MANTARAY

Manta parts worth $615 million to Indonesian tourism industry intercepted

The  Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia and the WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society’s) Wildlife Crimes Unit have made their largest seizure of manta ray gills and arrested one person. The 103kg of gill plates represented 85 manta rays and each was worth $7.8 million to the Indonesian dive industry over its lifetime. The raid took place on 7th November when officials, working on part of a larger investigation, at a house near to the  Pengambengan Negara fisheries landing area in Bali. The latest raid follows on from follows three arrests earlier this month and in October involving illegal trade of manta ray meat and gill…

Whale sharks bring in $10 million a year to the Maldives

One of the classic dive locations in the world is producing more income for the Maldives than previously thought. The whale shark population at South Ari atoll Marine Protected Area attracts an incredible 77,000 visitors each year and they spend US$9.4 million a year. The whale shark population at  South Ari is one of the few whale shark locations in the year where divers can be sure of experiencing these massive but gentle fish. The population is a resident year-round one and this small group of sharks account for nearly half of all Maldive shark tourism spend. The value of shark tourism to the Maldives has always been assumed to be high but…

Thailand must act to prevent resurgence of illegal wild elephant trade

Wild live elephants are being illegally captured to supply the lucrative tourism industry in Thailand and urgent changes to the country’s legislation and elephant registration procedures are needed to stop the trafficking, finds a new report released today. An assessment of the live elephant trade in Thailand provides details of between 79 and 81 wild elephants illegally captured for sale into the tourist industry in Thailand between April 2011 and March 2013. At least 60% of the animals trafficked originated in Myanmar where the capture of elephants is considered a serious threat to the future survival of that country’s wild population of around 4,000–5,000 Asian Elephants. In Myanmar, domesticated elephants…

Natural world sites being recommended for listing as new World Heritage Sites

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) have begun the 39th meeting of the World Heritage Sites Committee in Doha, Qatar. Over the next few days the members will be looking at the state of the world’s prime wildlife and natural world sites. They will also be looking at naming a number of new sites which are of particular importance for protecting the natural world. The following sites are being recommended for inclusion onto the list because of their importance to the natural world. Okavango Delta, Botswana. The Okavango Delta is a stunning wetland in Africa. It is a river delta that is classed as an endorheic delta –…

Highlights of the World Heritage Sites 2014 Agenda

In a little over 2 weeks the 38th Session of the World Heritage Sites Committee will take place. On the list of properties under review are 15 natural world properties. The committee will be looking at what steps have been taken to try to protect or conserve these globally valuable habitats. The provisional agenda for the meeting which takes place in Doha, Qatar between 15th and 25th June has been published. Of the 15 sites being examined two are being recommended for inclusion on the ‘in danger’ register. The two most common threats to sites being examined this year appears to be tourism and dams. Of the 15 natural world WHS…

Grape-treading elephant attraction withdraws permit application

The tide is turning against interactions with elephants by the paying public. The National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (NSPCA) stance is that such “activities” play no part in ethical tourism and have no conservation or welfare benefit for the animals. The Meerendal Wine Estate in Cape Town had applied to create an elephant tourist attraction at their wine estate. The National Council of SPCAs and the SPCA Cape of Good Hope have been vocal in our opposition of this, and we are delighted to report that thanks to public pressure, the estate has retracted its application. Formal opposition was submitted to Cape Nature, the…

Is Mugabe losing control of Zanu PF members?

Despite last weeks orders from Zanu-PF command and President Mugabe warning officials to stay away from wildlife conservancies a group of military and police officials have ignored the party orders and continue to target conservancies in the country. Even those wildlife parks working with local communities are being targeted by renegade party members. In signs that Mugabe is losing control of the running of his party the Zanu-PF another wildlife conservancy in the country is under threat. The latest incident has seen the owner of Mjingwe Ranch in Mwenezi, Darryl Collett, leave the ranch in fear of his life after senior army officials and high-ranking police officials made a move…

New hope for Zimbabwe’s Lowveld

Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe Minister for Tourism and Hospitality, has made many high-ranking enemies recently as he tries to make Zimbabwe an important wildlife tourism destination. His opposition to on-going repatriation of lands to high-ranking officials, especially in the Lowveld region, has led to some calling him traitorous to the Zanu-PF cause. Others such as Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere  were more lenient in their opposition to his stance and claimed he was being childish in his attitude to the re-allocation of land in places such as the Save Valley Conservancy. Now in an unexpected move it seems that Mzembi has not just made high-ranking enemies but he has made…

The cost of ending hunting in Tanzania – would you pay an extra £40 on your safari?

Tour operators in Tanzania are calling for an end to big game hunting – particularly elephant hunting – as they believe that it impacts on the marketing of safari holidays to the country. Now the hunting industry are hitting back and demanding a tax on safaris. With hunt permits bringing in $50 million dollars last year to the government the cost of ending hunting is high. To recover the lost trophy income the government would have to tax safari and tour operators. With just over 1 million tourists a year visiting the country in order to replace lost hunting income every visitor would need to be taxed $50 or about £40.00. The…

Tourism – poaching’s silent witness

In 2011 tourism contributed R83,4-billion to South Africa’s GDP and last year more than 9-million tourists splashed out R76,4-billion across the country. As a major economic driver, South Africa’s tourism industry has traditionally been in a position of strength when applying pressure on the government to respond to major issues which negatively affect it. Likewise, South Africa has been an effective lobbyist in other African nations for which it acts as a tourism hub. But on the thorny subjects of ivory and rhino poaching the silence from our tourism sector leaders has been both deafening and puzzling. “The illicit wildlife trade and the resultant large-scale poaching of elephants and rhino…

The world’s best ecotour

The Nam Nern Night Safari has been voted as the World Responsible Tourism Award for Best for Responsible Wildlife Experience at the World Travel Mart in London. The tour uses local community initiatives, supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), to give tourists a unique insight into the wildlife of Lao wildlife. 14 partner communities, the Lao DPR government and the WCS put together the programme to help the local residents. The communities are paid a fee according to how many species and how many animals the tourists see on their trip. This helps encourage local people to view their local wildlife as a valuable resource. The trip involves tourists being taken upstream of the Nam Nem in…

Ugandan national park loses nearly 60% of lions in 10 years

A recent wildlife survey has highlighted that lions in some of Uganda’s conservation areas are dropping in number. In some areas the losses could be as great as 60% over the last 10 years. It is estimated that just 408 lions remain in the 3 top strongholds for lions in the country. “African lions are a vital component of these ecosystems,” said WCS conservationist Edward Okot Omoya, the lead author of the study. “They play an important role in disease control of antelopes and buffalo by killing the sick animals.” The survey was carried out by researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the University of St Andrews. The researchers used a ‘lure count’…

The worst flight path for ozone production revealed

Flying is always going to be a polluting way of travel unless technology takes a big step forward. But it seems that some flights are more damaging for local pollution levels and local climate change than others. Aircraft produces ozone in the upper atmosphere but some areas are more prone to ozone production than others. A study published in the Institute of Physics journal Environmental Research Letters has revealed the places most susceptible to ozone production from aircraft exhausts. The most damaging flight path for ozone is the Sydney to Bombay flight path which produces 25,300 kg of ozone. The region seeing the biggest local impact for aircraft produced ozone pollution…

Manta Ray tourism worth $140 million a year

Swimming with manta rays is one of the highlights for any scuba diver and can be a valuable source of money and jobs for local people. The latest estimate for the value of manta ray tourism has been put at USD140 million a year. Just 10 countries account for 93% of the value and manta rays offer a clear opportunity for many more countries to boost their diving tourism market. The estimate was given in a study published on the PlosOne science website. It was undertaken by volunteers associated with the  WildAid, Manta Trust and Shark Savers NGO’s. The study looked at 23 countries which have a suitable manta ray…

The travelling dolphin circuses of Indonesia

The travelling dolphin circuses of Indonesia

Indonesia is the last bastion of one of the worst examples of treatment of dolphins in the world. It is here that the last three travelling dolphin circuses exist, despite being declared illegal by authorities. The three companies are left unchallenged by the government to transport dolphins around in unsuitable and harmful conditions despite Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan declaring that travelling shows are illegal and his ministry has a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy to the industry. Three companies currently operate travelling dolphin shows in Indonesia –  Wersut Seguni Indonesia (WSI), Taman Safari Indonesia and Ancol.- all operating out of the main island of Java. They all have permits to run dolphin shows…

Minister calls for shoot to kill policy in Botswana

The Deputy Speaker of the Botswana Parliament, Pono Moatlhodi, has called for the immediate introduction of a shoot to kill policy to tackle poachers targeting rhino and elephants in the country. His call for a new tougher stance against the poachers comes just days after Mozambique declared that the Limpopo National Park lost its last 15 rhino to the poachers. With the rising demand for rhino horn and elephant ivory from China and Vietnam there is the real fear that the loss of rhino from the Limpopo National Park could just be the first in a line of national parks that will lose their populations. Moatlhodi said that introducing the…

Tourism fears as dolphins blown up

A visit to Tanzania is a wildlife lover’s dream. It is a leading destination for safaris and many happy memories are made there. However there are fears that tourists in some parts are leaving with gruesome memories of dynamite-fisherman targeting dolphins for use as bait in the profitable shark-fin trade. The Secretary of the Tanga Tourism Network Association (TATONA), Sibylle Riedmiller, is reported to have written to authorities that tourists have witnessed dynamite fishermen local to Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park close to Kigombe targeting dolphins and catching them. The meat is then used as bait for sharks or sent to fish markets in the capital. Despite the dolphins being protected…

The Good and Bad of Wildlife Apps

Smartphones can really help people to enjoy wildlife and nature reserves but they can also take away some of the excitement and mystery of going out exploring and not knowing what species you will encounter. Can we miss out on so much the nature has too offer because we are more interested in ticking our ‘seen’ lists rather than just relaxing and enjoying what is on offer. The latest wildlife app to be seen by the Thai wildlife authorities and cover predominately the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park but other wildlife reserves are expected to follow. There are lots of good things about the app. The ability to tell authorities in real-timer…

World’s biggest aquarium opens in Singapore

World’s biggest aquarium opens in Singapore

The world’s largest freshwater aquarium has opened to the public at the nature themed River Safari park in Singapore. The aquarium seeks to highlight the wealth of species that live in the Amazon River of South America. Exhibits include manatees that have been moved to the aquarium from their previous home at Singapore Zoo. The new aquarium is 4 times larger than their previous home. The new aquarium is found the River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest. The River Safari park is a nature attraction that seeks to educate people about the great rivers of the world. At a cost of over USD 160 million the attraction opened to the public…

Is Bali about to ban shark fishing?

There are hints that a new shark and manta ray sanctuary is about to be formed at Bali. Last month the underwater paradise of Raja Ampat in West Papua, Indonesia banned the fishing of sharks and rays in it’s coral reefs and set up a shark sanctuary – the first in the so called Coral Triangle of South East Asia. Now there are hints that Bali is about to follow suit and ban shark fishing from it’s waters. A report in the Jakarta Post published today covered the campaign by Conservation International (Indonesia) to get the Bali provincial government to establish a shark sanctuary. The campaign was started in 2011…