Today at WILD9 / Hoy en WILD9
Hoy en WILD9
WILD9 is a success! Over the 8 days of WILD9, we gathered together to THINK, FEEL and ACT.
WILD9 was opened by President Felipe Calderon, and attended by 1800 delegates from 50 countries, with 10,000 on-line participants from 100 countries. WILD9 conveyed an extraordinary atmosphere of hope and enthusiasm, hosted a diverse range of working session and featured a plenary program with world leaders such as Dr. Jane Goodall; Dr. Sylvia Earle; Dr Pavan Sukhdev; Chief Tashka Yawanawa; Grand Chief Samuel Gargan; numerous Ministers; the heads of land management agencies from North America and other regions; Heinz Center Director Dr. Thomas Lovejoy; Nobel laureate Mario Molina; Dr. Amory Lovins; Dr Exequiel Ezcurra; and many others.
Visit www.wild.org for more information
¡El WILD9 ha sido un éxito! Durante los ocho días del WILD9, nos reunimos para Pensar, Sentir y Actuar. Entre los muchos resultados del WILD9 están
- El Mensaje desde Mérida, una llamada internacional a la acción mediante pautas normativas específicas a fin de integrar las tierras silvestres y la conservación de la biodiversidad en una estrategia de cambio del cambio climático;
- El primer acuerdo internacional sobre conservación de tierras silvestres, elaborado y firmado conjuntamente por los gobiernos de México, Canadá y Estados Unidos;
- El grupo de fotógrafos de conservación más numeroso que se haya reunido jamás y la presentación de su trabajo;
- La creación de nuevas áreas naturales protegidas en México y otros países, la intención de crear las primeras áreas silvestres marinas de Estados Unidos y el compromiso de aumentar significativamente la cobertura de las áreas naturales protegidas de la Península de Yucatán;
- El uso extenso de las nuevas herramientas de comunicación por Internet para llegar a un grupo cada vez más grande y diverso de participantes internacionales, más allá de los delegados del WILD9; y
- La participación de líderes jóvenes en la solución de problemas cruciales relacionados con tierras silvestres, diversidad biológica y cambio climático.
Se publican las resoluciones del WILD9 > ¡Visítenos con frecuencia para acceder a más información, noticias y anuncios del WILD9!
News! - Noticas! - Nouvelles!
The survival of the Mali elephants is intimately linked to the state of relations between the peoples of the Gourma region. The Mali Elephant Project empowers local communities to work together to protect elephants and their habitat from human encroachment, and the wider environment from degradation. Degradation of soils, water, vegetation and wildlife means that there is less to go round and increases the likelihood of conflict between elephants and humans. When communities work together to protect and restore the ecosystem they are protecting the resources on which their livelihoods depend, and the habitats the elephants require for their survival, as the project has repeatedly demonstrated.
At the same time, working with local groups to protect their environment promotes community cohesion, provides employment for the youth, targets post-conflict aid and reconstruction activities, and is, therefore, an important vehicle for reconciliation.
Post-conflict there is the new challenge of healing the social wounds that have been opened up by the recent crisis. The question is, “How best to do this?”
Two reports have recently been published giving a fascinating insight the current situation. The first was published by Oxfam and describes how the conflict has undermined social relations within and between the ethnicities of northern Mali through feelings of fear and mistrust (Gao and Timbuktu).
The second is our own study which is complementary in that it examines a smaller geographic area – the Gourma region – but in more detail, and rather than focusing on ethnicities, teases out the different strategies employed by individuals to survive the crisis. > Report of the National Reconciliation Workshop
Like the first study, it concludes that reconciliation at the community level is a pre-requisite for all post-conflict aid and reconstruction activities, or there is the risk of exacerbating the situation; however if the motivations of different groups are not understood and taken into account, emergency aid and reconstruction activities risk doing more harm than good. During the conflict, many stayed. Of those who left there were those who fled for fear of being targeted by the armed groups because of the colour of their skin or their association with government or westerners, while others fled because they hoped to gain financially from their refugee status. Others, already wealthy, hoped to increase their wealth and power during the post-conflict reconstruction. Some joined the jihadis because they were paid large amounts of money and given a weapon. The latter allowed some to pillage, hijack vehicles, steal, and engage in illegal trafficking, while others were employed by the armed groups as cooks and drivers and participated in or became associated with abusive acts. Finally there were those imams (Muslim priests) who allied themselves with the jihadis and, together with pupils at some koranic schools, were responsible for imposing Sharia law on their own populations.
The good news is that the rift between communities is not irreparable. The wounds can be healed and there is a willingness displayed by the vast majority of people interviewed to begin a process of dialogue and reconciliation (Oxfam, 2013).
To begin this process we worked with the Ministry for Decentralisation and Land Management and the Ministry of the Environment and Sanitation to design and implement a three-day workshop for the top levels of national and regional Malian government, together with representatives of local communities, and from the national Reconciliation Commission to address the central question:
How can essential and urgent humanitarian assistance be quickly deployed to alleviate the present suffering, without further aggravating the social and environmental imbalances that are already posing a threat to a sustainable and peaceful future?
The aim was to enable the participants to share the information available and obtain an insight to the situation on the ground that would enable them to identify how piecemeal interventions could support and mutually reinforce each other. The result was a road-map of concrete actions required in the short, medium and long term.
In summary, the workshop recommended that:
- Reconciliation, within and between communities, is a prerequisite for ensuring the social, economic and environmental sustainability of aid and reconstruction initiatives.
- Reconstructing local communities will help to improve local, national and international security by minimising the risk of repercussions beyond Mali’s borders. Young men who are unable to return to their communities and who have nowhere else to go risk becoming radicalised and/or engaging in criminal activity.
- Local authorities must play an integral role in post-conflict reconciliation, aid and reconstruction, to ensure that these efforts are well targeted and to obtain the desired results. Their knowledge can aid the process of:
- Disarmament – they know who has weapons and can help in recovering them,
- Compensation – they are familiar with the pre-conflict situation, and can help to ensure that compensation is fair,
- Redress, reintegration and bringing to justice – they know who has committed what crimes, and can help to determine the needs of displaced persons who wish to return to their communities.
- Such a huge task requires a coordinated effort and therefore an additional aim of this workshop was to sketch out a plan to help coordinate the efforts made by many parties with different agendas, thereby helping official programmes and individual actions to support each other.
Silent, motionless, perched on a ledge at Las Batuecas (Spain), intent on capturing nuances of ancient lines that depict the might and manner of wild goats, I gain awareness of a large bird, voicing its coarse, high-pitched song in peaceful interludes from the trees behind me. I turn to take-in the privilege of its proximity and am surprised to find instead, five paces away, a family of well-fed corzos, roe bucks, babies and all, curious, cautious and at ease until, of course, I reach for my camera. They flee this dangerous predator, swiftly into the abyss, noiselessly scurrying away along imperceptible micro-ledges, wild, intelligent, free.
Generally described as a valley, the Parque natural de Las Batuecas is rather a small canyon in the Reserva de la Biósfera Sierras de Béjar y Francia, some two hours south of Salamanca. After WILD10 I immersed myself in its silence, mild microclimate and clear rivulets, wondrous to my body and soul.
On my days at Las Batuecas I saw several families of wild goats, I heard the owls and saw the snakes; wild boars were always nearby. They all bolstered the thought that Rewilding Europe is sure to be a success: At WILD10 I saw the bright eyes and earnest demeanour of delegates at the Rewilding Europe sessions and workshops. Their commitment, intelligence, knowledge, creativity, organization skills and Love are sure to turn the tables. As Europe sets the world’s fashion trends, so can Europe turn-on the world unto the heroics of the wilderness business, the glam glitz and joys of making the world a wilder place. With such a WILD10 crowd, I know we are to see the wild goats coming back.
By Geoff Dalglish, Trail to Salamanca
“Earth Pilgrim” Geoff Dalglish and others hiked the Trail to Salamanca from Geneva, 2500km (1500 miles) across four mountain ranges in six countries over 125 days, to arrive in Salamanca just as delegates gathered from all other the world for WILD10, the 10th World Wilderness Congress. All along the Trail, Geoff was joined by other hikers from local villages and organizations as they experienced and explored the re-emergence of ecological corridors and the return of wildlife across Europe.
“The future will belong to the nature-smart – those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”
-Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle
“Thank you for massaging the Earth with your footsteps. I’m sure Father Sky is looking down and appreciating what you are doing for our beautiful Mother.”
The words, accompanied by an unexpected hug, were uttered a few months ago by Howie, an Aboriginal elder who had often observed me returning from my early morning meditative walks along the beach near the Australian mainland’s most easterly point.
His thanks echoed my own gratitude for his gentle and loving presence and reminded me that feeling our oneness with the natural world is the way we used to live when we readily recognised our kith and kin in the animals, birds, plants and all life surrounding us.
While each of us is different I’m convinced that we all benefit from time outdoors, and I know that being in nature is good for me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I feel love and joy welling up in me, and my mind’s busyness is replaced by a deep calm and clarity. I need this – we all do.
These days much of my personal journey is about trying to reconnect others to the magnificence of the natural world, which so inspires me. With that love of wild nature comes humility, empathy and compassion, which are building blocks for better relationships with our world.
The poet William Wordsworth once wrote: “What you have loved, others will love, and you will teach them how.”
Lately I’ve also been intrigued to read about ‘Earthing’, a concept that involves aligning your body to the Earth’s surface energies, ideally by walking barefoot outside. The idea is that if your energy is resonating with that of the Earth’s, your body will be at a more natural state, which is energising and healing.
In a return to my childhood I’ve found myself walking barefoot more and more, but recently when my journey took me to Switzerland at a time of heavy, unseasonable snowfalls, I reluctantly had to resort to wearing trainers again. As I walked the Trail to Salamanca and the WILD10 world wilderness congress, I noticed how incredibly good it felt to remove my footwear and be barefoot during rest stops each day. It wasn’t just about cooling overheated and overworked feet, but about connecting with the Earth. I tried to do it often.
Walking can also be a reminder of so much our ancestors intuitively understood. And maybe many things we knew as children. Today we’re suffering from a numbing disconnection from other life. It is what my animal whispering friend Anna Breytenbach describes as a “disconnection sickness.”
On the rare days I don’t walk, I feel somehow less capable of meeting whatever challenges arise. And it is only since I’ve slowed down to a pace similar to that of my hunter-gatherer ancestors that my senses have become truly alive. I use them all to see, hear, smell, taste and touch the miracle of life. For countless centuries the very survival of our nomadic forebears was intrinsically interlinked with the cycles of the natural world. They were guided by the stars, seasons and weather patterns, as well as the movements and migrations of the creatures that they recognised as their kith and kin.
Now we are mostly insulated, anaesthetised, drugged and utterly disconnected from Gaia. We are surrounded by concrete, glass and steel and bombarded by technology and information-overload in a fast-paced world illuminated by artificial light and characterised by unnatural patterns of sleep and waking. We breathe polluted air, ingest chemical-laden products masquerading as food and invariably drive rather than walk. Depression, anxiety, confusion and hopelessness are the norm for pill-popping millions.
So what happened to our supposedly superior intellect and powers of reasoning?
Some 25 centuries ago, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, observed: “Illnesses do not come upon us out of the blue. They are developed from small daily sins against Nature. When enough sins have accumulated, illnesses will suddenly appear.”
Solutions, I believe, are all around us. We need to live simpler, more sustainable lives and find the peace and inspiration that comes from being in nature – from recognising our rightful place not as a controller of the natural world but a strand in the miraculous web of life.
We need to learn from the successful blueprint of nature, tapping into millions of years of accumulated wisdom, instead of pursuing a consumer-based materialistic madness, that if unchecked, can only result in our own extinction as a species.
Answers are all around us and they’re free.
Scientists are discovering that children are suffering from what is being called a Nature-Deficit Disorder. They need to grow up in nature with animals around them, climbing trees, swimming in streams and lakes, and ideally feeling the Earth beneath bare feet.
While I depend on my iPhone and MacBook Air to communicate with the world, I know that fundamental to my health and happiness is that connection. Nothing is more important than the solo meditative walk with which I start each day.
In her book Partnering with Nature, environmentalist Catriona MacGregor says: “This disconnection with nature can lead to physical as well as mental stress, from depression and fatigue to attention disorders and obesity. But by awakening a natural connection to the environment around us, we can move beyond simply using nature and into a true partnership with it.
“Ultimately, when we recognise the inherent sacredness of all life, we become forces for good in this world… nature has much to offer to all who will listen.”
(Geoff is Odyssey magazine’s pilgrim-at-large and this blog is based on a a feature commissioned by the integrated living publication www.odysseymagazine.co.za)> Read More
Providing camels to the local community means that they are no longer dependent on the project and can operate autonomously. This sustainable self-sufficiency is the aim of all projects, and it means that local communities can respond to unforeseen situations themselves. An example of this occurred when the bridge and dam at Lake Gossi broke in 2012 draining the lakes of the “Gossi corridor” to the north. It meant that herders from the river, who having used up the pasture close to the river, or lost it to fire would seek out places in the Gourma with water and pasture. With no water in the Gossi corridor, they would try to use Lake Banzena instead. To prevent this we suggested constructing 120km fire-break running parallel to the river to protect pasture adjacent to the river from burning, so that these herders did not have to leave the river zone. No sooner had we suggested this, than the young men in the wider Banzena area set to work because “we had helped them with camels”. See http://www.wild.org/blog/protecting-the-mali-elephants-from-war/
This rest of this post is to describe the tasks performed by the camels, and their centrality in enabling the local population of the Gourma to protect the elephants, protect the elephant migration route, prevent degradation and restore habitats.
1. Avoiding habitat loss through fire prevention
Local people cannot protect their habitats without camels. The 9 month dry season means that the vegetation soon becomes tinder dry and vulnerable to fire. From December onwards the tiniest stray spark from making tea, making charcoal, or throwing away a cigarette butt can result in fires that sweep through the grasslands consuming hundreds of square miles of potential fodder. Preventing the loss of pasture and forest prevents the degradation that results from annual fires and makes it easier for local people to set aside elephant habitat. The photograph below shows the impact of a firebreak.
The work is long and arduous for the local people. The first step is to drag a thorn tree back and forth to loosen the vegetation and mark the guideline of the fire-break, as shown in the photo below.
The next step is for a team of around 12 people to rake the vegetation away to the side of the guideline.
Any remaining vegetation is removed by controlled burning, as in the newly-constructed firebreak in the image below.
2. Preventing the illegal over-exploitation of wildlife, plant & tree species
As elsewhere in Mali outside protected areas, game species are rare in the Gourma. There are only two forester posts to cover an area the size of Switzerland with no vehicles. The camels allow our brigades to patrol and check for illegal resource use.
They work together with the government foresters who provide the enforcement, while the community brigades provide the eyes and ears by being able to cover much greater ground than the few foresters. In this way the team is able to enforce both local resource management rules and national law. The photo below was taken before the coup when all government presence retreated to the capital, leaving the community to continue working courageously on its own.
The photograph below shows an illegal firewood operation that was discovered by one of our patrols.
3. Protecting the elephants
Camels enable the local population to collect information on any elephant killings and bring it to the attention of the authorities much faster than if they had to travel on foot. This can make all the difference in apprehending the poachers, as with the poached elephant below.
4. Keeping Lake Banzena free of human occupation and livestock
Lake Banzena is the only source of water accessible to the elephants at the end of the dry season, making it the lynchpin of the elephant migration, but throughout the 1990s and 2000s the Lake had been drying sooner and sooner as human and livestock pressure mounted. Our studies, however, revealed that the vast majority of this impact came from far away. In 2009, 96% of the livestock using Lake Banzena in 2009 belonged to wealthy, urban dwellers living hundreds of kilometers away. There were over 50,000 cattle at Lake Banzena at the end of the dry season in the years 2008, 2009 and 2010, when the lake either dried prematurely or very nearly dried. In the former case, the situation was saved by a rain shower 30km to the south, which was just enough to sustain the elephants until the rains.
In 2010, the Mali Elephant Project helped the population to relocate to a new area with good pasture and clean water in return for the camel-mounted patrols helping the foresters to keep Lake Banzena free of human activity.
More information can be found in the following illustrated posts:
- 5th October 2010 – Community Engagement Process for Lake Banzena
- 19th May 2011 – Action at Lake Banzena
- 29th May 2012 – Determination Wins Through: Evidence that our strategy is working
- This page contains links to the report describing the findings of our socio-economic survey of the population resident at Lake Banzena, plus the plan of action, and many more photos
In May of 2011, The Wilderness Foundation (SA), with the support of The WILD Foundation & Wilderness Foundation (UK), launched the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative. This initiative aims to gather support from the public and various stakeholders to help fight against rhino poaching in South Africa and save the rhino from extinction in the wild.
The highly effective Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative was given a boost in June 2011 through the sponsorship of six Volkswagen Amarok vehicles from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. The vehicles were allocated to various reserves and anti-poaching units across the country, each managed by the Wilderness Foundation’s Forever Wild Conservation Programme team. The vehicles were replaced by VW in June 2013, with the contract renewed for a further 12 months.
From June 2011 to June 2013, the teams supported by the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative were involved in the arrest of over 80 suspected poachers, the confiscation of over 20 firearms, and the recovery of seven rhino horn, as well as hundreds of extended patrols in parks around the country, several rhino notching exercises, the translocation of a number of rhino for safety reasons, and many public awareness events.
The Wilderness Foundation has also raised more than R8,000,000 towards the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative in the last 24 months. Funds have been allocated to the following ongoing initiatives and projects:
- Vehicle support for the north West Parks and Tourisn Agency reserves anti-poaching/canine units
- Aerial support in the Eastern Cape
- Four-wheelers and other equipment to allow rangers to patrol larger areas as part of their poaching prevention strategies
- Education materials & fact sheets
- A rhino hot-line has been set up to receive calls and tip-offs related to rhino poaching
- A Rhino Survivor Fund has been set up to assist in cases where rhinos have been poached for their horn but are still alive and able to be rehabilitated
- Training for anti-poaching intelligence training and wildlife trade training for airport staff
- Sniffer dogs
- DNA & tracking device project- thus far a total of 22 rhinos have been fitted with tracking devices
- Research project in Kruger National Park which tracks, monitors & studies rhino survivors after poaching incidents