Conserving Sloth bear in Gujarat through community outreach: A long term solution to alleviate the human sloth bear conflict

Sloth bears are found across the Indian sub-continent and 85% of its population lies in fragmented patches in India. Habitat desctruction and increasing anthropogenic pressure are two of the reasons of increasing human-sloth bear interactions.
Our goal is to reduce conflicts in the region by generating positive attitude towards the species and enhancing tolerance amongst people living in the sloth bear habitat.
We started our work by studying the distribution and status of sloth bear and understanding the reasons for conflicts in Gujarat, the western most limit of sloth bear distribution. To study the human dimension, we have scientifically assessed the perception of locals towards sloth bear in comparison to other wild animals and found that the local people are highly hostile for sloth bear. Our awareness campaigns among the tribal villages gave some encouraging results; this shows that there is a need to inculcate positivity and enhance the tolerance of locals towards the species. This can be achieved through providing true and scientific information about the species by involving the locals in the conservation work. We would like to initiate the community outreach programme in areas of high human-sloth bear conflcits in Gujarat. These programmes are aimed for initial two years at the conservation outreach center and train the locals, EDC members and Eco-Guides so that the outreach will sustain in future. Following are the activites we would like to do in this programme;
1.A state of the art Conservation Outreach Center to display all information about sloth bear.
2.To publish and circulate small pocket booklets on sloth bear among the local people.
3.Science based conservation education to children in the tribal schools.
4.Organizing Training of Trainers (volunteers and teachers) to disseminate scientific information about sloth bear.
5.Spreading conservation messages with the help of audio-visuals, signages, posters and fliers.

The Kukang Rescue Program

Illegal wildlife trade poses a serious threat to species’ survival worldwide. Although it is widespread in Indonesia, its reduction is being obstructed by weak law enforcement. Among the most commonly trafficked mammal species in Indonesia is the greater slow loris (Nycticebus coucang). Despite being protected both nationally and internationally, it is being sold mainly as a “pet”. Indonesian foundation called “Yayasan Peduli Kelestarian Satwa Liar (Wildlife Preservation Foundation)” leads “The Kukang Rescue Program” which was established near Medan, the Sumatra’s capital city and a frequent transit point for wildlife trafficking, as a response to the alarming situation of the illegal trade in slow lorises. The main aim of The Kukang Rescue Program is to reduce illegal wildlife trade, particularly in this protected prosimian species. To enable it, the program cooperates with local government agencies on wildlife protection and operates a rescue and rehabilitation center for confiscated animals. The absence of such a facility usually represents a great obstacle for competent authorities in confiscating illegally kept animals. Furthermore, the program focuses on education, awareness-raising, community engagement activities, and capacity building. The Kukang Rescue Program is supported by several EAZA zoos and is managed by a group of Czechs in Indonesia together with Indonesians. The program has also gained the support of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) as well as the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

Snow leopard-Human Conflict Resolution Program in Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal

The snow leopard has been recently categorized as vulnerable, it is top of the food chain in the Himalayas and is a species of global conservation concen. Recently, common leopard have also been recorded from the range of snow leopard and the range of the Himalayan grey wolf also overlaps that of snow leopard. All these species attack livestock. The habitats where these species occur is also the grazing land of the livestock of the local people. Livestock husbandary is the primary livelihood for these people who live in some of the world’s most remote villages. A serious conflict situation arises when livestock is attacked by one of these predators. The livestock owners tend to focus on the snow leopards as the cause of their loss and herders may resort to the retaliatory killing of snow leopards by poisoning the carcasses of snow leopard prey or setting foot traps. These actions have caused a decline in the numbers of snow leopard. This conflict situation could be resolved if local people were made aware of the importance of using improved corrals and using then when predators are most likely to be active. For example; if Yak calves were corraled before sunrise, predation would be reduced. The situation could be further improved if the herders were made aware of habitat selection by predators. Therefore, we have designed the program to initiate a herders network, to support them with portable corrals to enclose calves and to improve permanent corrals (predator proof) for adult livestock, to distribute predator repellent lights and to initiate an awareness program for the herders (provision of maps indicating zones vulnerable to higher levels of predation and information about predator activity cycle etc. ). These programs will be piloted in Gnwal and Ghyaru villages within Annapurna Conservation Area and then extended to other remote villages in Manang and Mustang .

Monitoring wildlife snaring in Southeast Asia and a review of related legislation

Poaching wildlife with snares is considered a primary driver of declines in tropical forest vertebrates in Southeast Asia. There is no standard method for monitoring snaring patterns over space and time and assessments rely largely on expert opinion and anecdotal data. Legislation restricting the use of snares is generally regarded as insufficient in Southeast Asian countries, however there has been no formal review to summarize strengths and weaknesses. We will create a baseline measure of snaring prevalence in Southeast Asian IUCN protected areas. We will gather data from a representative sample of IUCN protected areas within 11 Southeast Asian countries using a standardized questionnaire sent to biologists with first-hand knowledge of each protected area. With this questionnaire, we will generate information on the status of wildlife snaring across core habitat in Southeast Asia and highlight at-risk areas where there are high levels of snaring and low levels of law enforcement. Our questionnaire will be a platform with which to monitor trends in wildlife snaring over time. A review of national legislation pertaining to wildlife snaring will identify gaps or weaknesses and lead to recommendations for improvement.

Restoring hornbill habitats in Arunachal Pradesh

Pakke Tiger Reserve and the adjoining Reserved Forests in Arunachal Pradesh, India are spread over an area of more than 2000 km2 and harbor a diverse array of plant and animal species. It is known as a haven for 4 hornbill species in India. Human activities like hunting, illegal logging, particularly outside Pakke, are negatively affecting hornbill populations and their habitat. Habitat loss due to logging is a major threat to hornbills that are dependent on large trees for nesting. This area has experienced amongst the highest rates of forest loss for India in the recent past.

With the restoration program, we hope to bring back some of the lost hornbill habitats (by bringing back hornbill food and nest trees) and secure the long-term future of these birds and other wildlife. To this end, rainforest nursery was set up in 2013 in a village near Pakke, with an aim of raising native rainforest tree species and using them to restore the degraded forest patches in and around the area. The tree species selected are important food and nest trees of hornbills and for other birds and mammals and also includes economically important species for planting by the local communities. In the past four years, we have raised around 17,000 saplings of 60 native tree species. Planting began in 2016 and a total area of 11 ha has been covered so far. Survival monitoring indicates 45-85% survival across the sites in a year’s time. Some sites show higher survival (84%) due to controlled conditions like fencing and deweeding. With such successful rate of establishment of the saplings, there is a hope for recovery of these habitats in the long-term. We hope to expand this program and cover more degraded patches in and around Pakke in the coming years.

Hornbill Nest Adoption Program

The Hornbill Nest Adoption Program (HNAP) is a community-based conservation initiative, through which local tribal villagers protect nest trees of hornbills in forests around villages on the fringe of the Pakke Tiger Reserve, Arunchal Pradesh, India. This area is a haven for hornbills, harbouring four of the nine species found in India – Great Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Rufous-Necked Hornbill and Oriental Pied Hornbill. However, these populations are threatened by anthropogenic activities, such as hunting (for meat, casque and feathers) and illegal logging. In response to these severe threats to hornbills occuring outside the Protected Area, HNAP was started in 2012, in partnership with the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department and the Ghora-Aabhe Society (a local NGO). We currently have 11 local Nest Protectors monitoring and protecting 37 hornbill nests. From 2012 – 2018, 119 hornbill chicks have successfully fledged from our nests. Funds raised from urban donors and zoos who ‘adopt’ hornbill nests go towards paying the salaries of these local villagers, their field equipment and a certain percentage is also set aside each year for community welfare and developmen

Conserving the Critically Endangered Northern White-cheeked Gibbon in Vietnam

The northern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys) is already functionally extinct in China (Fan & Huo 2009), and assessments of populations in Vietnam (Rawson et al 2011) and Laos (Duckworth 2008) conducted by FFI clearly show that few populations are viable. Declines of this Indochinese endemic species are recorded across its range, including in Vietnam. Pu Mat National Park represents one of the last population strongholds for this Critically Endangered species, holding over 130 groups. However, despite formal protection, hunting of gibbons is known to persist in Pu Mat, where they are actively targeted for a primate ‘bone balm’, as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Therefore, the project is extremely time sensitive.
Pu Mat National Park is one of Vietnam’s largest protected areas covering 91,113 hectares. Even in Pu Mat, the gibbon are exceptionally difficult to observe (although their songs are often heard, in the remotest areas). Pu Mat is a also priority area for other species that will benefit from the conservation interventions of this project, including the Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), which was only described in the 1990s, but is close to extinction, with no ‘safety net’ of individuals held in captivity and only extremely rare records from the wild.
The project goal is to secure the biodiversity values of Pu Mat National Park with a focus on the Critically Endangered flagship species of northern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys), and enforce “No Kill” zones in the Park.
Specific activities will include: 1. Engaging local communities in forest protection, including supporting community-based conservation teams and awareness campaigns; 2. Support improvement of the enforcement of Pu Mat National Park, including the “No Kill” zones; 3. improve knowledge and capacity for biological monitoring including camera traps, biodiversity baseline surveys and vocalisation monitoring techniques.

Conservation of the Critically Endangered Large-antlered muntjac: a site-based project in Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area, Laos

The Large-antlered Muntjac is native to Laos and Vietnam (and possibly marginally in Cambodia) where it is largely restricted to the Annamite Mountain range. Its current occurrence across this range is uncertain, and the global population is scarce and scattered in isolated populations, which, in Vietnam, are all small or have recently faced local extinction. Since the remarkable scientific discovery of the species in 1994, there have been no project specifically focusing on the species. The species was up-listed from Endangered (2008) to Critically Endangered in 2016. Its global conservation status has been assessed based on the few post-2000 (direct or indirect) records across its geographic range compared to record rates pre-2000; evidence-based declines in the most healthy populations; the considerable increase in commercial and recreational wildlife hunting in the species’ range; the considerable reduction in suitable habitat for the species and the fact that the species is associated with mainly lowlands, which are systematically in close proximity to human settlements, where hunting for local consumption and trade has increased in the past decade. These compiled evidences have led to the conclusion that the Large-antlered Muntjac’s global population has faced a decline of over 90% in the last 20-30 years, and will continue to decline at the same rate until total extinction if no urgent action is taken to reverse current trends. The chore global population of the species (which has already experienced important declines) occur in Laos and notably in the Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area (NNT NPA), where it is imperative to act now to ensure a sustainable population. This project aims the population in NNT NPA to develop Conservation Action Plans at the global scale.

Saving Delacour’s langur in Vietnam

hreatened by the loss of their forest habitat, primarily for agriculture and limestone (cement) quarrying, and hunting, for the creation of the ‘monkey bone balm’, a traditional Chinese medicine, Delacour’s langur are one of the world’s 25 most threatened primates. Van Long Nature Reserve in Ninh Binh province, northern Vietnam, is home to around 120 individuals and until last year there was no other viable population known to exist.
In late 2016 FFI surveys discovered a second significant population of around 40-50 langurs in Kim Bang forest in Vietnam’s Ha Nam province. Following the discovery, FFI immediately developed a ‘rapid response’ programme aimed at improving protection and gaining political support for forest and langur protection. With limited funds, FFI has trained and operationalised a six person community conservation team to undertake forest patrols and basic monitoring to protect these langurs, and has gained formal approval for the establishment of a new protected area in Kim Bang to conserve this critical population. A unique opportunity now exists to significantly contribute to the survival of this species by supporting the operationalisation of this new protected area and linking the population here to the population in Ninh Binh province.
Our vision for Delacour’s langur is to increase the population in the two remaining sites for the species to over 350 individuals in 20 -25 years.
Over the next three years we aim to enhance the formal protection of the species, reconnect key habitat and observe an increase in the total population of at least 10%. Our priority activities over the next three years are to: 1. Enhance habitat protection through the establishment of a new protected area; 2. Increase habitat availability and reduce risk of inbreeding through creating habitat corridors; 3. Establish community led conservation initiatives to support habitat conservation and species monitoring

Saving the Tonkin Snub Nosed Monkey in Vietnam

Endemic to Vietnam, the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey once occupied the forests across much of the north-east of the country. Loss of habitat and hunting – for both local consumption and the traditional medicine trade – have driven a precipitous decline in this species. Until their rediscovery in 1992, the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey was believed to be extinct; we now know that fewer than 200 individuals remain.
In 2002 FFI identified the largest known subpopulation, around 90 individuals at the time, at a site called Khau Ca and began work to conserve it. Thanks to the work of FFI the site has received formal legal protection and our concerted conservation efforts have enabled this population of Tonkin snub-nosed monkey to stabilise. Based on FFI field surveys, the population here has increased to around 121 individuals.
Recognising that working at a single site would always present inherent risks to the longterm survival of the species, we actively sought other sites where we hoped to find the species had survived. In 2008 FFI discovered a second site, Tung Vai, with around 30 monkeys which we have subsequently worked to protect.
Our Longterm vision: to increase the population in our two focal sites to over 500 individuals in approximately 25 years.
In the short term, ensuring the integrity of the habitat at our two local sites will be critical to the survival of the species. In the next three years we aim to maintain the growth of Khau Ca\’s Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys and at least stabilise the Tung Vai population. Our priority activities over the next three years are to: 1. Enhance habitat protection through improved law enforcement; 2. Increase habitat abailability through creating habitat corridors; 3. Balance the conflicting priorities of conservation and agriculture faced in Tonkin snub-nosed monkey habitats; 4. Address capacity gaps within the relevant agencies to tackle the illegal wildlife trade in primates and timber.