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Climate change may be harming the future of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) by impacting the survival rates of pups, according to one of the first studies on how shifting temperatures are affecting tropical species.

Led by scientists from ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, the study highlights how African wild dogs - already classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List - raise fewer pups at high temperatures, according to ZSL press release.

Three concurrent studies, undertaken by ZSL, the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, and the African Wildlife Conservation Fund, monitored a total of 73 wild dog packs at sites in Kenya, Botswana and Zimbabwe, over a combined 42 years of study.

Tracking with high-tech collars showed that wild dog packs spent less time hunting on hot days. When packs tried to raise pups in hot weather, more of the pups died, potentially because they received less food from individuals returning from hunts.

At the Botswana site, temperatures increased steadily over 24 years of monitoring. The average daily maximum temperature during the pup-rearing period was roughly 1°C higher in the first 12 years of monitoring than in the second 12 years, and over the same period the average number of pups surviving per pack per year fell from five to three.

The study's lead author, Professor Rosie Woodroffe of ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, said: “Our study shows the truly global impact of climate change. When most people think about wildlife in a changing climate, they think of polar bears clinging to melting ice, but even species who have adapted to tropical weather are being impacted by the changes to their environment.

‘Worryingly, this new threat may be affecting wild dogs deep inside wildlife areas where we would expect them to be protected from human impacts. With habitat fragmented and destroyed in cooler areas, wild dogs have literally nowhere to go. Sadly, climate change may bring extinction a step closer for this amazing species.

“Now our team at ZSL is focused on identifying conservation actions which might reduce these climate impacts on wild dogs, and working out where they are most needed.”

African wild dogs are one of the world’s most endangered carnivores and their populations are in decline, with estimates suggesting that fewer than 700 packs currently remain in the wild.

Although considered one of the most successful predators on Earth due to the high kill-rate their cooperative hunting achieves, African wild dog populations are declining due to pressures including habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict.

Building on this study’s findings, ZSL is conducting further research to explore whether and how climate change impacts on wild dogs might be mitigated. Find out more about ZSL's conservation efforts for African wild dogs at click to read more

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The Tsavo National Park, home to thousands of animals and a prime tourist attraction, is on the verge of ecosystem collapse, experts have warned.

Water sources are drying up, habitats lost and human-wildlife is rampant amid declining biodiversity in a degraded ecosystem, according to a news report in the Star newspaper.

Tsavo Heritage Foundation co-founder and executive chairman Jacob Kipongoso said on July 20 that the park environment is at a tipping point.

“If we are not careful, in the next five, six to seven years things will be worse,” Mr. Kipongoso told reporters. “Voi River [is] dead, Bura River runs for a month during the rains, Lake Jipe, which used to be permanent, is [now} seasonal — it has lost 10 metres of water height in the last 10 years,” he said.

Kipongoso said some rivers, which are sources of water to the Tsavo West National Park, could dry up in 10-15 years.

“The moment we start losing animals and biodiversity to drought it takes five, 10, 15 to 20 years to reverse that process. If we start losing 20 elephants a week due to drought, you cannot stop it tomorrow. Rehabilitating national parks is the solution,” he said.

The large amount of money used to build the Standard Gauge Railway, which runs through through the park, could rehabilitate Tsavo West National Park, Kipongoso said, adding that park is more valuable to the country than the railway.

“I’m yet to hear one presidential candidate who has spent an hour speaking about environment. They only speak about the six-way highway to Mombasa, the standard gauge railway. We may need it but we need life more,”he added.

Conservationists have called for a round-table meeting with governors of the counties that border Tsavo to discuss how to rehabilitate the vast park.

“We will have decision makers and the community to discuss how we can save Tsavo, we can reverse all this and get all water flowing. They did it in Ethiopia and we can do it in Kenya,” Kipongoso said.

Taita Taveta Governor, John Mruttu, welcomed the idea, saying it requires collaboration. His administration has encouraged residents to plant trees to increase forest cover and save drying rivers.

Mruttu also complained that the national government was failing to compensating residents who crops were destroyed by wild animals.

Source: The Star

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Even though investments towards sustainable development in developing countries have fallen short by nearly $2.5 trillion each year, emerging financial products and encouraging policies illustrate that both public and private sectors are serious about correcting that trend, the United Nations environment arm has said. In its new report on green finance, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has noted that the G20 and other countries have taken huge strides over the past year towards mobilizing public resources and private capital needed to make sustainable development and climate action a reality.

“The world has committed to creating a better future for people and planet. But we will not be able to achieve [this] vision without the global financial system using its capital to fuel the transformation,” said the Executive Director of UNEP, Erik Solheim, in a news release announcing the findings.

“This new research […] shows encouraging progress in this regard. From a record number of new green finance measures to ambitious plans for green finance hubs, we are seeing the smart money move to green financing,” he added. The Green Finance Progress Report further notes that the establishment of the Green Finance Study Group by the G20 last year, under its Chinese Presidency, showed the group understood that green financing at scale is critical to achieve the G20's goal of securing balanced and sustained growth.

This message was reinforced by Germany's decision to continue the work during its G20 Presidency this year, the report highlights.

The report also draws out examples from G20 countries of actions they took in relation to green finance, such as the disclosure requirements announced by the Securities and Exchange Board of India for the issuing and listing of green debt securities, and pilot areas for green finance announced by the State Council of China.

It also finds that the progress made nationally, internationally, and in financial and capital markets shows that financial system is reshaping themselves to align with the sustainable development imperatives of the 21st century.

“The challenge now is to rapidly increase capital flows to investments that will support our sustainable development objectives and create commercially viable green businesses for decades to come,” said Mr. Solheim.

“The G20 and others have set the wheels in motion. Now is the time to press hard on the accelerator,” he added.

Source: UN News Centre

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A new report from the United States-based Elephant Action League (EAL) entitled ‘Grinding Rhino: An Undercover Investigation on Rhino Horn Trafficking in China and Vietnam’ shows exactly how rhino horn makes its way into China, now the largest illegal market for rhino horn in the world.

In addition to off-site research and intelligence analysis, EAL investigators executed multiple field missions to China and Vietnam, the organisation said in a press release. EAL targeted provinces along the southern border of China — Guangxi, Guangdong, and Yunnan — as well as Henan, Fujian, Beijing, and a few key locations in Vietnam.

Leveraging the experience and expertise of EAL’s investigative team, and a regional network of informants, advisors, and skilled investigative assets, Operation Red Cloud, as the probe was codenamed, has produced actionable data on what is the latter half of the rhino horn supply chain.

The key trends found during Operation Red Cloud that will guide further action by authorities include the following:

1. Rhino horn was found in nearly all locations investigated by the EAL team. The black market for rhino horn in China is stable and strong. Rhino horn and other wildlife contraband often moves from Vietnam to the Guangxi or Yunnan Provinces and then to China’s primary retail markets (Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang, Beijing).

2. The price identified was between $26,500 and $40,000/kg for whole raw rhino horn, and between $34 and $70/gram for cut objects.

3. Smugglers tend to use individuals to transport contraband across the border; individuals can more easily pass through the border (via a port of entry or via illicit routes) without inspection or detection.

4. The corruption exhibited by customs and law enforcement authorities in Vietnamese and Chinese border regions is substantial;

5. Most dealers do not hold a large inventory of rhino horn (whole, raw, or carved), instead, material is generally sourced on-demand and primarily sold only to familiar customers in order to avoid detection by authorities.

6. Similar routes are used for all types of contraband, including illegal arm and narcotics.

7. A seasoned rhino horn dealer, who is also a senior official in the local Association of Collectors, alleged involvement with commanders in the Chinese military, where they used him to identify authentic wildlife products (such as rhino horn) for them to purchase, as well as allowed the Chinese navy fleet to pick up and carry wildlife contraband back to China.

8. EAL investigators also found large quantities of other wildlife products such as tiger (teeth, skins and bones), as well as ivory, bear paws, bile and gall bladders, hawksbill turtle shells, helmeted hornbill beaks, snow leopard skins, civet cats, king cobras, wolf skin and teeth, and corals.

Tiger teeth

According to Andrea Crosta, EAL’s Executive Director and lead on this investigation, “It is too easy to find rhino products in China.” He goes on to say that, “Given the growing size and wealth of potential Chinese consumers, we are facing a real existential threat for rhinos, even more than that for elephants, now that there are only about 25,000 rhinos left in Africa.”

Mr. Crosta knows more than many the complexities of the illegal wildlife trade. As a result, he indicates, “On the one hand we recognize the challenges of containing this illegal market; stopping the smuggling of rhino horn into China and confronting the lawlessness on the Vietnamese side of the border. While, on the other hand, we don’t see enough enforcement of the laws already in place. If the EAL’s investigators can find and engage rhino horn traffickers, it would be very easy for the Chinese authorities to do the same and crack down on this illegal market for good.”

Much of the detailed data gathered during Operation Red Cloud only appears in a Confidential Intelligence Brief (CIB) that has been prepared and submitted to law enforcement authorities in China, Vietnam, and applicable US agencies. The CIB contains the names of key players, a broader mapping of network associates and enablers, the complete modus operandi of traffickers and traders, and concrete evidence of illegal activity uncovered during the investigation, as well as hundreds of photos and hours of relevant undercover footage.

Mr. Crosta expects action from CIB recipients indicating, “we worked hard to put together the CIB, an exceptional report for law enforcement agencies in China, Vietnam and the US, and we hope that law enforcement agencies will use the CIB to investigate on their own, and arrest and prosecute the individuals behind the illegal trade of rhino horn that is fueling the massacre in Africa.”

Identifying a number key players in the trade, building actionable case files based on verifiable evidence, and sharing that information with applicable law enforcement authorities, creates some pressure on the Chinese and Vietnamese governments to act quickly, and collaboratively if possible, to work to shut down the illicit rhino horn trade.

Download the report here: Grinding Rhino-July2017-Elephant Action League

Download here a guide how to read this complex report: Grinding Rhino – Guide on How to Read the Report

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In an extrememly rare event, a wild lioness in Tanzania has been photographed nursing a leopard cub, the BBC reports.

The pair were spotted by Joop Van Der Linde, a guest at Ndutu Safari Lodge in Tanzania's Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

The scene is the Serengeti; the attentive mother, five-year-old Nosikitok, according to the story on the BBC News website. You can read the full story here: click here

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