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.

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.

Large Mammals of the Cayambe Coca National Park, Ecuador

The Large Mammals Project in the Cayambe Coca National Park, is studying the largest mammals of the Andes of South America, Andean Bear, Mountain Tapir and Puma. Since 2010 we have deployed Iridium / GPS collars to 5 Andean bears and 10 mountain tapirs. Some scientific articles on the ecology and biology of these species have already been published. Three years ago we received the request for help from the Oyacachi indigenous community, which since 2000 is suffering the loss of its cattle due to the predation by bears and pumas.
To reduce the conflict, we have created a small compensation program through a mutual agreement signed with the Oyacachi community, they are committed to respect and protect the life of the problem carnivores, especially bears, in exchange for our project returning calves to change of predated cows, training of the community´s young people on environmental issues, review and veterinary medication of their livestock, these points we have more or less covered with donations coming from Ecuadorian people.
Our project now seeks through the research is to capture one or two predatory bears to deploy on them satellite collars and study their movements, so we can create a predict model about bear predation, never before conceived in the region, which will be delivered to the community and to the environmental authorities, so we think we will reduce the human-bear conflict and achieve a peaceful coexistence.

Brown bear conservation and research program in a model area in Romania

In 2006, Milvus Group has started the “Brown bear conservation and research program in a model area in Romania”. This small-scale, long-term, in-situ initiative responds to the three main threats to brown bears. We work towards: 1) Improving the social acceptance of the species; 2) Improving scientific knowledge about the species – conservation oriented research; and 3) Securing a suitable habitat for the bears. Under Objective 1, we strive to improve the social acceptance of brown bears in the project areas (and not only), mainly through a systematic mass-media campaign. Under Objective 2, we gather telemetry data from bears we fit with GPS-GSM collars, conduct a study on bear parasites, cooperate on a study on bear poaching in Romania, respectively work on publishing some of our results through peer-reviewed papers. Under Objective 3, we gather scientific data to pave the way for mitigation measures (crossing structures) for large carnivores on one of Romania’s planned highways in the Eastern Carpathians, in order to increase the future highway’s permeability for these species (and not only). Additionally, each year we save a number of orphaned bear cubs and also rescue bears from snares set by poachers.
Some of our achievements so far include: 6 new protected areas (Natura 2000 sites) designated for brown bears (and other species & habitats of EU importance); 18 orphaned bear cubs saved; 11 bears saved from poachers’ snares; 115 bear dens and 8 open nests located and measured; 211 scats and 43 harvested bears examined for endoparasites; genetic samples collected from more, than 150 individuals; 3 habituated bears successfully relocated; 25 bears fitted with GPS-GSM collars; complex questionnaire survey among 865 rural residents, in 4 study areas, on the public perceptions of large carnivores; and more.

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.

Marking behavior, population density estimates, and terrain use of Andean bears Tremarctos ornatus – generating knowledge for conservation of a threatened umbrella species

The Andean bear is endemic to South America, and has the status of an umbrella species. Andean bears are classified as ‘Vulnerable to extinction, decreasing’ according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened species and locally as ‘Endangered’. The general ecology and status of local populations of Andean bear remains poorly understood. Two important reasons explain this knowledge gap. First, the Andean bear is a challenging species to study, because it has an elusive nature and inhabits inaccessible habitat. Secondly, resources for wildlife research are very scarce in South America. During a pilot project in 2012-2015, we used remote video cameras to study marking behavior of Andean bears near the Sumaco Biosphere reserve in Ecuador. Besides interesting preliminary results, we identified several key-research needs for the management and conservation of Andean bears. I) The functional significance of marking behavior of Andean bears remains unclear. II) Local population status is typically unknown. III) Virtually nothing is known about the spatial features of Andean bear marking and habitat selection. IV) An open biological sample database for Andean bears is currently lacking. Additionally, V) we intend to enroll Filipczykova into a PhD program at the Central Queensland University (CQUniversity).
Since 2016, we work on the above-mentioned key research-needs and objectives using camera trapping and GPS mapping of bear sign data in two study populations in Ecuador. In addition, we established collaborations with other research groups, local communities, and governmental and non-governmental organizations in order to reduce human-bear conflict. Currently we are searching for funding that would support our field work for the season 2018/2019, especially extensive habitat measurements; i.e. camera traps, camping equipment, guide salaries, other technical equipment. Also, Filipczyková got accepted as a PhD student at CQUniversity focusing on conservation of Andean bears through their marking behavior and data obtained from this project. CQUniversity approved a fee waiver, which means that we are still looking for funding to support Filipczyková\’s salary.

Borneo Nature Foundation: Protecting Borneo’s Biodiversity

Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF, previously the Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project (OuTrop)) works to protect some of the most important areas of tropical rainforest in Borneo, including the peat swamps of Sabangau, home to the world’s largest orangutan population. We monitor the behavioural ecology of the forest’s flagship ape and cat species, carry out biodiversity and forestry research, and work with our local partners to develop conservation solutions and improve capacity for conservation in the region. BNF’s biodiversity monitoring research is leading the field in tropical forest biodiversity studies in Kalimantan. Our records stretch back from 1995 and cover almost all major animal groups (from mammals, birds and reptiles, to butterflies and ants), representing the most extensive dataset available for Kalimantan’s peat-swamp forest. Following the devastating forest fires which engulfed Borneo and Sumatra in 2015, combined with ongoing habitat degradation and hunting has resulted in the Bornean orangutan has been up listed to Critically Endangered. BNF is working to understand Asian ape population dynamics, to protect and restore critical habitat and work to raise awareness in Indonesia and around the world.

Pangolins, in general, face threats due to illegal hunting and wildlife trade as their meat is sought after, and their scales are valued for medicinal purposes. Pangolins confiscated within Indonesia are often already dead but any live animals are often inappropriately released into the wild, or are sold back into the trade. While the current population status of the pangolin is unknown, the scale of pangolin trade represents a major conservation risk for the animal.

BNF works to raise awareness in Indonesian Borneo as well as contributing data to understand the trade routes and population status of this elusive species.BNF has a focus on communities, conservation and appplied research on flagship species inclding orangutans, gibbons, red langurs, clouded leopards, bay cats, sun bears, pangolins and other biodiversity.

To protect the unique Sungai Wain Forest and its rich lowland biodiversity from fires, encroachment, and poaching by enabling community forest ranger patrolling, East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo

This project is focused on management and protection of the Sungai Wain Protection Forest (SWPF) in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. This is a relatively small (ca 10,000 ha) but vitally important forest area as it supplies about 25% of the freshwater needs of Balikpapan [ca 700.000 inhabitants, the 4th largest city on Borneo), including all fresh water for the Pertamina oil refinery. It is currently the last example of primary lowland rainforest in the wider area. Sungai Wain is home most Bornean lowland rainforest species, including many endemics (all 5 of Borneo\’s cat species, including the endemic Bay Cat; all 8 hornbill species, including the Critically Endangered Helmeted Hornbill; 9 primate species including a population of orangutans reintroduced in the 1990\’s and viable populations of 4 endemic primate species [Proboscis monkeys, Mueller\’s Gibbons, Red leaf monkeys, White-fronted leaf monkey; Sun bears [the first ever wild population that was studied]; rare endemic birds such as the Bornean ground cuckoo and Peacock pheasant). In addition, more than 30 tree species found in this lowland forest are listed as Critically Endangered. Recently 1,385 ha of forest in an adjacent watershed was added as an extension to the SWPF and one of our aims is to further expand the protected area network to reconnect SWPF to other forest patches through corridor development.
Threats to the SWPF primarily consist of forest fires during periods of drought, encroachment and deforestation by immigrants and increased poaching pressure of mammals and birds. Pro Natura focuses on strengthening management of this unique lowland forest through 3 key components: protecting the forest and its fauna from poaching, logging, encroachment and prevention of forest fires through active community patrols; monitoring health of key species populations and regeneration of burned over forest; raising conservation support through awareness and education.