BREAKING NEW GROUND IN THE FIGHT AGAINST RHINO HORN AND IVORY SMUGGLERS

22 September 2016

This World Rhino Day, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is breaking new ground in the fight against rhino horn and ivory smugglers. The EWT’s expert wildlife sniffer dogs, Belgian Malinois Renaldo and German Shepherd Condor, have honed their skills in detecting rhino horn and ivory in the cargo warehouses at OR Tambo International Airport over the past two years. However, for the past few months, they have upped their game as they have been trained to detect rhino horn and ivory using the MECHEM Explosive and Drug Detection System, or MEDDS (also known as the REST or RASCargO), which Kirsty Brebner, EWT Rhino Project Manager, describes as a whole new ball game.

Kirsty Brebner (EWT Rhino Project Manager), Nick van Loggerenberg (Afri Guard Training Manager) and Beny van Zyl (Afri Guard PEDD Handler) with Condor.

Kirsty Brebner (EWT Rhino Project Manager), Nick van Loggerenberg (Afri Guard Training Manager) and Beny van Zyl (Afri Guard PEDD Handler) with Condor.

Conventional detection dogs physically sniff the target, be it inside suitcases, packages, vehicles or whatever other medium is being used to transport and hide the contraband. MEDDS technology, on the other hand, uses a remote detection system whereby air from the container of interest is drawn in situ by a vacuum pump onto a special filter which is then presented to the dogs in a specially set up clean room.

This method was originally developed, and has been very successfully used, in the high volume cargo market, particularly where it is difficult for conventional detection dogs to work, such as shipping ports. However, it has mainly been used to detect relatively volatile substances such as explosives and drugs which are likely to emit a relatively large number of volatile organic compounds into the air compared to comparatively inert substances such as rhino horn and ivory.

The MEDDS method comes with considerable additional costs for items such as the filters, as well as trained personnel. It has never been rigorously tested on these more inert substances in real life situations. The trial that the EWT has been running, along with Afri Guard dog handlers and trainers, is designed to change that, and to provide answers for once and for all as to whether MEDDS technology is an option for detecting rhino horn and ivory in shipping ports, which present a challenging environment for law enforcement.

Nick van Loggerenberg, Afri Guard Training Manager says: “Training of the dogs has gone really smoothly, as they are already imprinted on the rhino horn and ivory. We trained them using the MEDDS system, and experimented on extraction times, the climatic variations, and different containers and boxes. We have extracted the samples and presented them to the dogs as much as two days later, and the dogs readily found the positive, proving that the method is working properly. We’re very excited by how well Renaldo and Condor, who are used to fast paced work, are searching!”

Renaldo eager to get started.

Renaldo eager to get started.

Renaldo and Condor easily find the positive during training.

Renaldo and Condor easily find the positive during training.

These two heroic dogs will soon be sent to an undisclosed port location to put their training into practice as part of this critical trial that, if successful, will provide another vital tool to tackle the smuggling of wildlife contraband in previously inaccessible locations.

This work is made possible by the support of Afri Guard, TRAFFIC, Royal Canin, Hollard Pet Insurance, and Relate.

End.

Contacts:
Kirsty Brebner
Rhino Project Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
KirstyB@ewt.org.za

Adam Pires
Wildlife in Trade Programme Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
AdamP@ewt.org.za

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

Posted in WILDLIFE IN TRADE PROGRAMME | Leave a comment

A sample for CITES: early results from South Africa’s Mammal Red List

reddatalogo

As stakeholders prepare to convene at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg for the 17th Conference of Parties (CoP17) to discuss proposed changes to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) appendices, a sample of assessments from the soon-to-be completed national Mammal Red List (due date November 2016) has revealed reasons to be concerned about illegal trading of wildlife.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), supported by collaborations from the universities of Cape Town and Pretoria’s MammalMAP and the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are releasing key assessments early (including African Elephant Loxodonta Africana, African Lion Panthera leo, Black Rhinoceros Diceros bicornis, Bontebok Damaliscus pygargus pygargus, Cape Mountain Zebra Equus zebra zebra, Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus, Leopard Panthera pardus, Southern White Rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum simum and Temminck’s Ground Pangolin Smutsia temminckii) to highlight issues surrounding trade in threatened species. This important work reflects the conservation status of these mammals in 2016, and, worryingly, exemplifies the intensifying threat of illegal hunting and international wildlife trafficking.

The Red List is a globally recognised tool, established in 1963 by the IUCN to categorise the risk of extinction for the world’s species. The last comprehensive review of the mammals of South Africa was released in 2004 and an updated review of the status of each mammal is currently being produced. Currently (2016), of 84 CITES-listed mammal species or subspecies within South Africa, two are Critically Endangered, six are Endangered, 13 are Vulnerable and six are Near Threatened in the revised national Red List.

“The new Red List highlights some real conservation success stories, often driven by cooperation between conservationists and the private sector” says Matthew Child, Coordinator of the EWT’s Mammal Red List Project. “Although previously found in only three subpopulations, today the endemic Cape Mountain Zebra has been listed as Least Concern (down from Vulnerable), largely due to their population growth on game farms and wildlife ranches. The African Lion is also listed as Least Concern (downlisted from Vulnerable). South Africa is the only country where numbers of wild lions are stable in formal protected areas and increasing through the expansion of private protected areas. More generally, the increasing number of properties proclaimed as biodiversity stewardship sites is also helping to conserve important patches of habitat and reflects the love that South Africans have for our wildlife.”

Despite these victories, several species have become more threatened, due largely to persecution, poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife. Examples include Leopards (uplisted from Least Concern to Vulnerable), Temminck’s Ground Pangolin (uplisted from Near Threatened to Vulnerable), and the Southern White Rhinoceros (uplisted from Least Concern to Near Threatened). The main intensifying threats are illegal hunting for bushmeat, traditional medicine and cultural regalia; and the escalating threat of international wildlife trafficking through criminal syndicates. Some species, such as the White Rhinoceros, are threatened chiefly by intensifying poaching and trade, while others, such as Pangolins, are threatened by both trade and use of their body parts on multiple scales, from subsistence use in traditional medicine to local commercial use in bushmeat markets and international exports on an industrial scale to Asian markets.

“Conservationists will continue to stive to protect all our species and landscapes, and the Red List is a valuable tool for achieving this”, says SANBI’s Prof. John Donaldson, Chair of South Africa’s Scientific Authority. “Identifying which species are declining from trade and why helps to assess whether trade is detrimental to the survival of particular species and informs decisions regarding listing on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The release of Mammal Red List data is therefore an important precursor to the upcoming Conference of Parties.”

The revised Mammal Red List, which will be undertaken by the Endangered Wildlife Trust, forms part of a series of national Red List projects recently completed by SANBI and partners, which include Butterflies, Reptiles and Birds; all of which include examples of species threatened by illegal trade. The Mammal Red List, which covers 338 assessments, was made possible by over 400 experts who provided their data and expertise to inform each assessment. It was funded via the South African National Biodiversity Institute (through a grant by the Norwegian Government that aims to build capacity in the southern Africa region for undertaking assessments), the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Department of Environmental Affairs and E Oppenheimer & Son, De Beers Group of Companies. The full 2016 Mammal Red List findings will be released in November 2016. Assessments for the key CITES listed mammals to be deliberated upon during CoP17 are available at the following link: https://www.ewt.org.za/Reddata/reddata.html

Contacts:
Matthew Child
Mammal Red List Coordinator
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Phone: +27 11 372 3600
Email: matthewc@ewt.org.za

Domitilla Raimondo
Threatened Species Programme Manager
Biodiversity Research and Monitoring
South African National Biodiversity Institute
IUCN Red List Committee
d.raimondo@sanbi.org.za
Tel: +27 11 483 5000

Dr Harriet Davies-Mostert
Head of Conservation
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Phone: +27 11 372 3600
Email: harrietd@ewt.org.za

Additional Information and Useful Links
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
http://www.sanbi.org
http://mammalmap.adu.org.za/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Key conservation organisations secure global support to end canned hunting

The Endangered Wildlife Trust is pleased to announce another small victory for the fight against canned lion hunting. The EWT, in association with Wildlands, the South African Wildlife College (SAWC), and a range of other organisations, has supported the initiative spearheaded by Blood Lions™ to secure global conservation support to stop the canned hunting and non-conservation based captive breeding of lion and other predators.

shutterstock_131769404

This support will be formally announced at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, which is taking place in Hawaii from the 1st to 10th September. The IUCN – the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – is the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network, with over 1,300 member organisations and support from over 16,000 environmental experts.

The IUCN support flows from a formal motion submitted by the Blood Lions™ team and partners, to the IUCN membership. This motion has been approved by an overwhelming majority (Category A IUCN members-governments and government agencies: 78% Yes, 22% no; Category B IUCN members-NGOs: 83% yes, 17% no) and will be adopted during the congress.

The motion recognises:
• That the continued breeding of lions for the specific purpose of ‘canned lion hunting’ or ‘canned lion shooting’, by sectors of the wildlife industry in South Africa has escalated. ‘Canned hunting’ is regarded as a situation where an animal is physically unable to escape from a restricted enclosure and/or is captive bred and mentally disinclined to escape due to humanisation as a result of hand-rearing, petting of young animals and close human contact in captive facilities;
• That professional hunting associations within South Africa and internationally oppose the hunting of animals under ‘canned’ conditions;
• The limited scope of legal options currently available to the South African Government to terminate ‘canned lion hunting’;
• That most South African captive lion breeding facilities do not conform to or comply with the animal welfare standards published by the International Organisation for Animal health;
• That welfare matters associated with the captive breeding of lion are currently not regulated through appropriate legislative provisions;
• That enhanced compliance monitoring and enforcement is required to ensure compliance with existing legislative provisions relating to captive breeding facilities;
• That there is a need to undertake research to determine whether the captive breeding of lion has a conservation role and the impact of hunting of captive populations on wild lion populations;
• That the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Cat Specialist Group has not identified captive breeding as a conservation action; and
• That captive breeding of lions has not been identified as a conservation action in any African Lion Conservation Planning Programme.

The motion requests the IUCN Director General, relevant Commissions and the South African National IUCN Members Committee to encourage the South African Government, as well as all other southern African Governments, to support this initiative by reviewing existing legislative provisions regulating this activity and drafting, enacting and implementing legislation by 2020 and giving reasonable time frames to:

a) develop and implement norms and standards, supported by the South African Scientific Authority, that define the conditions under which the hunting of Lions is regarded as “canned hunting” and to legally prohibit the hunting of lions under these conditions’;

b) restrict captive breeding of lions to registered zoos or registered facilities that demonstrate a clear conservation benefit;

c) develop norms and standards for the management of captive-bred lions in South Africa that address welfare, biodiversity and utilisation aspects (including new emerging uses such as harvesting of lion for the bone and meat trade), taking into account Threatened or Protected Species (ToPS) regulations, legislation and IUCN guidelines governing this activity; and

d) ensure compliance with, and enforcement of, all relevant legislation.

After the motion has been formally approved at the Congress, the IUCN Director General and IUCN Commissions will be requested to take the necessary actions to provide the guidance, leadership, support and international lobbying that may be required by the South African Government to enable the motion; and encourage and provide support for other Member States in southern Africa to follow this initiative.

The EWT has been fighting canned Lion hunting over the years through a number of initiatives, including:
• Running awareness campaigns around the link between cub petting and canned hunting through position statements, public presentations and media campaigns.
• Working with Fair Trade Tourism to develop criteria for sustainable wildlife volunteer tourism that does not provide for hands on interactions with large carnivores.
• Lobbying government to amend legislation to end the practice.
• Investigating the legalities of Lion captive breeding facilities through permit analysis.
• Working with the Centre for Environmental Rights to investigate novel legal avenues that can be used to end the practice.

Dr. Kelly Marnewick
Carnivore Conservation Programme Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
kellym@ewt.org.za

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

Posted in Carnivore Conservation Programme | Leave a comment

Empowering women through conservation-driven communities

As Women’s Month draws to a close, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) reflects on the role a conservation organisation has to play in empowering women, both in the workplace and in communities. Ndzalama Chauke, The EWT’s Wildlife in Trade Programme Administrator, elaborates: “As a young woman, many people were surprised at my desire to get involved in conservation – they told me this was a man’s job, but I think I’ve shown them that anyone can have a career in conservation if it’s really what they want! Prior to getting involved with the EWT, first through a Conservation Leadership Training Programme, then as an intern, and now as a full-time member of staff, I had no idea of the scope of the conservation industry – I thought you either had to be a field guide or an environmental educator. But there’s so much more to it! And the EWT really places an emphasis on what’s important to each individual team member and his or her development. I was never treated like someone who could only make photocopies or do other jobs that wouldn’t build on my experience, and when I met up with other interns, I realised that the amount of exposure to different elements of conservation work we were given at the EWT was unique. And with the support of my manager and mentor, I know I will continue to find my way to achieving my dreams.”

Wetland plant stock for Isipingo rehabilitation

Women make up more than half the team at the EWT, and the organisation takes a firm stance on providing equal opportunities to all employees, regardless of gender or race. A strong emphasis is also placed on a culture of learning and development, and many of the women of the EWT have grown their careers within the organisation, starting out as interns and progressing from there, much like Ndzalama. More importantly, a number of the EWT’s conservation in action programmes are designed to include community work which empowers women.

The EWT was the first conservation NGO in the country to recognise the importance of Population, Health and Environment (PHE) programmes as a means of acknowledging women’s reproductive and health rights and the role of empowering women in keeping family sizes sustainable and small. These kinds of programmes provide an important model for marginalised rural areas where community health and wellbeing is dependent on ecosystem health, like many of those in which the EWT operates. PHE programmes integrate improved sexual and reproductive health services with conservation actions and the creation of livelihoods. They have been proven to result in greater health, human welfare and conservation outcomes than single sector approaches, and the EWT is proud to be the only South African conservation organisation currently implementing such programmes.

One example of this work is the ground-breaking initiative run by the EWT called “Hayi Laa!” (meaning “Not Here!” in Shangaan) in Hluvukani, Limpopo, funded by the British High Commission Prosperity Fund.. This innovative project addressed both social and wildlife crimes in the community, through a series of five day workshops attended by more than 600 people. The workshops were based on a model designed to create community-wide attitudes of zero tolerance towards all forms of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and HIV/AIDS stigma, developed by the EWT’s project partner The Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP). While the primary focus remained on women’s rights and the social crimes that impact on these, awareness of wildlife crime was incorporated into the model as well. This was important as both social and wildlife crimes tend to be underreported, and because the criminal syndicates that can infiltrate communities as a result of wildlife crime also tend to attract other social problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, and prostitution, impacting on the women of the community.
Alternative livelihood projects are another core offering from the EWT that facilitate the empowerment of women in the community. These projects are incorporated into a number of the organisation’s programmes, including the African Crane Conservation Programme (ACCP), which has provided start-up capital for livelihood activities that do not cause wetland degradation, including craft making, poultry production, beekeeping and backyard gardening, and have also trained female nature guides so that they can gain the technical skills needed for them to be employed in the ecotourism industry. In Groot Marico, the EWT’s Source to Sea Programme has partnered with businesswoman, Mickaela Fay, in a social enterprise silk production start-up. This will facilitate the setting up of small-scale silk worm farms, and the team is currently developing the business plan and sourcing the materials and equipment for a pilot. If this social enterprise proves to be viable, they will upscale and expand, thereby increasing the number of business and job opportunities available to the people in this community.

The EWT’s Threatened Amphibian Programme’s Natural Resource Management project also has a particular emphasis on women – the target for employment is 60% women and the team is currently on about 29 (43%) females out of a team of a total of 67. Tawanda Msomi, a young woman and supervisor on the project’s Bluff team says: “It gives me a sense of pride to know that I am doing my bit to help the environment by working with the EWT on this project.” The project entails alien plant clearing and wetland rehabilitation work as part of the Pickersgill’s Reed Frog project. This naturally involves hard physical labour in terms of alien plant clearing, but the EWT team has also provided training on plant propagation, establishing living nurseries to grow indigenous plants for rehabilitation purposes, wetland rehabilitation and vegetable gardening activities with a reduced impact on the wetland areas in which the EWT is working. These are skills which can also be utilised in other areas of the women’s lives, adding to the empowering effect.

Precious Morgan, receptionist at the EWT, whose mother also worked for the organisation for many years as its bookkeeper, sums it up by saying: “I think the EWT is a really special place to work, not just because of what we do to save animals and habitats, but also because the work we do has such an important impact on communities. The work that we do with schools, helping children to get food by learning to garden, and with women in communities like Groot Marico, where we help them to find alternative ways to make a living, is so important to me.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

DRIVING CHANGE: PROTECTING THE PROTECTED

24 August 2016
Start

South Africa currently has a serious problem with regards to road-related fatalities, and this epidemic is relevant to wildlife too. Insurance claims suggest that approximately R82.5 million is paid each year against collisions with wild animals, though the costs to wildlife of these collisions are never calculated. So what are the consequences for animals? The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is tackling this question and working to find solutions to the problems associated with wildlife and transport infrastructure.

shutterstock_43493521

Perhaps the most obvious concern is the direct and negative consequences of vehicle-wildlife collisions, more commonly known as ‘roadkill’. Reports via social media platforms from members of the public show a high level of public disquiet and emotional concern about the rate of road deaths in parks, including issues related to speeding and careless driving, and the conservation impacts and wildlife welfare risks such driving poses. To take a closer look into the problem the EWT launched a new project in 2014 aimed specifically at wildlife and road issues in nature reserves and parks.

In 2014, Pilanesberg National Park was the first reserve to support the initiative, where many wildlife species including leopard and zebra have been killed on the roads. Following this, research continued in Addo Elephant National Park in 2015. The research team set out to monitor driver behaviour through placing a fake snake on the road, and recording how many times it was ‘hit’ and the speed at which the vehicle was travelling. We found that approximately 50% of drivers hit the fake snake. “From our survey, it seems that observation levels of the driver, rather than the speed of the vehicle, is the key factor in causing roadkill,” explains Wendy Collinson, the Project Executant of the EWT’s Wildlife and Roads Project.

Armed with a better understanding of the reasons why roadkill may be happening in national parks, the research team have returned to Pilanesberg National Park to undertake follow-up work. “A driver awareness campaign is to be launched in parks to make drivers more aware of animals on the roads themselves,” Collinson commented. “We plan to test a number of awareness-measures with visitors to the park and to assess which method works best. This will guide us on future decisions in other parks that will improve the quality of the experience of park visitors and safeguard the animals in these protected areas,” she concluded.

The EWT is also excited to announce that the project has expanded to Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park through a joint collaboration with the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, as well as Table Mountain National Park, where preliminary roadkill surveys have begun. “We are also eagerly awaiting the start of some surveys to begin in Kruger National Park, with support from the University of Mpumalanga and SANParks,” stated Collinson. “There is an urgent need to better quantify and understand the impacts of roads on wildlife in protected areas and to develop and test methods to manage these. Ultimately, through understanding the causes of roadkill, this project will guide further research, specifically for recommended roadkill-reduction measures in other protected areas in South Africa.”

The project is novel, unique and innovative in its design since it also uses volunteers or citizen scientists to assist with data collection. Citizen scientists are becoming more recognised by wildlife researchers as a support to expert data collection. To galvanise public participation to this process, the EWT has taken to the internet to get people to report wildlife fatalities. The EWT has a Smartphone app, Road Watch, which allows data to be quickly and accurately captured, assisting people to easily submit their information. Other social media platforms include Facebook and LinkedIn.

The EWT’s Wildlife and Roads Project in Protected Areas is supported by Bridgestone SA, Copenhagen Zoo and Mikros Traffic Monitoring. Collaborations include: Mpumalanga University, University of KZN, North West Parks and Tourism Board, South African National Parks and Africa:Live.

End.

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

Constant Hoogstad
Manager: Wildlife & Energy Programme & Wildlife & Roads Project
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
constanth@ewt.org.za

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

Posted in Wildlife and Transport Programme | Leave a comment

The Business Case for Biodiversity

By Shelley Lizzio, Manager: National Biodiversity and Business Network and Michael Adams, National Biodiversity and Business Network
ShellyL@ewt.org.za
MichaelA@ewt.org.za

Biodiversity is the foundation of our existence and the prerequisite for doing business. Surprisingly few business realise that around 40% of the global economy is based on biological products or processes. Indeed, businesses, whether they realise it or not, profit directly or indirectly from the variety of ecosystems, species and genetic biodiversity in the extraction and production of raw materials, and in the distribution and marketing of products. The global loss of biodiversity, along with climate change, represents one of the greatest business challenges of our time.

Each year, our planet’s complex land and water systems — a ‘natural living infrastructure’— produce an estimated $72 trillion worth of ‘free’ goods and services essential to a well-functioning global economy. That’s more than four times the size of the US economy. Because these benefits aren’t bartered and sold in the marketplace, their value is exceedingly hard to monetise on corporate or government financial statements. As a result, this value has largely been left unaccounted for in business decisions and market transactions. This is starting to change.
Businesses that seek to remain competitive in today’s market would do well to take cognisance of risks surrounding their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity as well as the opportunities available to businesses that seek to sustainably utilise services and products that stem from our planets biodiversity.

The EWT’s National Biodiversity and Business Network (NBBN), founded in 2013, is at the forefront of this emerging business imperative. The NBBN is a South African-based network of businesses, industries and related stakeholders, including government, NGOs and academic institutions. The aim of the NBBN is to facilitate engagement amongst its members and to support the mainstreaming of biodiversity into business agendas and operations. The NBBN seeks to create public and corporate awareness about biodiversity and its importance, as well as to help companies identify and manage their own impacts on nature. The initiative encourages companies to integrate biodiversity and ecosystem services in all environmental and sustainability management systems and practices.

Over the past two years, the NBBN, in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs, conducted a preliminary baseline assessment of the current approaches and practices of South African businesses to the mainstreaming of biodiversity. The results of this assessment have recently been published in a report entitled: Overview of current approaches and practices of South African businesses to the mainstreaming of biodiversity: a preliminary baseline assessment. To download a full copy of the report please visit https://www.ewt.org.za/BUSINESSDEVELOPMENT/events.html

Report Cover

Report Cover

A number of key findings are described in the report. Less than 40% of the companies that were reviewed demonstrated a good understanding of biodiversity and related ecosystem services (these are services we receive from nature such as the production of oxygen).
A similarly low percentage of companies showed an adequate understanding of the economic and social importance of biodiversity, or of the business risks and opportunities around natural capital. Most of the businesses that were reviewed did not consider biodiversity as a part of their core business, with more than 60% of companies displayed an ‘ad-hoc’ corporate approach to biodiversity, with no vision, strategy, specific objectives or targets regarding biodiversity.
In order for businesses to take on board the concepts of biodiversity and natural capital the business case for mainstreaming biodiversity into business needs to be consolidated and clearly articulated. To this end, the NBBN is continually looking to address these and other recommendations and research in collaboration with business, the NGO sector and the South African government.

It is imperative that companies realise that the consequences of biodiversity loss will not just affect those companies with direct reliance on natural resources but will also affect the supply chains and growth objectives of most industry sectors in the developed and developing world.

Biodiversity is our ‘natural capital’ with immense economic significance for South Africa, and therefore, by investing in this capital we are investing in South Africa and its future. Without a strong commitment from the business sector, achieving the global targets set for human well‐being and biodiversity conservation becomes all the more difficult.
The NBBN is supported by and partners with the Department of Environmental Affairs, Nedbank Limited, Hatch Goba, De Beers, Transnet, Pam Golding Properties, Pick n Pay and Woolworths.

Posted in NBBN | Leave a comment

Let’s Do it Ourselves!

By Bridget Corrigan, Manager: EWT Source to Sea Programme
BridgetC@ewt.org.za

The Marico Catchment Conservation Project is a fantastic example of how much can be achieved when there is community involvement and buy-in. A local community focus group has named the project A Re Itireleng (‘let’s do it ourselves’) and are committed to leading the way when it comes to enhancing sustainable water management and green economy for the benefit of people and the environment in the Marico River Catchment. What’s more, the project team is set to undertake their first full-scale integrated People Health Environment (PHE) programme, highlighting the importance that is placed on the connection between community and environment.

This project is being undertaken in an area of great conservation significance, which is currently being impacted by climate change and where the community members have, themselves identified the need for greater family planning provision. By supporting rural communities to enter into the green economy and thereby reduce dependency and demands on the overstretched water resource of the Marico River, it will foster improved water resource management and stakeholder cooperation within the catchment. By establishing a number of ‘Living Farms’ in a particularly vulnerable area (arid climate, erratic rainfall, and erosion problems) we will assist the emerging farmers to protect and sustainably manage their ecological capital. Healthy and diverse ecosystems provide essential agricultural services, such as the increased provision and purification of water; protection against extreme events; pollination, grazing and increased soil fertility. Because we take an integrated approach to catchment conservation, we are contributing towards many of the newly developed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in an under-resourced region that is particularly vulnerable to climate change and poverty.

UN-SDGs

This approach allows us to work towards not only improved catchment and water management practices that ensure the greatest degree of water security and resource protection under changing climatic conditions, but also the development of an informed and engaged catchment community where the youth are included in integrated water resource management, and an active citizen science network, collecting data on river condition and flows at WESSA EcoSchools in the catchment. This will feed into a local monitoring programme, in partnership with provincial conservation agencies. A robust and innovative green economy supports women and youth to develop sustainable micro-enterprises and diversify the livelihood opportunities, and provides economic stability and market support for small-scale producers in this catchment by facilitating the market and supply-chain links through a cross-sectoral approach. The integrated approach also provides for improved community education on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy and greater access to family planning services, thereby increasing women’s agency and reducing the demand on natural resources over the long term.

Tour guide sharing knowledge on the process of managing worms to produce silk

Tour guide sharing knowledge on the process of managing worms to produce silk

The development of a local green economy is one of the key objectives that we are working on in the hopes that access to sustainable jobs and business opportunities will prevent communities from supporting unsustainable economic activities, such as mining in the area. To this end we have partnered with businesswomen, Mickaela Fay in a social enterprise silk production start-up. We are going to be working with the African Pride Nature Conservation Association (a group of young motivated people from Reboile, Marico) in setting up small-scale silk worm farms. We are currently developing the business plan and sourcing the materials and equipment for a pilot. We visited the African Silk Farm just outside Graskop in May 2016 (the only other South African producer) to find out more about the operations and management of such an enterprise. If this social enterprise proves to be viable, we will upscale and expand, thereby increasing the number of business and job opportunities available to the people in this community.

Emerging farmer focus group meeting in Koffiekraal

Emerging farmer focus group meeting in Koffiekraal

We would like to thank UNDP New World, Foundation for Human Rights and Elizabeth Wakeman Henderson Charitable Foundation for their support.
donorsS2S

Posted in SOURCE TO SEA PROGRAMME | 1 Comment

Creating Cohesion

By Kerryn Morrison, ICF/EWT Senior Manager: Africa
KerrynM@ewt.org.za

When team members are scattered across several countries in Africa, it’s easy for a sense of cohesion to be lost. Yet in order to implement the ambitious strategy of the African Crane Conservation Programme (ACCP), a partnership between the Endangered Wildlife Trust and International Crane Foundation, a cohesive and committed team is exactly what’s needed. The obvious solution was to bring everyone together, but could that be achieved across geographical barriers?

ACCP team

The team is currently spread across several countries in Africa – Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia – with a lot of our interactions happening virtually. Although a reality for an African wide programme, a foundation was required for the establishment of a real sense of team work and collaboration within the ACCP. This is imperative to ensure that the vision of securing Africa’s four resident crane species in the wild, including the Blue, Black Crowned, Grey Crowned and Wattled Cranes, is realised. We therefore brought together 16 of our ACCP team for a two-week workshop of team building, lesson sharing, development of project impact monitoring and training. Although our Rwandan team of four were unable to join us due to South African policies which currently do not allow Rwandans into the country, our Rwanda Country Coordinator joined us via VoIP for some of our key sessions. During our first week, we were joined by Dr. Harriet Davies-Mostert (EWT’s Head of Conservation) and Dr. Tim Jackson (EWT’s Senior Technical Editor), and by Cobus Theron (EWT’s Drylands Conservation Programme Manager) and Nicky McLeod (Environmental Rural Solutions, one of our partners).

The first week was held at St Bernard’s Peak in the Southern Drakensberg where we spent time exploring project development and the theory of change to ensure that our projects had the conservation impact we desired. We then delved deeper into our monitoring systems, developing the foundation for a standardised monitoring framework for our crane, ecosystem goods and services and socio-economic monitoring processes. With time spent in the field, in small group discussions and in discussions with the whole group, we co-created monitoring frameworks, shared lessons, and obtained an improved understanding of the project sites we have across Africa.

For the second week, the team headed up to the EWT headquarters in Johannesburg for their annual Development Week. Here, the team were exposed to key threats to cranes, such as powerlines, poisoning and mining, and to a host of other topics relevant to our work, as well as to training that could contribute to our effectiveness, such as GIS training and basic photography skills.
The two weeks together were invaluable and have forged friendships and the foundation we required to move forward as a dedicated, passionate and inspired team. Everyone committed to at least one personal goal that arose out of the workshop and to a goal that would help develop the team.

This work is made possible by the support of the Dohmen Family Foundation, Whitley Fund for Nature, Dennis Geiler, Joe Branch, EU, Nedbank Green Trust and Rand Merchant Bank.
Crane conservation in action!

The International Crane Foundation, the EWT’s partners on the African Crane Conservation Programme, recently created a virtual showcase of their exhibits. Please click on the link below to view the Blue Crane exhibit in 360 Virtual Reality! Use your cursor to move the image up down and all around. There will be more images coming soon!
https://www.google.com/maps/@43.5477799,-89.7563991,3a,75y,262.44h,82.6t/data=!3m8!1e1!3m6!1s-gl3lIbk7XuY%2FV3-8PcgwsoI%2FAAAAAAAAAPY%2FWoy82zZwBKQTZNr9qfIbgsoHBHSo6fw2ACLIB!2e4!3e11!6s%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2F-gl3lIbk7XuY%2FV3-8PcgwsoI%2FAAAAAAAAAPY%2FWoy82zZwBKQTZNr9qfIbgsoHBHSo6fw2ACLIB%2Fw203-h101-n-k-no%2F!7i5376!8i2688!6m1!1e1?hl=en

Posted in African Crane Conservation Programme | Leave a comment

Putting African Road Ecology on the Map

By Wendy Collinson, Manager: EWT Wildlife and Roads Project
WendyC@ewt.org.za

Eight African road ecologists are off to France later this year to attend the fifth Infra Eco Network Europe (IENE), an international conference on ecology and transportation. IENE is a network of experts working with various aspects of transportation, infrastructure and ecology. The network was initiated in 1996 to provide an independent, international and interdisciplinary arena for the exchange and development of expert knowledge, and with the aim to promote a safe and ecologically sustainable pan-European transport infrastructure.
The EWT first attended the conference in 2014, the first time Africa has been represented, and where we were the proud recipients of the prestigious IENE Personal Achievement Award. This was to recognise our achievements in communication, awareness raising and new projects for mitigating the impacts of roads on wildlife in South Africa. It was a huge honour to receive the award and to be recognised by so many leading experts in the field.

Our attendance at the 2016 IENE conference will see a flood of presentations from African road ecology experts organised into a ‘special Africa session’. This will be the first time that so many representatives from Africa have attended an international conference on this subject and it was made possible with the support of the French Foreign Ministry, the French Embassy in Tanzania, the French Embassy in South Africa, the Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité and the IENE Programme Committee.

We will be presenting on our work conducted in South Africa and Tanzania highlighting three of our roadkill mitigation projects; using low-level fences to reduce roadkill in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area for amphibians, reptiles and small mammals, and in Noordhoek, Cape Town for the Endangered Western Leopard Toad, with the third project that uses bridges over roads to reduce samango monkey roadkill in the Soutpansberg. Two other presentations will showcase our five-year project that undertakes an assessment of roadkill in protected areas. We will also be presenting our findings of roadkill data gathered through citizen science, and the value of data in making decisions for conserving biodiversity on roads. Driver behaviour and attitudes towards animals on roads is poorly understood and research undertaken in Tanzania will be one of the first studies to present this, whilst the positive benefits of roadkill will also be discussed and how it can assist in identifying parasites.

This will be the first time that so many voices from Africa will be heard at one forum dealing with matters of road ecology and it is hoped that there will be opportunities for collaboration with other international experts in this field. We hope to learn more about roadkill–reduction methods that have been successfully trialled in other countries so that we may adapt and apply them here. We also hope to share some of our good practices that are ‘leading the way’ in promoting human-vehicle-safety in South Africa as well as conserving wildlife through a reduction in wildlife-vehicle-collisions.

The EWT’s Wildlife and Roads Project is supported by Bridgestone SA, N3 Toll Concession, Bakwena Platinum Corridor Concession, De Beers Group Services and Mikros Traffic Monitoring. Collaborations with the listed projects include: Rhodes University, University of the Free State, University of Limpopo, University of Venda, North West Parks and Tourism Board, South African National Parks, Lajuma Research Centre, Toad NUTS Volunteer Group, and Centre for Wildlife Management Studies, Tanzania.

Posted in Wildlife and Transport Programme | Leave a comment

Making the Leap towards Sustainable Change

By Cherise Acker, Field Operations Officer: EWT Threatened Amphibian Programme
CheriseA@ewt.org.za

The EWT’s Threatened Amphibian Programme (TAP) envisions pristine wetlands filled with leaping frogs as a result of effective habitat and species conservation efforts.. Saving wetlands involves working with their wetland neighbours, people. Wetland neighbours that can talk back and often even fight back! Threatening our precious vision of a picturesque wetland chorused with a string of chirping Pickersgill’s Reed Frogs surrounded by urban settlements. So, can people and nature live in harmony?

Societies themselves are like living systems. They are dynamic, changing to the beat of the political, economic and environmental tones which dictate their survival. The TAP realises that understanding how society interacts with its environment is central to the success of urban wetland conservation.

TAP Intern, Jiba Magwaza, facilitating social surveys with one of the alien clearing teams in Durban

TAP Intern, Jiba Magwaza, facilitating social surveys with one of the alien clearing teams in Durban

The TAP adopts employment strategies that are creating green economies through alien plant clearing programmes and green skill capacity development within the greater Durban area. Through this, bridges (both figurative and literal) are gradually being built between frogs, their habitats and their human neighbours, highlighting the benefits of urban conservation. To appreciate the strength of this economic and environmental relationship, a socio-economic study has been initiated to understand how green economies contribute to social change within a community. The study uses a questionnaire approach to collect information from our six Natural Resource Management teams (approximately 60 people), which is collected on a bimonthly basis. Data will be compared to observe work satisfaction change patterns over time.

Furthermore, we are looking at how individual team members’ attitudes towards and knowledge about the natural environment change over time through exposure to working within wetland systems and basic environmental education. This study is based on a rating scale questionnaire and is redone on a six month basis.
However, individual change does not translate to permanent societal change within a community. The conditions required for that change depend on economic and political stability that is conducive towards sustainable change. The TAP’s NRM project is facing many challenges on this front, from budget limitations to wetland loss and degradation by land invasions fuelled by protests in the run up to upcoming municipal elections and political agendas.

Wetland plant stock for Isipingo rehabilitation

Wetland plant stock for Isipingo rehabilitation

It is for this reason that we are working with various local and national government structures, including eThekwini Municipality and the Department of Environmental Affairs, as well as traditional community stakeholders to build strong partnerships based on healthy and mutually beneficial relationships to affect sustainable change. Some of these relationships include working with community gardeners towards sustainable livelihoods that do not promote habitat loss and we hope to initiate community recycling systems in the near future.
Lastly, we are working with the teams on alternative livelihoods (firewood, wood chipping and recycling initiatives) to ensure that even once the TAP’s NRM Project comes to an end, the green economy is entrenched within the community. Through these strategies, we hope that these wetland neighbours overlook picturesque and functional wetlands and look forward to hearing the chirp of the Pickersgill’s Reed Frogs as the evening sets.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank the Department of Environmental Affairs, Rand Merchant Bank and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund for their support as well as project partners, eThekwini Municipality and the KZN Conservancies.

Posted in THREATENED AMPHIBIAN PROGRAMME | Leave a comment