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Posts tagged "africa"

More elephant slaughters. We’re up to 30,000 kills every year now. Assault rifles are the kill tool of choice. Ivory collectors in Japan and China are major drivers of this poaching trend.

Durban - Gunmen allied to the Seleka rebel group, who killed 13 South African soldiers six weeks ago in the Central African Republic (CAR), have started to massacre forest elephants in a World Heritage Site.

Rod Cassidy, a South African tour operator who fled the CAR by boat the day after the military coup, said he had received information that a group of at least 17 heavily armed men entered the Dzanga-Sangha national park this week. Gunfire was heard on Tuesday night.

The gunmen appeared to be targeting forest elephants at Dzanga-Bai, a world-famous forest clearing and salt-lick where elephants gather every night.

A former Durban man, Cassidy set up a tourism lodge in the elephant sanctuary four years ago. He fled from the park with his wife and son on March 24, shortly after the Seleka rebel group entered Bangui, the capital of the republic.

“Gunshots were heard throughout the night. The situation is very worrying for the future of our heritage,” a senior park official pleaded in an e-mail.

“The government is aware of the massacres. Please put pressure on the NGOs and other partners to save the situation.” 

Dzanga-Sangha national park, in the south-western corner of the country bordering Cameroon and the Republic of Congo, was declared part of a three-nation World Heritage Site last year.

Officials at the World Heritage Centre in Paris could not be reached for comment on Tuesday night. Late last week, however, Unesco director-general Irina Bokova voiced “deep concern” about the looming threat to the park’s population of forest elephants, gorillas and bongo antelope.

Noting that almost 30,000 elephants were being shot for ivory every year across Africa, Bokova said her organisation was alarmed by the surge in elephant poaching in central Africa and she noted that there had been a series of attacks by armed men in the vicinity of Dzanga-Sangha in recent weeks.

The park has more than 3 000 forest elephants, whose “pink” ivory is prized in Japan.


All of Mozambique’s remaining rhinos killed by poachers

The last known rhinoceroses in Mozambique have been wiped out by poachers apparently working in cahoots with the game rangers responsible for protecting them.

The 15 threatened animals were shot dead for their horns last month in the Mozambican part of Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which also covers South Africa and Zimbabwe.

They were thought to be the last of an estimated 300 that roamed through the special conservation area when it was established as “the world’s greatest animal kingdom” in a treaty signed by the three countries’ presidents in 2002. (Denis Farrell / AP Photo)

This short paper on climate adaptation shows how decision makers struggle with dealing with change. One problem with new environmental risks is how to decide which system to address first - food? ecosystems? infrastructure?


The Tanzanian government has ordered thousands of Masai to abandon traditional grazing lands to make way for a conservation site.

But the Maasai are refusing to leave their ancestral land. They say the real reason they are being forced out is to give a Dubai-based hunting company exclusive access.

Wildlife Instead, the hunting company, says that it will bring clients in for a six-month season and the Maasai can graze their cattle out of season. However, researchers say that the livestock are a part of the area’s ecosystem.

Al Jazeera’s Peter Greste reports from Lolyondo in northern Tanzania.

30,000 Maasai being pushed off their land in part by an exclusive Dubai trophy hunting/tourism company. Government says it’s conserve the land, and the company has nothing to do with it.

Starbucks tiny-mini-rant P2

Imagine you are from Boston selling, I don’t know, hand-made lobster necklaces. Now imagine that the advertisement for your labor intensive necklaces pointed to a map of Juneau, Alaska. I think it’s fair to say that you’d be a little bit perturbed (actually, if you’re truly from beantown, you’d be “wickedpissed”).

That’s basically what I found at the huge Starbucks next to Yale University’s campus the other day.

On one counter, there was a stack of these black cards advertizing a new bean from Tanzania. But the dot representing “Tanzania” is actually 4,200 miles away - in Mali, which is a desert. A big desert called the Sahara. Let’s hope the hard working Tanzanian coffee growers don’t see this… :-/

Used AK47 assault rifles (note this was originally reported as 28 killed).

Eighty-six elephants were killed in the last week close to Fianga, an area in Chad nearby the Cameroon border; the latest devastating elephant massacre.

Wildlife officials said armed gangs killed the elephants, including 33 pregnant females, and their tusks were hacked out.

First investigations reveal that the group of poachers was from Sudan, moving along the Chad -Cameroon border in the Mayo-Kebbi East Region.

Local animal welfare activists said that armed gangs kill the elephants because of the ivory to fuel sub regional rebellion groups such as Boko Haram. According to SOS ELEPHANTS OF CHAD, it is time for Cameroon, Chad and central African Republic to step up their efforts and fight the terrorists with appropriate trained soldiers and weapons.

More at AfricanConservation

This occurred shortly after 178 countries, including the US, rejected an agreement to protect elephants from ivory poaching. The demand for ivory is driven by Asia’s fast economic growth, lack of education, the Catholic church (yes), and corruption.

Poachers have killed 28 endangered forest elephants in the Nki and Lobeke national parks in southeast Cameroon in recent weeks, the conservation organization WWF said on Wednesday.

With demand for ivory rising from Asia, poachers have reduced the population of Africa’s forest elephants by 62 percent over the last decade, putting the species on track for extinction, conservationists say.

The parks of southeast Cameroon, along with parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon, have some of the last significant populations of forest elephants.

"Elephants in these two protected areas in the Congo Basin are facing a threat to their existence," said Zacharie Nzooh, WWF Cameroon representative in the East Region.

Nzooh said that between February 10 and March 1, WWF found the carcasses of 23 elephants, stripped of their tusks, deep in the Nki national park. A further five were found without their tusks in the Lobeke national park, further to the east.

"The poachers used automatic weapons, such as AK-47s, reflecting the violent character of elephant poaching," he said, adding that park wardens lacked good weapons.



Nigeria’s Cost & Energy-Efficient Floating Schools (by NLÉ)

The Makoko Floating School is an ambitious project that is currently under construction in the water community of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria by NLÉ, a collaborative agency whose mission is to provide architectural change for developing cities. The project seeks to create floating buildings that are designed to serve as educational classrooms for neighborhood children.

The three-story architectural structure, built as a triangular prism, is intended to float on water with a base made of 256 plastic drums. The floating construct is built with locally sourced wood, electrically powered with solar panels, and designed to house about 100 students.

While this first generation of floating buildings is being designated solely as educational center, the project is opening a new chapter in architectural design that can be applied to a variety of facilities for poor communities like Makoko to urbanize efficiently. Because of the project’s green initiatives, each building is more affordable and cost-effective. Additionally, they accommodate for the climate changes that are resulting in the rise of sea levels.

(via architectureofdoom)

Pretty good listening for Women’s Day. Did not know only 7% of women filed patents, are far less likely to get struck by lightning, drown less than men, avoid editing Wikipedia because they are more likely to avoid conflict(?!), are more likely to file the divorce papers, and play more video games than men.

At the 178-nation Convention in Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) meeting, Burkina Faso and Kenya cited the “merciless slaughter of elephants” in their attempt to extend to a wider group of nations a pledge from some countries not to sell ivory stockpiles before 2016.

But the proposal was seen as legally flawed by many delegates and failed to get support.

But Tom Milliken, head of the elephant and rhino team at wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, said he was more optimistic than ever that tough action would still be taken. “This time people are listening because everything is pointing in the same direction: poaching is up to a record high, as is illegal ivory trading and elephants seem to be down,” he said. About 25,000 elephants were killed by poachers in 2012.

At the Cites talks, 19 nations face bans on all wildlife trade unless they crack down on the poaching, smuggling or sale of illegal ivory. The summit is also considering compulsory forensic testing of seized tusks, so the criminal chain can be traced and compulsory reporting of stockpiles of ivory, to prevent corruption or thefts.

Separately, Kenya attempted to prevent the export of trophy-hunted rhino horns from South Africa. Vietnamese and east European gangs use the practice as a cover to feed the illegal Vietnamese market with the 1,000 horns a year it is demanding. But Milliken said that South Africa had already put an end to the “pseudo-hunting”. There are 20,000 white rhinos at present, he said, and despite more than 600 being poached in 2012, the population is rising.

Milliken said: “It is probably a good idea to keep these [trophy-hunting] incentives for private wildlife reserve owners at a time when they are having to spend more on protection from poachers.” He said, in contrast, Vietnam was doing extremely little to tackle rhino sales.

The Cites meeting did, however, unanimously raise the protection of the west African manatee to the highest level, overriding advice from officials that “scant” scientific data did not support the move.

The slow-moving creature, which can measure up to 4.5m long and weigh 350kg, is found in the coastal lagoons and rivers of 21 states, and can reach as far inland as Mali, Niger and Chad.

Illegal kills can raise $4,500 per animal and less than 10,000 remain. They are hunted for meat and oil, killed as by bycatch by fishermen and also suffer as their habitat is destroyed by mangrove harvesting, pollution and dams. The Cites conference also bid farewell to a series of extinct animals by removing them from protection lists, including Australia’s dusky flying fox, crescent nail-tail wallaby, buff-nosed rat-kangaroo and the pig-footed- and rabbit-eared bandicoots.”

Via The Guardian

10 largest deserts in the world

Rank   Desert                                          Area (km²)         Area (mi²)

  1. Antarctic Desert (Antarctica)    13,829,430    5,339,573
  2. Arctic Desert (Arctic)                 13,726,937    5,300,000
  3. Sahara Desert (Africa)                9,100,000+   3,320,000+
  4. Arabian Desert (Middle East)      2,330,000       900,000
  5. Gobi Desert (Asia)                      1,300,000       500,000
  6. Kalahari Desert (Africa)                 900,000       360,000
  7. Patagonian Desert (S. America)    670,000       260,000
  8. Great Victoria Desert (Australia)   647,000       250,000
  9. Syrian Desert (Middle East)            520,000       200,000
  10. Great Basin Desert (N. America)   492,000       190,000


Interesting conference recap for my resilience, cities, and adaptation readers. Focus seems to have been on public-private partnerships in rebuilding after disasters - getting NGOs, non-profits, and governments together to discuss how to better plan and manage environmental risks. Big fan of the international flavors at this event.


In 2011 a couple of months after the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear aftermath, the Global Platform for Disaster Reduction, which also hosted the first World Reconstruction Conference, brought together almost 3000 people working on reducing disaster risks and building resilient communities. This included several Heads of State, Ministers, a Managing Director of the World Bank, over 2,600 delegates representing 163 Governments, 25 inter-governmental organizations, 65 non-governmental organizations, parliamentarians, private sector, local government, academic institutions, civil society and international organizations.

The Chair’s Summary of the 2011 event identified 9 ways to place DRR at the forefront to preserve and protect the balance of nature and ensure sustainable development and well-being of future generations. This included supporting local government, drawing on the untapped potential of local actors, building on the role of women as change agents, involving children and youth in decisions that affect their future, engaging the private sector, building on the role of parliamentarians in setting policy, promoting cooperation at the local, national, and regional levels,  supporting the scientific and technical communities to inform decisions, and supporting UNISDR in its leadership role in within the UN on DRR.

Before/After - Map shows shrinking range and dwindling populations of elephants in Africa. All eyes are on China, which is fueling the illegal slaughter of thousands of elephants for their tusks.

VANISHING ELEPHANTS  Killing African elephants for their ivory is devastating a species that’s already losing ground to a growing human population. Via

Gorgeous painting of a shantytown. Strong technique.Did not know the word “bidonville" until today.


Florent Espana, Bidonville d’Afrique, oil on canvas, 2011