Normally, I love living in Tanzania, surrounded by friendly people, amazing coasts, and almost unrivaled biodiversity. But a story recently published by The Guardian really saddens me.
The short and dirty version (and it’s a pretty dirty story, in my opinion) is that the Tanzanian government wants to sell a massive chunk of land near Serengeti National Park to the royal family of Dubai for their use as a personal hunting ground. The government claims the land will be a ‘wildlife corridor’, but President Kikwete’s representatives have told the Maasai – who have lived and died in the designated part of Tanzania for hundreds of years – that they must leave their land by the end of the year.
Tanzania is offering the Maasai $578,000 in total for the 370,000 acres (150,000 hectares) as compensation. That’s about one Pound Sterling per acre, split among the 40,000 people living there. And the government proposes to funnel the payment through ‘development projects’ instead of direct reimbursement! More bluntly: about US$14 per person for getting kicked off their land.
This same scheme was theoretically halted after large protests and a lot of international media attention last year, but the governing party seems intent on seeing it through. Considering the recent news of government officials’ knowing participation in, and even encouragement of, illegal poaching, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this plot become a staging ground for ivory exports on a massive scale.
If you haven’t heard about this issue before now, I’m hopeful that maybe the renewed public interest will put a halt to this process. But I doubt it.
I’ve posted this first article before – from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime – which outlines the links between ivory from east Africa and narcotics in Asia. The embedded version is the short one, and the full version is available to download here: Ivory and Organized Crime in East Africa.PDF
The following item is a dissertation research paper by Justine Braby, an Environmental Law Postgraduate candidate at the University of Cape Town. In it, she examines how effective the CITES ban on ivory has been since implemented. CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, a global framework for reducing and/or eliminating the trade in all endangered organisms for commercial gain. The CITES website has a lot of very specific information directly relating to the ESS Topic 4 – Conservation and Biodiversity, as well as the Grade 9 poaching project. I recommend you check out both the articles posted here, as well as the CITES page.
November 13, 2013 in Environmental Systems, Grade 9 Science
Tagged biodiversity, biology, CITES, conservation, ecology, endangered species, ESS, Grade 9, poaching, topic 4
Here are a few more links relating to this topic, which seems to be all over the news lately.
This first item, from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the same organization which just declared the Western Black Rhino officially extinct) is a publication called Pachyderm. In it, there are several case studies about both rhinos and elephants, including some information on using micro-chemical evidence to trace the origin of poached ivory. Here’s the link to the complete PDF.
Edge of Existence is a website I recently stumbled across, and I think it has a lot of well-researched information about a lot of issues in wildlife conservation. EDGE stands for “Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered” species – unique creatures threatened by human activities around the world. Their page for elephants, linked here, has some really useful information on elephants’ role in maintaining the savanna ecosystem, conservation initiatives currently in use, links to organizations involved in elephant conservation, and references to more scientific information about Loxodonta africana.
The International.org posted a brief article in June 2012 about the impact of poaching on ecosystems, which is a nice model for the 9th grade poaching project currently underway.
A younger-looking Sir David Attenborough with lemurs from Madagascar. (Screen capture image from www.bbc.co.uk)
And finally, no wildlife conservation unit would be complete without at least one video from Sir David Attenborough (probably my favorite scientist of all time). The short video clip linked here is from Sir David’s earlier work in Madagascar, so he looks a bit different than most of you are used to seeing him. It was originally released in 1961 – 52 years ago!
November 11, 2013 in Environmental Systems, Grade 9 Science
Tagged biology, conservation, david attenborough, ecology, elephants, ESS, human impact on the environment, lemurs, poaching, rhino, rhinos, topic 4, wildlife
Posted in Environmental Systems, Grade 9 Science
Tagged Africa, biodiversity, biology, conservation, ecology, ESS, Grade 9, poaching, rhino, topic 4
The University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology released this study a few years ago, detailing the impact of poaching on elephant populations in Mikumi and Amboseli.
Graphic credit: University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology
I post this link for several reasons:
- The topic is clearly relevant to both the grade 9 biology unit, as well as ESS’s Topic 4 – Conservation and Biodiversity.
- The study was carried out in conjunction with Sokoine University in Morogoro, just a couple of hours from here.
- The targeted areas are Mikumi National Park in Tanzania and Amboseli in Kenya, so it’s entirely relevant to where we live.
- The inclusion of simple graphs with the article complement and support the written work of the authors, and it can serve as an example to you students about how to use visual aids in your scientific writing.
- Follow the ‘Research Programs’ and ‘Elephants’ tabs to see how DNA analysis is being used to track poached ivory.
- I like the graphic at the top of the page.
I also found this 2006 document from the World Wildlife Fund – the Wildlife Trade Factsheet 2006.PDF – which “is designed to give a broad overview of the environmental harm that illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade can cause, and to give examples of WWF and TRAFFIC’s work and solutions on the ground.” (www.panda.org)
WWF Image Credit: Martin Harvey
November 6, 2013 in Environmental Systems, Grade 9 Science
Tagged biodiversity, biology, CITES, conservation, elephants, ESS, Grade 9, human impact on the environment, poaching, rhinos, topic 4, wildlife, World Wildlife Fund, WWF
While I was at the AMMUN conference in Jordan, IPP media published this article about a recent ivory haul in Mikocheni, just a few blocks from my house in Dar es Salaam. Police uncovered more than 700 pieces of ivory, “representing more than 200 tuskers killed,” according to the newspaper’s sources.
I post this link because I want you to realize that poaching isn’t just something that happens ‘out there’ in the bush. It is inherently linked to the trade and economy of Dar es Salaam, and it is happening in our neighborhoods. You probably sit next to someone who is somehow involved in poaching each time you’re stuck in one of Dar’s famous traffic jams.
November 3, 2013 in Environmental Systems, Grade 9 Science
Tagged biodiversity, biology, conservation, ecology, ESS, Grade 9, human impact on the environment, poaching, topic 4
Thanks to Matt Erdosy for passing this along to me, and to Neil and Liz Baker of the Tanzania Bird Atlas for their contribution. Below please find a short version of a recent report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which details the extent of ivory poaching in Tanzania and other east African nations. The numbers are just staggering:
- Over the last 10 years a third of Tanzania’s elephants have been slaughtered.
- 20 elephants were killed in the 2nd quarter of 2013 in Tanzania’s protected Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
- One prominent Tanzanian Game Reserve and a National Park have lost 42% of their respective elephant populations over the last 10 years, amounting to a staggering count of 31,348 carcasses.
- 10,000 elephants are killed annually (that’s 27 elephants a day, or just over one every hour!).
The rest of the report is pretty fascinating as well. It details migrant smuggling in the Horn of Africa region, heroin trafficking from Asia into Africa, and piracy from Somalia. Click on this link to read the full document, Transnational Organized Crime in East Africa: A Threat Assessment.
Posted in Environmental Systems
Tagged biodiversity, conservation, drugs, east Africa, ecology, elephants, ESS, ivory, poaching, Tanzania, topic 4, United Nations