Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Beautiful OKapi among the endangered species.

WWF-The amazing okapi is now sadly classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Okapis are one of the species we fear could be at risk if oil exploration goes ahead in Virunga National Park. Please sign our pledge and say no to Soco exploring for oil in this World Heritage Site: http://panda.org/draw_the_line


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Reasons why Burning of Ivory may not stop Poaching in Africa.

Although the trade in Ivory was banned in 1989, The Killing of African Elephants is disturbingly on the rise.

Elephant killed by Poachers in the Congo Bazin

Last Thursday, 14 November, 2013 the US launched a global Push to fight against illegal ivory trade by crushing dozens of tones of seized Ivory since 1989. This action came a week after Kenya took a bold action to burn to dust, dozens of tons of her seized Ivory stock, from the Illegal trade in Ivory. To Kenyan conservationists, it will be a great thing for Kenya to conserve the Elephants for future generations.Analysts say this action taken by Kenya is a big risk to take, because it puts them to conflict with their neibours in the south who would want to continue the trade.

It is quite striking to note that, despite the efforts put by the US through her reputable organization; US Fish and Wild Life Service (USFWS) (raiding and seizing from shops and art dealers, an estimated One ton of Ivory from African origin during the years 2011-2012.) You can still find today exposed openly good quantities of Ivory in US luxury shops found in Madison Avenue, New York City, San Francisco and many other cities in the US.

Many African environmentalists like Orock Nkongho Becky, an environmental activist, argue that, this burning of Ivory cannot stop poaching, because, The Convention on International Trade for Endangered Species(CITES) is laxed on the control of the laws that they enact. She cited the ban lift in 1999 and again in 2008 parties to CITES voted to allow ivory sales.

US Officials Crushing tons of Seized Ivory

The first sale was of 55 tons to Japan and the second, of 115 tons to Japan and China.  In the wake of the China sale, elephant poaching and ivory trafficking have boomed. In 2011 46.5 tons of illegal Ivory was seized in the US much more heading to Japan and China.

Because of the high demand of Ivory in the Asian market, Centre for International Forest Research (CIFOR) and the World Wide Fund For Nature(WWF), reported about 400 elephants slaughtered in the North Region of Cameroon in March and April 2013.

The fact that the law enforcement bodies in Asia and Africa are inefficient, reporters think that Gabon whose government destroyed 4.8 tons of Ivory last year, Philippines and Kenya whose stocks of illegally seized Ivory were destroyed this year, are making a great mistake. The further explain that, they have to reinforce the laws and prepare to fight poachers rather than burning treasures which could earn fortune to them.

It is quite a regrettable situation that the African Elephant with its massive adaptable body is highly coveted, by the poachers and their sponsors of this trade.

 Would the generations of tomorrow have the chance to see these massive and incredible  elephants?

By Nyoh Israel Bionyi

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Natural Gas: Real Risks and Real Opportunities

Natural gas production has raised local and national concern about its consequences for the environment and public health. It’s a controversial topic—and it should be.

The environmental risks associated with the shale revolution are significant. Leaks and spills pollute water supplies. Wells and pipelines can damage forests, wetlands, and other habitat. Industrial-scale development can create safety hazards for rural communities. On top of all that, all long-term effects are yet to be seen.

At the same time, there are some undeniable benefits. The economic and security gains to the United States are substantial, including a domestic supply of low-cost energy. Chemical manufacturing jobs that rely on the natural gas industry can return to our shores.

Abundant shale gas has allowed the United States to shift away from coal to generate power. And since natural gas generates half the CO2 as coal, this shift is reducing greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, low-cost natural gas may also slow the transition from fossil fuels to renewable resources such as wind and solar power.

What’s an Environmentalist To Do? 

One approach—in light of the environmental risks—is for environmentalists to just say “no” to the natural gas opportunity. But I doubt this is the best answer.
To be sure, there are some areas where oil and gas development should be opposed. But, the reality is that the shale revolution is already underway and growing. Just saying “no” likely means being disengaged and on the sidelines. Instead, I believe environmentalists should be asking “where and how?” Where can natural gas exploration occur safely? How can robust regulatory policy best be put in place to ensure sound environmental outcomes? How can we reap economic security as well as environmental benefits through natural gas production while avoiding environmental harm?

In my view, environmentalists need to engage with governments, local communities, and energy companies so that we can answer these questions fully and build the consensus to establish the regulatory framework needed to ensure satisfactory outcomes.

Clearly, natural gas production has to be done right. The chemicals used need to be less toxic, and leftover water from the process needs to be treated and recycled to prevent pollution. Wells and facilities must be secure so methane doesn’t seep into drinking water or the air. Finally, we must reduce the overall footprint to better protect habitat and communities. These improvements won’t happen all by themselves. Environmentalists need to get to work and build the necessary alliances and momentum to make them happen.

Finding Common Ground

In our case and for our part, TNC works with governments and shale gas companies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Colorado, Wyoming and beyond to help them better plan the placement of roads, wells and pipelines to avoid destroying important habitat. We also help guide coordinated development plans and regulatory policies that encourage companies to share infrastructure and minimize their environmental impact. Likewise, our good friends at Environmental Defense Fund are doing great work with regulators and companies on the important topic of constraining potential methane leakage.

These efforts are one small example of how environmentalists can engage on tougher issues and seek common ground to meet the nation’s energy needs while ensuring the safety of lands, waters and communities.

In my view, it's clear that environmentalists need to fight for energy sources that have less impact on the environment. Of course, let's champion zero-carbon sources of power and the reduction of carbon emissions in the United States and around the world. But let’s also champion collaboration with partners—including unlikely ones—to improve energy practices and policies for people and nature.

Copyright Mark T.
President and CEO, The Nature Conservancy. Author of Nature's Fortune

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Poaching Effects in Africa Undiscovered! Elephants disappear rapidly.

Although about 20,000 records, representing law enforcement actions in around 100 countries and territories since 1989 to fight against poaching, the number of elephants keep on diasppearing.

According to the Center For Conservation Biology of the University of Washington Poaching  has caused a decline of African elephants from 1.3 million to 600,000 individuals between 1979-1987. Mortality was unusually concentrated among the largest adults with the biggest tusks. Old matriarchs (the oldest adult females that provide the social glue in elephant herds) were particularly vulnerable. Their tusks are large and their groups were easier to find than solitary adult males.

Picture by Michael Nocols

Earlier this year in  Cameroon 400 elephants were slaughtered by poachers all the way from Sudan, reports from WWF say. The 63 man crew of Cameroonian soldiers form the Special Batallion of Rapid Intervention (BIR) arrived the  Bouba Ndjida National Park in remote northern Cameroon, along the Chad border too late. One could only see carcases of elephants spraying every where in the park early reporters said early reporters at the site.  International Fund for Animal Welfare ( IFAW) reported in a fire arm exchange between the poachers and the BIR left 10 more elephants dead.

The situation is really getting out of hand says environmental activists. Many think that Cameroon and other countries like Mozambique where the level of poaching is incontrolably high; have lost a treasures they could not recover in the next fourty years.

The African Development Bank stressed the need to fight against this hideous crime in their annual meeting held at Marrakech, Morocco. Great leaders of the Bank raised concern about this issue and promised to support the fight.

"Illicit wildlife trafficking is a wrong that we must relentlessly resist – our people, our natural resources and our very economic development are at risk,” said Donald Kaberuka, AfDB President. “I call on leaders across Africa and beyond to invest in our region’s future by doing all they can to strengthen law enforcement and criminal justice for these crimes.”
Picture By AP

The fight is now joined by African Footballer of the year 2012 Yaya Touré. He joined the UN(United Nations) campaign to save elephants last month and acknowledged that; there were only 800 of the "magnificent creatures" left in his country, Ivory Coast, whose national team is known as "The Elephants".

Large-scale seizures of ivory destined for Asia reached an all-time high in 2011, more than doubling since 2009, UNEP says.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Kenya- The Fight Against Poaching: Billions of seized Ivory Burned To Ashes

That a president of a developing country that has to depend on donor funds to meet their yearly budget, personally sets natures resources worth billions ablaze is very ironic. I can even call it sad. A resource that has a readily available market, that caused the death of thousands of our wildlife, should never be wasted that way again.

Does it not matter at all that an elephant, or a rhino was murdered somewhere in cold blood, for one to have mercilessly cut off their tusks with the intention of enriching themselves by selling them in the Asian black market? According to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, about 36,500 elephants are killed in Africa alone every year by a set of serial killers we have christened poachers. A little of the ivory acquired by this heinous act is intercepted at the airports, and is ‘confiscated’. Part of it kept as exhibit for the prosecution of the persons found with it. What we see later in our country is a huge stack of ivory worth billions of shillings ceremoniously being burned by the president, in the presence of other very influential learned people of excellent economic and environmental knowledge.

How I sincerely wish that things were a little different. I wish that once such cargo is intercepted, it is not confiscated but stored. That the offender be not remanded for months on end before prosecution and trial, but to be convicted within shortest time possible. Let it be known that such cases shall not be amongst those that will drag in the courts forever. There should be no freeing poachers or illegal ivory traders on bond, unless under very special circumstances that will require very convincing backup. Punishment for such offenders should not be less than ten years behind bars.

Most important though is the stored ivory. It doesn’t change anything by burning them, does it? Bad cannot be paid by worse if our aim is to see positive progress. By burning, the dead elephants and rhinos from which these tusks were removed will have died in vain. If we really care to reduce, and even stop poaching, it would be of better sense to honor their deaths by protecting their surviving kin. We could go ahead and legally sell the ivory by a process of international bidding and selling them to the buyer attaching highest value to them. The sums acquired from the sale can then be used to improve measures being put to protect wildlife, like research, securing park perimeters, hiring more rangers and equipping them to effectively deal with poachers. This way, there truly will be progress in curbing poaching, and the shame of burning billions when we desperately need them will be no more.

Burning will not stop poaching, I dare say. There should be no pride in burning ivory.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

WWF Urges Governments to seize the opportunity to tackle climate change

According to this body,With only 50 days of negotiations left for world leaders to produce a new global climate agreement in 2015, world leaders need to make an  every day count.

A meeting was held  in Warsaw  Poland. According to the head of this WWF it is important because it paves the way to a critical meeting in Lima next year and then in Paris in 2015, where a new global climate deal is to be agreed.

“The Polish government has unfortunately shown us how not to handle these important negotiations by having embarrassingly low ambitions for this meeting and by trying to package their pro-coal stance as ‘clean coal’ – something that simply doesn’t exist,” says Tasneem Essop, WWF’s head of delegation for the upcoming climate talks in Warsaw.

“We are clear that we have little time left to act, and governments, including Poland, aren't doing enough to address the problem. The world is alarmingly far from an emissions reductions pathway that would limit dangerous climate change,” she says.

Climate and energy policy is currently driven almost entirely by the vested interests of fossil fuel companies and not by what is good for the planet and good for humanity, she says.

“We need to change this approach in Warsaw. We are calling on governments to make significant progress and agree to concrete actions to bring down emissions before 2020. Scaling up investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency provides such an opportunity, especially since the technologies are becoming increasingly competitive and affordable.”.

Samantha Smith, WWF leader of the Global Climate & Energy Initiative said: “When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change delivered their recent report, they couldn’t have been clearer - climate change is still happening, the main source of climate pollution is burning fossil fuels, and the window of opportunity for tackling the problem is rapidly closing.”

In short, says Smith, we need to close the ambition gap now and Warsaw is the place for governments to start doing this. “We know that most of the pollution that causes climate change comes from burning fossil fuels. We must quit fossil fuels and have a just transition to clean renewable energy. It won’t happen fast enough without governments, who need to send clear policy signals to investors.”

Friday, 8 November 2013

Cameroon-Sustainable Forest Management In Central African Region

The Congo Bazin Forest

Central Africa is home to the second largest continuous block of rainforest on the planet after the Amazon Basin. The area hosts a wealth of biodiversity and provides vital regional and global ecological services. Although attention to forest issues in the region has increased since the Rio Summit in 1992, there is still much to be done to address the new threats facing these important forests and the challenge of managing them sustainably.

As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations, CIFOR organized with its partners a two-day policy and science conference entitled "Sustainable forest management in Central Africa: Yesterday, today and tomorrow." Bringing together the region's leading policy makers, donors, media, researchers and forest experts, the conference provided a forum for open discussion of the most critical issues and challenges facing the sustainable management of Central Africa's forests, the biodiversity they embrace and the people who depend on them.

The conference was hosted by the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife of Cameroon, who opened and closed the event. Over 520 guests attended the first day and more than 350 on the second day, and nearly 25 high-level speakers presented topics. Check back soon to see interviews, slide presentations, photos, videos and more.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of strongest storms ever, hits central Philippines

With 25 million people in its path, Super Typhoon Haiyan -- one of the strongest storms recorded on the planet -- smashed into the Philippines on Friday morning.

As the storm plowed across the cluster of islands in the heart of the country, three people were reported dead, more than 100,000 took shelter in evacuation centers and hundreds of flights were canceled.
The storm brought tremendously powerful winds roaring ashore as it made landfall in the province of Eastern Visayas, disrupting communications with a major city in its path.

With sustained winds of 315 kph (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380 kph (235 mph), Haiyan was probably the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land anywhere in the world in recorded history. It will take further analysis after the storm passes to establish whether it is a record.

Category 5 strength

Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Yolanda, appeared to retain much of its terrifying force as it moved west over the country, with sustained winds of 295 kph, gusts as strong as 360 kph. Haiyan's wind strength makes it equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane.

Video footage from on the ground in the Philippines showed howling winds bending palm trees and whipping debris down deserted streets.

Gov. Roger Mercado of Southern Leyte, a province in Eastern Visayas, said Friday morning that "all roads" were impassable because of fallen trees.

He said it was too soon to gauge the level of devastation caused by Haiyan.
"We don't know the extent of the damage," Mercaod said. "We are trying to estimate this. We are prepared, but this is really a wallop."

The typhoon was forecast to churn across the central Philippines during Friday and part of Saturday before exiting into the South China Sea.