Community-based Conservation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh

The Chittagong Hill Tracts, located in south-eastern Bangladesh, falls within the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot. Our organization’s work in this area for the last six years has documented the persistence of at least 30 globally-threatened species, including two ASAP species: Chinese pangolin and Arakan forest turtle. Years of subsistence hunting, commercial poaching, and habitat destruction through logging and traditional slash-and-burn agricultural practices has led to drastic species population reductions. Hunting is the most immediate threat, and without intervention, the extirpation of Chinese pangolin in the region and Arakan forest turtle from one of their two range countries is inevitable. To prevent this, our project will empower additional traditional indigenous hunters into parabiologists and employ them to conduct forest patrols and species monitoring surveys. These parabiologists will also act as local ambassadors for wildlife conservation in the area for years to come, continuing to sensitize local communities to the importance of species conservation. Our previous work has shown that by empowering local communities we can drastically reduce hunting pressure and ensure habitat protection in a short amount of time. The project will take a holistic landscape-based approach, helping the local communities to reduce dependency on forest resources through sustainable agroforestry and livelihood support. This would not only ensure the protection of these critically endangered ASAP species, but also help conserve both the habitat and over 28 other globally-threatened species occurring in same area.

This project operates synergistically with multiple distinct components and has been bringing conservation success to the region for over six years. Funding from other sources are used primarily to support primary education, livelihood programs, such as craft for conservation, indigo dye processing and marketing, promoting sustainable agroforestry, etc. These activities are necessary to establish trust and reduce community dependence on forest resources.

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.