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 .

Kwando Carnivore Project

The Kwando Carnivore Project is based in the Zambezi Region of Namibia, which is central to the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA), a mosaic landscape falling across the international borders of five countries. The KCP is a locally based project and focuses on applied research and conservation of large carnivores as well as human-carnivore conflict mitigation.. Our field work involves conducting regular surveys in protected areas in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and in adjacent conservancies with Community Game Guards to ensure that large carnivore populations are stable and/or to identify any conservation concerns. In addition we monitor specific species such as lions and in future wild dogs and spotted hyaenas to understand how they move through the human-dominated landscape and to identify conservation challenges. Our mitigation work involves building lion-proof kraals to protect cattle from lions and other large carnivores in areas that lie between national parks. The prevention of retaliatory killing of carnivores by communities for predating on livestock facilitates connectiviy for carnivores to disperse through human dominated landscapes and link with resident carnivore populations in protected areas within the immediate KAZA landscape. As the KCP is a small, locally based project, we achieve larger goals such as improving livelihoods of communities, habitat and wildlife corridor protection by linking with conservation partners such as Panthera, WWF in Namibia, WWF Germany, Ministry of Environment, Namibia Nature Foundation, Namibia Chamber of Environment and IRDNC.

Sand Cat Ecology and Conservation in the Southern Moroccan Sahara

Although sand cats (Felis margarita) were down listed from near threatened to least concern following a recent IUCN red list assessment, it was highlighted in the assessment that very limited ecological research has taken place and as a result its distribution, impact of threats and status is difficult to assess. Our study was established 2013 in the Southern Morocco, 150 km from the coast and city of Dakhla with the primary aim of improving our knowledge and understanding of sand cat ecology through the use of radio telemetry, for the first time on the African continent. Initiated by Dr. Alexander Sliwa (Curator at Koln Zoo, Germany) and Grégory Breton (then Curator at Parc des Félins, France, and now Managing Director of Panthera France), this study has been able to increase capacity by involving Moroccan collaborators from Rabat Zoo as well as local guides and drivers. The study area itself is characterised by stony and sandy Sahara ecosystems with less than 50 mm of annual rainfall and is strongly impacted by pastoralist activities and structural development with the associated dangers to all mesocarnivores (felids, canids and mustelids). We are collecting spatial data on radio-collared sand cats, which to this extent, has never been done before in the sand cat´s global distribution. Our preliminary results demonstrate that the sand cats are highly mobile and don’t use the landscape homogeneously but in an exceptional temporal and spatial pattern for a small cat species. Moreover, after remaining stationary for a certain period, they make extensive movements likely dictated by habitat condition (we recorded straight line daily covered distances of up to 21 km) and for this reason, they become difficult to track over time. Consequently, we are investigating the possibilities to develop and use new tracking systems such as GPS collars (yet unavailble, not enough miniaturised or powerful to follow such a large-range species) or new technologies (LoRa, IoT) to collect more data, but this requires extra fundings.

Amur Tiger Conservation in Russia

Primorsky Krai in the Russian Far East is home to the Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), included as Endangered in the IUCN Red List and Russia’s Red Book. Since 1998, the Phoenix Fund has been involved in Amur tiger conservation projects, and assisted the Russian Government fulfill its pledges made at the International Tiger Forum to double wild tiger numbers by 2022. In Russia, the wild population of Amur tigers is currently estimated at 480-540 animals according to a range-wide tiger survey in 2015.
The proposed project will be implemented in Primorsky Krai (or ‘province’), in the southern Russian Far East. The goal of this project is to strengthen Amur tiger conservation in the Russian Far East through combination of anti-poaching and environmental education and outreach activities. The project objectives are: 1) to improve anti-poaching efforts aimed at Amur tiger conservation by supporting seven federal-level protected areas; 2) to increase environmental public awareness and foster positive attitude towards the Amur tiger through implementing specially designed education and outreach program.
Specific project activities:
– Organizing workshops/training for law enforcement staff of protected areas;
– Purchasing field uniforms, equipment, motorized vehicles, etc. for anti-poaching teams;
– Implementation of SMART law enforcment monitoring program;
– Organizing annual workshops for educators;
– Organizing annual Tiger Day Festivals in the cities of Primorye;
– Carrying out eco-classes and other nature-oriented events devoted to the Amur tiger and other endangered species at local schools, kindergartens and eco-centre all over Primorye;
– Designing and publishing educational materials for children, educators and other target groups;
Within the limits of the project, anti-poaching activities will be carried out in seven tiger protected areas. Educational activities are held in six administrative districts of Primorsky krai and Vladivostok city.

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.

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.

Maasai Olympics – The hunt for medals not for lions

For centuries the Maasai have practiced a traditional rite of passage to manhood: hunting and killing lions. Today, there are too many people and too few lions. Realising that the traditional Maasai way of reaching manhood will not have a future, the cultural “fathers” asked Big Life Foundation (BLF) to eliminate lion hunting from the Maasai culture.
In response, BLF partnered with the Maasai to conceive and raise funds for this first-ever Maasai Olympics, part of the larger initiative to help to shift the attitudes of the Maasai toward a commitment to wildlife and habitat conservation as a preferred way of life in the 21st century.
This larger initiative consisting of two parts, conservation education and sports.
In order to reach a large audience, a film was produced exclusively for this project and used to teach the young generation that lion killing is no longer culturally acceptable and must stop now, as must the killing of elephants and all wildlife species. Failure to follow the “path of conservation” and reap its economic benefits will result in an unsustainable future of the Maasai people.

Competition in sports starts at local level. The warriors receive basic sports training in six events and compete for selection to one of four teams across the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem.
At regional level, each team will compete in organized competitions against the other three villages.
At ecosystem-wide level, the highly important and most wanted Olympic Day is waiting. This highlight takes place before national and international media, celebrities, government officials, friends, family, and tourists. The four villages will compete for event medals, prizes, and for the overall winners a trophy and prized bull. Thousands of people attend.
Girls being the motivators behind warriors wanting to hunt lion, are also potential conservation advocates and are included in the education program and in two competitions at Olympics Day.

Predator Compensation Fund (PCF)

In 2003, in response to an imminent threat of local lion extinction, Maasailand Preservation Trust (MPT) which in 2010 became the Big Life Foundation (BLF), in close collaboration with the local community, conceived a first-of-its-kind predator compensation programme. The intention was to better balance the costs and benefits of living with wildlife and thereby replace conflict and retaliation with tolerance and cohabitation.
This novel conservation strategy remains one of the most far-reaching and effective projects, the first of its kind, implemented in the Amboseli-Kilimanjaro Maasailand ecosystem.
One of many key aspects of PCF is that it acts as an umbrella of protection – not only preventing lion extinction but also providing coverage for other persecuted species, such as hyena, cheetah, leopard, wild dog and jackal.
The raising of livestock in Maasailand is a vital activity for the community’s subsistence. Consequently, predators are under constant threat from livestock owners who view them as a danger to their livestock and kill them in retribution for livestock losses. Retaliatory killing is the major threat to Africa’s lion population. Recent estimates show that 20 years ago 200,000 lions lived in Africa, today there are less than 25,000, with no more than 2,000 residing in Kenya.
The success achieved by PCF in its past years is arguably unequalled in African conservation:
Since inception, lion killing has virtually stopped on Mbirikani Group Ranch, a Maasai community of 10,000 individuals. Only 6 lions were killed by livestock owners during the first nine years of the project. During that same period, more than 200 lions were killed on the neighbouring group ranches where the PCF programme did not (yet) exist. The same community that now protects lions killed 22 in just 18 months prior to introduction of PCF.
A key factor to PCF’s success is the requirement that the entire community must support the objectives of the programme or compensation will cease for everyone.

Reducing human-carnivore conflict, empowering communities and informing conservation planning in Tanzania\’s Ruaha landscape

Tanzania’s Ruaha landscape is globally important for large carnivores. It supports the world’s second biggest lion population, comprising 10% of the world\’s lions, one of only four large cheetah populations in East Africa, the world\’s third biggest population of endangered African wild dogs, and vital populations of leopards, spotted hyaenas and other wildlife species. However, these populations are threatened by extremely high rates of human-carnivore conflict around Ruaha National Park: this area has the highest documented rate of lion killing in the world. This conflict is driven by carnivore attacks on livestock, a lack of benefits from wildlife, cultural lion killins, and poor local awareness of wildlife or conservation issues. The Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP) is working directly with local communities to safeguard their livestock, develop appropriate and meaningful benefit initiatives which are linked directly to the presence of wildlife on village land, engage traditional warriors to become lion conservationists rather than lion killers, and provide training, education and outreach on livestock husbandry, wildlife and conservation. This area is also extremely understudied, limiting effective planning and management, so RCP conducts ecological research to inform conservation planning. The project was established in 2009, and has grown from a team of 3 people to over 60 people, 95% of whom are local Tanzanians. The project has been very successful: in the core study area, attacks on livestock have been reduced by over 60%, people see meaningful benefits, partcularly in the their priority areas of healthcare, education and veterinary health, attitudes towards wildlife have improved, bans on cultural hunting have been put in place by the community, and carnivore killings have decreased by over 80%. However, this is a huge area so we need to continue our work and expand it further around Ruaha and beyond for maximum conservation impact.