Conservation News

 
 

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught
will we realise we cannot eat money.

Cree Proverb

 

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  1. The British Birdwatching Fair takes place every August. 

    Birdfair takes place between 17th and 19th August 2018 in Rutland, the smallest county in the UK.    

    This year, bird lovers in the UK support the creation of largest Argentina’s National Park!

    Let me tell you more.

    The fifth largest salt lake in the world, Mar Chiquita is South America’s second largest water body.  And it’s home to most of the world’s Chilean flamingo (about 318,000 of them, they are Nearly Threatened) and nearly half of its Andean Flamingo (18,000 in winter (Vulnerable) and Puna Flamingo as well (and they’re Near Threatened).

    Mar Chiquita is home to about 318,000 Chilean flamingos

    ©Pablo Rodriguez Merkel
    Mar Chiquita is home to about 318,000 Chilean flamingos

    In addition, there are tens of thousands of American Golden Plover, White-rumped and Lesser Yellowlegs who migrate here.

    Oh, and don’t forget the 600,000 Wilson's Phalaropes – about a third of the world’s population.

    So let’s move away from the Little Sea (as Mar Chiquita means) to grasslands.  These are home to the Greater Rhea, Bearded Tachuri, a Maned Wolf and Sickle-winged Nightjar (Near Threatened).  The swampy areas have  Dot-winged Crake, and Dinelli's Doradito, while Crowned Solitary Eagles Buteogallus coronatus fly over Chaco forest.


    Absolutely stunning...

    Mar Chiquita has all the credentials but...

    Mar Chiquita is a Ramsar Site, one of Argentina's top Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA), a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve and a provincial reserve so you would have thought that would keep it safe.

    Unfortunately dear reader, that is not the case.  It’s in danger. Why?  Well, the human race is at it again.

    • Water extracted from the lake at an unsustainable lake
    • The lake is polluted, thanks to local industry
    • Agricultural intensification
    • Above average deforestation rate
    • Unregulated tourism.

    And action is needed urgently.  Which is where the supporters of Birdfair in the UK come in and the human race is working to put things right.  

    Aves Argentinas is a partner of BirdLife International.  It has undertaken bird surveys, raised awareness, improved management of the area and clarified land ownership at Mar Chiquita for years.

    Then came its light bulb moment – a plan to create what should become Argentina’s largest national park.

    Creating a national park to keep the area safe

    The plan has been developed with provincial and national authorities.  Back in 2017, a concordat was signed by Argentina’s environment minister, National Parks Administration and the governor of the Córdoba province.  And the Ansenuza National Park will protect up to 800,000 hectares which will be managed at the national level.

    Crucial to the plan is the involvement and engagement (how I hate that word but I can never think of another) of the local community.

    Planning involving them, empowering local stake holders and establishing a network of local conservation guardians has been a key part of Aves Argentina’s strategy from the start.

    And there’s more – bolstering the local economy through nature-based tourism is essential to the project’s success.  So the Ministry of Tourism is very pleased indeed. Ecotourism will lengthen the tourist seasons and help provide sustainable livelihoods over a wider area.  That should also help local communities commit to the long term conservation of the area.

    This is a Maned Wolf - they are also known as the fox on stilts!
    ©Spencer Wright
    This is a Maned Wolf - also dubbed the Fox on Stilts!  They live on nearby grassland.

    And the lake’s colloquial name in the national park title says a great deal.

    The British Birdwatching Fair helps in two key ways:

    Raising awareness

    An international event like this is vital in building political awareness back in Argentina as to why this area needs to be protected.  It will help build support from the bird world and show that the Ansenuza really is a birding paradise.

    As a bird lover, I want to go and see birds in a beautiful, natural environment.  I don’t want to go to see a polluted lake where a lot of the water has been sucked out and drive through an area where local forests have been destroyed to get there. 

    Raising funds to support the project

    In 2017, the theme was ‘Saving paradise in the Pacific’.  The aim was to remove invasive predators from the French Polynesian island of Rapa Iti.  Last year, Birdfair raised a jaw-dropping £333,000 was raised towards the work.

    The 2018 project is an ambitious one.   A project to create and protect a national park and all its wildlife, whilst helping locals through eco-tourism.  And surely a model for other conservation organisations to look at? 

    Useful links

    Visit the Birdfair website here.  It's been conserving nature worldwide since 1989.

    Aves Argentinas - I hope you speak Spanish!  But do take a look anyway.  

    BirdLife International - BirdLife International is a global partnership of conservation organisations (NGOs) that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. 121 BirdLife Partners worldwide.

  2. Around the world there are many people who are willing to put their lives on the line in order to protect endangered animals.

    Sadly, estimates suggest that over 1,000 rangers have been killed in the line of duty over the past 10 years. 

    World Ranger Day is a chance for all of us to show our appreciation for the work that wildlife rangers and guardians do and offer our support in whatever way we can.

    Act for Wildlife, led by Chester Zoo, can give you a good idea of what a day in the life of a ranger could be like.  They have been supporting Big Life’s efforts to preserve the black rhino in the Chyulu Hills, Kenya, for 14 years.   

    And it’s good to know that there is something you can do to help wildlife and locals in their communities at the same time, and we thought we’d do a roundup of charities and organisations working to help in this way.  Sometimes wildlife rangers are called wildlife guardians.

    The Thin Green Line Foundation

    Based in Australia, the Foundation works with ranger groups, ranger associations and conservation partners in over 60 countries.  They say it’s estimated that over 1,000 park rangers have been killed n the line of duty over the past 10 years. They are dedicated to providing Rangers worldwide with the assistance they deserve and need.  The online community Avaaz.org currently has a campaign running with the Thin Green Line Foundation to raise sufficient funds to sponsor 1,000 rangers a year to deploy the worst poaching hotspots in Africa.  300 rangers with this training virtually stopped elephant poaching in one huge area of Kenya. Please donate if you can and if you can’t donate, please share and spread the word. 

     

    The World Land Trust

    The World Land Trust has a Keepers of the Wild initiative.  The rangers are working on the front line of conservation, safeguarding some of the world’s most threatened animals and the crucial habitats in which they live.  They protect reserves from poaching and logging, and importantly, link to local communities, building trust, helping to change attitudes and find practical solutions to problems.  You can support Keepers of the Wild by making a donation.

    The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation works to support Game Rangers International, which empowers rangers and local communities to conserve nature.  You can Adopt a Wildlife Guardian from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and help these rangers conserve nature.

    The Global Conservation Force
    This organisation works to save wildlife from extinction through education, anti-poaching and conservation efforts.  It does this by using anti-poaching units, awareness and education and on the ground action, working on wildlife’s problems.  You can adopt a ranger (also there’s a K9 poacher tracking unit) – find out what the options are to adopt a ranger here.

    The Gorilla Organisation

    The Gorilla Organisation has a supporting rangers scheme in the Democratic Republic of Congo and they act as the eyes, ears and voice of the forest. They cut snaes, save injured gorillas, combat the militias running the blood minerals trade, monitor the gorillas’ health and collect vital conservation data every day.  Find out more here.

    WWF

    WWF has a Back a Ranger campaign to ensure they have the equipment, training and infrastructure they need to stop wildlife crime.  Find out more here.



    The Wildlife Alliance

    You can support a wildlife ranger station in the rainforests of South East Asia where forest rangers work to protect some of the world’s most endangered animals including Asian elephant, pileated gibbon, Sunda pangolin, Asiatic black bear, Siamese crocodile, giant ibis, and dhole. The biggest threats facing these species is habitat loss and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade. The organisation is based in NY. You can donate on a monthly basis or do a one off.  There are a number of different stations to choose from – make your choice here dependign on the animal whose station you want to support e.g. clouded leopard, pangolin, sun bear, Siamese crocodile, Asian elephant,, the gibbon, green peafowl etc.


    The charity Tusk give a Wildlife Ranger Award every year to give international recognition to the men and women who face danger every day to protect the wildlife and its ecosystems in Africa.  

    You can also thank rangers for what they are doing at United for Wildlife and do check out their Ranger TV.  United for Wildlife was created by The Royal Foundation and it unites the world’s leading wildlife charities with one common purpose:  to create a global movement for change.

    And a very big thank you to each and every wildlife ranger working to care for and protect our wildlife and their habitats.

    Please everyone show you support them too.  

     

  3. Did you know that the World Bank is involved in tiger conservation?

    Who would have thought that all those financiers had a passion for our stripy four pawed friends?

    Back in 2008, the World Bank joined the Global Environment Facility, the Smithsonian Institution, Save the Tiger Fund and the International Tiger Coalition (which represents over 40 non-government organisations.  And the Global Tiger Initiative was launched.   It’s led by the 13 tiger range countries.

    In November 2010, leaders of these tiger range countries got together in St Petersburg in Russia.   At this International Tiger Forum, they adopted the St Petersburg Declation on Tiger Conservation.  And they endorced the Global Tiger Recovery Programme.

    The goal of this programme was to double the number of wild tigers across their area by 2022.  This would take the number of tigers from 3,200 to over 7,000.




    Tiger Initiative

    Progress has been made in many tiger range countries:

    • A 2 week hands-on training for over 800 wildlife conservation professionals was launched.  These are from national parks and protected areas in South East Asia.  The idea is that they share best practice which could help all the tiger range countries.  What’s worked to increase the number of tigers?  What hasn’t?
    • In India, population numbers of tigers have gone up just a whisker over 30% from 2010 to 2015
    • Nepal has done even better, with a 60% increase in tiger numbers between 2009 and 2012.
    • Crucially, livelihoods provided under the World Bank/GEF India Ecodevelopment Project led to a group of poachers giving up the practice in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala.
    • The Bangladesh Forest Department did a census of Bengal tigers, using the data they got to monitor the size and density of tiger populations in the Bangladesh Sundarbans.
    • 30 Bangladesh forestry department officials undertook a certificate training course on wildlife management at the Wildlife Institute of India. Over 800 forest department officials have had in-country training.
    • 34 subprojects have been implemented on habitat improvement, eco-tourism development and human-wildlife conflict mitigation.




    So what challenges lie ahead for tigers??

    •  Threats to Habitats and Connectivity will get worse with rapid infrastructure development and the investment in extractive industries
    • Poaching and Wildlife Crime Control, especially to monitor trends.
    • Capacity Building and making sure there are enough resources to boost current efforts and also to develop national centres of excellence.
    • Scientific Monitoring – results must be monitored so that the right interventions can be made. An example is pinpointing poaching corridors around the world.
    • Eliminating the demand for tiger products. .
    • Rebuilding Tiger Populations – it is vital to share current experience and knowledge on how to rebuild tiger populations.

    You can find out more here from the jaws of the World Bank itself


    We need our message to reach out across the globe:  tigers are worth much more alive than dead.

    Actor Harrison Ford

     

  4. Verges are vital in linking isolated patches of habitat and helping with dispersal and colonisation.

    Not only that, the pleasure many of us have as we look at the beautiful flowers colouring our verges is enormous. 

    Wildflowers on verges don’t have it easy, of course, thanks to output from vehicle exhausts.

    The wildflower charity Plantlife has a petition to rationalise the management of our verges.  It has a Road Verge Campaign.

    45% of flora growing along our verges includes about 100 of our most vulnerable and rarest plants.  

    And Plantlife thinks local councils could benefit from verges with wildflowers.

    So it’s produced a Good Verge Guide.  It says that early cutting and frequent cutting reduces plant diversity.  It encourages coarse grasses and plants such as cow parsley which require more cutting. 

    Plantlife says the best time to cut is between mid-July and late September, and to do it once. Cuttings could be used as hay, biomass or wildflower seed.

    The county council in Dorset has saved over £100,000 since 2014 by using cost-cutting practices which are wildflower friendly.  It expects to save £50,000 during the 2017-2018 year.

    Burnley Borough Council is saying no to mowing and reckons it will save a lot of money by doing so.

    Plantlife say that a YouGov Poll for Friends of the Earth and Buglife show that 81% of the public back the move for councils to help wild flowers.  Bees depend on them.  We need bees for our own wellbeing. 

     

    So if you want to save our beautiful verges and wildflowers, which are vital for wildlife, please fly or crawl away to Plantlife and sign their petition.