Conservation News

 
 


Wildlife and our last remaining wild places are being destroyed because of human action or inaction and because of our own short –term greed.

Peter Fearnhead, CEO, African Parks Network, South Africa


 

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  1. There’s pangolin news from Uganda.  

    Conservationists at Chester Zoo are collaborating with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Rhino Fund Uganda to discover more information about pangolins.

    It’s hoped that new information about the species will help with their long-term conservation, both in Uganda and in Africa overall.

    Although rhino conservation is the Rhino Fund Uganda’s main priority, their rangers were occasionally spotting giant pangolins when they were out on patrol.  So it made sense for them to get involved.

    Pangolins are covered in hard overlapping, protective scales made of keratin.  Giant pangolins measure up to 1.8m long (that’s nearly 6’), and they’re the largest of the world’s 8 pangolin sub-species, found only in the rainforests and grasslands of equatorial Africa.

    They may well be protected by international wildlife laws banning their trade, but pangolins are the most illegally trafficked mammals in the world.  Their meat is considered a delicacy in a number of countries.  Their scales are used in traditional medicines, especially in China and Vietnam, despite the fact there’s medical benefit from using them.

    The problem is that little is known about giant pangolins.  Scientists need to know more about their behaviour, ecology and habitat needs so that strategies can be developed to monitor populations and protect them.

    Researchers from Chester Zoo have surveyed the presence of giant pangolins in 3 protected areas of Uganda.  They worked alongside the Rhino Fund Uganda to do an intensive survey of the country’s Ziwa Sanctuary.  They used camera traps and tracking techniques, looking for footprints, burrows and other signs the species have been about.

    70 motion-sensor trail cameras installed by the zoo in the Ziwa Sanctuary have captured hundreds of images and video clips of giant pangolins – including the first colour footage ever recorded of the species in Uganda! And here it is!

    This means that researchers can now identify a number of individual pangolins by their unique marks and patterns on their scales.  And so they can record their behaviours, which were previously unknown to scientists.

    Pangolin dung samples are being collected to acquire vital information about the animals’ diet and hopefully it will help the scientists find out more about the genetics of giant pangolins.

    The team also plans to fit satellite and radio tracking devices on the scales of giant pangolins so that they can find out more about their ranging behaviour, feeding ecology and help develop methods to count and monitor the pangolins. 

    Visit Chester Zoo's website

     

  2. The World Land Trust has achieved a great deal to protect natural habitats since its foundation.

    Hot on the heels of their successes from 2018, they have a new appeal.

    Save the Blue-throated Hillstar

    There’s a protected area currently covering 195,000 acres in southern Ecuador.   However, if we all dig in and help with a donation, this area could be extended by about 74,000 acres. 

    This area is very important to a very rare Hummingbird species, the Blue-throated Hillstar.  The species is only seen in the western Andes of southern Ecuador on a few remote mountaintops.  Hillstars have adapted to live at high elevations in the Andes.   The Blue-throated Hillstar’s range is small, restricted to the páramo (that’s alpine shrubland) habitat of a few mountains in the western Andes so this habitat is absolutely vital to their survival.


    The habitat is also important to the Spectacled Bear, the Mountain Tapir and the Andean Condor. 

    So why is this appeal so urgent?

    The area’s unique páramo habitat is under threat.  Mining companies have the rights to mine key areas for metal deposits, which would most likely be extracted through open-pit mining – and that would be disastrous for local wildlife.

    The area is threatened too by man-made fires lit by cattle ranchers.  They light them to revive the grassland for pasture and encroachment from non-native pine trees from timber plantations next to them.  

    The land is owned by local communities who want to protect it because they rely on the clean freshwater in the mountain’s ecosystem.  Locals have been working with the World Land Trust’s partner NCE and the Water National Secretariat (SENAGUA) to create one of Ecuador’s first Water Protection Areas.  And that will give the ecosystem one of the highest legal categories of protection in the country AND provide water for nearly half a million Ecuadorian people.

    Donate here today

     

  3. The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust has moved into 2019 looking forward to its 60th anniversary....It was founded back in 1959 by author and naturalist Gerald Durrell. 

    The charity is committed to saving some of the most vulnerable animals on the planet from extinction.

    For instance, a duck thought to be extinct for 15 years has been brought back from the brink and given a new home on a remote lake in Madagascar.

    The Jersey based charity has a video called Conservation Works, narrated by Alexander Armstrong and here it is from You Tube:

    Durrell's approach:

    1. The charity runs 50 projects in 18 countries, focusing on islands.   
    2. The role of the zoo in Jersey and overseas is conservation, managing breeding programmes for release back into the wild.
    3. It has 25 years of conservation training and runs courses for conservationists. 
    4. And it uses science to help idenfity priorities, design conservation policy and practice and animal husbandry and to evaluate the impact of its work. 

    In the last 30 years, Durrell has helped move 14 target species in danger of extinction away from the edge. 

    As a Jersey girl, I'm very proud of Durrell and the work it does, and wish everyone there and associated with it a very Happy 60th Anniversary!   Keep up the wonderful work :-) 

  4. In the south of England, the Poole Harbour Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) has been extended by 40%.

    Poole harbour is a designated RAMSAR site.  The study of birds and the monitoring of their numbers and behaviour is vital to the ongoing conservation efforts that take place.

    The site is now the first such one to specifically include sub-tidal areas.  And these areas matter – they are the feeding areas of tern populations who have an international importance.


    Birds of Poole Harbour
     explained that the harbour is very important to waders and wildfowl, and that Natural England, who designate the areas, have done a great job in bringing this together.  A number of organisations have been involved in bringing all the needed data together.

    Foraging terns, spoonbills, avocets, black-tailed godwits, rare sponges and sub-tidal seagrass beds are all in the area.

    Seagrass beds give refuge to juvenile fish and shellfish – and these are a rich food source for roosting seabirds.

    Dorset Wildlife Trust marine conservation officer Emma Rance said: "The channels beneath the busy waterways of Poole Harbour are home to a myriad of species.

    "Supporting habitats such as seagrass beds provide refuge for juvenile fish and shellfish which become a rich food source for overwintering and roosting seabirds.

    Source: Daily Echo

    Birds of Poole Harbour’ is a charity dedicated to educating people on the stunning variety of birdlife in the area, be they school children to reisdents or visiting tourists.  It works to rasie the profile of bird conservation, preservation and observation in and around the poole Harbour area.