Buffer zone rehabilitation at Rugezi marsh

Most threats to nature and wildlife sustainability are anthropogenic mainly resulting from drastic increase in population size. This implies increased pressure on land use which leads to the reduction and modification of natural areas, resulting in the extinction or threat of extinction to wildlife species and natural areas which serve as their habitats. Grey Crowned Cranes, scientifically known as Balearica regulorum are found in Eastern and Southern Africa. They have faced a dramatic decline over the past decades, due to loss or deterioration of their habitats, illegal removal of birds and eggs from the wild for food.
ICF/EWT/KCCEM is working towards securing and improving the ecological integrity of Rugezi marsh. Apart from aesthetic, Rugezi marshland is utilitarian nationally and internationally due to its inflow and outflow regulatory functions, and drainage for hydro-electric generation. It is also a habitat of various avifauna, a typical example being that it harbors around 108 Grey Crowned Cranes which are classified under endangered by IUCN red list. This is why the project was initiated in Rwanda with zeal to conserve Grey Crowned Cranes and their habitats.

 

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Grey Crowned Crane in Rugezi marshland

 
The Rwanda Crane and wetland project working under ICF/EWT/KCCEM partnership has been working closely with communities around Rugezi marshland and other key wetlands in Rwanda. The project has stimulated the communities with the spirit of ownership and love for their natural resources through crane conservation. This is demonstrated through different initiatives that the community undertake like protecting crane’s nests and reporting breeding sites for further follow-up, reporting poachers, sensitizing their fellows to contribute in conservation and rehabilitating buffer zones to allow nature to keep its function of providing ecosystem services.
On October 17, 2017 local leaders and communities gathered to plant trees to restore the buffer zone of Rugezi marshland, a wetland of great importance with its status of protection as Ramsar site. The aim is to re-establish green space in the buffer zone that had become a ground due to anthropogenic pressure. After this noble activity of planting trees in filling up the gaps within the buffer zone of Rugezi marshland, the project coordinator and the team use the opportunity to reach out/send a conservation message. And this provides a suitable room to interact and discuss conservation issues with the community.

 

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Community in marshland planting trees

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 Richard Muvunyi, project coordinator in Rwanda planting a tree 

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The community discussion with leaders and project team after rehabilitation activity

 

Gladly, the community owns conservation and are committed to keep monitoring any threat to Cranes and keeping the momentum as far as conservation is concerned. The latter is crucial and with the community as pillars, success is a guarantee.

Article by Hirwa Elise an Intern from University of Rwanda working with Rwanda Coordinator, Richard Muvunyi

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First Cheetah cubs born in Malawi in over two decades

cheetah-malawi

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and African Parks made history in May 2017, when a small founder population of Cheetahs was successfully relocated to Liwonde National Park in Malawi, restoring the population of this threatened species at least 20 years after its extinction in the country. Now, history has been made again, as the first cubs have been born to these Cheetahs, making them the first wild cubs to be born in Malawi in 20 years.

In late 2016, the South African wild Cheetah population reached new levels, with most safe spaces for Cheetahs fully occupied. The EWT and African Parks thus began to plan for a reintroduction of Cheetah into Liwonde National Park, Malawi. Under the management of African Parks in partnership with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), Liwonde National Park and two other reserves in Malawi are being well protected and security has been vastly improved, creating more than 300,000 hectares of safe space for establishing Cheetah populations. In May 2017, four Cheetahs were taken from Mountain Zebra National Park, Amakhala Private Game Reserve, Phinda Private Game Reserve and Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, and flown in a light aircraft, sponsored by FlyUlendo and Robin Pope Safaris, from OR Tambo to Liwonde National Park. After a short spell in the newly constructed Liwonde predator bomas, the four Cheetahs were released.

The Cheetahs immediately set about their normal business, feasting on the large amounts of prey available in Liwonde, and in mid-July, two Cheetahs were seen mating on Chinguni Hill, the highest point in Liwonde National Park. Three months later, the EWT’s Cheetah monitor based at Liwonde, Olivia Sievert, shared the exceptional news that four tiny cubs had been spotted, young enough to still have their eyes closed. The birth of these four cubs, the first in the wild in Malawi in over 20 years, is a massive conservation milestone, and an incredible indicator of how easily Cheetahs can adapt when moved to new environments.

The EWT’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project moves wild Cheetahs across a myriad different vegetation types with vastly different climatic variables to ensure the genetic viability of this threatened species. Under the auspices of this programme, Cheetahs have been moved from the Kalahari Desert to the mountainous bushveld of the Waterberg; from thicket vegetation in the Eastern Cape to the grasslands of the Free State; and in the case of the Liwonde reintroduction, from the Karoo semi-desert, where temperatures drop as low as minus ten degrees Celsius, to the floodplain grasslands of central Africa, where temperatures soar up to 50 degrees Celsius. Every time the EWT relocates Cheetahs to new environments, more is learned about the incredible ability of this species to adapt and survive, as they have been doing for millions of years.

Hot on the heels of the news that the first wild cubs had been born in Liwonde in October, it has now been confirmed that the second female Cheetah that was relocated to the reserve has given birth to at least three cubs. Both sets of cubs and their mothers will continue to be monitored. The EWT is proud to have played an integral role in this conservation success story.

About the Endangered Wildlife Trust: The EWT is a credible, impactful player in regional conservation, committed to identifying the key factors threatening biodiversity and developing innovative methodologies and best practice to reduce these and promote harmonious co-existence and sustainable living for both people and wildlife. Read more about the EWT’s work at: www.ewt.org.za or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About African Parks: African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. With the largest counter-poaching force and the most amount of area under protection for any one NGO in Africa, African Parks manages 12 national parks and protected areas in eight countries covering seven million hectares: Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda. Visit www.africanparks.org to learn more. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Contacts

Vincent van der Merwe
Cheetah Metapopulation Project Coordinator
Endangered Wildlife Trust
vincentv@ewt.org.za

David Marneweck
Carnivore Conservation Programme Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 87 021 0398
davidm@ewt.org.za

Belinda Glenn
Marketing and Communications Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 87 021 0398
belindag@ewt.org.za

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Conserving Grey Crowned Cranes, creating the happiest society in Rwanda

The International Crane Foundation/Endangered Wildlife Trust Partnership is collaborating with the Kitabi College of Conservation and Environmental Management (ICF/EWT/KCCEM) under an ongoing project aimed at securing the ecological integrity of a network of peatlands in Rwanda. The project seeks to ensure that the wetlands continue to function and provide benefits important to the country, its people and biodiversity. This month, the project team organized a talent competition under the theme “Conserving Grey Crowned Cranes through wetland protection”. The competition involved songs, poems, drama and artwork, all linked to crane and wetland management. Schools and cooperatives in project areas participated in the competition. The schools and cooperative representatives are the project beneficiaries of the project led Dr Richard Muvunyi, the National Coordinator. I was privileged to be part of the team and volunteered in organising the competition. I have always had interest in attending different events on nature and wildlife conservation.
My experience with the team was so amazing. It was amazing due to a couple of reasons. I will never forget how wonderful it was to see young kids from G.S. Nkanga and G.S. Kibungo acting as parents, leaders, members of the community responsible for environmental conservation, more precisely Grey Crowned Crane conservation. Their message delivered through poems, songs, drama and artwork were focused on the importance of Grey Crowned Cranes in contributing to the tourism sector in Rwanda and worldwide. It was so exciting to see a first-year high school kid being able to distinguish between a chicken egg and crane egg, which shows the tremendous work done by the project team in raising environmental awareness among schools and communities.
The school competitions were held in Butaro Sector in Burera District located in the catchment of Rugezi Marsh. Rugezi Marsh is the project focal area and is a suitable habitat for Grey Crowned Cranes. Ooh my God, I loved every presentation from each of the clubs that participated as well as the cooperatives. I noted that commitment and determination shown by each club was important if one wanted to become a champion. The Miyove team won a prize for their amazing performance in song and drama competition. This was a result of their tremendous efforts and good preparations.
I highly enjoyed moderating the competition as I could keep some of the best performers behind for a break jokes after each club’s presentation, be it in drama or songs. At Bugesera, I created a very amazing team for break entertainment simply from the participants. The kids’ talent really amused me. At Burera, the performances were so marvellous, with many talent displays. I really enjoyed seeing a young boy acting as very old person. Later on, I saw a baby aged one year and six months among the audience. I held out a microphone for him to speak and guess what he did. He shrieked like a crane and it made me very emotional.
It was such challenging responsibility for the judges to find out who is the winner was, especially during the time for individual performances. I personally witnessed both the impact of awareness campaign done by the project team through the amazing performances. I loved the drawings that portrayed Grey Crowned Cranes dancing. Finally, I commend the translation of a very interesting poem by Sandrine from Miyove. Her message is worth sharing with the entire world.
Since International Crane Foundation/Endangered Wildlife Trust Partnership works closely with the Kitabi College of Conservation and Environmental Management, I do strongly recommend that they include a fully-funded scholarship to be awarded to an individual winner whose messages is effective in future Grey Crowned Crane conservation. This will not only benefit the student but also the entire community where they live through conservation awareness to the rest of her/his surroundings (even siblings& parents).
Below are different photos taken during the event.

 

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Students displaying drawings of cranes and wetlands 

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Young boy acting as an old man

 

Article by: Jean Pierre Kamanzi (Volunteer) and Richard Muvunyi, Rwanda Project Coordinator

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Hope soars for imperilled vultures

vulture

31 October 2017

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is honoured to have played a key role in bringing hope to threatened vultures around the world, as a new and far-reaching global plan is put in place to protect these iconic birds in 128 countries.

Vultures are under immense pressure from a range of human activities. These threats have resulted in a rapid decline in Africa and Asia particularly, where most of these spectacular birds are now listed as Critically Endangered. But the 124 conservation actions contained in the newly-adopted and exciting Multi-species Action Plan (Vulture MsAP) mean that there is light at the end of the tunnel for Old World vultures.

The EWT has been working tirelessly to drive the development of this global plan, and at the recent Conference of the Parties (COP12) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the Vulture MsAP was formally adopted. The adoption of this global plan will drive concerted conservation action to address the negative trends in vulture populations, where in some instances we have lost in excess of 95% of some species over the last 20 years, mostly due to human-induced threats. The Vulture MsAP promotes the implementation of 124 different conservation actions across the globe designed to help populations to recover to sustainable levels. These include policy and legislative changes, research and monitoring, education and awareness, and several on-the-ground actions. Of these 124 actions, 12 have been identified as critical, and immediate implementation is essential. These include:

  • Establishing protocols and training and supporting relevant agency staff (conservation, rangers, police and judiciary) to rapidly respond to poisoning incidents including sharing of best practices.
  • Prohibiting or withdrawing veterinary use of diclofenac, ketoprofen and aceclofenac for the treatment of livestock and substituting it with readily available safe alternatives, such as meloxicam in all Vulture MsAP range states.
  • For new and existing energy infrastructure, promoting the implementation of CMS guidelines by phasing out energy infrastructure designs that pose electrocution risk to vultures and other birds, and advocating retro-fitting with known bird-friendly designs within current maintenance schedules.
  • Conducting a census in 2018-2019 and a census in 2028-2029 of all species to monitor the population size, breeding productivity, distribution and trends across the Vulture MsAP range.

André Botha, the EWT’s resident vulture expert with more than 15 years’ experience in this field, was appointed Overarching Coordinator of the Vulture MsAP in August 2016. He has worked closely with the CMS Raptors MoU, BirdLife International, the Vulture Conservation Foundation, and members of the Vulture Specialist Group of the IUCN, to develop this roadmap for the conservation of 15 species of Old World vultures. Now that the plan has been adopted by COP12, these actions, and others, can get underway in the 128 vulture range states that are affected. André says, “This is where the real work starts. The plan was just the first step, but the declines are still happening and now we need to implement. This is a 12-year plan, and the reality is that if we don’t implement within that time frame, the likelihood of extinction of many of these species is extremely high. A plan such as this gives us great hope that that terrible scenario can be avoided.”

A number of other proposals relating to vultures were also tabled at COP12, including the up-listing of ten species of African and Asian vultures to CMS Appendix 1, which is made up of species that have been assessed as being in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range. In more good news for vultures, all the proposals to up-list these species were approved. The species affected are:

  1. Whited-headed Vulture
  2. Hooded Vulture
  3. White-backed Vulture
  4. Cape Vulture
  5. Rüppell’s Vulture
  6. Red-headed Vulture
  7. White-rumped Vulture
  8. Indian Vulture
  9. Slender-billed Vulture
  10. Lappet-faced Vulture

This up-listing provides these imperilled vultures with greater protection in their range states. Parties to the CMS are committed to strictly protecting species on Appendix 1 by prohibiting the removal of these species, conserving and, where possible, restoring their habitats, preventing, removing or mitigating obstacles to their migration, and controlling other factors that might endanger them.

The EWT is honoured to have played a key role in this essential conservation work for these iconic birds and remains committed to saving our scavengers.

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Contacts

André Botha
Manager: Special Projects
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 82 962 5725
andreb@ewt.org.za

Belinda Glenn
Marketing and Communications Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
belindag@ewt.org.za 

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Braking for bullfrogs

BULLFROG

26 October 2017

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Each year, hundreds of Giant Bullfrogs cross busy roads in an attempt to reach their breeding sites, putting themselves at great risk. The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is asking you to keep your eyes peeled while on the roads this rainy season, and brake for bullfrogs.

The Giant Bullfrog is the second largest species of frog in the world, and an iconic species in Gauteng, which is the stronghold of their distributional range in South Africa. Loss of grassland and pan habitat within this rapidly urbanising area is threatening the species’ survival. This includes both the direct impacts of roads, such as being killed by vehicles, and the indirect impacts, such as being prevented from reaching breeding sites from over-wintering sites. The Giant Bullfrog is also an explosive breeder – emerging from underground burrows where they spend much of the year for only a few weeks in summer.

As a follow-up to the campaign we ran earlier in the year, requesting sightings information from the public, the EWT is continuing its work to help prevent roadkill of this iconic species by informing members of the public when and where the bullfrogs are likely to be active. It is anticipated that November to January will be the next period of activity for the bullfrog and we are calling on members of the public to assist us by being our watchdogs on the roads. If you find a bullfrog on the road, dead or alive, please send us a photograph, the location (preferably GPS coordinates) and road name, as well as the number of bullfrogs seen, to roads@ewt.org.za  or submit via EWT’s Road Watch app. Visit the iTunes or Play store to download this app. Additional information is available on www.ewt.org.za. If you find an injured bullfrog, it can still be saved by taking it to the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital (+27 71 248 1514 – 24 hours/ jhbsmallwildlife@gmail.com)

Your reports will assist us in identifying breeding sites and areas that require potential conservation action to reduce bullfrog roadkill. Other plans to protect these animals include modification of under-road culverts and encouraging the bullfrogs to make use of these passages as crossing routes to their breeding sites. Reducing incidences of roadkill of this species will contribute to alleviating the threats facing these animals, and given their high visibility and short breeding season, is a project that could have high impact for their ongoing survival.

Together, we can make a difference on our country’s roads – will you help?

The EWT’s Wildlife and Roads Project is supported by Bridgestone SA, N3 Toll Concession, Bakwena Platinum Corridor Concession, TRAC N4 and Ford Wildlife Foundation. 

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Contacts

Wendy Collinson
Project Executant: Wildlife & Roads Project
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
wendyc@ewt.org.za 

Emily Taylor
Project Coordinator: Urban Conservation
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
emilyt@ewt.org.za 

Dr Jeanne Tarrant
Manager: Threatened Amphibian Programme
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
jeannet@ewt.org.za 

Belinda Glenn
Marketing and Communications Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
belindag@ewt.org.za 

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Tracking the movements of Blue Cranes in the Western Cape, South Africa

The Western Cape of South Africa is home to what is likely more than half of the world’s population of Blue Cranes. It is therefore a priority to ensure that we effectively protect this population and understand, where possible, what the future may look like for Blue Cranes in the region given the changes in the landscape driven by various economic and climatic factors.
This past month, we fitted the last seven satellite trackers to adult Blue Cranes in the Overberg region of the Western Cape. This adds to the six trackers that were fitted onto other cranes a year ago. Collectively, they will form part of an MSc and a PhD research study. This year, we are excited to have a University of Cape Town MSc student, Sydney Davis join us to do her MSc Conservation Biology thesis on Blue Cranes. She is using the tracking data to; determine Blue Crane seasonal movements in the Overberg, describe roost sites used by Blue Cranes in the Western Cape and determine home ranges of breeding Blue Cranes in the region. These data and the research outputs will enable us to provide informed and objective input into development and conservation planning in the Overberg, ensuring that the Blue Crane’s ecological requirements are considered.
Each bird caught was fitted with a GPS/GSM solar powered tracker on its back using a backpack mounting design. In addition, they were also fitted with a unique combination of colour rings on their legs to allow for identification of individuals from a distance. We get two hourly locations from each bird ending in the evening to get a location of their roost site.
Sydney, the MSc student, will be in the Overberg over the coming months collecting field observation data of each bird that will be used to supplement the tracking data.
Why do we catch in winter (July/Aug)? Well, we catch the birds when they congregate in wintering flocks, made up of breeding and non-breeding birds. In the Overberg, these flocks feed regularly at livestock feeding troughs during winter when farmers provide supplement feed to their sheep. These feeding sites therefore become the ideal ‘bait stations’ and enable us to catch birds using lines of foot noose traps placed around the feeding stations. All these captures are approved by the local government conservation agency.
This project has been made possible through the kind and generous support of the Leiden Conservation Foundation. We were thrilled to have Tom and Kathy Leiden joining us in the field to assist with the captures.
For more information on this project, please feel free to contact me on tanyas@ewt.org.za or tanya@savingcranes.org

 

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The team fits the last tracker to an adult Blue Crane. Sydney Davis, MSc student working on this project is on the right ensuring the team is safe from the beak of the bird.

 

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The team involved in the captures. A special thanks to Tom Leiden (in centre of the picture) for his support of the project and assistance with the captures.

 

Article by Tanya Smith, Southern African Regional Manager

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Grey Crowned Crane chick released back into the wild at Sio Siteko,Kenya

Working with a network of custodians and project contact persons proved to be beneficial this month. On the 4th of September, I got a call from one project contact person, a member of the Sio Siteko wetland conservation team. He informed me about a crane harassment incident in his area. Together with my team members from Kipsaina, I drove to Sio Siteko the next day. I was informed that a group of children had been seen harassing a family of cranes with chicks at one section of the wetland. Fortunately, one young girl had saved one crane chick by hiding it in the wetland. The girl then took the chick home and fed it grasshoppers and other insects. I advised the girl’s family to take care of the chick so that it could be released back into the wild. On the 17th, I went back to check on the condition of the chick and discovered that it had grown and strong enough to be released back into the wild. I invited teachers and students from Busende Primary and Secondary Schools so that they could witness the release of the chick. Members of the community, including a village elder, were also invited. We released chick into the swamp, where it was reunited with its parents. I used the opportunity to talk about crane conservation and the students of the schools promised to spread the conservation messages in the Upper Sio Siteko area. Monitoring of the released crane will continue until it fledges. The teachers requested us to make regular visits to the schools during the first two terms of the year. They also requested us to provide awareness materials on cranes and wetlands. The crane chick was named Fiona Nabwire, in honour of the girl who rescued it.

 

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A group photo taken just before the crane chick was released

 

Article by Maurice Wanjala, Project Leader, Western Kenya Crane Conservation Project

Posted in African Crane Conservation Programme | 2 Comments

Largest flock of cranes recorded at Kaku-Kiyanja, Uganda

My friend, Umaru Ssempijja, a teacher at Nakateete Secondary school who is also the patron of the School Environment Club invited me in August to visit and include a crane site at Makondo on my crane monitoring site list. This site, as reported by Umaru, hosts over 100 cranes. September was a busy month with many other conservation-related activities every weekday so I felt that a Sunday could do for me. “Please spare the Sunday for prayers because cranes will, too have gone to church for prayers”, joked my friends on the Conservation Agreements Whatsapp Group, when I shared with them my plan to do crane monitoring on Sunday, 24 September. ”Ï will find them at church and join them in prayer”, I replied jokingly. I then headed to Makondo, approximately 20 kilometres southwest of Mbirizi Town in Lwengo District. Indeed, Makondo is a flocking site though I only counted 50 cranes previously. “Perhaps the cranes had gone for prayers”, I joked again. I then headed to Kaku-Kiyanja, my favourite crane monitoring site. I pulled up at Kyandazima – Katoogo stage on the Kampala – Mbarara road, my usual vantage point for viewing cranes at the wetland. Kaku-Kiyanja is just recovering from extreme desiccation and burning that it suffered from May – August, this year, and the crane population had reduced to a paltry 45 individuals. With a few days of rain in September, some lush green has returned and some pools of water are beginning to be visible, attracting avifauna including sacred ibises, saddle billed stork, hadedas and some lapwings, among other bird species. Cattle grazing and human presence that were common phenomena at the site have declined.
As I reached out for my binoculars, two pairs of cranes flew past, heading towards the wetland. They joined a big flock down in the valley. The flock looked unusually big, but a considerable distance away. I moved down the slope to get a closer and clear view of the flock. There are many termite mounds and some were vantage points for looking at the flock. Wasting no time, I climbed up a termite hill. Yeah! The flock was indeed so big. Initially, I count 206 cranes and I felt very happy. I did not know that I would be even happier. More pairs kept coming and joining and, to my surprise, the termite mounds on the left had prevented me from seeing over 90 cranes! I had to count repeatedly because arriving pairs and frequent displays kept interrupting me by some cranes as they danced, chased each other, jumped and tossed some objects in the air. Overall, I counted 312 cranes but there could be more that I missed. The largest flock ever recorded here was 300 in 2003. This, therefore, is a record sighting, not only at Kaku-Kiyanja but also in Uganda.
Incidentally, it grew darker and darker with nimbus clouds gathering as I counted the cranes. The ensuing darkening skies, some drizzling coupled with the considerable long distance to the flock site rendered my camera less useful. I then thought to myself that if the cranes were at “church”, like my friends had jokingly said, then I had found and joined them in the service and even then, this was the most crane-attended church service ever. May be, from now I will be conducting my Kaku monitoring sessions on Sundays.

 

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Part of the Grey Crowned Crane flock seen at Kaku-Kiyanja

 

Article by Jimmy Muheebwa, Uganda Project Coordinator

 

 

 

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Who let the Dogs in? Endangered African Wild Dogs introduced into northern Kruger National Park

wilddogreleaseSept2017
21 September 2017

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The Kruger National Park’s resident population of 250 of the most Endangered carnivore in the country has now been bolstered by the addition of eight new African Wild Dogs as part of a project that is heralded as a first for the Kruger National Park and a major victory for Wild Dog conservation.

In a move to conserve South Africa’s most Endangered carnivore, the African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus), the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), in collaboration with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW), South African National Parks (SANParks), and WildlifeACT Fund, is excited to announce a landmark event in the conservation of Wild Dogs in South Africa. On 16 September 2017, the EWT and collaborators introduced a new pack of eight Wild Dogs into the northern region of the Kruger National Park.

The release of these Wild Dogs was extremely successful with the new Wild Dog pack leaving the boma within ten minutes under the expert guidance of the EWT’s carnivore specialists. The introduction of Wild Dogs into Kruger National Park has never been attempted before but in a bold move to conserve South Africa’s Wild Dogs the introduction of a new pack into the park is fundamental to boosting the Kruger National Park’s population of Wild Dogs.

After the pack was released, an incredible event occurred when a lone female Wild Dog in the area joined up with them and now appears to be leading them through their new home range. Not only is this remarkable, but within 24 hours, the new pack had already evaded a pride of lions and successfully made a kill while starting to explore their vast new home. The intensive monitoring of this pack has revealed that an alpha pair has already formed with a three-legged male (known as Foxtrot) appearing to be the dominant individual and is displaying intense mate-guarding of one of the females. Foxtrot unfortunately lost his leg due to a snaring incident and snares continue to pose a significant threat to this Endangered species.

The EWT has been monitoring the population of Wild Dogs in the Kruger National Park since 1995 and it’s been noted that the northern region of the Kruger National Park (the section north of the Olifants River) has experienced an enormous decline in Wild Dogs between 1995 and 1999. Since 1999, extensive research has shown that Wild Dog packs have only recently re-established themselves in the northern region of the park. However, this recolonisation is slow despite the potential connectivity with populations to the east in Mozambique (Limpopo National Park), to the north in Zimbabwe (Gonarezhou National Park), and to the south (southern Kruger National Park) leaving Wild Dogs at a worrying low number. The EWT and collaborators have been trying to understand why the original decline happened and why recolonisation has been slow. Unfortunately, this remains a mystery to experts who can only speculate as to the reasons why this area has been hard hit for Wild Dogs. Potential threats may have been disease, snaring, low prey numbers or a high lion density but historical information indicates that the area should have multiple Wild Dog packs. Therefore, the introduction of a pack back into this area is a bold attempt to actively reduce this decline and assist the most Endangered carnivore in the country.

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This collaborative initiative was designed to determine if a pack of Wild Dogs can be introduced into vacant areas and if successful, add to the success of the national Wild Dog population by increasing genetic diversity and assessing the potential risks to the Wild Dog population in northern Kruger. In a project that was negotiated for over a year, enormous effort was made by the EWT, EKZNW and WildlifeACT Fund to apply for permits, capture and relocate the Wild Dogs. A group of four males from the uMkuze section of Isimangaliso Wetland Park (KZN) and a group of four females from Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (KZN) were transported and bonded in the temporary holding boma in northern Kruger National Park to form a new pack.

One conservation team, based in KZN, successfully captured the four females from Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park on Sunday, 30 July, and drove more than 900 km to the boma in northern Kruger. A second team captured and relocated the four males from the Mokopane Zoo (acting as a temporary holding facility for the four males from uMkuze), and drove 600 km to the boma in northern Kruger. The two teams met at the boma late afternoon of 31 July, where the Wild Dogs were vaccinated against Canine Distemper Virus and Rabies, had relevant blood and other samples taken, fitted with tracking collars and bonded with each other.

The Wild Dogs all woke up in the boma and have subsequently successfully formed a new pack. This new pack remained in the boma for six weeks to ensure that they settled into their new environment and all potential homing drivers reduced before being released. The EWT has been bonding and reintroducing Wild Dogs in South Africa for 20 years. We have experienced extremely high success rates with reintroduced packs establishing themselves in new homes and breeding to produce the next generation of pups. Nowhere else in the world has substantial and coordinated reintroduction efforts been made over multiple decades to boost the population of an Endangered species like Wild Dogs, making an introduction of this nature into South Africa’s flagship park a unique achievement in Wild Dog conservation.

wildogboma

The EWT will monitor the pack continuously to obtain valuable data that will help to identify potential risks, as well as monitor the success of the Wild Dogs in northern Kruger. Tracking collars have been fitted all eight individuals to support this monitoring.

Northern Kruger provides the last large open safe space left for Wild Dogs in the whole of South Africa (~1,000,000 hectares) and was identified as the ideal area to introduce the eight Wild Dogs to learn how such an introduction will affect the population of Wild Dogs in greater Kruger.

The EWT, its partners and collaborators including the National Zoological Gardens (Mokopane Zoo), the Wild Dog Advisory Group of South Africa (WAG-SA) and the KwaZulu-Natal Wild Dog Advisory Group and SANParks as the custodians of the new pack of Wild Dogs, are very excited about this landmark project and the contribution it will make to Wild Dog conservation and our understanding of the Wild Dog population in the Greater Kruger National Park.

Donors who have made this possible include Land Rover Centurion, Richard Bosman, Investec, Vaughan de la Harpe, Q20 and Land Rover South Africa.

Ends
About The Endangered Wildlife Trust: The EWT is a credible, impactful player in regional conservation, committed to identifying the key factors threatening biodiversity and developing innovative methodologies and best practice to reduce these and promote harmonious co-existence and sustainable living for both people and wildlife. Read more about the EWT’s work at: www.ewt.org.za or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
wilddog map
Map showing changes in Wild Dog distribution from 1995–2015
Contacts:
David Marneweck
Carnivore Conservation Programme Manager: Endangered Wildlife Trust
Email: davidm@ewt.org.za

Grant Beverley
Lowveld Carnivore Coordinator: Endangered Wildlife Trust
Email: grantb@ewt.org.za

Cole du Plessis
KwaZulu-Natal Carnivore Coordinator: Endangered Wildlife Trust
Email: coled@ewt.org.za

Laura Mukwevho
Media Relations Practitioner
South African National Parks
Kruger National Park
Tel: +27 13 735 4262 Mobile: +27 82 807 1441
Fax: + 27 13 735 4053 Fax to email 086 401 3585
Email: laura.mukwevho@sanparks.org

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Poisons, biodiversity and human-health: addressing wildlife losses in Luangwa, Zambia

As a result of a Darwin Initiative Scoping Award that the EWT received, we were able to undertake further community based research to better understand the drivers behind the wildlife poisoning in the South Luangwa area and to hold a multi stakeholder workshop to develop a project to mitigate for this threat. The scoping award was specifically for work aimed at understanding the drivers of poisoning as a step towards developing a bigger and more focused project to address the problem. Kerryn, Osiman, Griffin, Nyambe and Chaona (BirdWatch Zambia) from the ICF/EWT Partnership team and Andre Botha working on EWT Special Projects gathered at South Luangwa for a workshop, held on 20 – 21 July at the head office of the Zambian National Department of Parks and Wildlife in South Luangwa National Park. The workshop was arranged in partnership with Conservation South Luangwa, Zambia Carnivore Programme and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife. 23 delegates representing various stakeholder groups from the communities, agricultural and conservation sectors attended.
Ahead of the workshop, Osiman conducted a social survey to assess drivers of wildlife poisoning and other human-wildlife conflicts in villages located with the Park’s buffer zones ahead of the workshop. The survey involved interviews and focus group discussions targeting villagers, government extension officers, park officials and representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations. The interviews and discussions were guided by the following themes; historical poisoning event analysis, human-wildlife conflict interface analysis, socio-demographic profiling of “actors” behind poisoning, animal product utilisation practices and motivations, community perceptions of human-wildlife conflict management systems and feasible solutions to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.
Findings from our engagement of local communities during the social survey and insights presented by workshop participants highlighted the need for multi-stakeholder approach to mitigate wildlife poisoning. Our work confirmed that drivers of poisoning have various dimensions, including cognitive (lack of awareness on impacts of poisons), livelihood challenges (lack of income generation opportunities), human health (consumption of poisoned causing illnesses), legislative and policy (lack of effective regulation of access to poisons) and limited stakeholder collaboration (no sharing of data and experiences across government departments and other stakeholders). The scoping work we undertook also helped us identify key knowledge gaps and the need to include social and ecological research in tandem with community outreach /extension as part of poisoning mitigation process.
Our scoping exercises revealed that stakeholders in the agricultural value chains need to be engaged to effective mitigate poisoning. These include farmers, farming input dealers, technical extension service providers, chemical distribution companies, agricultural marketing companies and veterinary specialists. In addition to the agricultural sector, the public health sector has also been identified as an important stakeholder group in terms of creating awareness of and reducing the threat of exposure to poisons by the consumption of wildlife products acquired by means of poisoning.
The conceptual model that is currently under development can be seen below.

 

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Workshop participants

 

 

 

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Article by Osiman Mabhachi (Community Projects Specialist) and Kerryn Morrison (Senior Manager: Africa)

 

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