Wildlife conservation in the news

Wildlife ConservationWildlife conservation is the practice of protecting endangered plant and animal species and their habitats. Among the goals of wildlife conservation are to ensure that nature will be around for future generations to enjoy and to recognize the importance of wildlife and wilderness lands to humans.

Many nations have government agencies dedicated to wildlife conservation, which help to implement policies designed to protect wildlife. Numerous independent nonprofit organizations also promote various wildlife conservation causes.

Wildlife conservation has become an increasingly important practice due to the negative effects of human activity on wildlife. The science of extinction is called dirology. An endangered species is defined as a population of a living being that is at the danger of becoming extinct because of several reasons. Either they are few in number or are threatened by the varying environmental or predation parameters.

A quick scan of the major news sources, even Google, or perhaps dear ol' Beeb "If you want to see the Giant Earwig of St Helena you may already be too late. Fancy sniffing a pretty yellow Arlihau flower in the wild? You'll have to hurry down to Pitcairn Island as there are only six plants left.  The common thread linking these endangered species is that they are residents of UK Overseas Territories."

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has reported that 94% of unique British species live outside the UK – and some urgently need protection.  The RSPB report concerns 14 territories – relics of empire scattered from the South Pacific to the Mediterranean.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the Overseas Territories provide, "an important opportunity to set world standards in our stewardship of the extraordinary natural environments we have inherited".

With the report showing that 85% of our critically endangered species live in these territories, the RSPB is asking for increased spending to meet the Prime Minister's ambitions.

The Turks and Caicos Islands, 250km (150 miles) to the east of Cuba, are home to unique species such as the Barking Gecko, the Turks and Caicos Rock Iguana and the Pygmy Boa Constrictor.

But there is no statutory protection for native creatures there, and intense pressure on their habitat as the tourist industry expands.

There are plans for a dolphinarium on the island of Grand Turk and proposals to build a freight shipping port, marina and cruise ship terminal on East Caicos. It's one of the largest uninhabited islands in the Caribbean with some of the region's best preserved coral reefs and turtle nesting beaches.

The head of the islands' Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs, Kathleen Wood, fears that "this kind of project cannot be done sensitively. You would have to dredge through an incredible amount of reef".

Turks and Caicos premier Rufus Ewing is more enthusiastic, accepting that some of the pristine environment will be damaged. He told BBC Radio Four's Costing the Earth programme: "There are some things that sometimes we may have to sacrifice. It is an area we can use to boost our economy, to boost our development. "

Other risks to the species of Turks and Caicos come from further afield. Endangered Queen Conch and Spiny Lobster are taken by scuba-diving poachers whilst the scrub forests are being ravaged by fires burnt by illegal immigrants from Haiti. Mature trees are felled and burnt to make charcoal for their cooking stoves.

Should Britain be doing more to protect the environment of Turks and Caicos and the other territories, as the RSPB is demanding? Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds says that the UK funds specific conservation projects and helps train local staff – but, ultimately, "it is the responsibility of the territory governments to deliver environment protection and the maintenance of their bio-diversity".

But back in Turks and Caicos, Ethlyn Gibbs-Williams of the local National Trust would like the UK to flex its muscles. The local emphasis on economic development needs to be tempered, she says: "We would like to see more support from the British government ensuring that we have strong environmental laws".

contrast that with the recent $10 million from China,

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, on a three-day visit to Kenya, announced May 10 that China will provide $10 million to support wildlife protection and conservation in Africa and help establish an African Ecological and Wildlife Centre in Nairobi.

During Li’s visit, Kenya and China signed a total of 17 agreements, which include a grant that will enable the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to acquire surveillance and night-vision equipment valued at about $530,000.

This will help KWS’s new anti-poaching initiative, known as Owning the Night, in parks and game reserves: “It is expected that rangers securing wildlife ranges in the country will now track suspected poachers day and night,” KWS noted on its website on May 13.

China will also provide “cooperation grants” that could be used to help Kenya fight hunger or disease, as well as interest-free and concessional loans and assistance for the construction of a new standard gauge railway.

The $3.8 billion passenger and freight railway line, which will replace one built by the British government in the 19th century, will run from the coastal city of Mombasa to the capital, Nairobi, and will branch into Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan, and Rwanda.

“This is Big”

Details of the conservation pledge remain scanty, although it is seen as boost for wildlife conservation in Africa, where poaching of elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns is on the rise.

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