Gjerde K.M.,International Union for the Conservation of Nature
International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law | Year: 2012
In the past thirty years since the signing of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC), the ocean has changed more than in all of human history before. It is now facing a multitude of interconnected threats that require comprehensive, precautionary and integrated management. This review of the environmental provisions in Part XII of the LOSC with respect to the high seas and the seabed area beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) reveals significant strengths as well as substantial weaknesses and gaps. Governments are now grappling with how to address problems related to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ. This commentary concludes that Part XII will need strengthening, including through an implementing agreement, to enable the global community to cope with the escalating challenges of a changing ocean. © 2012 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden.
"HONOLULU – The world’s largest living primate has been listed as critically endangered, making 4 of the 6 great ape species only one step away from extinction, according to a report released Sunday at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, cited illegal hunting in downgrading the status of the eastern gorilla on its Red List of Endangered Species. The list contains more than 80,000 species, and almost 24,000 of those are threatened with extinction. “To see the eastern gorilla — one of our closest cousins — slide toward extinction is truly distressing,” Inger Andersen, IUCN director general, said in a statement. “Conservation action does work and we have increasing evidence of it. It is our responsibility to enhance our efforts to turn the tide and protect the future of our planet.”" The Associated Press had the story September 5, 2016.
The fate of Africa’s elephants may be decided before the weekend is out. Members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress, happening this week in Honolulu, will decide on Motion 7, whichwould call on the IUCN to encourage governments to shut down the ivory trade — and provide help in doing so. The hope is that ending the demand for ivory — and with it, hopefully, the large-scale elephant poaching that has been going on for more than a decade — would allow both savannah and forest elephants to recover. But two new studies show that the species have declined so much that, even after poaching ends, their populations will take decades to recover. The first study presents results from the Great Elephant Census, the first-ever continent-wide effort to survey savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana), the more common of the two species of elephant in Africa. Wildlife researchers, conservation organizations and government agencies worked together to conduct aerial surveys of elephant herds in 18 African nations. They cataloged more than 350,000 elephants (not including the 22,700 counted in Namibia in 2015, or elephants in South Sudan and Central African Republic, which have yet to be counted). An estimated 84 percent of the animals were living in protected areas, the team reports August 31 in PeerJ. While that may sound like a lot of elephants, the raw numbers are a bit misleading. That’s because not long ago there were so many more. The researchers estimate that 144,000 savannah elephants were lost between 2007 and 2014, with elephant numbers in the surveyed populations falling by about 8 percent per year largely due to poaching. If these populations continue to decline at that rate, their numbers would be halved every nine years, and smaller populations could be wiped out completely, the researchers warn. And living in a protected area, like a park or nature reserve, doesn’t mean that the elephants are necessarily protected from poaching or conflict with humans. The Great Elephant Census team found high levels of elephant deaths, which could indicate poaching, in Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, Mozambique’s Niassa National Reserve and Rungwa Game Reserve in Tanzania. “Heightened antipoaching measures are needed in these and other protected areas to ensure that they do not become mere ‘paper parks’ for elephants,” the researchers write. The situation may be worse for forest elephants (L. cyclotis), which scientists discovered only five years ago are a genetically distinct species. No one is quite sure how many forest elephants there are (the Great Elephant Census didn’t count them), but there are far fewer of these elephants than their savannah cousins. Like savannah elephants, forest elephants are dealing with losses from poaching, habitat loss and human conflict. A 2013 study estimated that they lost 62 percent of their numbers between 2002 and 2011, and a 2014 study estimated that as much as 10 to 18 percent of the forest elephant population disappears every year. And a new study finds that these elephants may be even less equipped than the savannah elephants to bounce back once poaching stops. Because it has taken a long time to recognize that forest elephants are their own species, there isn’t a lot of basic biology known about them. But researchers collected data on more than 1,200 elephants that visited a forest clearing in the southwestern Central African Republic between 1990 and 2013, and have now used that data to make some startling observations about how forest elephants differ from savannah elephants. Their results appear August 31 in the Journal of Applied Ecology. Biologically the two species of African elephants are fairly similar, but forest elephants have slowed down their reproduction. Female forest elephants can conceive when they are as young as 10 years — but most don’t. The elephants in the study reached sexual maturity as young as 13 and as old as 28 (the median was 23 years, compared with 12 for savannah elephants). And forest elephants breed only once every five to six years, compared with every three or four in savannah elephants. This means that a population of forest elephants would double in size at less than half the rate as savannah elephants. The researchers suspect that this slow population growth is an outcome of living in the forest environment. Forest elephants rely on a diet of fruit, leaf matter and bark, but most forest growth happens at the treetops. So elephants are going to be limited in what and how much food they can find. “Low reproductive rates may in fact be the norm for large-bodied mammals in these rain forests,” the researchers write. That wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that their numbers are being driven lower and lower by poaching. The research team estimates that it could take 80 to 90 years for forest elephants to recover to their pre-poaching numbers — and that’s only if poaching stops. Savannah elephants would recover more quickly, but it would still take decades. And that’s why the IUCN vote to potentially end the ivory trade is so important — because if we want to see elephants continue to roam Africa’s savannahs and forests, we need to stop the trade that is incentivizing people to kill them.
FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2007 file photo, a gorilla looks on at Volcanoes National Park in Ruhengeri, Rwanda. The eastern gorilla has been listed as critically endangered, making four of the six great ape species only one step away from extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Endangered Species, released Sunday Sept. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File) HONOLULU (AP) — The world's largest living primate has been listed as critically endangered, making four of the six great ape species only one step away from extinction, according to a report released Sunday at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, cited illegal hunting in downgrading the status of the eastern gorilla on its Red List of Endangered Species. The list contains more than 80,000 species, and almost 24,000 of those are threatened with extinction. "To see the eastern gorilla — one of our closest cousins — slide toward extinction is truly distressing," Inger Andersen, IUCN director general, said in a statement. "Conservation action does work and we have increasing evidence of it. It is our responsibility to enhance our efforts to turn the tide and protect the future of our planet." The organization said an estimated 5,000 eastern gorillas remain in the wild, a decline of about 70 percent over the past 20 years. Of all the great ape species — the eastern gorilla, western gorilla, Bornean orangutan, Sumatran orangutan, chimpanzee and bonobo — only the chimpanzee and bonobo are not considered critically endangered. But they are listed as endangered. For the gorillas of the Congo, where the majority of the population lives, conservation will be a struggle because of political instability, said primatologist Russell Mittermeier, executive vice chairman of the Conservation International environmental group and chairman of IUCN's primates specialist group. "There are no simple solutions right now, other than a much greater investment in on-the-ground protection until the region stabilizes, at which time major ecotourism, as is happening in the neighboring countries of Uganda and Rwanda, can take place," Mittermeier said in an email to The Associated Press. In an interview, Catherine Novelli, U.S. undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, called the gorilla numbers a man-made tragedy. The research by the Wildlife Conservation Society was accepted by the IUCN, which is made up of private and government entities and is hosting the World Conservation Congress. More than 9,000 delegates from over 180 countries are attending this week's conference in Honolulu, including several heads of state. "Critical endangered status will raise the profile of this gorilla subspecies and bring attention to its plight. It has tended to be the neglected ape in Africa, despite being the largest ape in the world," the study's lead scientist, Andrew Plumptre, said in an email. The IUCN compiles its peer-reviewed Red List alongside partners such as universities and environmental groups within animals' natural habitat. It is the most comprehensive analysis of endangered species and guides government policy around the world, said Cristian Samper, president and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Other animals on the list fared better than the apes, including the giant panda, which was previously on the endangered list. It is now listed as "vulnerable" after conservation efforts helped protect its habitat. "For over 50 years, the giant panda has been the globe's most beloved conservation icon," said Marco Lambertini, director general of the environmental group World Wildlife Fund. "Knowing that the panda is now a step further from extinction is an exciting moment for everyone committed to conserving the world's wildlife." Hunting and habitat destruction are taking a toll on animals and plants in variety of areas, the report said. In Hawaii, about 90 percent of native plants are threatened with extinction because of invasive species like rats, pigs and non-native plants, the IUCN said. In Africa, the plains zebra population has declined by a quarter since 2002, according to the group's statement. Find more stories by AP's Caleb Jones at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/caleb-jones. Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CalebAP.
News Article | January 3, 2016
It seems that animal poachers are using peer-reviewed journals to discover and locate newly discovered snakes, frogs and lizards in the wild. In turn, academic journals started to withhold the geographical locations of new discoveries. Many species, both past and recent discoveries, are facing dire risks of extinction. Most scientific groups often enjoy sharing a new discovery as best they can. But in doing so, they also reveal the species' geographical and biological data. These are often enough for illegal poachers to track new finds and get ahead in the illegal trade. The discovery of two new large gecko species in the Zootaxa academic journal already contained such omission. The announcement just said the new species were found in southern China, which makes it harder to pinpoint the geographical location of the new discoveries. "Due to the popularity of this genus as novelty pets, and recurring cases of scientific descriptions driving herpetofauna to near-extinction by commercial collectors, we do not disclose the collecting localities of these restricted-range species in this publication," the authors wrote. The research team added that additional information was presented to applicable government agencies. The information is available to fellow scientific groups upon request. Biologist Mark Auliya from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research said the publication of the species' geographical locations can become a threat to the new species' survival. Auliya is also the co-chair of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) group of monitor lizard specialists. Information on the whereabouts of the newly discovered species can be misused and monetized by traders and illegal poachers. It could also generate a market demand for the rare, endangered and protected finds that are endemic to a locality. Highly colorful, charismatic and unique species are often most vulnerable to animal poaching. The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature regulates a standard system of zoological terminology to ensure that every animal's scientific name is universally accepted. The commission does not require scientific teams to provide the exact locations such as GPS coordinates for new finds. However, many teams find that the addition of the species' actual locations makes the scientific finding complete. Peer-reviewed journals bearing the geographical locations of new species are not precisely mapped. However, the information included in the academic papers are often enough for black market traders to track these species using local contracts. Illegal traders often seduce poor, local farmers with cash to help in the search. Interestingly, when the discovery of a leaf-tailed gecko endemic to Madagascar appeared in the Zootaxa academic journal in summer 2015, the species started to appear in Europe. Taxonomist Marinus Hoogmoed and his wife discovered the Dendrobates galactonotus, a light blue morph of the poison dart frog, in 2013. The announcement was made in the journal Phyllomedusa and contained its whereabouts in Amazonian Brazil. In three short months, a German terrarium keeper sent Hoogmoed a photo of their find. The terrarium keeper said he made an offer in the German trade circuit with a price tag between €350 and €700 ($380 and $760). Hoogmoed issued a complaint to Brazilian authorities but to no avail. "The problem is that inspection and law enforcement in Brazil for wildlife is, at the least, weak," said Hoogmoed, explaining that since the trade does not involve high-profile animal or huge sums of money, there is very little interest to make the complaint a juridical case.