Conservation Features

By Felix Patton

Throughout history the Chinese have viewed pangolins as an important source of medicine and food. The meat is consumed as a luxury food item, often to show social status and hospitality while the scales, which contain cholesterol, stearic acid, and fatty acid amide compounds are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), combined with other ingredients, to promote blood circulation, stimulate lactation, disperse swelling and expel puss.

In 1998, China issued the Wild Animal Protection Law which, according to its Article 22, prohibited the sale and purchase of nationally protected wild animals and their products. An exception was made for those that were to be used for the purposes of scientific research, captive breeding, exhibition and other special cases -- the latter including TCM.

Article 22 also prohibited the eating of pangolins, but allowed for their use in TCM. This continued the threat of extinction on the Asian populations such that, in 2000, a “zero quota” was put in place for trade in the Asian pangolin species.

In November 2007, China further regulated the use of pangolins with the issuing of ‘A Notice on Enhancing the Protection on Resources of Saiga Antelope, Pangolin and Rare Snake’, as well as the ‘Regulating on their Products for Medicine Use’ requiring pangolin scales only to be used for clinical applications at designated hospitals and for the manufacturing of Chinese patented medicines.

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 By Gladys Warigia and Brendan Buzzard

When the first conservancies emerged in the 1990s it was not the result of a specific top-down policy, but rather a response to the growing calls to recognize landowners and communities as the custodians of their wildlife.

At that time there was no legal framework defining or regulating conservancies, and an interesting mosaic of government, NGOs, and private sector supported the creation and management of conservancies. The lack of policy and regulations may in fact be a driver for their growth, providing room for experimentation with models suited to particular contexts, and encouraging participation by those that might otherwise be wary of top-down agendas.

Defining conservancies

The development of Kenyan conservancies is a unique example where conservation practice leads and policy follows, and it was only with the new Wildlife Act in 2013 that conservancies were formally and legally recognized. There is some confusion over what recognition means. Conservancy, essentially, refers to a type of land use. This means that someone devoting their land to wildlife conservation is engaging in a legitimate, nationally recognized activity, and through calling it a conservancy they are stating that one of their primary objectives is wildlife conservation.

A conservancy is not a land ownership model, as often misunderstood. Rather, a conservancy can be created on a number of different land ownership structures. When we talk about the different types of conservancies -- private, group, and community – we are referring to the land ownership model on which the conservancy land use is applied. A private conservancy, exemplified best in Laikipia, is where a single person, family, or corporate body owns the land. A group conservancy, like those in the Mara, is where several landowners have put their land together. A community conservancy, like those in northern Kenya, refers to those established on community land.

While recognition is an exciting development for Kenya, it is not without its dangers. As a key strategy in conserving space outside state protected areas, conservancies are caught in a tension between innovation and experimentation on one hand and regulation and control on the other hand. The key question we need to ask is what level of recognition and regulation supports conservancies and draws them into the national agenda, without becoming expensive and excessive stumbling blocks that push people away?

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By Kathleen H. Fitzgerald

Africa has an impressive network of protected areas that supports critical ecosystem services and globally significant wildlife and wild lands. The continent’s protected areas support some of the world’s most exceptional and unparalleled wildlife and wild lands and serve as the core of biodiversity conservation.

Viable and well-functioning protected areas remain Africa’s best bet for nature conservation; however, these areas are at risk from a suite of escalating threats including habitat conversion, resource extraction and poaching. One of the key underlying drivers of these threats is the lack of capacity of protected area authorities to manage these threats due to a dearth of financial resources. For Africa to maintain its protected areas reliable and adequate financing is required.

There are various assessments on how much it costs to manage protected areas. The cost varies depending on: protected area size and shape; threats; vegetation type; type and density of wildlife; management requirements; and adjacent land use. Studies indicate for example that $365–930 per square-kilometre a year is required for effective elephant conservation -- this cost increasing with human population growth and corruption (Packer, et al., 2013). Packer et al. suggest that the cost of managing protected areas that support lions is approximately $2,000 per km2 in unfenced areas and $500/ km2 in fenced areas.

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The second-best wildlife destination in Kenya is under siege. The very foundation of private land ownership, property rights, and rule of law are entwined in ways that Laikipians never expected in the future of this high country.

We are confronted by a challenging combination of a social breakdown in pastoralism, a high percentage of disenfranchised herders, an excess of guns, an excess of livestock numbers (way above what any rangeland can carry), a breakdown in livestock markets, an election year, the whiff of long-term land leases up for renewal, and now drought. That’s a serious rubric’s cube of confounding issues!

35% of Laikipia is owned by ranchers of European and African origin – a third. Almost another third is owned by pastoralist families joined in group ranches – private community lands. That’s almost 70% of the land available to historical land use practices of ranching, tourism, and wildlife conservation. May of the private or corporate ranches of Laikipia fall under leasehold – a long-term agreement with Government conferring property rights. Many of these leases were granted during an era of colonialism. Many of these leases are up for renewal within the next 10-20 years. Honestly, no one is sure what the Kenya Government will do when leases need to be renewed. Insecurity of tenure is historically associated with minimal land inputs and improvements – not what we want or need if 35% of this land is generating 4 billion shillings (40M USD$) in annual economic benefits to neighbors, county and national government.

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Will it be the end of the archipelago’s rich history, culture and biodiversity?

By Rupi Mangat

It’s a starry night by the waterfront at Stone Town Lamu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has continuously been lived in since the 13th century giving rise to the Swahili culture with its iconic limestone architecture. The town is on the island of Lamu in the Lamu archipelago. The isles of the archipelago thrived with the dhow trade influenced by the monsoon winds and waves of the Indian Ocean for more than two thousand years.

Fishing dhows of the local Swahili and Bajuni fishers lie anchored in the narrow channel that separates Lamu island from Manda island and mainland Africa. As the eye travels west towards the mainland, lights blaze across the horizon so bright that not a single star sparkles in that half of the sky.

It is where the Lamu Port is being built with towering cranes clearing, dredging, and shifting heavy equipment off the gigantic ships that sail in from the high seas, past Manda Island and across the narrow channel.

The port is part of the Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport project -- dubbed LAPSSET -- under the Kenya Vision 2030 development blue print that is set to boost development and trade between the three countries and beyond.

By 2050, the port is projected to be a city of one million people.

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