may put smallholders like him out of business.The sturdy plants at his four-acre farm in Matuga village have been the main source of income for his family. Jumwa said he feeds and pays school fees for his children by harvesting the fruit and selling it to processors in the coastal town of Mombasa.Jumwa has tried growing staple crops like corn. But repeated drought that has been troubling the country often leaves him with little to harvest, he said, adding that he prefers the oil palm tree because it can withstand harsh weather.“I fear that if the government allows multinationals to grow palm oil in Kenya, I may lose the market that I currently rely on,” he said adding that the government is not clear on how it will protect smallholders from big investors.Bett, the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, said Kenya does aim to scale up oil palm cultivation in the country through industrial production.But he said smallholder farmers will not be affected because they will be issued contracts to supply their harvest to processing factories that the government will establish.Moreover, oil palm cultivation could be an alternative crop choice in areas that experience repeated pest attacks and drought, said Nesline Ogwe, manager of the lower Kuja irrigation project in the Lake Victoria region.In January of this year, the region’s corn crop was hit by a devastating Fall Army Worm invasion. A few months prior, a lethal corn necrosis disease also swept the region, she said.“For the past two seasons [corn] farmers have been harvesting little due to frequent pest attacks,” Ogwe said. “It is time they started diversifying to other crops.”She said the irrigation project is keen to support oil palm cultivation because it will enable farmers to diversify their crops.The 19,000-acre project has already conducted a feasibility study on large-scale oil palm cultivation, Ogwe said. She expects that cultivation will take off immediately after infrastructure is in place.“We will help farmers do land preparation, identify investors and markets for palm oil,” she said. “We will then get for them the seeds and all the inputs needed to grow the plant.”Ogwe said oil palm cultivation will be a new but more secure venture for farmers in the region: “complete crop failure can happen with rice, maize, and other field crops when moderate to extreme drought or flood occurs, but not with palm oil.”However, not all agree. Clive Davis, fund manager at Kenya’s Business Advocacy Fund, questions why the government is introducing large-scale cultivation before establishing markets. He said the government should leave it to the private sector.“This is probably a scam in waiting that will put a lot of burden on the taxpayer,” Davis said. The Business Advocacy Fund lobbies the government to create an attractive environment for private sector investment.Environmental costThen there’s the environmental side of the issue. Some critics say Kenya has neither the right geography nor climate for palm oil production; others worry it could put the country’s forests at risk.Frank Msafiri, chairman of the Kenya Climate Change Working Group (KCCWG), is concerned the country’s plan for large-scale oil palm cultivation may lead to deforestation. He said huge tracts of land will be required for the plantations, which can only accommodate 143 plants per hectare. In comparison, he said a farmer can grow about 75,000 corn plants on one hectare.This concern is shared by conservationists and scientists who worry about the negative impacts the palm oil industry has had on the forests of major production countries – namely Indonesia and Malaysia – spreading as the industry expands to other tropical countries. A 2016 study published in the journal Conservation Letters found that if governments of African countries fail to enact policies regulating forest clearance and promoting preservation, many forests stand to be converted to huge oil palm plantations. This deforestation, researchers say, could release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.Land-conversion for massive oil palm plantations has destroyed vast tracts of rainforest in Indonesia and Malaysia. Photo of deforestation for palm oil in Sabah, Malaysia, by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.However, agriculture consultant George Mbakaya said oil palm plantations can also act as carbon sinks because they are heavy consumers of carbon dioxide. He added that palm oil may also help reduce Kenya’s use of emissions-heavy fossil fuels.“Palm oil byproducts can be used to generate biofuel, biogas and electricity, enabling Kenya to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels,” Mbakaya said.Proponents expect palm oil will yield industrial benefits as well as more reliable income smallholders. But not everyone thinks palm oil will pick up.Isaac Morang’a, an agronomist practicing in Western Kenya, said farmers are used to crops like corn that they can harvest from the farm and consume or sell directly. He said that for palm oil, few farmers have the technology at the farm level to process the fruit into oil before consuming at home or selling it.“It will take a long time before Kenyan farmers begin to see returns from palm oil growing,” Morang’a said.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Article published by Morgan Erickson-Davislast_img read more

Indonesia coal power push neglects rural households, chokes urban ones

first_imgThe Indonesian government’s push to generate an additional 35 GW of electricity capacity by 2019 relies heavily on building new coal-fired power plants.Observers say the program focuses too much on the already saturated Java-Bali grid, while ignoring millions of households in more remote areas.The preference for generating power from coal could also threaten the health of up to 30 million people living in areas slated for power plant construction, a recent study from Greenpeace says. JAKARTA — Indonesia’s picturesque Wakatobi islands are so remote that the electricity only comes on at night. A thousand miles to the west, meanwhile, there’s so much power surging into the capital, Jakarta, that it could end up killing residents from the air pollution expected to be generated by seven new coal-fired power plants.This stark disparity calls into question the government’s ambitious plan to significantly boost the capacity of the national grid, largely through burning coal, which activists warn could endanger the health of up to 30 million people.The planned distribution of the new power plants, says Arif Fiyanto, energy campaigner with Greenpeace, “clearly indicates that the government’s target of providing electricity for Indonesian people who still don’t have access to electricity can never be achieved, even if all of the planned projects were completed by 2019.”The underserved areas include islands like the scenic cluster that make up Wakatobi, a diver’s paradise in Southeast Sulawesi province, where visitors find that electricity at some resorts is only available from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.The province has 81 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity, with just over three-quarters of households connected to the grid. Sulawesi as a whole, including its outlying archipelagos, have a combined installed capacity of just 1,508 MW (1.508 gigawatts), or just 81.5 watts for each of its 18.5 million inhabitants.It’s a different story in Java and Bali, which have a combined installed capacity of nearly 25 GW, or 167.5 watts for each of 149.2 million residents — more than double the figure in Sulawesi. The electrification ratio, or proportion of households connected to the grid, in Java and Bali ranges from 90 percent in Yogyakarta province to 100 percent in Banten province.A coal-fired power plant on the coast of West Java province pumps out smoke over a nearby settlement. Photo by Nathalie Bertrams/Greenpeace.This abundance of electricity comes with its own problems: Experts warned in September that the glut in Java and Bali threatens to damage the country’s finances. More recently, a study from Greenpeace estimates that emissions from the growing number of coal-fired power plants being built to meet the electricity target in Java threatens the health of 30 million people in the region.Reality mismatchPresident Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was aware of the disparity in access to electricity when he took office in 2014. In 2015, he launched his flagship program to add 35 GW of generating capacity to the national grid by 2019.The program immediately drew criticism from many, including the erstwhile chief minister overseeing energy policy, Rizal Ramli, who said in July 2015 that the program would saddle state-owned power utility PLN with at least $10.7 billion in bills for idle power capacity. (Rizal was removed in a reshuffle after less than a year in office.)Environmentalists have also opposed the program, given that 20 GW, or 57 percent of the planned additional capacity, will be generated by coal-fired plants.“This is not an ambitious project and the target is not so high,” the president said at the time. “But this is what we owe to the people and we must pay it because a lot of them still don’t have electricity.”Three years into its five-year term, the Jokowi administration has failed to attend to the demands of those still living without power, energy experts point out.“In the end, what the government was promoting and the reality do not match,” Greenpeace’s Arif told Mongabay.A coal-fired power plant in Jepara, in Central Java, belches out a column of smoke. Photo by Paul Hilton/Greenpeace.Both the government and PLN have in the past year signaled that they are behind schedule and may have to scale back plans, but their focus still remains on areas that already have high electrification rates.In its working plan for 2017-2026, PLN proposed generating an additional 33 GW between 2015 and 2019. More than half of that, or 17.7 GW, will feed the Java-Bali grid, while Sumatra is slated to get 5.6 GW. The scheme also allocates 3.2 GW for Kalimantan, 3.4 GW for Sulawesi, and less than 1 GW (942 MW) for the Papua-Maluku region.“The people who don’t have access to electricity are outside Java,” Arif said. “They’re in the small islands in Indonesia and they are not getting enough power plants built there.”To cater to Indonesians in remote areas with little to no access to electricity, Arif called on the government to look to renewable energy resources. “Building coal-fired power plants in small and remote areas is not apt because it takes so much cost and time before they can operate,” he said.Asked about the mismatch between areas that most need electricity and areas where power plants are planned, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources insists the government is building the new plants based on demand in each region.“How big the demand is, that’s the amount of power plants that we allocate,” Pramudya, the head of the ministry’s electricity supply program evaluation division, said at a recent event in Jakarta. “We hope to have [a nationwide] electrification ratio of 99 percent by 2020,” from 93 percent at present.PLN, meanwhile, maintains that increasing the supply of electricity stimulates demand, particularly from the industrial sector. “Infrastructure development for power is part of the drive for [economic growth],” Supangkat Iwan Santoso, strategic procurement director at PLN, told Mongabay recently. “So it doesn’t necessarily rely on demand, because when the electricity is available, demand will follow.”Green activists protest at a coal-fired power plant in the city of Cirebon, in West Java. Indonesia’s electricity push depends heavily on the fossil fuel. Photo by Afriadi Hikmal/Greenpeace.Power surgeIn the meantime, the oversupply of electricity in the Java-Bali grid could pose a threat to the country’s fiscal health as well as the health of its citizens.PLN recently reported a slowdown in annual sales as electricity demand failed to grow as expected, a trend experts attribute to sluggish economic growth. As a result, the company faces a glut of idle electricity capacity, especially in the Java-Bali grid.Under so-called capacity agreements signed by PLN and energy providers, the government is committed to paying private power-plant developers a fixed fee based on generating capacity rather than actual energy demand. State officials and observers have warned PLN that the situation could cause serious financial damage to the company, and by extension to the state.In addition to the warning, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has ordered the firm to stop signing off power purchase agreements with independent producers for plants in Java until after 2027.However, projects for which contracts have already been signed will still move forward, Pramudya told Mongabay recently.Among these projects are seven coal-fired power plants that are set to be built in regions within 100 kilometers of the Greater Jakarta area, such as Banten, Bekasi and Cilegon.With a total capacity of 5.6 GW, these seven large plants are set to go online between 2019 and 2024, with each expected to operate for at least 30 years.In its recent study, Greenpeace warned that the emissions from both existing and new coal-fired power plants would significantly impact pollution levels in cities and towns downwind. These include Jakarta and its satellite cities of Tangerang, Bogor, Depok and Bekasi — a conurbation of some 30 million residents.Residents of Batang district in Central Java stage a protest in Jakarta against the planned construction of a coal-fired power plant in their city. Photo courtesy of Ardiles Rante/Greenpeace.Emissions from existing coal-fired power plants already expose an estimated 3 million people to microscopic particles known as PM2.5, at levels exceeding World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, the study found. Long-term exposure to such particulates can cause acute respiratory infections and cardiovascular disease.The study, titled “Jakarta’s Silent Killer,” estimates that the numbers at risk would increase tenfold once the new plants are in operation. “So the people of Greater Jakarta will be condemned to worsening air pollution for at least a generation,” Greenpeace wrote.It also listed other noxious emissions produced by coal-fired power plants, such as nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide, and heavy metals, like mercury.“Taking future changes in population into account, the planned coal-fired power plants would nearly double the number of premature deaths, and result in a dramatic increase in low birth weights,” it said. Overall, the study estimated the resulting pollution would cause an additional 10,680 premature deaths and 2,820 low birth weights each year.“Put human health at the heart of Indonesia’s energy plan,” Greenpeace said, calling on the government to abandon plans for new coal-fired power plants. “Energy targets in Indonesia can be met with renewables, which can increase power supply and improve air quality to the benefit of all Indonesians.”FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Basten Gokkon Activism, Carbon Emissions, Clean Energy, Coal, Energy, Energy Politics, Environment, Environmental Activism, Environmental Politics, Fossil Fuels, Governance, Green Energy, Politics, Public Health, Renewable Energy center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Videos unlock secrets of jellyfish as deep-sea killers

first_imgScientists have for the first time captured extensive visual documentation of deep-sea food webs using 27 years’ worth of video observations from remotely operated vehicles run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).The research greatly enhances scientists’ understanding of deep-sea food webs by documenting the importance of soft-bodied predators like jellyfish.Until now, our understanding of food webs in the deep ocean have been limited by what can be captured by net and whose bodies survive a journey to the survey. Video footage of a Gonatus squid feeding on a bathylagid fish. © of MBARIScientists have for the first time captured extensive visual documentation of predation events that underpin deep-sea food webs. The research, which relies on hundreds of video observations captured over nearly three decades by deep-diving remotely operated vehicles run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), reveals the importance of deep-sea jellies in these ecosystems as major predators and sources of sustenance.Until now, our understanding of food webs in the deep ocean have been limited by what species can be captured by net and whose bodies can survive a journey to the surface. That meant soft-bodied, gelatinous animals like jellyfish have been greatly underrepresented using traditional surveying techniques. MBARI’s approach enabled researchers Anela Choy, Steven Haddock, and Bruce Robison to capture deep-sea predators in the act of feeding, offering new insight into predator-prey relationships at depths up to nearly 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) off the California coast.“This direct approach has never been used systematically before,” Robison said in a statement. “Unlike other methods, it involves no guesswork and provides very precise information about who eats whom in the deep sea.”ROV frame grabs of pelagic predators and their prey from Choy et al (2017). (a) Gonatus squid feeding on a bathylagid fish (Bathylagidae). (b) Periphylla periphylla, the helmet jellyfish, feeding on a gonatid squid (Gonatidae), with a small narcomedusa (Aegina sp.) also captured. Images © MBARI; caption adapted from Choy et al (2017).The research, which is published in the December 6th issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, identified 84 different predators and 82 different prey types across almost 750 different video observations of predation events. Soft-bodies animals Ô medusae, ctenophores and siphonophores — consumed the greatest diversity of prey, outpacing cephalopods like squid.“The most surprising thing to me was how important gelatinous animals were as predators, and how their unexpectedly complex food habits spanned the entire food web. Who would have thought that a deep-sea jelly that looks like a big dinner plate would eat 22 different types of animals?” lead author Anela Choy, a MBARI Postdoctoral Fellow, said via a news release. “Our video footage shows that jellies are definitely not the dietary ‘dead ends’ we once thought. As key predators, they could have just as much impact as large fishes and squids in the deep sea!”ROV frame grabs of pelagic predators and their prey from Choy et al (2017). (d) A narcomedusa, Solmissus, ingesting a salp chain (Salpida). (e) The ctenophore Thalassocalyce inconstans, with a euphausiid (Euphausiacea) in its gut. Images © MBARI; caption adapted from Choy et al (2017).ROV frame grabs of pelagic predators and their prey from Choy et al (2017). (c) Images from an undescribed physonect siphonophore known as ‘the galaxy siphonophore’ feeding on a lanternfish of the family Myctophidae. (f) The trachymedusa, Halitrephes maasi, with a large, red mysid (Mysidae) in its gut. Images © MBARI; caption adapted from Choy et al (2017).The findings show that jellies play a critical role in deep-sea ecosystems, added Haddock.“There is a misconception that jellies are merely a nuisance and serve no real purpose in marine ecosystems,” he said in a statement. “Our results and other studies around the world show that they are a common source of food for a diverse group of predators. Interactions involving gelatinous predators and prey create most of the complexity that we see in our new deep-sea food web.”Counts and depth distributions of 718 pelagic feeding observations categorized into nine different broad animal groupings, made by ROVs within the study ecosystem between the years 1991 and 2016. (a) Prey and (b) predator identities and depth distributions illustrate the depth distributions and general animal identities of the feeding interactions presented throughout Choy et al (2017).Citation:Choy, C.A., Haddock, S.H.D. Robison, B.H. (2017). Deep pelagic food web structure as revealed by in situ feeding observations. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 284: 20172116, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2116 (6 December 2017) Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Animals, Archive, Deep Sea, Ecology, Fish, Jellyfish, Oceans, Strange, Wildlife center_img Article published by Rhett Butlerlast_img read more

How a series of shady deals turned a chunk of Borneo into a sea of oil palm

first_imgIn the leadup to the release of the second installment of Indonesia for Sale, our series examining the corruption behind Indonesia’s deforestation and land-rights crisis, we are republishing the first article in the series, “The Palm Oil Fiefdom.” This is the fourth part of that article. The first part described a secret deal between the son of Darwan Ali, head of Indonesia’s Seruyan district, and Arif Rachmat, CEO of one of Indonesia’s largest palm oil companies. The second part gave Darwan’s backstory. The third part chronicled Seruyan’s plantation boom. The story can be read in full here.Indonesia for Sale is co-produced with The Gecko Project, an initiative of the UK-based investigations house Earthsight.Cover image for ‘The Palm Oil Fiefdom.’One day in early 2007, a car rolled up outside the home of Marianto Sumarto, the sawmill owner who had helped Darwan Ali get elected. He lived in Kuala Pembuang, a small coastal town that serves as Seruyan’s capital. Marianto recognized the man behind the wheel as a government official, as he rolled down the window to hand over a bundle of papers.“Take a look at these  —  there are some issues,” the man said flatly, before driving off.When Marianto examined the dossier, he found copies of plantation permits Darwan had given to a handful of companies, with a list of directors and company addresses. He immediately recognized the names of some of Darwan’s relatives. Among the addresses, he noted the Kuala Pembuang home of Darwan’s brother.“I don’t know why he brought me that data,” Marianto told us earlier this year, sitting outside the same house where he had met the whistleblower. “Maybe he cared about Seruyan and wanted to right the ship. Maybe he felt disappointed with how things were going and thought I’d be brave enough to do something about it.”Marianto examines an oil palm concession map at his home in Kuala Pembuang.A migrant from the island of Java, Marianto had arrived in Kalimantan in 1985, joining a friend’s shipping company before switching over to a Malaysian-run timber outfit. He learned on the fly, eventually striking out on his own as an “illegal logger,” as he put it.When Seruyan formed, Marianto became head of the PDIP party within the new district, at the same time that Darwan was leading the party in neighboring East Kotawaringin. He joined his campaign to become bupati, in 2003, and his brother-in-law became Darwan’s first deputy. But by the time he met the whistleblower, Marianto had soured on Darwan’s rule. He felt he had betrayed the hope that Seruyan would be developed for the benefit of its people. The plantations he had allowed to flood in were having the opposite effect. “That’s what I saw,” Marianto told us. “Maybe I’m the most critical person in this district.”Wiry and tall, Marianto had a bald head, a raspy voice and a grin that curled upward. When we met, two of his fingers were wrapped in gauze; he had damaged them in a car accident a few days earlier and lost both fingernails. His nickname, Codot  —  meaning “bat”  —  was a relic from his days in an amateur rock band in the 1980s. “I know just about everyone in Seruyan,” he declared. “And everyone in Seruyan knows of me.”A few days after the leak, Marianto and a friend made the four-hour drive to Sampit, to check out a collection of other addresses in the documents. He recognized the first as the home of Darwan’s son Ahmad Ruswandi. They had held campaign meetings there in the run-up to his selection as bupati. Once or twice Marianto had stayed the night. He knew the next one too. It belonged to Darwan’s tailor, who had made their PDIP party shirts.“The thing is, our country is a corrupt country,” Marianto told us. “A lot of public officials, they didn’t want to bring Seruyan to life. They just wanted to suck it dry.”***The Gecko Project and Mongabay pieced together the story behind Darwan’s licensing spree based on stock exchange filings, government permit databases and company deeds. More information and testimony were provided by Marianto, and a local activist named Nordin Abah, who separately investigated Darwan around the same time as Marianto. We corroborated our findings in interviews with people involved in several of the companies.The picture that emerges is an elaborate and coordinated scheme to establish shell companies in the names of Darwan’s relatives and cronies, endow them each with licenses for thousands of hectares of land, and then sell them on to some of the region’s biggest conglomerates. Those involved stood to profit to the tune of hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of dollars. If the plan was carried through to completion, it would transform almost the entire southern stretch of the district, below the hilly interior, into one giant oil palm plantation. If Darwan had his way it would be possible drive 75 kilometers east to west and 220 kilometers south to north through a sea of palm.Licenses issued to companies owned by Darwan Ali’s family and cronies threatened to turn the southern reaches of Seruyan into one vast oil palm plantation.The scheme involved a cast of more than 20 people who appeared as directors or shareholders in the shell companies. They included members of Darwan’s family, associates from his time as head of a building contractors association, members of his election campaign team, and at least one person who said his name was used as a front.Darwan’s wife, Nina Rosita, was a shareholder in one. His daughter Iswanti, who would go on to serve as a provincial politician herself, was a director and shareholder in one, a shareholder in a second and director of a third. His daughter Rohana was also a director. His son Ruswandi got a more prominent role, as director of several companies and a shareholder in at least one more. His older brother Darlen had two companies, his younger brother Darwis one. It stretched into his extended family, through Darwan’s nephew and the husband of his niece.IswantiIn total, we identified 18 companies that connected to Darwan. Three were incorporated several years before he became bupati. That shows that his interest in large-scale oil palm predated his political career, but that it had stalled: The companies remained inactive until after he assumed office. Two more were formed in 2004, a year into his reign, and then in early 2005 the real flurry of activity began.Five companies cropped up in a two-day window in late January; another appeared two weeks later. We were able to determine the directors for all of the companies, and the shareholders for all but six.Almost all of the companies involved at least one of Darwan’s family as a shareholder. His name did not appear on any of them, but Marianto came to the view that he was coordinating the scheme. “They’re like pawns on a chessboard,” he said. “Darwan moves the pieces.”***Most of the names were used sparingly. But some cropped up more often than others, and these would provide important clues as to how the scheme functioned. The first was Vino Oktaviano, who was named as a shareholder in three companies set up on the same day, and a director in one.Nordin Abah, the local activist who carried out his own investigation of Darwan, happened to know Vino well; they sent their children to the same school and sometimes met for coffee. In the wake of the scandal around BEST Group and the national park, Nordin sought out the names behind Darwan’s permit spree. When he found Vino’s name, he challenged him over it. Vino told Nordin that Darwan had used his name, and that he had no actual role in the companies.“He thought it was normal, that nothing would come of it,” Nordin told us at the Palangkaraya office of his NGO, Save Our Borneo. “He just didn’t want to take any responsibility for it.”Nordin Abah sinks into the memory of his investigation during an interview in 2017.Vino worked as a building contractor, obtaining jobs from Darwan’s administration, and was a nephew of Darwan’s wife. The name of his boss, a confidante of Darwan’s from his days in a trade association, also appeared in company documents.“You’re going to go to jail Vino, if this thing blows up,” Nordin recalled telling him. “They made me do it, Din.” Vino replied. “I was tricked.”Where Marianto was a political insider, a mover and shaker in the logging game who soured on the man he once considered an ally, Nordin was a campaigner who hounded the palm oil companies ravaging Seruyan. He also had strong connections to and within the district. His uncle had served as the regional secretary, the highest position in its civil service. On Darwan’s trail, he set about tapping his own relatives in the bureaucracy for leads. He had managed to uncover most of the names involved, noting like Marianto that many of the addresses to which the companies were registered were either duds or owned by the bupati and his family.Nordin observed that a plantation company would need to operate a factory to mill the fruit, and Vino “couldn’t even run a tofu factory.” He was adamant that other people had been used in the same way. “You might be a teacher, you might be a journalist, you might be a contractor  —  there’s no way someone like that can get a permit for a plantation,” Nordin explained. “You don’t know how to develop an oil palm company. And you don’t have the money. It’s just for selling. The story is, I use your name to make a permit to sell to someone else.”The name Ambrin M Yusuf appeared as director of one of the companies. Nordin identified him as a confidante of Darwan from their time in the East Kotawaringin builders association. We tracked him down to his house in Kuala Pembuang, where he had recently returned after serving a jail term for his role as a bag man delivering cash in a local bribery scandal.Ambrin M Yusuf at his home in Kuala Pembuang.He admitted to being a political ally of Darwan, and said that intermediaries had asked him to put his name to the company. But he claimed, implausibly, that he had turned them down, and that the person named in the documents was another man with the same name. He nevertheless admitted that it was “normal” for a bupati to give permits to a family member.Yusuf and Vino’s stories suggested that cronies were being used as fronts, potentially to keep someone else’s name  —  the true beneficiary  —  off company documents. Nordin and Marianto believed that other people whose names appeared were more complicit. They both pointed to a man named Khaeruddin Hamdat as a central figure.Khaeruddin Hamdat alias DaengKhaeruddin appeared as director of three of the companies, though never a shareholder. Marianto, Nordin and others identified him as Darwan’s “adjutant.” It is a term commonly used in Indonesia for the person who serves variously as the advisor, right-hand man and fixer for important politicians. Known as Daeng, an affectionate term for a man from his home island of Sulawesi, Khaeruddin was only in his mid-30s by the time the companies were formed. Nordin described him variously as the “boss in Jakarta” and Darwan’s gatekeeper, meeting with palm oil executives in a posh hotel in the capital. (Khaeruddin declined to comment for this article.)“Because Darwan has to protect himself,” Nordin said. “No way he uses his own name to cut a deal.”Most of those involved in the scheme proved to be elusive or declined to comment when they got a sense of what we were asking questions about. But one of the few people we knew for sure where to find was Hamidhan Ijuh Biring. He had been jailed for yet another corruption scandal, and we tracked him down to a prison on a main boulevard in Palangkaraya, the provincial capital.Hamidhan’s name appeared as a director and shareholder of one of the 18 companies. He was also married to Darwan’s niece. He told us that he had set up the company and received a license from Darwan, but lacked the capital to develop a plantation. Darwan encouraged him to sell the company to a political ally in Jakarta who also served as director of an existing plantation company in the district. After the deal went through, Hamidhan received one portion of the payment but the second, he later discovered, went directly to Darwan. “It turns out Darwan was inside, telling him, ‘No need to pay Hamidhan’,” he said bitterly.Before his relationship with Darwan soured, Hamidhan was an insider, campaigning with him ahead of his 2008 reelection bid. He corroborated Nordin and Marianto’s claim that Khaeruddin Hamdat served as Darwan’s adjutant. He said that whenever he met the bupati, Khaeruddin was there with him.***The sequence of events after the shell companies were formed tells us two things. Firstly, that the intent was never for the founders to develop the plantations themselves. Between December 2004 and May 2005, Darwan gave 16 of the companies permits for plantations. By the end of 2005, at least nine of them had been sold on to major palm oil firms for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It seems implausible that a series of interconnected people, in many cases family members, would concurrently form companies only to decide that they lacked the capacity to run them. The sole explanation is that they were set up to be sold, endowed with assets from Darwan.Darwan Ali provided licenses to 18 companies owned by his family and cronies. Almost all of them were sold to Triputra Agro Persada and to the Kuok Group’s oil palm arm, PPB Oil Palms, which was later merged with Wilmar International. Source: Bursa Malaysia, Ditjen AHU, Nordin Abah, Marianto Sumarto and others.Secondly, it tells us there was a strong degree of coordination in the ways they were both formed and sold. Most of the companies were established within a small window of time, many of them just days apart. Several were also sold within a small period of time some months later.Eight of the shell companies were bought by the Kuoks in late 2005. Darwan’s family and cronies would eventually derive just under a million dollars from the deals with the Malaysian billionaires. In the scheme of things, it was a pittance, a fraction of what the Kuoks would earn from the plantations if they were developed. But in these deals, the shareholders linked to Darwan also kept a 5 percent stake in each of the companies, which could make each of them multimillionaires in their own right.The Kuok Group’s PPB Oil Palms announces a deal to buy 95 percent of a company owned by Darwan Ali’s brothers and a Seruyan politician, in October 2005. The company had been incorporated nine months earlier. Source: Malaysian stock exchange.The evidence Nordin obtained of the connection between Darwan’s family and the companies sold to the Kuoks was first outed in an international NGO’s report, in June 2007. It was just two weeks before two of the Kuok family companies were merged under the name Wilmar International, forming what is now possibly the world’s largest palm oil firm. Wilmar was already attracting heat for a litany of illegalities and social and environmental abuses across its plantations. The same year, a consortium of NGOs filed a complaint with the World Bank ombudsman, providing evidence, later upheld, that the institution had breached its own safeguards by financing the controversial firm.Though the allegations regarding Darwan’s licenses only received a brief mention in the NGO report, the whiff of a corruption scandal may have proved too much. In an email responding to questions for this article, Wilmar told us that it had decided to mothball the companies issued by Darwan after engaging with NGOs. It declined to mention when the decision was made, and continued to list the companies in its annual reports as late as 2010.Triputra Agro Persada, presided over by the young Arif Rachmat, bought seven companies from the bupati’s family. (Triputra declined several requests for an interview, directed to Arif Rachmat, although they did respond to some questions via email.) Four of these companies were later mothballed, but the other three, which were developed, linked directly to Darwan’s son Ruswandi. By the end of 2007, two of these companies had already begun clearing vast tracts of forest, peat soil and farmland. Triputra would emerge as one of the worst oil palm companies in Seruyan for people and the environment, in a crowded field.***Marianto was certain that Darwan had betrayed his constituents. By the time he met the whistleblower in early 2007, the plantation boom was fully underway, yet the average Seruyan resident remained worse off than in the era of logging. Now, the only option for many farmers was to earn a pitiful wage as a laborer on one of the estates. They were losing their farmland, the destruction of forests deprived them of food and other resources, and fishing grew increasingly difficult in polluted waters. Above all, the promise that the mega-plantations would be accompanied by smallholdings for the farmers, thereby cutting them in on the spoils, went undelivered.Marianto placed the blame for the problems that were emerging at Darwan’s door. The bupati had the power to revoke licenses as well as issue them; if he was motivated to do so, surely he could force the companies to deliver for Seruyan’s people? The leak confirmed that his motivations lay elsewhere.Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission, the KPK, born after the fall of Suharto, was emerging as a new force in the fight against graft by public officials. In June 2007, as Indonesia passed Malaysia to become the world’s top palm oil producer, Marianto packaged up his findings and traveled to Jakarta to deliver them to the agency in person.As 2007 drew to a close, delegates from around the world arrived on the Indonesian island of Bali for the 13th annual UN climate change conference. The fate of the earth’s forests was firmly on the agenda. But in the high rises of Jakarta a different game was afoot. Four days before the UN summit began, as Darwan Ali prepared to campaign for his first direct election, his son Ruswandi stepped into the Kadin Tower for his meeting with Arif Rachmat, to cut another deal with Triputra.***After Suharto resigned there was optimism that the grand larceny of his regime would recede. It was hoped that the rapid decentralization of authority would shift accountability for political decisions close to the people affected by them. But by 2008, the year of the first direct vote for bupati of Seruyan, it was increasingly clear that corruption had simply been moved down through the system.In a forthcoming book entitled Democracy for Sale, political scientists Ward Berenschot and Edward Aspinall write that Indonesia’s districts came to be dominated by “a netherworld of personalized political relationships and networks, secretive deal making, trading of favors, corruption, and a host of other informal and shadowy practices.”Elections were a cornerstone of this game. They had become hugely expensive affairs, with the cost proportionate to the amount of power over lucrative projects or natural resources the winner could dole out to supporters. For bupatis governing land- and forest-rich districts, they routinely ran into the millions of dollars. Berenschot, Aspinall and other academics who have studied Indonesian elections over the past two decades have identified a uniform, systematic process by which candidates spend their money.First, they pay off officials in their political party to ensure their selection as a candidate. Next, they recruit an extensive group of political activists and influential figures to join their “success team.” Then they provide cash for the success team to buy up the support of local powerbrokers  —  village chiefs, religious leaders and the heads of sports clubs who enjoy extensive influence in some places. These individuals in turn solicit the support of people within their own spheres of influence.Candidates organize expensive rallies and concerts, paying for popular singers to perform and handing out free meals. Finally, they engage in what is generally referred to as a “dawn attack,” organizing dozens of supporters to hit the streets and knock on doors, handing out money directly to voters to solicit their endorsements. This, Berenschot told us, is the costliest part for candidates. He estimated the price of running for bupati at between $1.2 million to $6 million.The funds come from local businesspeople and contractors, in the expectation of rewards if the candidate is successful. “After the election, it is payback time, and campaign donors and workers can expect to be rewarded by winning candidates with jobs, contracts, credit, projects and other benefits,” write Berenschot and Aspinall. But they also note that incumbents start from a position of advantage, having built up a “war chest  —  typically by engaging in various forms of corruption,” for the next election. “The exchange of favors and material benefits at every stage of the electoral cycle is so pervasive that it is apt to think of democracy in Indonesia as being for sale.”By his own admission, Hamidhan Ijuh Biring, the husband of Darwan’s niece who obtained a license from the bupati, played such a role in the 2008 campaign. At the time, Hamidhan told us, he already believed that Darwan had ripped him off. But he still thought he could be rewarded if the incumbent retained his seat, and he was in on the winning ticket.Hamidhan Ijuh BiringHamidhan told us he contributed $50,000 to Darwan’s campaign ahead of the election. He understood he was joining a cast of characters who had benefited personally from the bupati’s patronage: building contractors to whom Darwan had handed lucrative projects without public bidding, which was then legal; plantation bosses who could instruct their workers, many of them migrants from other islands, to vote for the incumbent. In the dawn attack, he said, cash worth $10 to $25 would be attached to the back of instant noodle packets and distributed to voters.In February 2008, Darwan won the election and resumed his position as bupati of Seruyan for a second five-year term. To celebrate, his brother Darlen organized a concert near the lake, featuring the singer Rhoma Irama, known as the King of Dangdut. No one had stood a chance of making a meaningful challenge to Darwan given the spending advantage provided by his hold on the bupati’s chair. He prevailed despite a brewing storm, as resentment of the plantations grew. The consequences of the land deals he presided over would soon become fully apparent to the people of his district.Read the entire the story here. And then follow Mongabay and The Gecko Project on Facebook (here and here in English; here and here in Indonesian) for updates on Indonesia for Sale. You can also visit The Gecko Project’s own site, in English or Indonesian. Read the article introducing the series here. Anonymous Companies, Climate Change Politics, Corporate Environmental Transgressors, Corruption, Environment, Environmental Crime, Environmental Politics, Forestry, Forests, Palm Oil, Plantations, Threats To Rainforests, Transparency, Tropical Forests Article published by mongabayauthorcenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Kaziranga’s rhino census finds the population is growing, but more slowly than expected

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Isabel Esterman Kaziranga National Park in India’s Assam state is home to the majority of the world’s greater one-horned rhinos.A census completed in March counted 2,413 rhinos, an increase of 12 individuals since 2015.Officials believe rhinos were undercounted, likely due to poor visibility. Other observers suggest changes should be made to survey methodology.If the numbers are accurate, it could suggest the park has reached its carrying capacity. However, a large number of young rhinos were counted, indicating that the population remains healthy and breeding. The good news for conservationists is that the population of greater one-horned rhinos in India’s Kaziranga National Park is still on the rise. According to the official rhino census, concluded on March 28, the park’s population now stands at 2,413, up by a dozen from the last tally in 2015.The not-so-good news, however, is that officials had anticipated a higher number. “The results indicate that there has been undercounting and there are plans to conduct the census once more next year,” said N.K. Vasu, chief wildlife warden of the state of Assam.The total number of greater one-horned rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) counted in the park included 642 adult males and 793 adult females, plus 206 adults whose sex could not be determined. Among sub-adult rhinos, aged roughly 3 to 6 years, there were 116 males, 149 females and 122 of unknown sex. The census also counted 155 calves under a year old and 230 between 1 and 4 years old.Park officials, however, had expected a higher total, given that the last census, in 2015, tracked an increase of 111 rhinos in two years.A team consisting of a mahout, an enumerator and an armed forest guard prepares to count rhinos. Some 300 people, 45 elephants and 30 vehicles were directly involved in the census. Photo by Moushumi Basu for Mongabay.Rabindra Sharma, a research officer at Kaziranga, cited low visibility caused by overgrown vegetation in the grasslands as one possible factor for the unexpectedly low number of rhino sightings. Large tracts of tall grass are burned annually as a part of rhino habitat management, Sharma said. This encourages new growth, providing the rhinos with fresh vegetation to graze on, while also keeping woody species in check.Normally these tall grasses start drying up in January, and around 70 to 80 percent can be burned by the end of February. This year, however, a longer-than-usual flood season meant that barely 15 to 20 percent of the grasslands could be burned. As a result, Sharma said he suspected many rhinos were simply not spotted in the tall, dense grass.Other factors may have also been in play. Uttam Saikia, a Kaziranga honorary wildlife warden, speculated that the rhinos might be avoiding areas of the park where heavy machinery was being used to shore up the artificial highlands that provide shelter to animals during floods.With floods receding late this year, tall grasses could not be burned before the census, limiting visibility. Photo by Moushumi Basu for Mongabay.Saikia also pointed to the privately owned elephants that were hired along with their mahouts to escort the census takers through the park. Unlike the forest department’s own elephants, these animals were not well acquainted with the landscape or accustomed to wild animals, Saikia said. This made it difficult for some of the census-takers to go through the dense grass thickets or woodlands, and could have resulted in potential rhino sightings being missed.Indeed, some of the census takers reported a number of incidents during their work. Indumoni Chetia, one of only two women in the group of 60 enumerators, said she was startled by the sound of a gunshot while scanning the grasslands through her binoculars. It turned out the ranger assigned to her had fired a blank to scare away a wild buffalo that appeared to be about to attack their elephant. The elephant, in turn, “got so petrified that it began running here and there and our mahout [elephant rider] had to spend nearly 15-20 minutes to get it on track,” Chetia said.Sangita Medhi, the other female enumerator, told of her elephant and its calf being chased by rhinos on two occasions during the second day of counting. Each time the calf saw a rhino after that, it got spooked and began running erratically, prompting its mother to follow suit, Medhi said. “Even the forest guard was about to fall off once from the elephant’s back,” she said. Nonetheless, she still managed to sight about 70 rhinos.Indumoni Chetia rides high on elephant for rhino sighting. Photo courtesy of Indumoni Chetia.‘Worrying’ growth rateWhile individual census takers were pleased with their tallies, the overall rate of increase in the rhino population did not cheer the conservationists. “This 0.5% growth rate of the rhino population in KNP during the past three years since 2015 is worrying as it indicates the possibility that the rhino numbers in KNP may be nearing its carrying capacity, and more area is required to accommodate them,” said Anupam Sarmah, head of the Assam landscape program at WWF-India.While senior officials at the Assam Forest Department are considering holding a rhino census next year, rather than in 2021 as scheduled, Saikia, the honorary warden, recommended that any future plans and habitat preparedness be evaluated by a committee of experts. Privately owned elephants can be requisitioned for census work, he said, but must be trained beforehand to acclimate them to forest conditions. He also advocated for the use of more up-to-date surveying techniques. “It is time for the park to upgrade the census technologically giving more stress on accuracy with scientific inputs,” he said.Others point to weaknesses in the survey methodology. According to Sarmah, the total-count method that was used is more appropriate for smaller areas. For a park the size of Kaziranga, he argued a system known as the line transect method would be more appropriate. This method is based on distance sampling: lines are drawn at random across a study region, and an observer travels each line using a rangefinder and a compass to record the perpendicular distance from the line to each of the detected animals. Traveling along a straight line, observers cannot spot all of the animals in the surveyed strip, but their findings can be used to model the probability of detection in the study area, and thus estimate the density or abundance of the species.This method, which is already in use for estimating herbivore population density in India, greatly reduces the odds of both double-counting and failing to spot animals, Sarmah said.Sandwiched between a mahout and a forest guard, a census-taker enters the woods on elephant back. Photo by Moushumi Basu for Mongabay.‘Labor of love’The census relied on a mass effort by more than 300 forest personnel, members of conservation groups and wildlife-loving volunteers to perform a headcount of the rhinos in the species’ most important stronghold, said Kaziranga divisional forest officer Rohini Ballav Saikia. “It was a juggernaut,” he said.Officials divided the 430-square-kilometer (166-square-mile) park into a grid of 74 compartments, each assigned to one census taker. Sandwiched between an elephant and mahout in front and an armed forest guard behind, the census takers set out for the forests at 5 a.m., scanning their areas for rhinos and marking the GPS locations for the next seven to eight hours.Those who participated called it a labor of love.“Our first reaction on sighting a rhino was obviously a squeal of delight. Adjusting the binocular further for a closer view, we simply gaped at the magnificent animal in awe for the first few seconds,” said Chetia and Medhi, both researchers from Gauhati University’s Department of Zoology.It was the first rhino census for the pair. On the first day Chetia was given a compartment in the Bagori (western) range of the park, where she covered about 5 square kilometers (1.9 square miles). “I sighted nearly 60 rhinos,” she said excitedly.Beyond the excitement of simply spotting rhinos, census takers looked for signs of each animal’s sex and age. Kamal Azad, a wildlife biologist at the regional office of the National Tiger Conservation Authority in Guwahati, said overall size was the most easily perceptible difference. Males, he said, are bigger and bulkier than females, with thicker skulls, bigger shoulder muscles and a prominent arch on their backs. It’s also sometimes possible to spot a male’s genitals from behind. Calves, meanwhile, are smaller with undeveloped horns, are generally found close to their mothers, and lack the prominent knobby skin folds found in adults. In between are sub-adults, who are beginning to show signs of maturity, such as developing horns.Around 3,500 greater one-horned rhinos live in India and Nepal, roughly 70 percent of them in Kaziranga. Photo by Moushumi Basu for Mongabay.The two-day census on March 26 and 27 was followed by random sampling of the rhino population in 16 compartments of the park on March 28. The figures were then scrutinized and collated by a technical committee before being announced on March 29.WWF’s Sarmah said the census was not just about generating a number. The exercise also keeps park management abreast of the status of the habitat and the population, giving insight into the distribution of rhinos in the park and how best to carry out habitat management in the future.Sarmah also pointed to encouraging signs in this year’s figures: the abundance of calves and sub-adults indicates that the park’s rhinos are healthy and breeding, while the male-to-female ratio of 1:1.2 offers reason to hope the population will continue to grow.Banner image: One of the 2,413 rhinos counted during the 2017 census. Photo by Moushumi Basu for Mongabay.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environment, In-situ Conservation, Mammals, One-horned Rhinos, Protected Areas, Rhinos, Wildlife last_img read more