News from the Africa Section of SCB
Seventeen mentees from 10 countries were selected for the E-mentoring programme of the October 2014-2015 cycle, which focused on providing guidance in writing research proposals and manuscripts. About 60% of the participants completed the cycle and one of the participants received a Rufford Small Grant for his proposal. Eight of the 10 mentees that completed their mentoring programmes gave excellent ratings for the programme.
The section welcomes 50 new members whose applications for gratis membership were successful in February 2016. They were drawn from a pool of prospects from various parts of the continent, such that they can effectively represent SCB at the grassroots and also establish SCB chapters or strengthen existing chapters. Each of the new members were awarded a one-year free SCB membership starting from March 2016. Congratulations!!
Following the Section business meeting at ICCB 2015, three new chapters have been formed in the Section. It all started with Ghana chapter, followed by Madagascar and then South Africa. Congratulations to Profs. Yaa-Ntiamoa-Baidu, Joelisoa Ratsirarson and Ruth Kansky and their teams in each of these three countries, for ensuring the successful establishment of these chapters. Efforts are currently underway to establish chapters in Cameroon, Tanzania and Kenya. Additionally, the Nigerian chapter successfully had her maiden scientific conference at University of Ilorin, between June 20 and 24, 2016. It was jointly organized with Nigerian Tropical Biology Association (NTBA). Kudos to Dr. Fola Babalola for his indefatigable leadership.
Section Facebook page
In order to broaden the Section’s network outreach, an official Facebook page was formally launched on October 4, 2015, named "SCB Africa Section." Feel free to join and contribute to discussions on pertinent conservation issues in Africa on this forum. The SCB Facebook group page currently has 337 members.
The 2016 Young Women Conservation Biologist (YWCB) award will be presented at the 3rd African Congress for Conservation Biology (ACCB) in El Jadida, Morocco in September. Last year, the award was given to Ms. Julie Hanta Razafimanahaka from Madagascar.
Review of Section bylaws
The Section recently reviewed its bylaws so as to reposition itself for effectiveness and excellence in its modus operandi. Focal areas for review in the Section bylaws include Section autonomy. The revised bylaws is now under consideration by the SCB Executive Committee.
Horizon scanning for Conservation issues in Africa
Professor Bill Sutherland and his team are partnering with Professor Phoebe Bernard of the South Africa National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and Stephen Awoyemi, President of the Africa Section, on including emerging threats to African biodiversity in their annual global assessment of horizon scans of conservation issues.
African Biodiversity Strategy
A strategic action plan for the African Section is being formulated. We are interested in your opinion of the threats, challenges, actions, skills and research priorities for conservation in the African country that you work in. We would like to analyse the results for each country so it would be great if you contribute to this process and circulate to your colleagues who may not be members of SCB as well. The nine questions are on the online form. Your contribution would be greatly appreciated.
3rd African Congress for Conservation Biology
The 3rd African Congress for Conservation Biology (ACCB) will be held at Faculty of Science, University of Chouaib Doukkali El Jadida, Morocco, between September 4 and 8, 2016. About 350 submissions have been received for the congress in both English and French, the first of its kind as an SCB major event. This congress hopes to draw from a large pool of experts, managers, policy makers and students across the continent to share technical ideas, and formulate pragmatic solutions to variety of threats to African rich biological heritage. The COP22 steering committee formally endorsed the ACCB, and the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES) expert group meeting on deliverables 3 d will be held during the congress as well. Updates on the congress is being fed to the Section Facebook page and the official Twitter account: @ACCB_2016. Kindly join or follow any of these social media outlets to stay updated on the congress events and preparations. Funding, sponsorship and partnership from local, regional and global organizations with conservation interests are highly needed.
Grey parrot trade in Africa: In October 2016, representatives from around the world will meet in Johannesburg for the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES. Alongside the higher profile issues of trade in elephant ivory, rhino horn and lion trophies, the fate of another iconic African species will be hanging in the balance. African Grey parrots have been among the most traded of all birds listed under CITES, with over 1.3 million reported in international trade since 1975. Some estimates put the true number of Grey parrots trapped at more than twice that figure. Severe declines in wild populations have been recently documented. In Ghana, numbers have collapsed by 90-99% over the last two decades. A recent surge in trapping in central DRC has been driven by movements of trappers into the region following overexploitation elsewhere. Concerns over the sustainability of trade have prompted Gabon and several other species range states to propose to CITES parties that the international trade in wild-caught birds should end (Dr. Rowan Martin, World Parrot Trust, Africa Conservation Programme: www.parrots.org/africa)
New Center for Biodiversity forming in Rwanda: The Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resources Management (CoEB) is a knowledge management center consisting of a network of nodes represented by research and higher learning institutions, and governmental and non-governmental organizations in Rwanda, with a central Hub at University of Rwanda. Recognizing the importance of knowledge‐based biodiversity management for national development, the President of the Republic of Rwanda, H.E Paul Kagame suggested establishing this center during the International Conference on Biodiversity and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Kigali in 2007. The CoEB’s mission is to “enhance the knowledge of biodiversity and natural resource management for sustainable development.” With the goal to “encourage, enable and support stakeholders to generate and apply knowledge on Biodiversity and Natural Resources for sustainable development,” the Center focuses on Research and Monitoring, Education, Bioinformatics, Bioprospecting, and Information sharing. Located in the Albertine Rift, a biodiversity hotspot, this Center is poised to contribute significantly to coordinating biodiversity information in Rwanda. For more information: email CoEB and visit their website.
The Australian Rhino Project: The Australian Rhino Project proposes moving 80 rhino from South Africa to Australia by 2019 to ‘semi-wild’ (i.e. free-range zoos) conditions at a cost of over US$3.5 million, with the first 16 being transported this year. This project has support from both Australian and South African governments, plus a range of corporate, non-governmental organisations and Taronga and Monarto zoos. In a paper in Nature, we argue that this project smacks of the colonial history of exploiting Africa’s resources. We believe this huge sum would be better served focusing on the more threatened Asian rhino species or in education programmes to reduce the demand for rhino horn. Furthermore, this project is diverting expertise and public interest away from more pressing pachyderm conservation issues. For more information on the Australian Rhino Project, download this PDF. Dr. Matt Hayward, SENRGy, Bangor University, Gwynedd, UK.