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.

Protecting and Restoring Rare Biodiversity Sustainability in Mara River Transboundary Basin in Tanzania

Project description (max. 300 words): It aim to promote sustainable conservation and practices for
uninformed and unreachable 400 artisan miners became aware in conservation needs and have
regulated system to protect and restore critically endangered Pancake tortoises those highly affected
by active and irregularities gold mines; proposed responsible mining plans, conservation education
and enhance outreach to both miners and adjacent villagers shall save pancake tortoise out of
extinction in few years to come if existing mines would not be regulated at this global found pancake
habitats. Pancake tortoises are founds only in Kenya and Tanzania; preferably in a shared Mara river
basin trans boundary where mining could leads them to extinction! Artisan gold miners crushes rocky
crevices (traditional habitats for tortoises) in search for gold ore where tends to kills and injuries
leads to ecological threats; deeply miners fragile habitats, destabilize hatching rates and erode
massive entire ecology, erosive untreated Geo- chemicals wastes in 90% makes hazardous
contaminated water in its way to Lake Victoria after local gold recovery in irresponsible process ;also
tends to affect human health where miners touch chemicals without gears and drink contaminated
water, diminish local economy (adjacent farms) ,biodiversity and dense air pollution effects while
ends to decline pancake population and fertility rate as they depends staying in predictable gold
rocks, the mining affects water ,vegetations and increase air pollution due to rampant use of mercury
;Geo-chemical wastes greatly endangering endemic biodiversity sustainability belongs in the basin.

Space to Call their Own: Protecting Eselengei, Kenya

Encompassing over 200,000 acres, Eselengei is the northernmost tract of intact wilderness in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro (Greater Amboseli) ecosystem in southern Kenya. With every year, its importance and the need to conserve it is growing. Over the years, Big Life Foundation’s rangers have played a central role in controlling poaching and making the Greater Amboseli ecosystem a safer place. As a result, animals—especially elephants—are now venturing further from Amboseli National Park and deeper into Eselengei. They are also staying there for longer. This safe zone is not just important for elephants; Eselengei is also a stronghold of the ecosystem’s lion population, as well as home to a wide diversity of other species. However, Eselengei is surrounded by communities that are not always friendly to wildlife. Poachers, targeting bushmeat and sometimes ivory, operate along its northern boundaries, frequently picking off animals in the areas outside of the existing conservancy that lies within Eselengei. In 2018, five elephants were speared to death in a series of horrific events.

In response, Big Life plans to expand its successful wildlife protection and conservation model to Eselengei. This includes adding two permanent ranger outposts, fully equipped and manned by recruits from the Eselengei community, and supported by a Land Cruiser vehicle that will allow for rapid response to emergencies. These rangers will not just work to protect wildlife on Eselengei (often by providing support to the people who share this space), but will also respond when animals cross the invisible barrier into neighboring ‘hostile’ territory.

Also, Big Life will implement its Predator Compensation Fund (PCF) to Eselengei. The fund provides livestock owners with financial compensation for all verified losses of their animals to the ecosystem’s wild predators. This program has been immensely successful over the years, helping to increase the lion population throughout the ecosystem.

 

CCF One Health Iniative

The Cheetah Conservation Fund’s (CCF) One Health Initiative will address multivariable needs of the communities that we work with. This new initiative will work to address the interconnected health of the people, their livestock and the free-living wildlife. Our initial focus for this initiative is rabies awareness and rabies prevention activities. According to the World Health Organization there are roughly 60,000 reported deaths from rabies, with the majority of the cases (95%) occurring in Asia and Africa, and 99% of transmission comes from domestic dogs. To face this very real threat the first activity under our One Health Initiative is a rabies awareness and vaccination campaign, focusing on the Hereroland communities in Eastern Namibia. Our awareness campaign began on World Rabies Day (September 28) in 2018, with the production and distribution of education materials. The second phase is the acquisition of a vehicle that will be outfitted and serve as the platform for a mobile vaccination clinic that will eventually provide spay/neuter procedures for companion animals. CCF’s Community Development and Veterinary teams will operate the mobile clinic to provide rabies prevention awareness education and free/low costs vaccinations for dogs and cats within the community, setting up a monthly calendar to provide education and services to maximize the impact for community members. By providing this service to these isolated communities CCF will reduce the risk of rabies transmission, save lives and protect both domestic and wildlife species.  The goal of this project is to empower the communities to prevent rabies transmission and in the long term eradicate rabies in the region.

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 .

Schools’ Awareness Program

Human- elephant conflicts have been a growing problem in Sri Lanka. A 19-year average recorded by the Department of Wildlife shows that in a year 223 elephants and 65 humans are killed due to these conflicts. Due to the present reduction of elephant habitats, these conflicts are inevitable.
The present wild elephant population in the country is estimated at around 5,500. With such annual losses, this population is severely threatened. Long-term and short-term strategies, are urgently needed if these elephants are to be saved.
The creation of awareness is one of the conservation strategies that have been adopted, especially for those living in the areas of human-elephant conflict. Awareness creation is an integral part of the conservation plan for the wild elephant. The Biodiversity & Elephant Conservation Trust has launched an awareness program in schools in the areas that have been affected by these conflicts. Through our interactive program, we address the value of elephants, the causes of conflict, how to minimize the conflicts and stress the need for conservation. The sessions have been successful in changing children’s attitudes.
The Schools Awareness Program has covered, in the last 15 years, at 150 schools per year, over 2,250 schools. The year 2018 is our sixteenth year. The success of our efforts has spurred us to continue and expand this program which is having a very positive impact on the children we have our sessions with.

King Cobra conservation through conflict mitigation and community empowerment in the Eastern Ghats.

The Eastern Ghats are a stretch of discontinuous hill ranges extending along the east coast of South India. They abound in several species of snakes including the iconic King Cobra Ophiophagus hannah which is the longest venomous snake in the world. It is has been assessed as “Vulnerable” under the IUCN Red List. They are also legally protected in India under the Wildlife Act, 1972. However, several adult king cobras are indiscriminately killed on sight by local people every now and again each year throughout the North Eastern Ghats region. This indicates a deep intolerance among people and lack of measures to prevent such incidents. Many other snake species that form the very prey base for the King Cobra are also killed due to fear and ignorance.
Likewise, venomous snakes kill more than 50,000 people each year in India and the World Health Organization also categorized snake bite as a neglected tropical disease. Unfortunately, most of the bites happen in rural areas where people have no knowledge or necessary skills to deal with snake encounters and get bitten while trying to kill the snake or accidentally stepping on it at night.
The project will work towards conserving King Cobras as well other threatened ophiofauna by habitat protection, education and community engagement in the affected areas of the North Eastern Ghats. We will a) provide on-the-ground solutions to mitigate human-snake conflicts, and b) incorporate indigenous knowledge of wildlife by training chosen local tribes as “parabiologists” in basic survey techniques and snake rescue methods who can eventually go back to their communities and help them when issues arise as well as assist us in conservation efforts. We will also collect baseline data on the species population distribution and habitat suitability to develop a management strategy for king cobra conservation in the region.

Cambodia Vulture Conservation Project

The Cambodian populations of the now Critically Endangered White-rumped Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture, and Red-headed Vulture represent the last stronghold of the species outside the diclofenac affected range (South Asia). However, the Cambodian populations are threatened primarily by a paucity of food (owing first to a decline in wild ungulates and second to declines in numbers of free-ranging domestic cattle and buffalo arising from increasing agricultural mechanization, sale of stock into meat export trade, and increasing domestic consumption), low nesting success owing to opportunistic nest predation by people, natural predation, and felling of nesting trees for timber and incidental poisoning incidents. Poising is also a major threat, used for hunting and fishing, and to kill nuisance domestic animals (e.g. feral dogs). Vultures die from eating animals that have ingested poison. In response to these threats, the Cambodia Vulture Conservation Project (CVCP) was established in 2004, as a partnership of government agencies and NGOs, faciliated by BirdLife Internaitonal. The partnership has drafted and implements a vulture conservation action plan for Cambodia.

The overall goal of this project is to ensure the population of all three vulture species in Cambodia remains stable against 2016 baselines and to monitor the threats and status of the three vulture species in Cambodia. Key actions include raising community awareness about vultures, supporting enforcement of laws for misues of pesticides, lobbying for a national ban on Carbofuran, promoting community based livelihoods (cow bank, community based vulture tourism), and providing supplementary feeding of Vulture populations through vulture restaurants at key sites. The capacity of the CVCP’s local partners remains low and funding is limited, despite that several activities e.g., supplemental feeding, will need to continue for a significant period of time, at least at some sites, until long-term goals e.g. the recovery of wild ungulate populations, are realized.

Fur For Life – saving leopards in the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area

Thousands of leopards are killed each year in southern Africa to fuel local demand for their skins. To address this threat without impinging on cultural values, Panthera created a high-quality, affordable faux leopard skin for use in ceremonies. These faux skins were first tested in South Africa among members of the Shembe Church; 15,000 faux skins have been donated between 2014 and 2017 with encouraging results. Initially, 90% of leopard skins seen at Shembe gatherings were authentic, more than 50% are now fakes. Our aim is now to expand the project to other groups using leopard skins, beginning with the Lozi in southwest Zambia. The Lozi, like the Shembe, wear leopard skins as symbols of prestige. However, what was once the privilege of a select few is now commonplace among the Lozi; hundreds of leopard skins can be seen at a single gathering. Each faux skin donated represents a leopard saved, while the production of faux skins provides employment and business opportunities to an impoverished people. To assess the effectiveness of the project, inform broader conservation policies and demonstrate the negative impact trophee hunting, a regional surveillance network will be established to track leopard population trends across the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area.

Green Gospel: faith and the conservation of the Critically Endangered Macaca nigra

Selamatkan Yaki is a research, conservation and education programme focussed on protecting the last remaining populations of Sulawesi crested black macaques (Macaca nigra).
Following recommendations from stakeholder workshops in key areas for M. nigra conservation, we developed a Local Ambassador Programme to build capacity for conservation in North Sulawesi, a pre-dominantly Christian province where religion plays an important role in people’s lives. Previous research identified that bushmeat trade generally peaks around Christian celebrations (Lee, et al. 2005), and that belief is a key attribute for fostering proenvironmental behaviour. We adapted Stone’s (1997) 2-step training approach for our focus on empowering influential religious leaders and students through our Green Gospel project. Through participatory workshops we provide conservation materials and education resources developed by the SY team, such as the Sunday School syllabus and resource book, and inspirational videos. The workshops aim to: 1) identify connections between Christianity and conservation, 2) develop conservation materials for church implementation, and 3) initiate collaboration between conservation projects and churches.
Our team also facilitate participants in group discussions to identify environmental issues in and around their congregations and brainstorm about how to mitigate these issues by linking conservation activities to suitable Bible verses and messages. In line with both our Green Gospel project and Local Ambassador programme, within the next year we aim to expand our outreach to Christian universities, to engage with young trainee religious leaders and promote them as ‘Green Gospel Pioneers’.
With support through LINCZ our local team will be empowered to strengthen relationships with church leaders as well as Christian-based universities for further implementation of the Green Gospel project. We will expand the local ambassador program to church youth forums, promote the inspiring ‘Green Gospel Pioneers’ and implement our unique interactive Sunday School church syllabus.