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About Rwenzori

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    Wildlife conservation
  1. I'm really interested in the history of nature conservation and I'm searching books or other texts about how it took its first steps in Africa: how parks were created, how they were managed, the conflits with the local populations, what happened after the decolonization of Africa and so on. I have a special interest for former italian colonies like Ethiopia. Do you know some titles to suggest me? Even french books if you know some of them. Thanks
  2. Senior Panthera and WCS scientists are strongly questioning recent reports on tiger population recovery issued by WWF and tiger range countries. This inter-NGOs criticism was already seen in the past but I detect here at least two new elements compared to the past: 1) The statement (and others like this one) was published on the official internet sites and Facebook pages of both the NGOs and are supposed to be backed by their respective organizations - so they are not exactly wild claims by "lone-wolf" scientists, to which we were already used to. 2) They are questioning not just the census, but the aim of the entire project (the doubling of the global tiger population in about 10 years) labelling it and its implementation as "scientifically flawed". It is a very strong stance against WWF and a certain way of doing nature conservation. I think that usually conservation NGOs are unlikely to criticize each other because the public opinion seems perceive them as branches of the same tree and thus this criticism can detrimental for them all. The fact they decided to take a stance clearly indicate how far their positions are and I think that this could be a great occasion for the conservation movement to grow up and evolve. "On Sunday, April 10th, WWF and GTF, ssued a report stating that the world’s wild tiger population was on the rise, and on track for a doubling in a decade. We do not find this report and its implications scientifically convincing." "Using flawed survey methodologies can lead to incorrect conclusions, an illusion of success, and slackening of conservation efforts, when in reality grave concern is called for." "Glossing over serious methodological flaws, or weak and incomplete data to generate feel-good ‘news’ is a disservice to conservation" "tiger recovery rates are slow and not likely to attain levels necessary for the doubling of wild tiger numbers within a decade" "Estimates of tiger numbers for large landscapes and countries currently in vogue in the global media for a number of countries are largely derived from weak methodologies"
  3. "Recent claims that global numbers of wild tigers are increasing are misleading." Not sure if they are disputing only the censuses carried out in South Asia or also those of Russia What I would like to know is if Panthera staff and Karanth think the same also of the russian census or only of the figure of India and of South East Asia since their position on them was already known
  4. My guess: this severe stance is unlikely to stop the WWF-backed plan. They have invested a lot of political will in it and its withdrawal would be a major setback for their public relations. This would also embarass Cambodia since should the project be withdrawn they would be portrayed as yet another corrupt and dysfunctional state in South East Asia - the international press has proved to be very sensitive to the issues of wildlife conservation especially when they seem to concern animal rights. (look at the case of Cecil the Lion) I think that here we all agree on the fact that the real aim of this plan is not to create another tiger population - which would be in any case cut off all the other populations by hundreds of kilometers - but to use the reintroduction of a charismatic species as a tool to channel donors' money to one of the last great chunk of pristine habitat in the former French Indochina. That forest and its wildlife are worth saving even in the complete absence of flagship species like tigers or elephants, but NGOs like WWF acknowledge that it would be very hard to persuade donors to finance the conservation of bantengs, gaurs and animals like these, since they look like ordinary cattle to almost anyone on the Planet except wild cattle specialists and Safaritalkers.
  5. "Recent claims that global numbers of wild tigers are increasing are misleading." Not sure if they are disputing only the censuses carried out in South Asia or also those of Russia
  6. India’s best known tiger expert, Dr Ullas Karanth doesn't support the WWF-backed tiger reintroduction project in Cambodia "I do not think the required 1,000-2,000 sq. km area of prey-rich, people-free and livestock-free habitat is available in Cambodia at this time to seed and establish a viable tiger population." he voiced his concern of an unhappy ending with" people being killed and tigers being finally shot" and his words towards WWF were surprisingly tough "Both Global Tiger Forum and WWF, which are promoting this extremely unwise scheme, may eventually regret their decision if they do go ahead with it,"
  7. Where do they disperse during the wet season? Why is poaching not hammering them outside the park? I assume that during the dry season they are found mainly in the park but they start roaming a much bigger area when the rains come
  8. I'm not talking about changing practices, I'm talking about changing the products they use. Right now the poison being used to lace carcasses is readily available and very cheap. And it's so poisonous it kills animals who feed of the poisoned carcass instantly, and not only that. For example, a hyena eating from a poisoned carcass will die within minutes of eating, a jackal feeding of the hyena carcass will die within minutes, flies feeding of jackal and hyena will die before they can take off again. There have been poisoned elephant carcasses where hundreds of vultures died after feeding of single poisoned elephant carcass. Poisoning carcasses to get rid of carnivores is a new practice in Africa and I think it's better to discourage this behavior through education and reducing the availability of the products, before they become common practice. the poisoning of carcasses to kill predators seems to me an already common practice within african rural landscapes. The european example shows us that it is hard to change the attitudes of the herders even by spending huge sums in aids/education/prevention/compensation. My professor of conservation biology managed in the 70s in convincing polititians to introduce the first compensation scheme for wolf predation, here are the results: "In the light of persistently high occurrence of wolf–livestock conflict, and widespread illegal killing of wolves, we argue that compensation programs in Italy currently provide no evidence of being a functional and cost-effective conservation tool" herders kept killing wolves because they kept seeing them as varmints even if the losses were refunded. (they keep nowadays) remember that the EU is spending ten of billions of euros through CAP policy to support more environmentally friendly agricultural practices, but it doesn't seem to work. That's why I support changing livelihoods over education and compensation, I'm aware of several projects that were successful in reducing predators mortality but even of many that didn't succeed
  9. the banning of certain livestock medicines is critical. As said, livestock owners can still protect their animals, they just have to use different medicines. Those medicines are available, just a cheap and work just as well, so governments need to make a decision in which medicines to allow on the market in their country. Vultures fill a critical role in ecosystems, one and livestock owners profit from the service vultures provide. In India the numbers of feral dogs have increased dramatically since the vulture decline, and with the increase of feral dogs the instances of rabies have increased. I agree but at the moment it is not reported among the causes of the decline of African species, if we trust Birdlife. It is important to ban them immediately but there are also other concerns
  10. I'm only aware of reintroductions with bearded vultures in some areas in Europe. And in India they've set up breeding programs for Gyps vultures after losing >99% of the populations. I don't think regional genetic diversity is really of a concern as they're so wide-ranging that more likely than not the genetic connectivity between regions is high. Vultures seen in the Serengeti often also forage in Southern Sudan for example. The griffon vulture (Gyps Fulvus) has been extensively bred in captivity and reintroduced in central Italy, Sardinia and Sicily; and around southern Europe many reintroduction projects involving different species have been undertaken this is a partial list
  11. I don't think the major reason of death of bears and wolves in Europe is poisoning. Road mortality is some areas is high, hunting off-take in some areas is high, poaching by shooting in some areas happens, but I haven't seen any reports of intentionally killing of wolves or bears in Europe through poisoning. Trust me, it's poisoning. Every year there are about 100-200 wolves lost to poisoning just in central Italy, and the problem is widespread in Europe. Most of the italian brown bears in the Appennines die this way. It is the leading cause of predators and raptors mortality. as you can read in the report: "The illegal use of poison is one of the main threats to two priority large carnivore species of the Habitats Directive – the brown bear (Ursus arctos) and the wolf (Canis lupus) – as well as to several scavenger raptor species."
  12. The main hindrance I see to the conservation of vultures is that within human-dominated landscapes they will always face the threat of unintentional poisoning. Convincing ranchers and herders to stop using poison to protect their livestock has proven to be difficult even here in the EU. Note that the EU spends every year about half of its funds as agricultural aids inside its borders through the awkward CAP program. These funds are intended to promote environmentally friendly practices within the agricultural sector and it is estimated that right now they make up to the 50% - 80% of the herders' income. Despite this the killing continues unabated and it is currently the leading cause of wolf and brown bear mortality (though bears are even more heavily hammered by sport hunting in some areas). It is hard to change the herders' mind about carnivores. That's why it is better (IMHO) to promote different livelihoods rather than trying to reforme these practices; at least where other livelihoods are possible.
  13. I suggested captive breeding because it is currently successfully used to restock vultures in several european countries like Greece, Spain and Italy. In West Africa where populations were almost extirped and could be already extinct in several countries there aren't many other options, also because it is unlikely to manage to stop the killing immediately, so they are going to be further reduced before the tide is turned. My concern is even the loss of genetic diversity of regional populations;I assume that the Ruppell's of West Africa are not the same of the other parts of the continent, so we must save the local populations even if their numbers are very low at the present, and captive breeding can be a very useful tool for the purpose. the banning of poisonous medicinals is essential but it can take time to be implemented and right now it is not listed among the causes of the reductions of vultures populations in Africa (though it happened in India).
  14. Most vultures don't breed in colonies, so while protection of colonies might be a good idea for some species, it's uneffective for most. I didn't explain myself well. I meant major breeding areas, wherever you find a high nests density, not necessarily collective breeding areas like those of herons and pelicans
  15. If you read the article no one is suggesting to break up the Selous into smaller fenced reserves. The author say that basically it will be hard to get local people involved in conservation until lions keep attacking them and eating their livestock. If there is no wilderness outside a reserve but only farms and villages, like in the disticts west of Serengeti, what's the poing in being "free"? You already aren't but is harder to protect you. There are times when lack of fences doesn't promote connectivity but only keeps human-wildlife conflict high.

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