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.

The Application of new and novel non-invasive techniques to monitor bears (Ursids)

Since 1998, a primary research aim of the fRI Grizzly Bear Program has been to advance and apply non-invasive sampling techniques for population and health monitoring of a Threatened population of grizzly bears in Alberta, Canada. To advance this process, we formed many valuable collaborations between industry, government, and academic institutions. Through combined efforts, our program has contributed to the development of field and laboratory techniques that identify species, sex, and individual animals from hair and scat samples, as well as the statistical techniques to reliably estimate population abundance from marked/detected individuals.
However, in conservation biology, there is a growing need for the development of novel approaches to rapidly and reliably predict adverse effects of human-caused environmental change on individual wild animal health before population performance and abundance is negatively impacted. In response to this need, our program has worked collaboratively to validate hair cortisol concentration as a bio-marker of long-term stress in grizzly bears. Our most recent work has developed new techniques using hair samples collected from non-invasive genetic sampling to reveal the reproductive state of individual grizzly bears (Cattet et al. 2017), another important indicator of the health of wildlife populations. Additionally these new techniques to monitor reproductive hormone profiles within hair allow the identification of age class (mature/immature). Overall, long-term and large-scale monitoring of the physiological state of individuals provides a more comprehensive approach to support management and conservation of threatened and endangered wildlife populations..
At this time we want to use these newly developed techniques to support provincial grizzly bear recovery efforts in Alberta, and to also utilize these same techniques with samples collected from brown bears in Mongolia (Gobi Desert) where there this species is critically endangered having fewer than 25 bears remaining.

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.

Bearded vulture reintroduction program

The bearded vulture is the only member of the genus Gypaetus and its world population trend is decreasing. It’s registered as “Vulnerable” (SPEC 3) on the IUCN European red list and as “endangered” on the IUCN France red list. Also registered on annex I of the European Parliament Birds Directive and on annex II to the Convention of Berne, Boon and Washington. The main causes of on-going declines appear to be poisoning, direct persecution, habitat degradation, disturbance of breeding birds, inadequate food availability, changes in livestock-rearing practices and collisions with powerlines and wind turbines .
This emblematic vulture, is the last link of the food chain being the only carrion feeder cleaner eating bones exclusively.
The french bearded vulture’s population includes the alpine population, the pyrenean population and an isolated tiny corsican population, with the total national number of breeding pairs remaining low. The bearded vulture reintroduction project in the Massif Central has been established since 2012, in order to connect the two existing continental populations and create a meta-population viable on the long term, by means of improving genetic flows. These conservation efforts are part of a european strategy, and this project currently benefits of european commission support and is known as LIFE GYPCONNECT. The various actions regarding this project and carried out by LPO Grands Causses (technical structure of LPO France) are: Juvenile release coming from european endangered species breeding program and by using the “hacking” release method , monitoring of individuals movement by GPS analyses and sightings, ensuring sufficient quantities of local and externally sourced food available (rendering plots on individual livestock farms to benefit vultures, special bearded vulture feeding sites, vigilance and threat management (hunting, poisoning, powerlines and wind turbines…), public awareness through various audiences.

Black (Cinereous) vulture conservation program

This species is registred as “Endangered” on the IUCN French Red List, on the Appendix II of CITES and Annex I of EU Birds Directive. The two main threats to the species are direct mortality caused by humans (either accidentally or deliberately) and decreasing availability of food. The main cause of unnatural death is the use of poisoned baits for carnivorous pest extermination.
This vulture belongs to the scavengers group, it feeds on carcasses, usually the hardest parts.
The Cinereous vulture conservation project in the Massif Central started by a reintroduction program between 1992 and 2004. The current population of Cinereous vulture in the Grands Causses seems to have reached a premature plateau, the team recorded 27 breeding pairs for 2017. The various actions regarding this project and carried out by LPO Grands Causses (technical structure of LPO France) are: home range monitoring (GPS analysis and visual observations), breeding monitoring (checking established breeding pairs and detecting new pairs , the laying date and the juvenile fledging date), demographic monitoring (reading rings and maintaining the species data base), diet study by collecting elements near the nests, ensuring sufficient quantities of local and externally sourced food are available (livestock farms using rendering plots, fallen livestock collection to aliment a vulture feedind station run by LPO Grands Causses team), habitat protection (influence political decisions in terms of protection: creation of SPA-special protection area and other protection status), vigilance and threat management (hunting, poisoning, powerlines and wind turbines…), public awareness through various audiences.

Egyptian vulture conservation program

This species is registered as “Endangered” on the IUCN European Red List, on the Appendix II of CITES and Annex I of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. The two main threats to the species are direct mortality caused by humans (either accidentally or deliberately) and decreasing availability of food. The main cause of unnatural death is the use of poisoned baits for carniverous pest extermination.
This vulture belongs to the scavengers group, it has a broad diet including carrion, tortoises, organic waste, insects, young vertebrate and eggs. The Egyptian vulture monitoring in the Massif Central began in 1981 conciding with the start of the first griffon vulture reintroduction project here . During this period no more than 7-8 indivuals are counted each year in the Grands Causses. In 2017 the population of Egyptian vulture in the Grands Causses is only represented by two breeding pairs. The Egyptian vulture’s uniqueness is that it is the only migratory species of the four european vultures.
The various actions regarding this project and carried out by LPO Grands Causses (technical structure of LPO France) are: home range monitoring (visual observations), breeding monitoring (fchecking established breeding pairs and detecting new pairs , the laying date and the juvenile fledging date), diet study by collecting elements near the nests, ensuring sufficient quantities of local and externally sourced food are available (livestock farms using rendering plots, fallen livestock collection to aliment a vulture feedind station run by LPO Grands Causses team), habitat protection (influence political decisions in terms of protection: creation of SPA-special protection area and other protection status), vigilance and threat management (hunting, poisoning, powerlines and wind turbines…), public awareness through various audiences.

Gryphon Vulture Conservation Program

The species is registred as “Least Concern” on the IUCN European red list, on the Appendix II of CITES and Annex I of EU Birds Directive. The population and its habitat are still under a strict conservation action plan. The two main threats to the species are direct mortality caused by humans (either accidentally or deliberately) and decreasing availability of food. The main cause of unnatural death is the use of poisoned baits for predator extermination.
This vulture, belongs to the scavengers group feeding on carcasses, usually the first to arrive and to feed with soft part of the carrion.
This project of Griffon vulture conservation in the Massif Central started by a first reintroduction program between 1981 and 1986 releasing 61 Griffon vultures. It’s been a real success and the current population in the Grands Causses is counted about 550 breeding pairs, precisely 441 fledges for 2017. The various actions regarding this project and carried out by LPO Grands Causses (technical structure of LPO France) are: Home range Monitoring (visual observations), breeding monitoring (follow-up of the breeding pairs establishment, the laying date and the juvenile fledging date), demographic monitoring (reading rings and data base uses), ensuring the sufficient quantities available of local and externally sourced food (plot rendering of cattle raiser, rendering hinge run by LPO Grands Causses team), habitat protection (be actor of political decisions in term of protection: creation of SPA-special protection area and other protection status), vigilance and threat management (hunting, poisoning, powerlines and wind turbines…), public awareness through various audiences.