Sunday, March 29, 2015


 Red-winged blackbird male



 A goldfinch is getting his colours.

 First Song sparrow of the season. 

Red squirrel
Images by Mike Leveille- March 28-29, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


KASANE, BOTSWANA: The Kasane Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade concluded in Botswana today with the adoption of a statement which galvanises the high-level political commitment to combat the “scourge of illegal wildlife trade”.

Building on the London Declaration on Illegal Wildlife Trade of February 2014, the Kasane Statement recognises the efforts made to date by participating governments to work towards implementation of the commitments under the London Declaration – but stresses that much more still needs to be done.

Particular gaps highlighted include:
• making greater efforts to reduce demand;
• strengthening legislation in relation to penalties and following the money associated with wildlife crime;
• increasing resources and capacity along the length of the criminal justice chain;
• supporting networks of prosecutors;
• better engaging local communities.

The governments meeting in Kasane have called upon the UN General Assembly to address illegal wildlife trade at its 69th session in September and to support the preparation of an ambitious resolution for that meeting.
They welcomed the offer by Vietnam to host the third high-level conference on illegal wildlife trade in late 2016 

In his intervention, the President of the Republic of Botswana drew attention to how criminal syndicates make use of legitimate trade to launder illegally acquired products, while the President of the Republic of Gabon noted that legal markets for ivory increase poaching pressure across THE forests and savannahs where elephants are not the only victims, but also rangers and their families.

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) Executive Director Mary Rice, who addressed the conference, was encouraged by the growing articulation of concern at how legal markets stimulate demand, which in turn drives poaching.

“We are encouraged by the determination expressed to pursue implementation of historical commitments to combat wildlife crime, including commitments under CITES and the London Declaration,” she said.
“The Kasane Statement illustrates just how far we still have to go and we look forward to seeing tangible evidence of enhanced efforts; in particular, efforts to manage criminal information for the purposes of disrupting wildlife crime networks, increased access to court judgements for the purpose of analysing reasons for acquittals and rationale for weak sentencing, and an end to domestic markets for ivory and tiger parts.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


ON Wednesday, March 25, 2015, the follow-up to the London Conference on the Illegal Trade in Wildlife will take place in Kasane, Botswana.
The landmark London Conference in February 2014 brought together heads and representatives of governments to discuss the rise in the illicit trade in wildlife and its negative social, environmental and economic impacts.

The high-level Kasane meeting will review the status of implementation of the actions agreed as part of the London Declaration. 

The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has for three decades been at the forefront of calls for transnational wildlife crime to be properly recognised and addressed, and last year welcomed the outcomes of the London Conference as a strong indication that world leaders were finally getting serious about tackling international wildlife crime.
EIA has prepared a new briefing, High Profit/Low Risk: Reversing the wildlife crime equation, for the Kasane conference. It can be viewed and downloaded at
EIA Executive Director Mary Rice will be addressing the Botswana conference and said: “EIA has been looking for evidence that countries are actually taking action and not just talking when it comes to implementing London Declaration commitments.
“There is still more work to be done to gather and share information on the transnational criminals responsible for trafficking, and to analyse court judgements so we can better understand what needs to be done to strengthen prosecutions.”

Thursday, March 19, 2015


22 March 2015- Water is one of our most precious natural resources. Ensuring a clean, healthy and sustainable water supply is now the highest of natural resources management issues. The most recent edition of the Global Risks report of the World Economic Forum1 places global water crises as the top risk in terms of impact and among the top ten in terms of likelihood. Water is also tied to many of the other top ten risks.

The importance of water to sustainable development is well recognized. In order to function, all terrestrial ecosystems, including coastal areas, require water to be available and of sufficient quality. 

However, ecosystems supported by biodiversity provide water-related services and are critical for sustaining water in order to meet human needs. For example, wetlands, forests and grasslands act as natural water infrastructure. Their conservation and sustainable management provide important tools for ensuring the availability of water, including during the extremes of droughts and floods, as well as helping maintain water quality. Better management of soil health and soil biodiversity, as well as natural infrastructure in farming landscapes are also key for achieving water security, and also underpin food security and disaster risk reduction. If we make better use of this natural infrastructure, we will deliver improved and more sustainable water security, economic performance and increased resilience in the face of climate change.

This year’s World Water Day theme, “Water and sustainable development”, coincides with the ongoing discussions in the United Nations of the post-2015 development agenda and the adoption of a set of new sustainable development goals and targets expected later this year. I am pleased to see that this agenda, still under discussion, already recognizes the importance of water in proposed Goal 6 (“Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”). It is particularly notable that its target 6.6 (“by 2020 protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes”) recognizes the role of ecosystems in achieving the goal. This target builds on discussions held under the Convention on Biological Diversity leading up to the adoption in 2010 of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and, in particular, the incorporation of water into Aichi Biodiversity Target 14 (By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into 1 See 2 account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable). The role of ecosystems in underpinning water was also clearly recognized in the outcomes of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

It is encouraging to see this critically important shift in thinking about the water-biodiversity relationship. We are now moving away from focusing solely on managing the impact of water on biodiversity to recognizing the central role that biodiversity plays as a solution for achieving sustainable water security. This is just one example of the important ways in which biodiversity and ecosystem services contribute to human well-being and forge one of the most critical elements for achieving the sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development agenda.


More than 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests to meet their basic needs. The biodiversity of these vast biomes span tropical and temperate areas, and provide the foundation for ecosystem services that support poverty eradication, food security, medicines, energy and clean water. Yet, despite progress made, we still continue to lose forests at an alarming rate. In order to reverse this trend, we need to better value the wide range of benefits that forests provide for society at large.

This year, as we celebrate the International Day of Forests under the theme of “Forests and Climate Change,” we need to also look at the crucial and direct contribution of forests and forest biodiversity to the mitigation and adaption to climate change. This is particularly important as we look ahead to the climate change conference taking place in Paris later this year under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

One specific action that can help is for countries to take into account the role of biodiversity in climate change strategies, among them forest ecosystem restoration, within national voluntary reporting. Ecosystem restoration offers the potential to achieve win-win climate and biodiversity goals, if appropriate measures are taken. Accordingly, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity is encouraging Parties, through notification 2015-02-12, 1 to make use of existing tools, guidance and information related to biodiversity and climate change.

Efforts to conserve and restore forest ecosystems can profoundly contribute to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets, as well as other internationally agreed goals, such as the four Global Objectives on Forests of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), the post- 2015 sustainable development agenda, including in particular the proposed Sustainable Development Goal 15, and such initiatives such as the Bonn Challenge of the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration.

A central focus of the Convention’s work has been to support countries in developing ecosystem conservation and restoration plans, using an integrated landscape-wide approach to promote policy, planning and economic tools, and monitoring and evaluation systems, to achieve the Strategic Plan for 1 More information is available at 2 Biodiversity and its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Concerted efforts have helped countries address key challenges, define plans to set national targets and identify the enabling conditions to restore at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems (Aichi Target 15), to restore ecosystems that provide critical services (Aichi Target 14) and to halve the rate of loss of natural habitats, including forests, and, where feasible, bring it close to zero (Aichi Target 5).

To assist countries in achieving these Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the Korea Forest Service launched the Forest Ecosystem Restoration Initiative (FERI) on 14 October 2014, in the margins of the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, held in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. Envisaged to be a six-year initiative, FERI serves as a mechanism for assisting Parties in assessing the potential costs and benefits of restoration. It builds on the Hyderabad Call for a Concerted Effort on Ecosystem Restoration initiated in October 2012 by the Governments of India, the Republic of Korea and South Africa, as well as by the heads of many international conventions and organizations.2 

The Republic of Korea is recognized for its impressive large-scale forest ecosystem restoration success. As a first step, the Korean Forest Service has prepared a summary document of the lessons learned from its National Reforestation Programme.3 Our intention is to share this information and other rich experiences at the global level through the FERI. By maximizing restoration efforts through knowledgesharing and implementation and technical support, FERI will directly assist developing country Parties in operationalizing their national targets and plans for ecosystem conservation and restoration within the framework of Aichi Biodiversity Targets 5, 14 and 15.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed today with the Vice-Minister of the Korea Forest Service consolidates our support to these restoration efforts by Parties. FERI comes at an important time in the evolving global restoration agenda, in particular within global processes, including the post-2015 development agenda and the proposed sustainable development goals. Forests are explicitly included under Goal 15 connected to ecosystems and biodiversity. This reflects the multiple important contributions that forest ecosystems make to sustainable development.

The Republic of Korea knows first-hand how much forests provide for people. Today, on the International Day of Forests, FERI takes another important step. Through this Initiative, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Korea Forest Service hope more people will be able to enjoy and appreciate the benefits derived from forests.


LONDON: A resort complex tucked away in Laos and marketed to Chinese gamblers and tourists is a hub for trade in illegal wildlife products and parts, a new report reveals.
In Sin City: Illegal Wildlife Trade in Laos’ Special Economic Zone, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) documents how the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (GT SEZ) in Bokeo Province has effectively become a lawless playground.
The complex comprises a casino, hotel, shops, restaurants, a shooting range and massage parlours, and visitors can openly buy endangered species products including tigers, leopards, elephants, rhinos, pangolins, helmeted hornbills, snakes and bears – smuggled in from Asia and Africa.
Undercover investigators from EIA and its partner Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) documented restaurants with endangered species on their menus, from ”sauté tiger meat” and bear paws to reptiles and pangolins; one business kept a live python and a bear cub in cages, both of which were available to eat on request.
And the complex has ambitious plans for the manufacture of tiger bone wine. EIA/ENV found four tigers at the GT SEZ in mid-2014 but by February 2015 the number had risen to 35; a senior keeper revealed the goal is to acquire a total of 50 females for breeding to increase the population to 500 tigers within three years and to 1,000 in the long term to produce tiger bone wine for consumption at the GT SEZ and for export to China, via Yunnan.
The GT SEZ is run by the Chinese company Kings Romans Group, which has a 99-year lease and an 80 per cent stake in the operation. The Government of Laos has a 20 per cent stake in the GT SEZ, declaring it a duty-free area and giving it political patronage at the highest level.
Despite being situated in Laos, the GT SEZ functions more as an extension of China – it runs on Beijing time, signs are in Mandarin, most workers are Chinese nationals and the Chinese yuan is the main currency. Chinese nationals are permitted to visit with just an identity card rather than a passport.
The complex is accessed via a purpose-built 30km road from the nearest Laos town of Houaxay and China City Construction Group, a Chinese state-owned company, has been commissioned to build an international airport, a proposal which has created conflict with local farmers over land rights.
While Laos’ wildlife law enforcement is notoriously weak, there is not even a pretense of enforcement in the GT SEZ.
Debbie Banks, EIA Head of Tigers Campaign, said: “The activities within the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone constitute an intolerable disregard for international law as it concerns the illegal wildlife trade and endangered species.
“The Government of China urgently needs to recognise the immense damage this place does to its international reputation and to take meaningful action to rein in a Chinese company which is, in effect, running amuck with impunity in a neighbouring country with weak governance.
“China also needs to understand and accept that its legal domestic trade in the skins of captive-bred tigers is doing nothing but driving consumer demand – whether that demand is thriving at home or, as in the case of the GT SEZ, conveniently shunted into a neighbouring country.”
The report calls for the Government of Laos to immediately establish a multi-agency task force to tackle illegal wildlife trade at the GT SEZ and across the country, and to seize all illegal wildlife products at the GT SEZ.
It further calls on the Government of China to investigate connections between Chinese businesses and traders operating at the GT SEZ and wildlife criminals operating between Laos, Myanmar and China, and to cooperate with international counterparts to disrupt criminal networks.
In addition, Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) should seek CITES trade suspensions until such time as the governments of Laos and China demonstrate that adequate law enforcement, criminal justice and policy measures are being applied towards ending illegal wildlife trade associated with operations at the GT SEZ.


Collecting and managing garbage in Taktshang monastery in Paro, western Bhutan has become a major problem for one the most visited destination of the country. This has affected the tourism industry of the area. Thus the local tour operators and even tourists have started to conduct ad hoc cleaning campaign but given the number of visitors the place needs regular cleaning.
March 14


After consuming a cow carcass believed to be administered with diclofenac sodium, 17 Himalayan Griffon vultures (Gyps himalayensis) have died in Kamrup district, Assam, north-east India. Additionally, 11 others were taken to Vulture conservation and Breeding Centre for treatment. In the last two years, at least 50 Himalayan Griffons have died in South Kamrup.

March 10

India-Himalaya Celebrating 25 Years of Excellence 3


A monitoring team deployed by Nepal government has confiscated 280 kilograms of plastic bags from Kalimati, Kathmandu, central Nepal that did not meet the standards mentioned in the Plastic Bags Regulation and Control Directive (2068). According to the directive, plastic bags are required to have thickness above 30 microns and a logo. A fine of NPR 50,000 can be charged after confiscation to the offender as mentioned by Department of Environment. March 11