Science community rallies support to save Madagascar’s natural riches

first_imgMadagascar is set to host the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation’s 56th annual meeting in July.The organizers have launched a petition to garner support for urgent actions that must be taken to preserve the island nation’s unique biodiversity.The petition will be presented to the country’s president, who has been invited to sign it and recognize it as the Declaration of Ivato, after the site where the meeting will take place.The document, available in four languages, can be accessed online until Aug. 2. As Madagascar prepares to host a major conservation summit next month, the organizer has launched a petition to call attention to the threats faced by the island nation’s unique biodiversity and its people.Delegates from more than 50 countries are expected to attend the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation’s (ATBC) 56th annual meeting that runs from July 31 to Aug. 3 at the Ivato International Convention Centre in the capital, Antananarivo. Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina has been invited to sign the petition at the closing of the conference so that it can be instituted as the Declaration of Ivato.The petition is an attempt by the scientific community to shine a light on concerns that were laid out in a commentary published in Nature Sustainability in May and recommend actions for the government and key stakeholders. It highlights the unique place that Madagascar occupies as the oldest island in the world and home to unique species that are weird and wonderful — but also severely threatened.A Madagascar kingfisher (Alcedo vintsioides). Credit: Rhett A. ButlerMadagascar’s astonishing variety of plant and animal species, an estimated 90 percent of which are found nowhere else on Earth, is a result of its isolation for tens of millions of years. This allowed evolutionary forces to shape the biota unfettered. The country hosts more than a hundred species of enigmatic lemurs and lesser-known but equally remarkable reptile and amphibian species.Most of these species are endangered by unbridled forest loss, habitat degradation, fragmentation, and wildlife trafficking. In 2018, Madagascar lost 2 percent of its primary rainforests, the largest proportion of any country in the world. The remaining forests are severely fragmented, about half of them now located less than 100 meters (330 feet) from a forest boundary.The installation of a new government under Rajoelina this year raised hopes that a degree of political stability could help stem the environmental destruction. During Rajoelina’s previous stint as president, from 2009 to 2014, when he came to power on the back of a coup d’état, the country experienced a period of unchecked natural resource exploitation.The ATBC, in its petition, acknowledges the reality of conservation in a country that’s one of the poorest in Africa, with 75% people living below the poverty line in 2018, and suffers high rates of child malnutrition. “Conservation of biodiversity must therefore contribute to, not detract from, efforts of the country to develop economically,” it says.It emphasizes the need to safeguard Madagascar’s natural heritage and make it the basis for its economic recovery, a key challenge for the current president. “This will be a crucial opportunity to underline to the nation’s political and economic leaders the views of the national and international scientific and conservation communities, specifically the importance of the island’s natural patrimony at a global level and the need for new decisive actions,” the petition says.Kids from the Vezo community in Madagascar dancing atop a sand dune. Credit: Rhett A. ButlerIt lists five urgent actions to save the forests and biodiversity and secure the people’s future: tackling environmental crime, investing in Madagascar’s protected areas, ensuring that major infrastructure developments limit impacts on biodiversity, strengthening tenure rights for local people over natural resources, and addressing Madagascar’s growing fuelwood crisis.According to the World Bank, only about 20% of Malagasy households have access to electricity, and the percentage is even lower in rural areas forcing people to turn to forests for their energy needs. A majority of households rely on firewood or charcoal for cooking. As the population swells, between 2007 and 2017 the country’s population grew by over 6 million people, the pressure on forests will only intensify.The ATBC targets 2500 signatures* for the petition; as of June 24 more than 800 people had already signed it. The hope is to garner even more signatures and support from across the world to lean on the Malagasy government to act. The petition is available in English, French, Spanish and Malagasy, and will be live until Aug. 2.Banner Image: A female black lemur in Nosy Komba island in Madagascar, 2012. Credit: Rhett A. Butler[*Editor’s Note: The article has been updated to reflect a change in the target number of signatures for the petition.]Malavika Vyawahare is the Madagascar staff writer for Mongabay. Find her on Twitter: @MalavikaVyFEEDBACK: 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. Biodiversity, Conservation, Deforestation, Endangered Species, Energy, Environment, Forests, Protected Areas, Rainforests, Tropical Forests, Wildlife, Wildlife Trade 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 overSponsoredcenter_img Article published by malavikavyawaharelast_img read more

New maps show where giraffes live — mostly outside protected areas

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 Shreya Dasgupta Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environment, Forests, Giraffes, Green, Mammals, Research, Wildlife center_img By combining the latest data from on ground and aerial surveys, following movements of GPS-tagged animals, consultation with experts, and reviewing the scientific literature, researchers have produced a series of maps that they say represent the most comprehensive and accurate picture of where giraffes live in Africa.While the IUCN recognizes only one species of giraffe and nine subspecies, the study’s authors decided to use the taxonomy suggested by recent studies that recognize the giraffe as not one but four distinct species — northern, southern, reticulated, and Masai giraffe — and five subspecies.The new range maps will serve as a baseline from which conservationists can now start monitoring changes in giraffe distribution in the future, the researchers say.The range maps show that around 70 percent of the giraffe’s range occurs outside government-managed protected areas. You know a giraffe when you see one. But where in Africa can you see one?Unlike lions and rhinos, the world’s tallest animal is grossly understudied, with very little known about it, including its distribution in Africa. Until recently, maps of where giraffes occurred had been based largely on crude estimates and some guesswork.Now, by combining the latest data from on-the-ground and aerial surveys, following movements of GPS-tagged animals, consultation with experts, and reviewing the scientific literature, researchers have produced a series of giraffe distribution maps in a new study, which they say presents a more accurate picture of where the giraffe lives. As it turns out, around 70 percent of the giraffe’s range occurs outside government-managed protected areas, the study found.The previous giraffe range maps were published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2016. Although recent, those maps weren’t based on the most up-to-date and accurate data on the animals, Jenna Stacey-Dawes, a co-author of the study and researcher at San Diego Zoo Global, told Mongabay.“Just looking at the range maps that existed for reticulated giraffe, which is the species that our project focuses on in northern Kenya, we realized that the IUCN maps weren’t showing exactly where giraffes are occurring in northern Kenya,” Stacey-Dawes said. “Historic maps for giraffe vary wildly from source; they’re just really inconsistent. So as a group, we decided that for giraffe conservation to move forward, it’s really critical to have these updated and accurate range maps to understand where giraffes are occurring, and if their range is decreasing in the future, or if they’re moving into new areas.”Formally, the IUCN recognizes only one species of giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis, and nine subspecies. But recent studies have suggested that the giraffe is not one but four distinct species — northern giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), southern giraffe (G. giraffa), reticulated giraffe (G. reticulata), and Masai giraffe (G. tippelskirchi) — and five subspecies. To make the updated giraffe distribution maps, the researchers decided to use the latter taxonomy.“Why the taxonomy hasn’t been accepted by IUCN has more to do with people and politics than it has to do with science,” Julian Fennessy, co-author of the study and co-founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, who also co-authored the studies revising giraffe taxonomy, told Mongabay. “We look at the best science to support our conservation actions on the ground and we’re pretty confident that the science says it all.”Considering the giraffe as four separate species matters for conservation.“Conservation is done at a species level, so by identifying the different species, we can escalate them to the proper conservation level that they deserve,” Fennessy said. “If we or the IUCN was to undertake a new assessment, looking at four species, three of the four species [northern, reticulated and Masai] would be listed as endangered or critically endangered.”Updated geographic range maps for giraffe in sub-Saharan Africa. Image courtesy of O’connor et al. (2019).The researchers used a variety of data, including those from large-scale aerial surveys such as the Great Elephant Census (GEC) designed to count African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) and other large mammals, including giraffe. By doing so, they produced what they call the “most comprehensive and accurate” maps for where giraffe populations live in sub‐Saharan Africa to date.Since the new maps depend on more reliable and rigorously collected data, they cannot be compared with previous known distributions. The updated maps will, however, serve as a baseline from which conservationists can now start monitoring changes in giraffe distribution in the future, the researchers say.The latest maps, for example, show that the northern giraffe’s populations occur in small, fragmented populations. Their decline, the researchers say, has been driven largely by the loss of habitat. The maps also show an expansion in the distribution of the reticulated giraffe than previously thought, but this is probably because of improved monitoring and data collection.The maps also reveal that, on average, around 70 percent of giraffe distribution occurs outside of what the researchers term as “government managed protected areas,” or formally protected areas like national parks. This means that most giraffe populations live on community lands, sharing space with livestock and people.“Government managed protected areas setting aside pieces of land for wildlife is critical, and that’s really helpful for preserving habitat, but to really conserve giraffe we will have to work directly with the people that are living alongside these animals,” Stacey-Dawes said. “That’s kind of the model that we’re working with in northern Kenya with reticulated giraffe where over 95 percent of their distribution occurs outside these formerly protected areas.”For four countries, including eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), Namibia, Somalia and South Africa, the researchers weren’t able to get sufficient data. In Somalia, this is because there hasn’t been any systematic survey on giraffes due to ongoing conflict and insecurity, Fennessy said. In Namibia and South Africa, which have some of the largest populations of giraffe, there is another challenge: most giraffes live outside protected areas on private land, from where getting an accurate count is especially hard.“There is a whole bunch of reasons behind that,” Fennessy said. “In these countries, giraffe is physically owned by owners of those private land and they don’t want to expose all of their assets. Some people feel there is a sense of spying on them, there are tax implications … they just don’t want to share all that information. We’ve been trying to slowly get a little bit of information and extrapolate but it is definitely challenging.”There is greater attention on the giraffe today, and the researchers hope that through more monitoring and collaborative efforts, they will be able to better understand the tall mammal and help conserve it.“It almost feels like you’re building from zero,” Stacey-Dawes said. “There’s not much existing literature on giraffe, so a lot of the research that’s being done right now is just to answer those basic ecological questions about giraffe social structure, habitat preference. There are things that we still just don’t know about some giraffe populations.”Giraffe in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Image by Udayan Dasgupta.Citation:O’connor, D., Stacy‐Dawes, J., Muneza, A., Fennessy, J., Gobush, K., Chase, M. J., … Mueller, T. (2019). Updated geographic range maps for giraffe, Giraffa spp., throughout sub‐Saharan Africa, and implications of changing distributions for conservation. Mammal Review, 49(4), 285-299. doi:10.1111/mam.12165last_img read more