Conservation of the Critically Endangered Large-antlered muntjac: a site-based project in Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area, Laos

The Large-antlered Muntjac is native to Laos and Vietnam (and possibly marginally in Cambodia) where it is largely restricted to the Annamite Mountain range. Its current occurrence across this range is uncertain, and the global population is scarce and scattered in isolated populations, which, in Vietnam, are all small or have recently faced local extinction. Since the remarkable scientific discovery of the species in 1994, there have been no project specifically focusing on the species. The species was up-listed from Endangered (2008) to Critically Endangered in 2016. Its global conservation status has been assessed based on the few post-2000 (direct or indirect) records across its geographic range compared to record rates pre-2000; evidence-based declines in the most healthy populations; the considerable increase in commercial and recreational wildlife hunting in the species’ range; the considerable reduction in suitable habitat for the species and the fact that the species is associated with mainly lowlands, which are systematically in close proximity to human settlements, where hunting for local consumption and trade has increased in the past decade. These compiled evidences have led to the conclusion that the Large-antlered Muntjac’s global population has faced a decline of over 90% in the last 20-30 years, and will continue to decline at the same rate until total extinction if no urgent action is taken to reverse current trends. The chore global population of the species (which has already experienced important declines) occur in Laos and notably in the Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area (NNT NPA), where it is imperative to act now to ensure a sustainable population. This project aims the population in NNT NPA to develop Conservation Action Plans at the global scale.

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.

Community-based Patrols and Nest Guardians to Combat Poaching of the Critically Endangered Helmeted Hornbill in Indonesia

The Helmeted Hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil) inhabits lowland and upland rainforests in Southeast Asia. Recent data has shown that the Helmeted Hornbill red ivory in China is nearly five times that of elephant ivory. From 2012 to 2014 over 1,000 casks were confiscated by the Indonesian government, and in 2013 one study estimated nearly 500 adult Helmeted Hornbills were killed per month (6,000 per year) in the West Kalimantan province alone. The evolutionary circumstances of this species cause it to be at high risk for extinction as this species breeds slowly and exists at extremely low carrying capacities. In West Kalimantan, Indonesia the Helmeted Hornbill is the provincial symbol and can be found at tourist attractions throughout the province. Despite the appearance of “local pride” in this species, this province has been the target of the trade in Indonesia with an estimated 80% of casks exported from Indonesia originating from Western Borneo. The purpose of this project is to counter wildlife trafficking in West Kalimantan, Indonesia by increasing protection of habitat and increasing law enforcement to conserve the symbol of West Kalimantan. This project is intended to conserve the Helmeted Hornbill by addressing the impacts of the yellow and red ivory trade that is decimating populations throughout the species range. Specific activities focus engaging communities in the Gunung Nuit Nature Reserve in community-based SMART patrol units and a Nest Guardians program.