Rescuing of a White-backed Vulture in Kruger National Park

While working in Kruger National Park our Vultures for Africa Porgramme Manager, Andre Botha, found a White-backed Vulture dangerously entangled in a dead tree. Here is his account of what happened:

“On Tuesday morning while busy with fieldwork in the Kruger National Park, I was contacted by the State Veterinarians and Veterinary Wildlife Section of SANParks about a vulture that was found hanging in a tree near Skukuza in the Kruger National Park. I drove out to the site expecting to find a dead vulture suspended from a tree that needed to be recovered and perhaps assessed for the reason of its death. When I arrived at the scene, staff from SANParks were already there, but warned me to first stay in my vehicle as there were two male lion at a giraffe carcass not more than 70m from the tree which the vulture was suspended from. Once it was determined to be safe, I was able to assess the situation and was surprised to find that the adult vulture was still alive, but hanging upside down suspended by one leg to which a rope was tied. It was this rope that had become entangled with the branch it was sitting on and which now posed a serious threat to the bird if we were not able to remove it safely from the tree.”
 
“Fortunately, the bird seemed to still be in good condition, but the operation to recover it from the tree was a daunting task as the dead Tamboti Spirostachys Africana  that it was entangled in was rather fragile and simply climbing the tree to reach the bird was not possible. The location of the bird was such that trying to break the branch it was hanging from was also risky as the bird may have been injured should it be dislodged from its precarious position if it had fallen into the branches below. With the arrival of the State Veterinarian, Dr Louis van Schalkwyk and other colleagues from his office, we discussed options to try and get the bird safely out of the tree. I remembered that one of our ladders previously used to access Southern Ground Hornbill nests in Kruger was in use at the Skukuza airport and we requested that this be brought to the scene to see if we could climb up to the bird to possibly remove it. Airport staff kindly brought the ladder to us, but when they arrived, only one half of the ladder was loaded on their vehicle and it would not have been sufficient to get us high enough as the bird was suspended about 20m above the ground. Louis then had an idea to go to the construction site of the new hotel at Skukuza to see if they perhaps had a crane that we could use to lift a person, probably me (!), up to the bird to attempt to free it. Minutes after he left to investigate this possibility, and while we were standing below the tree in growing anxiety about the welfare of the bird in the rising temperature, a stiff breeze started to stir the leaves and branches of the trees and this movement of air seemed to invigorate the bird who started flapping its wings to again attempt to escape from its precarious position.”
 African White-backed Vulture_Ad_Trapped in tree_Ten Minutes, Kruger National Park_11.9.2018.3.jpg
This effort was rewarded with the branch snapping and the bird then drifting down to the ground with rather weak wing-beats, but away from the dead branches which could have possibly caused injury. We were on hand seconds after it landed safely on the ground and were able to catch it to assess its condition and for possible treatment. Upon closer investigation, we found that the rope attached to its leg was expertly tied onto the bird, probably by someone who had trapped the bird and kept it in captivity tethered by the rope to the ground. Baling string that was also found tied to the other leg of the bird. It is not clear how long the bird may have been kept captive, but it escaped and eventually made its way to the giraffe carcass in the Kruger Park where it became entangled in the tree. Although not common, live vultures are known to be trapped and kept illegally by some people as they believe that being in possession of such a bird brings good luck, a rather different interpretation of the more widely known belief-use practice of using vulture parts for purposes of clairvoyance and improved chances of success at betting, etc.
 
“The bird was taken to the State Veterinary facilities in Skukuza where we were able to assess its condition and we were able to determine that it was tired, but in fairly good condition despite its ordeal. We administered fluids to re-hydrate the bird and decided to keep it overnight under observation. It was placed in a holding cage and offered a juicy piece of impala liver to see if it would eat.”
African White-backed Vulture_Ad_Trapped in tree_Ten Minutes, Kruger National Park_11.9.2018.4
 
“When we opened the cage yesterday morning, we found that the liver was consumed and that the bird was quite sprightly and ready for release. As a token of gratitude, it also took a small chunk out of my arm when I captured it and later emptied its bowels on At Dekker, State Veterinary technician at Skukuza who was holding the bird at the time! We decided that the best site for the release of the bird was the Skukuza golf course and drove there with the bird. This also provided an opportunity to do a brief bit of education to a group of about 40 children from the Skukuza Nursery School before the bird was released on one of the fairways. After an initial hesitant effort to fly away and running about 70 metres from the point of release, the bird spent about 2 minutes on the ground with wings spread open. It then began beating its wings more purposefully and took to the skies after a short run. The children all spontaneously broke into applause when the bird took off and it disappeared from view a short while later.”
 
“A good outcome and an excellent example of how teamwork and a rapid response, once the bird was found, helped to save a critically endangered bird from an unpleasant and unfortunate end.”
African White-backed Vulture_Ad_Trapped in tree_Ten Minutes, Kruger National Park_11.9.2018.5

About the Endangered Wildlife Trust

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has worked tirelessly for over 45 years to save wildlife and habitats, with our vision being a world in which both humans and wildlife prosper in harmony with nature. From the smallest frog, to the majestic rhino; from sweeping grasslands to arid drylands; from our shorelines to winding rivers: the EWT is working with you, to protect our world.

The EWT’s team of field-based specialists is spread across southern and East Africa, where committed conservation action is needed the most. Working with our partners, including businesses and governments, the EWT is at the forefront of conducting applied research, supporting community conservation and livelihoods, training and building capacity, addressing human wildlife conflict, monitoring threatened species and establishing safe spaces for wildlife range expansion.

A beacon of hope for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and communities, the EWT is protecting forever, together. Find out more at www.ewt.org.za

 

Contacts

Andre Botha

Programme Manager: Vultures for Africa

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 82 962 5725

andreb@ewt.org.za

 

Belinda Glenn

Marketing and Communications Manager

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 87 021 0398

belindag@ewt.org.za

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Sibusiso Vilane puts his hand up for Rhino Peak Challenge 2018

rhinopeak2

World-renowned adventurer, Sibusiso Vilane, has committed to continuing his fight for endangered species when he takes part in the 2018 edition of the Rhino Peak Challenge on 22 September – World Rhino Day. He will be representing the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) while taking on this fantastic challenge.

Sibusiso’s list of achievements includes summiting Mount Everest twice, summiting all seven of the world’s highest peaks and walking to the South Pole unassisted. The upcoming Rhino Peak Challenge will pale in significance to his previous feats; however, he understands the importance of an event like this.

“At the moment I am not working towards anything so I am not in the best shape but I am prepared to go out there and suffer as much pain as our rhino population is at the moment,” he said. “We all need to rise up to this challenge in whatever way we can to be the voice of our endangered species. Their conservation is our sole responsibility, I believe.”

Organisers of the event have hoped that Sibusiso would take part in the past but due to his busy schedule, it hasn’t been possible. The intervention of EWT CEO, Yolan Friedmann, allowed Sibusiso to be confirmed for this year. He explains, “I was running my ninth Comrades Marathon this year when an old friend, Yolan, reminded me about the Rhino Peak Challenge and before I knew it she had recruited me as I said I had nothing planned for those dates!”

Sibusiso Vilane

 

As an ex-game ranger, Sibusiso has been at the forefront of conservation in South Africa and understands the importance of events and awareness drives like the Rhino Peak Challenge. He keeps conservation of all animals close to his heart. “Not just rhino conservation, but all wildlife matters to me and I believe that we have a responsibility to make sure that they are protected and conserved. I cannot stand and watch from the sideline while the rhino is being wiped off the planet. It would be a shame if that happened and I had not done anything to support initiatives which seek to protect our rhinos,” he added.

Sibusiso’s large following and profile is something that he continues to use in order to promote awareness for the plight of endangered species in South Africa. He feels that it is his duty to pass on the word of conservation.

Despite having a constantly busy schedule, he is currently taking some time away from his exciting adventures to focus on a goal that might be slightly easier to achieve than scaling Mount Everest.

Anyone interested in making a pledge to support Sibusiso Vilane, and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, can visit www.rhinopeakchallenge.co.za
The EWT is proud and grateful to be one of the beneficiaries of the Rhino Peak Challenge, and to have an esteemed athlete such as Sibusiso representing the organisation in the event.

End

About the Endangered Wildlife Trust
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has worked tirelessly for over 45 years to save wildlife and habitats, with our vision being a world in which both humans and wildlife prosper in harmony with nature. From the smallest frog, to the majestic rhino; from sweeping grasslands to arid drylands; from our shorelines to winding rivers: the EWT is working with you, to protect our world.

The EWT’s team of field-based specialists is spread across southern and East Africa, where committed conservation action is needed the most. Working with our partners, including businesses and governments, the EWT is at the forefront of conducting applied research, supporting community conservation and livelihoods, training and building capacity, addressing human wildlife conflict, monitoring threatened species and establishing safe spaces for wildlife range expansion.

A beacon of hope for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and communities, the EWT is protecting forever, together. Find out more at www.ewt.org.za

Contacts
Belinda Glenn
Marketing and Communications Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 87 021 0398
belindag@ewt.org.za

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Sustainable Conservation

EWT logo landscape+ TAG

Mike Cadman lion captivity

Among the many issues and perspectives that serve to fragment the conservation sector, rather than unite it, perhaps the greatest is the concept of ‘Sustainable Use,’ and where one positions yourself or your organisation along this rather long and winding spectrum. From the one extreme, which says that humans cannot use any element of our natural world for their benefit at all, to the other end, which claims that full exploitation of nature and all its components is a human right no matter the form this use may take, or its impacts on nature going forward.

Thankfully, most conservation organisations in South Africa sit somewhere far from the edges of these extreme views, and this helps to maintain a balance on most platforms. The EWT firmly believes in the use of nature to the benefit of ALL species, humans included, so essentially we stand FOR the concept of Sustainable Use. The trouble is not with the principle, but rather, in our view, how it is being adapted to suit the needs of a small but increasingly influential pool of ‘special interest’ groups that stand to benefit from use that is sustainable only insofar as it can be sustained, and not for the persistence of a healthy environment for all other creatures.

In 1992, the World Bank stated that their interpretation of the term Sustainable Development was “… development that lasts”. With no reference to the environment being the entity that should in fact last, which is more to the heart of what the Rio Convention (at which the term gained global traction) undoubtedly meant. Ironically, nearly 30 years later, we see some sectors of society interpreting the term Sustainable Use in much the same way. And you argue with them at your peril, for the very first thing they like to quote is the South African Constitution which allegedly enshrines the right of all people to use natural resources in any way that they like. The trouble is, it doesn’t.

THIS is what the Constitution of South Africa, in Section 24 actually says:
Section 24 – Everyone has the right –
a) To an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and
b) To have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that –
i. prevent pollution and ecological degradation;
ii. promote conservation; and
iii. secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.
What’s so fantastic about this Constitution of ours is that it not only affords humans the right to a clean and healthy environment, but that this applies to future generations: those not even born yet! This right, it states, will be realised through conservation (first and foremost) and then the “ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources”. It is quite clear that the application of sustainability (or persistence if you will) is in relation to the environment and not its use. Simply put, the environment must be sustainable, not just our use thereof.

Therefore, seeing as the Endangered Wildlife Trust so firmly believes in the power of this true environmental right and the ability of our natural resources to sustainably and equitably transform and uplift human lives, we are driving a process to re-examine the narrative around sustainable use (as it is currently being interpreted). A better interpretation of the Constitutional Right, we would argue, would be to truncate section 24(b)iii to be simply SUSTAINABLE CONSERVATION in which “ecologically sustainable” is positioned appropriately alongside environmental use.

In short, the EWT:
1. Holds that sustainable use as is sometimes applied in South Africa is currently NOT in line with the spirit or even the language, of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa;
2. Has become increasingly concerned with the narrow and misguided approach to sustainable use currently being taken in some quarters, leading to industry-scale abuses based on the use of a single entity with no value to the broader ecological or social systems; and instead
3. Supports and promotes sustainable conservation as follows:

Sustainable conservation embodies the true spirit of the environmental rights of all people in South Africa – ensuring that the point of departure in any decision, policy or system is that the environment (as a complete and holistic system) is protected for the benefit of present and future generations.

Sustainable conservation exists when the conservation of biodiversity, with all its various wildlife components existing naturally in a functioning ecosystem, becomes the driving factor. Ecological sustainability requires functioning systems and balance and we hold that this underpins the environmental right in our Constitution.

To achieve sustainable conservation, various forms of both consumptive and non-consumptive use can and should be employed as a means of sustaining the system, and ensuring equitable benefit sharing for those who contribute to, are impacted on, or who co-exist as part of these systems. The use of nature in a balanced, holistic and equitable manner is indeed the way in which humans realise their environmental right. This would be to the benefit of the “Everyone” to which our Constitution refers, including those generations not yet born. Above all, the conservation of our natural world remains central to any use thereof, for without these systems, there is no future.

Yolan Friedmann

EWT CEO

www.ewt.org.za

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Endangered Wildlife Trust wins prestigious award for Endangered Species Conservation

Andre release

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is extremely proud to announce that the EWT Vultures for Africa Programme Manager, Andre Botha, was recognised with a special award for Endangered Species Conservation at the prestigious Rhino Conservation Awards on Friday, 24 August 2018.

While the Rhino Conservation Awards were founded in 2011 to recognise significant role players in rhino conservation, the Special Award for Endangered Species Conservation was included to honour a person, team or entity working full-time in the field to combat poaching of other Endangered species.

Andre was nominated for his extensive work in the field of vulture conservation, having championed this cause through his work with the EWT since 2004. His passion has always been for vultures, and his work has resulted in bringing the importance of vulture conservation to the international stage. Andre’s achievements to fight the poisoning and persecution of Africa’s vultures have been considerable at a time when these birds are under heightened pressures across the continent.

Vultures are amongst the most extinction-prone species in the world, and Andre has dedicated his career to saving these special birds from the many threats they face. His achievements include implementing the first wing-tagging programme focused on southern African vultures in 2006, initiating International Vulture Awareness Day in 2009, which is now a global event and celebrated in 17 countries;  establishing the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Vulture Specialist Group, and Co-chairing this group since its inception to date. Andre also developed the EWT’s Poisoning Intervention Training programme, which has been presented to more than 1,400 law enforcement staff, rangers, veterinarians and community members in six countries in southern and east Africa. He acts as over-arching coordinator for the Vulture Multi-species Action Plan for African-Eurasian Vulture, which was formally adopted by all 128 range countries at the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals Convention of the Parties 12 in Manilla, Philippines in October 2017.

In a reflection of his continual dedication to his work, Andre was in the field when the awards were presented at a gala dinner in Johannesburg on Friday night. Upon hearing that he had won, Andre said: “I am indeed honoured by the award which, in essence, is recognition by my peers (fellow rangers and conservationists) for the work that I have been involved in over the last 15 years. It certainly does serve as further motivation for me to not only continue working towards the conservation of Old World vultures and their habitats, but to also create a greater appreciation among humanity for these birds that are providing a critically important service to the benefit of other species, especially humans and the livestock that they depend on.”

Endangered species need champions to highlight their plight and garner support, and vultures have a true champion in Andre.

About the Endangered Wildlife Trust

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has worked tirelessly for over 45 years to save wildlife and habitats, with our vision being a world in which both humans and wildlife prosper in harmony with nature. From the smallest frog, to the majestic rhino; from sweeping grasslands to arid drylands; from our shorelines to winding rivers: the EWT is working with you, to protect our world.

The EWT’s team of field-based specialists is spread across southern and East Africa, where committed conservation action is needed the most. Working with our partners, including businesses and governments, the EWT is at the forefront of conducting applied research, supporting community conservation and livelihoods, training and building capacity, addressing human wildlife conflict, monitoring threatened species and establishing safe spaces for wildlife range expansion.

A beacon of hope for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and communities, the EWT is protecting forever, together. Find out more at www.ewt.org.za

 

Contacts

Andre Botha

Programme Manager: Vultures for Africa

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 82 962 5725

andreb@ewt.org.za

 

Belinda Glenn

Marketing and Communications Manager

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 87 021 0398

belindag@ewt.org.za

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Local rockers pledge to keep our carnivores Wild ‘n Free – will you?

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In the build up to World Lion Day on 10 August, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), a champion of conservation in Africa, has launched an exciting new project, entitled Wild ‘n Free. Through this initiative, the EWT is calling on all South Africans to be the voice for the voiceless and join the fight against keeping carnivores in captivity for petting, walking-with, photo-tourism, captive hunting and the trade in their body parts. Members of the public unwittingly play an enormous role in an industry that thrives off keeping carnivores like Lions, Cheetah, Leopards and African Wild Dogs behind bars, often for nefarious reasons. Local artists WONDERboom, who were recently announced as the opening act for Guns N’ Roses’ South African tour, are among the first to show their support for this campaign, and are calling on others to do the same. If you stop the visits, you stop the exploitation.

In recent years, South Africa has seen a rapid increase in so-called predator or wildlife parks, which are most often part of the industrial scale production of carnivores for commercial purposes. This is particularly prominent for Lions and Cheetahs. Wild ‘n Free aims to keep carnivores where they belong – in the wild – by promoting the value and role of wild carnivores in natural free-living conditions.

A Wild ‘n Free environment is one in which large carnivores are not reliant on humans for their daily needs, are free to use open space and hunt prey naturally, and can carry out natural social behaviours like mating, holding territories and interacting with competitors. This ensures that they are functional components of a natural system. By keeping our carnivores Wild ‘n Free, we are also conserving larger tracts of land and hundreds of other species of plants and animals, keeping food webs intact. Wild carnivores are the icons of Africa, and attract millions of tourists and their foreign revenue and associated benefits to our country every year. South Africa is the only country in Africa that has a thriving industry of commercial carnivore production, which has tainted our image as a global conservation leader and ecotourism destination. There is no conservation value to be derived from this industry and it is up to all South Africans and visitors to our beautiful country to instead, stand up for our Wild ‘n Free natural heritage.

A29580_FB-Post_Pledge

We’re calling on everyone to take the Wild ‘n Free pledge: “I pledge to keep all carnivores Wild ‘n Free by not petting, walking, feeding or taking selfies with them. I vow to become an ambassador for wild carnivores and to honour their right to live a natural life. I encourage others to do the same.” Pledge cards can be downloaded and shared to social media to show support for this campaign. As WONDERboom’s lead singer, Cito, explains, “The more we find out the truth behind these commercial wildlife parks and canned hunting facilities, the more we should stand together, in solidarity, and boycott them. Any international visitor will tell you how blessed South Africa is to have the wildlife we have, in its natural habitat. I pledge to not support any of these facilities and I publicly condemn such businesses. We have the choice and power to make a difference in SA’s wildlife welfare.”

The project is focusing on three key themes:

Wild ‘n Free Space

This theme addresses the need for carnivores to have safe space to meet their biological needs. Under this theme, we actively find new space for wild carnivores through reintroduction projects that directly improve their conservation status. As a result of these interventions, there are currently 351 more Cheetahs on 1.15 million ha of Wild ‘n Free space and 227 more Wild Dogs on 584,000 ha of Wild ‘n Free space in South Africa. These reintroductions are expanding to other countries like Malawi and Mozambique, ensuring that Wild ‘n Free space is not confined by political or geographic boundaries.

We also work with farmers to implement ways in which livestock production can be done in harmony with carnivores, for example by providing livestock guarding dogs that protect livestock from predation, removing the need for the farmer to shoot carnivores. We have 197 livestock guarding dogs actively guarding livestock and making 500,000 ha of farmland safe and Wild ‘n Free for carnivores. This also makes farming more profitable and ecologically sustainable.

Wild ‘n Free Animals

This theme addresses the need for carnivores to be valued (both aesthetically and financially) in the wild, not in cages. Under this theme, we promote the need for carnivores to be Wild ‘n Free, and are working with the tourism industry to ensure that Wild ‘n Free destinations and activities are promoted. We are very proud of the Waterberg Wild Dog Tourism Project that generates tourism revenue for landowners who live in harmony with Wild Dogs in Limpopo. Find out more about this ground-breaking project and see the pups at the den at www.waterbergwilddogs.com.

Wild ‘n Free Legislation

This theme addresses the need for legislation that promotes wild carnivores and effectively regulates and ensures compliance of captive facilities. Under this theme, we drive legislative reform and promote compliance to current legislation. We contribute to and drive processes to guide effective legislation to regulate captive carnivores more effectively and promote Wild ‘n Free. We are leading discussions to review what is considered sustainable use in light of captive breeding of Lions for the parts.

Dr Kelly Marnewick, Senior Trade Officer and lead on this project, says: “This project will be a success when carnivores are valued by society in a Wild ‘n Free environment, with no commercial demand for captive animals or their body parts. Wild carnivores play an integral role in nature, where they contribute to conservation and are not vulnerable to exploitation. They do not belong behind bars.”

Read the EWT’s full perspective on captive carnivores here

Ends

 

About the Endangered Wildlife Trust

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), a champion of conservation in Africa, has worked tirelessly for over 45 years to save wildlife and habitats, with our vision being a world in which both humans and wildlife prosper in harmony with nature. From the smallest frog, to the majestic rhino; from sweeping grasslands to arid drylands; from our shorelines to winding rivers: the EWT is working with you, to protect our world.

The EWT’s team of field-based specialists is spread across southern and East Africa, where committed conservation action is needed the most. Working with our partners, including businesses and governments, the EWT is at the forefront of conducting applied research, supporting community conservation and livelihoods, training and building capacity, addressing human wildlife conflict, monitoring threatened species and establishing safe spaces for wildlife range expansion.

A beacon of hope for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and communities, the EWT is protecting forever, together. Find out more at http://www.ewt.org.za

 

Contacts

Dr Kelly Marnewick

Senior Trade Officer

Wildlife in Trade Programme

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 87 021 0398 ext 594 or +27 82 477 4470

Email: KellyM@ewt.org.za

 

Belinda Glenn

Marketing and Communications Manager

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 87 021 0398 ext 110 or +27 72 616 1787

Email: BelindaG@ewt.org.za

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Flamingo returns from two-year stay in Madagascar

flamingomedia

3 August 2018

Start

During 2016, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) fitted satellite tracking devices to twelve Lesser Flamingos in order to understand the flight behaviour of these threatened birds. The results were surprising, indicating long distance nocturnal movements that had previously been unrecorded. On 9 June 2016, the EWT recorded the first cross-border movement of an individual Lesser Flamingo to Madagascar1. Kucki, named by Eskom’s Environmental Manager Deidre Herbst, after Kucki Low, the first South African woman to get her commercial pilots license and South Africa’s first female flight instructor in 1970, covered a distance of 1,020km in a single flight! This flight was done in just under 24 hours. While on Madagascar, Kucki moved up and down the coast, all the while making her way up to Mahajanga. During her stay in Madagascar, she even survived the onslaught of cyclone Dineo, which hit the coastline in 2017. Then, on 29 May 2018, Kucki finally made her return to mainland Africa, flying from Madagascar to Mozambique, and landing south of Beira. The flight covered a distance of 927km directly over the Mozambican Channel. Curiously, her arrival to and departure from Madagascar occurred at the exact same point in the mouth of the Mangoky River. Over the past two months, she has been getting to know the Mozambican coastline better and we will continue to monitor her movements. This remarkable journey has raised even more questions around why flamingos undertake these movements and what environmental triggers contribute to the duration and direction of flights.

mapflamingo

The Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) is listed as Near Threatened in both the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and in the Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. One of the known threats to Lesser Flamingos is collision with power lines. The EWT, in partnership with Eskom, initiated a project to assess the nocturnal movements of these birds, with the aim of mitigating this threat. While conventional bird flight diverters have proved to be effective for bird species that are active during the day, mortalities of species that fly at night, such as the Lesser Flamingo, were still being found under marked power lines. This suggested that conventional mitigation may not be effective, and more research needs to conducted.

The project is supported by Eskom Research, Testing and Development. To assist in decreasing the number of bird mortalities on power line infrastructure, the EWT is encouraging members of the public to report any mortalities of wildlife related to energy infrastructure to its Wildlife and Energy Programme via email at  wep@ewt.org.za  or telephonically (toll free) at 0860 111 535.

[1] The first media release on this particular Lesser Flamingo can be accessed here.

End

About the Endangered Wildlife Trust
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), champion of conservation in Africa, has worked tirelessly for over 45 years to save wildlife and habitats, with our vision being a world in which both humans and wildlife prosper in harmony with nature. From the smallest frog, to the majestic rhino; from sweeping grasslands to arid drylands; from our shorelines to winding rivers: the EWT is working with you, to protect our world.

The EWT’s team of field-based specialists is spread across southern and East Africa, where committed conservation action is needed the most. Working with our partners, including businesses and governments, the EWT is at the forefront of conducting applied research, supporting community conservation and livelihoods, training and building capacity, addressing human wildlife conflict, monitoring threatened species and establishing safe spaces for wildlife range expansion.

A beacon of hope for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and communities, the EWT is protecting forever, together. Find out more at www.ewt.org.za

Contacts
Lourens Leeuwner
Wildlife & Energy Programme Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 72 775 5111
lourensl@ewt.org.za

Belinda Glenn
Marketing and Communications Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 87 021 0398
belindag@ewt.org.za

 

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Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Increase Captive Lion Bone Export Quota to 1,500

lionbone

17 July 2018

Start

In 2017, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) announced an annual export quota of 800 skeletons (with or without the skull) for the international trade in lion bones. This has now been increased to 1,500 skeletons, effective from 7 June 2018.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and partner organisations raised several concerns regarding the quota published in 2017 in our Technical Response to the DEA’s Proposed Captive Lion Bone Export Quota.[1] We note with concern that many of these have yet to be addressed and further:

  • There is still no evidence to show that the regulated trade in lion bones will not drive demand for wild lion projects, or evidence to show that it will alleviate pressure on wild lion populations.
  • Field observations indicate that wild lions in southern Africa, specifically Mozambique, have been under increasing threat for their parts. The Greater Limpopo Carnivore Programme has recorded an escalation in the number of wild lions poached on the Mozambican side of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, with a marked increase since 2015. They report that 26% of the lion population in this park has been lost due to poaching for their body parts.[2]
  • In the year immediately preceding the quota (June 2016 to May 2017), 13 captive bred lions in South Africa were poached for their body parts. The EWT notes with concern that during the first year of the quota (June 2017 to May 2018) there were 12 poaching incidents, resulting in 31 lions being killed. These preliminary figures suggest that the poaching of captive lions in South Africa has more than doubled since the quota was established.
  • The mandate to regulate welfare of captive carnivores remains confused as both the DEA and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries maintain that the welfare mandate is not their responsibility. We continue to have serious concerns about the welfare of captive lions.[3] For instance, in May 2018, over 70 lions awaiting slaughter at an abattoir on the Wag-‘n-Bietjie farm in the Free State were exposed to conditions that resulted in a case of animal cruelty being opened with the South African Police Service by the Bloemfontein Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This case is still under investigation. Unacceptable welfare conditions include lions being held in small crates and being held without food or water.[4] This case clearly illustrates an absence of proper monitoring and compliance with the law by participants in this trade. It is clear that South Africa is unable to ensure the adequate welfare and husbandry of lions bred for their bones.
  • At the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congresses held in Honolulu, Hawaii, in September 2016, a formal motion was passed to stop the canned hunting and non-conservation based captive breeding of lion and other predators. The international position is clearly against the captive breeding of wild animals for their parts.
  • Finally, we are concerned for the reputational damage to Brand South Africa and the negative impact that lion bone farming and the related captive lion industry is having on South Africa’s world-class conservation reputation.

The EWT is not aware of any formal public participation process or consultation prior to the decision to increase the annual lion bone export quota, and we have no further information on how or why this decision was made.

The EWT supports the sustainable use of natural resources when it directly contributes to species and habitat conservation efforts, and where communities meaningfully and directly benefit. We do not believe that farming lions for their parts is sustainable use but rather economic exploitation to benefit a select few.

The EWT calls for more transparency in decision making and calls on DEA to review this decision after full consultation and public participation has been undertaken. The EWT further calls for the welfare concerns surrounding captive carnivores to be addressed before any further decisions around the lion bone trade are taken.

End

About the Endangered Wildlife Trust

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), champion of conservation in Africa, has worked tirelessly for over 45 years to save wildlife and habitats, with our vision being a world in which both humans and wildlife prosper in harmony with nature. From the smallest frog, to the majestic rhino; from sweeping grasslands to arid drylands; from our shorelines to winding rivers: the EWT is working with you, to protect our world.

The EWT’s team of field-based specialists is spread across southern and East Africa, where committed conservation action is needed the most. Working with our partners, including businesses and governments, the EWT is at the forefront of conducting applied research, supporting community conservation and livelihoods, training and building capacity, addressing human wildlife conflict, monitoring threatened species and establishing safe spaces for wildlife range expansion.

A beacon of hope for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and communities, the EWT is protecting forever, together. Find out more at www.ewt.org.za

 

Contacts

Dr Kelly Marnewick

Senior Trade Officer

Wildlife in Trade Programme

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 87 021 0398 or + 27 82 477 4470

kellym@ewt.org.za

 

Belinda Glenn

Marketing and Communications Manager

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 87 021 0398 or +27 72 616 1787

belindag@ewt.org.za

[1]https://www.ewt.org.za/media/2017/SA%20NGO%20Response%20to%20DEA%20Lion%20bone%20Quota%2026%20Jan%202017.pdf

[2] http://www.peaceparks.org/news.php?pid=1793&mid=1813

[3] For more information on these welfare concerns, please read “Fair Game? Improving the well-being of South African wildlife Review of the legal and practical regulation of the welfare of wild animals in South Africa, 2018” accessible at https://cer.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CER-EWT-Regulation-of-Wildlife-Welfare-Report-25-June-2018.pdf. This report that was developed by the EWT and the Centre for Environmental Rights and was funded by the Lewis Foundation

[4] https://www.iol.co.za/news/opinion/finger-pointing-by-dea-and-daff-leaves-lions-at-free-state-abattoir-in-limbo-15010739

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EWT Conservation Canine Annie nabs three poachers in one day!

Annie

The Endangered Trust (EWT), in support of the fight against rhino and elephant poaching, provides trained dogs to reserves to assist in their anti-poaching operations. These EWT-owned dogs are trained to either track humans or detect wildlife contraband like rhino horn and ivory as well as ammunition. One such dog is Conservation Canine Annie. She has been trained to track and is used to follow up on poacher sightings, fence incursions and to follow poachers away from crime scenes. This week, the EWT Conservation Canine Project got this very excited message from Colin who handles Conservation Canine Annie:

During the early hours of the morning I received a call from one of our neighbouring reserves. One of their night observation posts thought they had seen a poacher walk past. I was asked to go and assist in the follow up with Annie. The poachers had unfortunately walked in the same area as the field rangers making it difficult for me to indicate to Annie which tracks I wanted her to follow. We therefore followed the tracks visually until we found where the poachers had split away into the bush. The poachers were wearing socks over there shoes which made visual tracking very difficult. It became almost impossible once they had turned off into the bush but this is where Annie’s tracking skills came into play. For her, them wearing socks had no effect on her tracking ability.
 
I put her on the tracks and she immediately started to pull on the trail. Over time I have learnt to read Annie’s body language and I see she can read mine. It seems that we can both read when one of us are serious. In this case I could see that her full focus was on the tracks. This was a good sign.
 
Annie tracked through various terrains until I got a visual of the two poachers lying in long grass. They were arrested and a rifle with silencer, ammunition, axe and other poaching equipment were recovered. Undoubtedly the life of a rhino was saved today because of this team’s tracking skills and the many hours spent in observation posts and patrols by the field rangers employed by the reserve to protect their rhino.
 
Unbelievably the action was not over for the day! In a later follow up operation by the SAPS to arrest the poachers’ pick up team, one suspect was arrested by the SAPS and another fled the scene on foot into a neighbouring reserve. I was again asked to track the suspect with Annie. As there were numerous people at the scene contaminating the area, I placed Annie in the vehicle driven by the suspect and gave her the command to follow up. This enables her to know who we are looking for and when she exited the vehicle it did not take her long to get on track. We tracked for about 1 km through very thick bush, made contact and arrested a very tired and demoralised suspect who thought he had evaded the law. Overall a good day for Conservation Canine Annie and her team!”

The EWT is very proud to be associated with this excellent team who have been involved in seven arrests this year alone. With this kind of talent, dedication and team work, poachers are not going to be safe in Colin and Annie’s neighbourhood. We further commend all role players who were involved in the collaboration that resulted in these arrests including the South African Police Services, anti-poaching units, reserve owners and managers. We hope that appropriate sentences are handed down that make a real conservation difference.

The EWT Conservation Canine Project is supported by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, Relate Bracelets, Royal Canin and several individual donors. Conservation Canine Annie was trained at the Southern African Wildlife College.

If you would like to support these crime busting dogs, please contact Dr Kelly Marnewick on KellyM@ewt.org.za.

About the Endangered Wildlife Trust
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), champion of conservation in Africa, has worked tirelessly for over 45 years to save wildlife and habitats, with our vision being a world in which both humans and wildlife prosper in harmony with nature. From the smallest frog, to the majestic rhino; from sweeping grasslands to arid drylands; from our shorelines to winding rivers: the EWT is working with you, to protect our world.

The EWT’s team of field-based specialists is spread across southern and East Africa, where committed conservation action is needed the most. Working with our partners, including businesses and governments, the EWT is at the forefront of conducting applied research, supporting community conservation and livelihoods, training and building capacity, addressing human wildlife conflict, monitoring threatened species and establishing safe spaces for wildlife range expansion.

A beacon of hope for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and communities, the EWT is protecting forever, together. Find out more at http://www.ewt.org.za

Contacts

Dr Kelly Marnewick
Senior Trade Officer
Wildlife in Trade Programme
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 82 477 4470 or +27 87 021 0398 ext 594
Email: KellyM@ewt.org.za

Belinda Glenn
Marketing and Communications Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 87 021 0398 ext 110
Email: BelindaG@ewt.org.za

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The EWT calls for action to address the key drivers of population growth

 

A29436 World Population Day Ad_V1_B

As we prepare to mark World Population Day tomorrow, 11 July, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), champion of conservation in Africa, draws attention to the link between human population and the environment.

The global human population is now more than 7.5 billion people. The United Nations estimates that this number will be nearly 9.8 billion by 2050 – this is 30% higher than it is today. Africa’s population is set to double over the same period, increasing at a rate that is 1.5 times the global average. It took until the early 1800s for the world’s population to reach one billion. Even with technological advancements, the Earth’s natural resources cannot support the growing needs of this number of human beings without degrading both the quality of human life and the environment on which we all depend.

The EWT was the first conservation NGO in South Africa to recognise the importance of Population, Health and Environment (PHE) programmes as a means of acknowledging women’s reproductive and health rights, and the role of empowering women to be in a position to determine their ideal family size. These kinds of programmes provide an important model for marginalised rural areas where community health and wellbeing is dependent on ecosystem health, like many of those in which the EWT operates. PHE programmes integrate improved sexual and reproductive health services with conservation actions and support for improved livelihoods. They have been proven to result in greater health, human welfare and conservation outcomes than single sector approaches, and the EWT is proud to be the only South African conservation organisation currently implementing such programmes.

The EWT believes that an integrated PHE approach is the most effective way to achieve sustainability and resiliency for people and the planet and therefore:

  • SUPPORTS and PROMOTES investment in the provision of voluntary rights-based sexual and reproductive health services, information and education, in both developed and developing countries.
  • SUPPORTS universal access to decent education, and the empowerment of women and girls.
  • RECOGNISES THAT interventions that reduce fertility rates must be matched with equal efforts to reduce resource consumption.
  • BELIEVES in the power of integrated approaches to conservation, the empowerment of women, education and rights-based approaches to achieving sustainability.
  • ENCOURAGES government, business and civil society to develop and support integrated programmes that address the issues around human population, development and the environment in a holistic and collaborative approach.

The EWT believes that intergovernmental agencies, governments, and non-governmental environment and development organisations, need to work together more effectively and holistically to address the key drivers of population growth.

The full EWT perspective on human population and the environment can be accessed here.

End

About the Endangered Wildlife Trust

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), champion of conservation in Africa, has worked tirelessly for over 45 years to save wildlife and habitats, with our vision being a world in which both humans and wildlife prosper in harmony with nature. From the smallest frog, to the majestic rhino; from sweeping grasslands to arid drylands; from our shorelines to winding rivers: the EWT is working with you, to protect our world.

The EWT’s team of field-based specialists is spread across southern and East Africa, where committed conservation action is needed the most. Working with our partners, including businesses and governments, the EWT is at the forefront of conducting applied research, supporting community conservation and livelihoods, training and building capacity, addressing human wildlife conflict, monitoring threatened species and establishing safe spaces for wildlife range expansion.

A beacon of hope for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and communities, the EWT is protecting forever, together. Find out more at www.ewt.org.za

 

Contacts

Bridget Jonker

Source to Sea Programme Manager

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 11 372 3600

bridgetc@ewt.org.za

Dr Harriet Davies-Mostert

Head of Conservation

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 11 372 3600

harrietd@ewt.org.za

Belinda Glenn

Marketing and Communications Manager

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 87 021 0398

belindag@ewt.org.za

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Perspective on Human Population and the Environment

 

PURPOSE OF THIS STATEMENT

The purpose of this statement is to inform stakeholders, partners and members of the public on the EWT’s perspective on human population and development as it relates to biodiversity and our environment.

BACKGROUND

The global human population is now more than 7.5 billion people. The United Nations estimates that this number will be nearly 9.8 billion by 2050 – this is 30% higher than it is today. Africa’s population is set to double over the same period, increasing at a rate that is 1.5 times the global average.

It took until the early 1800s for the world’s population to reach one billion. Even with technological advancements, the Earth’s natural resources cannot support the growing needs of this number of human beings without degrading both the quality of human life and the environment on which we all depend. Ten thousand years ago, humans made up 1% of the weight of vertebrate land animals: the remainder of the biomass on earth was all wild animals. Today, wild animals make up just 1%, with the other 99% comprising humans, our farmed livestock and our pets (Smil, 2011). This imbalance poses concerns for the sustainability of many life forms on earth, and is a risk to the quality of life for much of humanity if left unaddressed.

The EWT believes that intergovernmental agencies, governments, and non-governmental environment and development organisations, need to work together more effectively and holistically to address the key drivers of population growth. These include inter alia, poverty, limited access to sexual and reproductive health education and services, and the disregard for women’s rights. At the same time, firm measures must be taken – across the board – to reduce per capita resource consumption while supporting communities to become more resilient to climatic, social and economic changes.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust believes that an integrated Population-Health-Environment (PHE) approach is the most effective way to achieve sustainability and resiliency for people and the planet and therefore:

  • SUPPORTS and PROMOTES investment in the provision of voluntary rights-based sexual and reproductive health services, information and education, in both developed and developing countries.
  • SUPPORTS universal access to decent education, and the empowerment of women and girls.
  • RECOGNISES THAT interventions that reduce fertility rates must be matched with equal efforts to reduce resource consumption.
  • BELIEVES in the power of integrated approaches to conservation, the empowerment of women, education and rights-based approaches to achieving sustainability.
  • ENCOURAGES government, business and civil society to develop and support integrated programmes that address the issues around human population, development and the environment in a holistic and collaborative approach.

 

The EWT bases its positions on the best available information and data available at the time. Our positions and opinions may change as more information and data become available.

 

BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT

A number of counter claims and perceptions abound when discussing human population and the environment. Here are two common ones:

Growing populations are essential for economic development. Proponents of this view believe that an increasing population implies an increase in the number of workers who can function as active participants in the process of economic growth and development. A growing population also constitutes a growing market for goods and services and an expanding market may stimulate business to invest more and grow the economy further, creating more income and employment in the process. While this may be true for an industrial society, in today’s technological-driven societies, it is ideas that drive economies more than the physical numbers of people to work the line. In the developing world, rapid population growth has actually been shown to decelerate the pace of economic development over the long run (1950–2008). This is ascribed to a number of factors, including the age composition of the population and the lower investment and savings potential of large families vs smaller ones. High birth rates and rapid population growth in poor countries actually place a drag on economic development as large families have to spread scarce resources even thinner and often have much less capacity to save, invest, educate and provide adequate nutrition for their children. When the working-age population grows relative to the economically dependent youth, because of sustained reduction in fertility rates, this change in age composition provides a country with an opportunity in which it can potentially raise its level of savings and investment—a phenomenon known as the ‘demographic dividend’.

Through technological advances, we will figure out a way to increase planetary resource limits. The 19th-century economist, Thomas Malthus, warned that at prevailing population growth rates the planet would eventually be unable to feed and sustain itself. These ideas resurfaced 40 years ago, when Paul Ehrlich (The Population Bomb, 1968), Club of Rome, (The Limits to Growth, 1972) and William D. Nordhaus and James Tobin (Is Growth Obsolete?, 1972) postulated that population and conventional economic growth would destroy the planet. An alternative position, emanating from the work of the 20th-century economist and Nobel Prize winner, Robert Solow, is that environmental and other problems can always be resolved through the exercise of human ingenuity. While these two philosophies appear contradictory, we will need to apply both of them if we are to achieve real progress in solving the world’s environmental problems (Harvard Business Review).

Using system dynamics theory and a computer model called “World3,” a team of scientists analysed 12 scenarios that showed different possible patterns – and environmental outcomes – of world development over two centuries, from 1900 to 2100 (Donella Meadows Project). Most of the scenarios result in overshoot and ecosystems collapse – through a combination of depletion of resources, food shortages, industrial decline and other factors. After 2070, the costs of the various technologies, plus the rising costs of obtaining non-renewable resources from increasingly depleted mines, require more capital than the economy can provide. Criticisms of the original World3 model were that it underestimated the power of technology and that it did not fully represent the adaptive resilience of the free market. However, technology and markets are unlikely to prevent overshoot and collapse because they are merely tools to serve society as a whole. If the underlying drivers are to exploit nature, enrich the elites, and ignore the long term, then society will unconsciously select for technologies and markets that destroy the environment, widen the gap between rich and poor, and capitalise for short-term gain. Further to that, current economic models allow us to externalise the environmental costs of production and extraction and this becomes a burden for future generations to bear. Just because we have the potential to develop technological solutions to increase planetary limits, it does not follow that these technologies will be implemented in time to avoid hitting the proverbial wall that constitutes planetary limits.

THE FACTS

Our position on human population and the environment is based on the following facts:

  • Ten thousand years ago, humans made up 1% of the weight of vertebrate land animals: the rest were all wild. Today, wild animals make up just 1%. The other 99% comprises humans, our farmed animals and our pets (Smil, 2011). The WWF Living Planet Index reveals that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012.
  • The state of the world’s marine fish stocks in 2016 puts us in a dire situation with 31.4% of assessed fish stocks estimated as fished at a biologically unsustainable level (overfished) and fully fished stocks at 58.1% (FAO, 2016).
  • We are currently using up the resources of 1.7 Earths— unless things change, we will need three by 2050 (Global Footprint Network).
  • Due to population growth, availability of land per person in developing countries is expected to halve by 2050.
  • Thirty-eight percent of current agricultural land has been degraded (Food and Agriculture Organization).
  • More than 4 billion people will live in regions short of water by 2050 (waterfootprint.org).
  • The global demand for energy will increase by 30% by 2040 (International Energy Agency), causing further degradation of the environment to source fuel
  • In developing countries, 776 million people are considered undernourished – about one person in six. Undernourishment is a central manifestation of poverty. It also deepens other aspects of poverty, by reducing the capacity for work and resistance to disease, and by affecting children’s mental development and educational achievements. Reducing poverty can reduce resource degradation in instances where poverty is driving intensification of natural resource use (Roe et al, 2015).
  • Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest fertility rate in the world, estimated at 5.2 per woman. In some countries (e.g. Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger and Uganda), fertility rates may be as high as 6.0 per woman and beyond.
  • There are over 1.8 billion young people aged between 10 and 24 in the world today, the most populous generation of young people in history. Almost 90% of young people live in developing countries, where they tend to make up a large proportion of the population. A population’s age structure (the relative size of each age group) deeply affects development opportunities and plays a major role in security and governance challenges. Rapid population growth often results in increased pressure on the environment. The challenges produced by high fertility rates and the impacts of climate change often intersect in the parts of the world least prepared to adapt.
  • South Africa’s rate of population growth has increased from approximately 1.17% in 2002 to 1.61% in 2017. There are 16.7 million children under the age of 14 in South Africa, representing 30% of the total population (StatsSA, 2017).
  • An in-depth study of four sub-Saharan African countries found that more than 60% of adolescents did not know how to prevent pregnancy and more than 30% did not know of a source for contraceptives. Unmet needs for contraception are due to limited access to information, quality and affordable adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health services (Amnesty International)
  • According to the UN, there are over 200 million women in the world who want to avoid a pregnancy but are not able to use modern contraceptives, mostly because they do not have access to them either due to a lack of services or to a range of cultural reasons

 

There are four key concepts that underline our position on human population and the environment:

Women’s empowerment through a rights-based approach is central to the wellbeing of the human population and supporting biodiversity

All women should have the right to determine whether they want to have children or not, along with all other human rights. This includes the right to access and use contraception without discrimination or coercion. Women and girls deserve equal access to education, full political rights, the ability and freedom to gain employment and to have every right and opportunity enjoyed by men. We know that where women have such rights, fertility rates almost always decrease. The war on poverty must not translate into a war on the poor. Achieving universal access to and information on voluntary family planning, empowerment of women and a reduction in poverty throughout the world will result in fewer unintended pregnancies, improved health and well-being of women and their families, and continued decline in global population growth, while maintaining basic human rights and dignity and improving the resiliency of families.

Interventions to reduce fertility rates in low-income countries should be matched with equal efforts to reduce resource consumption in developed countries

While birth rates are comparatively low in most developed nations, the consumption rates per capita are unsustainably high and put massive pressure on natural resources. We need action from governments to promote innovative and technological solutions to resource use reduction, efficiency and waste management. This needs to be done in tandem with a reduction in fertility rates – they are not mutually exclusive. The Royal Society states that there are no scientifically credible estimates for a global “optimum population” as far as environmental sustainability is concerned, partly because the level of consumption is a critical factor. For instance, the planet can sustain far fewer people following a high meat and high carbon consumption pattern (current trends are towards this) than it can a low meat, low carbon lifestyle (a trend towards this is necessary).

An integrated Population-Health-Environment (PHE) approach is the most effective way to achieve sustainability for people and the planet

Population, Health and Environment (PHE) is an integrated community-based approach to development. PHE projects acknowledge and address the complex connections between families, their health, and their environment. They emphasise bringing conservation and reproductive health services to communities that both need and want them—particularly those who live outside the reach of any healthcare system, and on the edge of some of the world’s most vulnerable natural ecosystems. The reasons for this approach are that people face interconnected challenges, which need to be addressed holistically. This approach is also cost-effective – partner organisations are able to pool resources and reach new audiences. Integrated programs benefit individuals, but they also reap benefits at national, regional, and international levels. Improved demographic trends and conservation efforts in biodiverse areas are critical to ensuring long-term prospects for sustainable development and sustainable livelihoods. The effectiveness of integrated PHE investments for conservation outcomes was positively validated in high priority marine and terrestrial conservation sites with PHE programs in Philippines, Nepal, India, Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya, Cameroon and the Central African Republic (López-Carr, 2007).

Governments have a key role to play

Governmental agencies need to bring consumption in line with planetary limits while ensuring equal opportunity for all people to live dignified and sustainable lives. They need to lead the transition towards a low carbon economy and support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They need to provide rights-based sexual and reproductive health services to women and girls, ensure decent education for all, and tackle cultural issues that restrict women’s ability to make fundamental life choices, including the choice of family size. These goals are part of an equality and justice agenda, but also have a major demographic impact that results in additional benefits for environmental sustainability and human welfare by slowing rapid population growth rates. These additional benefits will be most pronounced in countries currently projected to double or triple their populations by 2050, yet which are already suffering the effects of severe environmental degradation and inability to meet basic universal welfare needs. However, it is important to stress that it is not morally acceptable to use coercion, including economic coercion, to achieve reductions in fertility.

What the EWT and our partners are doing

The EWT supports and encourages investment in the provision of SRHR and family planning information, education and services across the globe, in developed and developing countries. We also support and encourage universal access to decent primary and secondary schooling. We will actively lend our support to rights-based organisations campaigning on these issues, as well as those seeking a transition to a low-carbon reduced consumption economy. The EWT only supports a voluntary rights-based approach to sexual and reproductive health services.

The EWT has joined the Population Sustainability Network (PSN) who is working to ensure that population dynamics are taken into account in the SDG international development framework, encouraging increased investment in voluntary family planning programmes that respect and protect rights, while also working to reduce unsustainable consumption.

Pathfinder International is a global non-profit organisation that focuses on reproductive health, family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention and care, and maternal health. The organisation operates in more than 20 developing countries throughout Africa, Asia, the Near East, and Latin America. Pathfinder places reproductive health services at the centre of all that it does – believing that health care is not only a fundamental human right but is critical for expanding opportunities for women, families, communities, and nations, while paving the way for transformations in development. The EWT is working with Pathfinder on the first integrated PHE project in South Africa in the North West Province, South Africa, to demonstrate the value that integrated programmes can bring to both conservation and human development causes.

In conclusion, we need to be able to have new and calmer discussions about human population and the environment. There is little doubt that population growth, coupled with unbalanced resource consumption, intensifies climate change, habitat loss, species extinction and poverty. Instead of asking ourselves whether we can survive with continued population growth, we might ask what that reality will look like and will we want to. In the technological age, it is ideas, not a head count, which will drive sustainable economic growth into the future.

For further information, please contact:

 

Bridget Jonker

Source to Sea Programme Manager

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 11 372 3600

Cell: +27 76 440 5306

bridgetc@ewt.org.za

 

Dr Harriet Davies-Mostert

Head of Conservation

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 11 372 3600

Cell: +27 82 507 9223

harrietd@ewt.org.za

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