Increase in elephant populations in the Mara Serengeti ecosystem clouded by worrying poaching signs outside protected areas

Elephant with infant

A recent aerial survey shows an increase from 2,058 elephants in 1986 to 7,535 in 2014 in the world famous Mara-Serengeti ecosystem that straddles the Kenya/Tanzania border in east Africa.

Tanzania's Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism released the wet season Serengeti-Mara aerial census report and called for close collaboration between the two countries to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the region.

A total of 192 elephant carcasses were counted during the survey, of which 117 were in Kenya and 75 in Tanzania. The ratio of carcasses to live elephants was 2.5%, which is well within the normal range of 2-8% of what a stable or increasing elephant population would exhibit in this kind of survey.

Despite the positive results of the aerial survey with reference to an increase in elephant numbers, conservationist remain worried by the fact that 84% of the carcases found in Kenya were outside the Masai Mara National Reserve and had missing tusks. This shows that elephants outside protected areas could be under poaching pressure.

The conservation fraternity in Kenya and Tanzania are subsequently calling upon the two governments to strengthen their elephant management strategies as well as deploy technology in the fight against poaching. Furthermore, the conservationists are calling for better management of elephants outside protected areas through strengthened community conservancies.

The two governments are keen to work with conservationists to find lasting solutions to the challenges facing endangered species that include not only the elephant but also the rhino.

Conservation organizations such as WWF are working with governments in seeking solutions to the current poaching menace by acquiring anti-poaching equipment and technology, engaging communities and private sector in anti-poaching campaigns, carrying out elephant censuses, working with communities to reduce human wildlife conflict, securing elephant range outside protected areas, monitoring threats and developing national and sub-regional databases for use in managing elephant and rhino populations.

WWF has identified Mara-Serengeti landscape as a priority landscape and has focused its funding to the conservation of this landscape. WWF calls for the establishment of a strong cross border collaboration between Kenya and Tanzania to address poaching in the entire landscape.

Help us stop illegal wildlife trade

Amazon rate of deforestation increased by 29% between 2012-2013

5,891 square kilometres were lost during July 2012 and August 2013. Pará and Mato Grosso states lead forest loss.

The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) confirmed on Wednesday 10th September that deforestation in the Legal Amazon reach a total of 5,891 square kilometres between August 2012 and July. This has increased by around 29% compared to the previous 12 months period. The rate outstripped government forecasts made last November by 1%, and was released by pressure from non-governmental organizations.

Marco Lentini - coordinator of WWF-Brasil’s Amazon Programme ponders “the question is whether today’s announcement points to an increase in the rate of deforestation of the largest tropical forest on the planet in the coming years”. The rate released this week may have been influenced by factors as the new Forest Code. But, according to him, this can only be confirmed when the preliminary rates for the period 2013-2014 are announced, which should happen after the general elections, in next november.

“The government talks about ‘efficiency’ in the fight against deforestation, with a 79% reduction since 2004’. But any deforestation – particularly illegal – is totally unacceptable and should be stopped immediately”, said Lentini.

For the programme coordinator, apart from biodiversity loss, the destruction of the forest paints an uncertain future for the communities and economies that depend on the Amazon forest, and grave consequences for the climate due to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and changes in the rainfall regime that impact the Southeast and South regions of the country.

Lentini defends the need to strengthen mechanisms to value and protect the forest, such as the Forest Code. Furthermore, monitoring of deforestation needs to be expanded to all Brazilian biomes, which also harbour remarkably high levels of biodiversity and are losing native vegetation cover on a daily basis without anybody noticing.

With the purpose of defending sustainable development and the country’s natural riches, WWF-Brasil has made a number of proposals for the future government which it is debating with the main 2014 election candidates. These proposals include annual monitoring of deforestation and implementation of control and prevention plans for each biome to stop illegal deforestation and get close to achieving zero native vegetation loss and degradation of natural ecosystems.

Degradation – in the beginning of September, INPpublished data on forest degradation; a silent form of destruction that does not visibly alter the forest landscape, but has damaging effects on the integrity of the forest.

Between 2007 and 2013, forest degradation in the Amazon - caused mainly by selective timber extraction and burning - exceeded 10 million hectares.

According to INPE, degradation occurs in the states with the highest rates of deforestation, principally Pará and Mato Grosso, indicating that these actions are illegal and feed the clandestine trade in timber, since the two states are the largest producers of native timber in the country.

Deforestation rates in the Legal Amazon by state

ACRE 221
PARÁ 2,346
Source: Inpe

Arctic Home Partnership launches for it's second year

Polar bear, Spitsbergen, Norway

This month we launch our second year of the Arctic Home campaign with The Coca-Cola Company. The campaign aims to raise awareness and funds to help protect the home of the polar bear and create a positive future for the Arctic.

Last year saw Coca-Cola committed €1 million to Arctic Home, which supported essential research into the Last Ice Area, and helped to fund the 2013 International Polar Bear Conservation Forum. This summit brought together government representatives from the five polar bear range states where they were able to agree on how best to protect the future of the polar bear in the face of new threats.

Now in its second year - Arctic Home is active in seven countries across Europe. It focuses on the female polar bear as she embarks on a long and challenging journey across the melting sea ice in order to find a safe maternity den site to give birth to - and raise - her cubs.

We’re encouraging everyone to donate to the campaign and help us achieve even more – just visit www.arctichome.co.uk. For every pound donated this year, Coca-Cola will match it.

Our Conservation Director Glyn Davies says ‘Arctic Home is now entering its second year, and WWF and Coca-Cola want to re-energise the campaign and reconnect with audiences across Europe, to make them aware of the struggle faced by polar bears, and help create a positive future for polar bear mothers and their families.

Climate change is having extreme impacts on the Arctic, which is warming at twice the global average. To safeguard the species, therefore, we need to learn more about climate change impacts, and how polar bears’ habitat is changing as a result. All funds raised through the WWF and Coca-Cola Arctic Home programme will be put directly towards WWF’s Arctic conservation work.’

Why we’re doing it

As a result of climate change, the sea ice is now forming later in the Autumn, resulting in pregnant bears being faced with new and difficult choices, such as having to enter the maternity dens earlier, and being forced to swim vast distances to reach land. As the sea ice melts faster, further, and earlier each year, the polar bear mum also finds herself with less time to feed in order to put on critical weight and to teach her cubs key skills to survive in the Arctic.

Recent data supports that if current levels of greenhouse gases do not decrease, there’ll be almost no summer sea ice cover left in the Arctic in the next few decades. As it stands over 60% of the UK are unaware of just how rapidly the sea ice is melting, and only 10% knew that the sea ice has decreased by a staggering 3.5 million K2 in the last 35 years. This is why projects like Arctic Home are so important in order to raise awareness of such issues and drive donations to help protect polar bears and their habitat.

Fundraising in Year 2 will contribute directly towards the following six areas:
  • Tracking polar bear mothers
  • Monitoring polar bear den sites
  • Mapping polar bears’ future habitat
  • Co-exciting in the Arctic
  • Educating on threats from industry
  • Preserving the Arctic food chain

Find out more

If you would like to contribute to the work that Arctic Home are doing this year, and learn more about the campaign, then visit www.arctichome.co.uk. Donate now to Arctic Home and Coca-Cola will match your donation up to €1 million.