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.

Restoring hornbill habitats in Arunachal Pradesh

Pakke Tiger Reserve and the adjoining Reserved Forests in Arunachal Pradesh, India are spread over an area of more than 2000 km2 and harbor a diverse array of plant and animal species. It is known as a haven for 4 hornbill species in India. Human activities like hunting, illegal logging, particularly outside Pakke, are negatively affecting hornbill populations and their habitat. Habitat loss due to logging is a major threat to hornbills that are dependent on large trees for nesting. This area has experienced amongst the highest rates of forest loss for India in the recent past.

With the restoration program, we hope to bring back some of the lost hornbill habitats (by bringing back hornbill food and nest trees) and secure the long-term future of these birds and other wildlife. To this end, rainforest nursery was set up in 2013 in a village near Pakke, with an aim of raising native rainforest tree species and using them to restore the degraded forest patches in and around the area. The tree species selected are important food and nest trees of hornbills and for other birds and mammals and also includes economically important species for planting by the local communities. In the past four years, we have raised around 17,000 saplings of 60 native tree species. Planting began in 2016 and a total area of 11 ha has been covered so far. Survival monitoring indicates 45-85% survival across the sites in a year’s time. Some sites show higher survival (84%) due to controlled conditions like fencing and deweeding. With such successful rate of establishment of the saplings, there is a hope for recovery of these habitats in the long-term. We hope to expand this program and cover more degraded patches in and around Pakke in the coming years.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Proyecto Tití: Working to protect the critically endangered cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) and their forest home in northern Colombia

Proyecto Tití is a non-profit organization working to guarantee a long-term future for the cotton-top tamarin, a small primate that only ives in the tropical forests of northern Colombia, and that is critically endangered due to extensive deforestation and by its capture for the illegal pet trade. Proyecto Tití develops its mission through the implementation of permanent field research, forest protection and restoration, environmental education and awareness and community development programs, to reduce the use and exploitation of forest resources for subistence by local communities.

Biodiversity conservation in the Annamite mountains of Laos

Project Anoulak is dedicated to the conservation and research of wildlife in Laos. It is active in Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area (NNT NPA), central eastern Laos. We focus on a range of species notably on the white-cheeked gibbons (Nomascus siki/N. leucogenys), the red-shanked doucs, the large-antlered muntjac and otter species (Lutrogale; Aonyx, Lutra).
We are currently conducting a long-term behavioural ecology research on the white-cheeked gibbons and red-shanked doucs. Across their range, these species are under severe threat from (i) illegal hunting (traditional medicine, pet trade and opportunistically for its meat) and from (ii) habitat loss, which is the most severe in Vietnam (Rawson et al., 2011). The seven species of Nomascus spp. and three species of doucs are Globally Threatened under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In NNT NPA, wildlife hunting has been the main cause of animal population declines in the the past few decades and this on-going trend is rapidly leading to local extinction of the most hunting-sensitive species.
Given the current status of gibbon and douc species across their range there is a need to better understand their ecological requirements in order to improve their in-situ and ex-situ conservation management. Understanding the ecology of these species is one of the first steps in the development of conservation management plans and guidelines.
Conservation outcome 1: Gain knowledge of feeding ecology and nutrional requirements of white-cheeked gibbons and red-shanked douc to improve in-situ and ex-situ population management
Conservation outcome 2: Protection of white-cheeked gibbons and red-shanked douc at the research site with patrol teams
Conservation Outcome 3: Capacity building of lao nationals and local communty engagement and empowerment in conservation biology
Conservation Outcome 4: Knowledge sharing and building collaboration with research institutes and institutions.

Promoting Ecotourism for Red Panda Conservation in Central Nepal

Ghyangphedi village located to the south-east of Langtang National Park in Nuwakot district is only the nearest settlement from red panda habitat in Indreni Buffer Zone. Recent upsurge in poaching and trafficking of red panda hides in Nepal (Nepal Police arrested 70 people and confiscated 52 red panda skins, with 23 cases just in 2016, from 2013 to March 2017) indicate towards lack of conservation awareness and livelihood opportunities fueling threats to this threatened species in the area. Therefore, the project targeting sustainable livelihood improvement through red panda based ecotourism promotion has been conceptualized to benefit both underprivileged local families and endangered red panda. This project based on the Red Panda Network’s Community Based Red Panda Conservation Project of Eastern Nepal, will comprise following activities:

  • Production and endorsement of red panda based eco-tourism and homestay management guideline
  • Homestay management training on homestay operations, cuisine, hygiene and sanitation, hospitality etc. (n=30 families)
  • Nature guide training (n=15 persons)
  • Gear and equipment – binoculars, support to nature guides (n=15 sets)
  • Fuel efficient stoves for home stays (30 families)

Forest Guardian Program in Western Nepal

The project targets the Jumla, Kalikot and Jajarkot districts with non-protected status in the western complex. This area is an important geographic region as it provides habitat connectivity for red pandas between Rara National park in the west, Shey Phoksundo National park in the north and Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve in the east. The proposed area is under tremendous threat because of habitat loss, degradation, and poaching. Red Panda Network with the goal of maintaining viable population will implement Forest Guardian Program since 2017, where 40 local forest users will be trained as citizen scientists acting as local forest guardians. They will regularly carry out monitoring and share the information with their respective Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs) on quarterly basis (every three months). This will help assess effectiveness of community’s intervention and adopt further measures/strategies to address the threats. Besides, these FGs will also help in awareness building of local people and anti-poaching operations as they are also trained on anti-poaching investigation techniques. This project based on the RPN’s Community Based Red Panda Conservation Project of Western Nepal, will comprise following activities:
 Training on monitoring techniques (3 events)
 Gears – Summer/winter outfits; field boot and back pack (n=40 sets)
 Equipments – GPS, binoculars (n=40 sets)