Unlikely heroes – rats to the rescue?

African Giant Pouched Rats (Cricetomys ansorgei) are well-known to be able to successfully detect landmines and tuberculosis, but can that success be extended to helping in the fight against wildlife crime? The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is about to find out!

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The EWT is embarking on an exciting new trial, in partnership with Tanzanian based APOPO, and funded by US Fish and Wildlife Services, to determine whether these special rodents can help detect illegal shipments of pangolin skin and scales, with pangolins being the most widely trafficked mammals in the world; and hardwood timber in shipping containers. Kirsty Brebner of the EWT’s Wildlife in Trade Programme, who is heading up the project, explains: “The African Giant Pouched Rats’ keen sense of smell will, during this ‘proof of concept’ phase, first be assessed in a laboratory environment to see whether they are able to discriminate between the target substances and a wide variety of other control substances. During this initial phase, an appropriate indication mechanism will also be developed and the best operational option for the rats to detect hardwoods and pangolins in containers will be assessed.”

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Currently, contraband, particularly when smuggled in large volumes, is often transported from Africa in shipping containers. This presents a particularly challenging environment for law enforcement officials at ports. The sheer volume of cargo going through ports makes scanning every container using X-ray scanners virtually impossible, and X-ray techniques are unable to differentiate between different types of organic material. Dogs have been successfully used to detect wildlife contraband, and have been used for shipping containers. However, the fact that shipping containers are sealed, and only provide limited scent to the dogs, creates a challenging environment for detection. The use of a remote air sampling system, where air from a container is sucked onto a filter which is then presented to a dog to determine if contraband is present, has been used successfully. This exciting new trial by the EWT builds on the use of scent detection by dogs, but will take advantage of the rats’ added agility and ability to access the container vents, which would provide the most air from the container, and potentially the most scent. Alternatively, the rats will detect scents sampled onto a filter through the vents. The testing of these two options forms part of the initial trial.

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Should this ‘proof of concept’ prove successful, it would have a major impact on illegal wildlife trafficking. These unlikely heroes could then be further trained to potentially search for other widely trafficked species such as elephant ivory and rhino horn.

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

Adam Pires
Wildlife in Trade Programme Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
+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

http://www.ewt.org.za

Posted in WILDLIFE IN TRADE PROGRAMME | Leave a comment

Black Crowned Cranes: A Species at the Crossroads

Black Crowned Cranes Balearica pavonina are residents of the Sahel regions of Africa from Mauratania on the Atlantic coast in West Africa to the Western Ethiopian Highlands and Rift Valley in Ethiopia in the east.  This crane is the least well known of the world’s 15 crane species.  Although currently classified as Vulnerable, it is highly likely that this crane is in a far worse situation.  Affected significantly by droughts in the semi-arid environments it is often found in, this species is also threatened by habitat loss, human related disturbance which results in reduced breeding productivity, and the illegal removal of chicks and adults from the wild for domestic and international captive trade markets.  Sadly, its range too has reduced significantly from a once almost continuous distribution to a highly fragmented one.bcc-on-northern-baila-river-1

 

Black Crowned Cranes in Casamance

Since the status survey and action plan for Black Crowned Cranes was compiled in 2003 under the International Crane Foundation (ICF) and Wetlands International collaboration, several projects have been undertaken in West Africa for the species.  These have largely focused on broad scale distribution and status and the development of action plans across the region’s countries.

In October 2016, Richard Beilfuss (ICF CEO) and I visited Senegal for the 14th Pan African Ornithological Congress.  We used this opportunity to then visit the two key Black Crowned Crane sites in Senegal with Idrissa Ndiaye, a bird researcher in the country.  We first visited the Senegal River Delta in the Djoudj National Park in the north and then the Casamance region in the south.  My ideas around both Senegal and Black Crowned Cranes were completely wrong on all accounts, and I am thrilled that we have made the move now towards strengthening our efforts for Black Crowned Cranes.

Senegal is a vibrant, peaceful, colourful country, with food that strongly draws on its French background.  Unfortunately, the beaches and towns in Senegal are probably the most polluted I have ever experienced, but this is contrasted with far cleaner situations in the more rural locations.

I always had the idea that Black Crowned Cranes were very similar to Grey Crowned Cranes.  However, this is definitely not the case.  Idrissa has studied cranes for several years and has a wealth of knowledge on their behavior and nesting habits.  Although both cranes perch in trees, almost everything else they do is different.  The nests we saw were large mounds of vegetation either on islands or in large wetland systems where the nests were floating platforms surrounded by water.  Interestingly, the parents seem also to hide young chicks on islands as they head off together to forage in neighbouring rice fields a distance away.  I do not know of any crane species that will do this as a matter of habit.  The cranes were all extremely wary of people and we battled to come within several 100 m of any birds – we really battled to understand the cause of this considering the fact that local communities supposedly do not hunt, eat, trade in or harm the species.

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Idrissa at a nest on the Baila River in Casamance

Despite foraging in rice fields around these large floodplain and wetland systems, there appears to be very limited to no crop damage allegations.  It probably helps that it is only adult pairs of cranes that forage in rice fields close to harvesting – at a time when they have left their chicks hidden whilst they forage.  Flocks of cranes appear to only forage in rice fields following harvest in the dry season, and hence are then eating waste grain in these fields.

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Rice field in Casamance

The communities we interacted with all held the cranes in high esteem.  I had the fortune of meeting three community groups of the Jola people during our visit to Casamance.  Of particular interest is the Diedhou people within the Jola group – the Black Crowned Crane is their totem and is extremely highly regarded.  They have little understanding of the crane, but protect it vociferously.  The cranes are deeply embedded in their culture and stories.  They believe strongly that some of the women in the rice fields can understand and speak to the cranes, that cranes never damage rice crops of the Diedhou people and that a crane flying and calling over a village is announcing the death of someone.

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The Diedhou local dress in Casamance (note the Black Crowned Cranes on the dresses)

Sadly, many of the Black Crowned Crane strongholds are now no longer easily accessed by researchers and conservationists due to political instability, warfare and the fact that they are centered within extremist group strongholds, such as those of Boko Haram.  As a result, we are really only able now to focus attention on the species strongholds in Ethiopia and those along the West African coast extending from Mauratania to Guinea Bissau.  With smaller populations in these areas, it is going to be critical that we use the opportunity now to better understand the breeding ecology of this species and to ensure that they are secured in these sites.  Already assisting research in Ethiopia, the ICF / EWT Partnership will shortly start projects in Senegal and this West African region in collaboration with local NGOs and researchers.

 

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Community action to restore wetlands in Kabale District, Uganda

In the south western region of Uganda, wetlands have been extensively degraded and fragmented due to agricultural encroachment, much to the detriment of Grey Crowned Crane habitats. In such situations, when wetlands have shrunk  and become too fragmented to provide suitable breeding habitat for cranes, it is necessary to look beyond the mere protection of the remnant wetlands. One of our successful interventions in the Kabale District has been the introduction of community-based environmental actions aimed at restoring three interlinked aspects: wetland biophysical attributes, crane breeding habitats and socio-economic values attached to wetlands by local communities. We achieve these impacts through community-based wetland restoration. Community-based wetland restoration involves collective action by wetland users to re-introduce native plant species (mostly papyrus) in wetland sections degraded through unsustainable plant harvesting and land clearance for agriculture. It also involves delineation of wetland buffers and community agreements on permissible wetland-based livelihoods that are compatible with the maintenance of suitable crane breeding habitats.

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Community outreach to mobilise support for wetland restoration

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A crane defends its territory against cows at South Kiruruma Wetland

Our model of community-based wetland restoration was pilot-tested at Nyamuriro Wetland between 2006 and 2014. The pilot initiative demonstrated that wetland restoration can lead to increased wetland vegetation cover, protection of wetland patches for enhanced nesting success of cranes and restoration of socio-economic benefits (e.g., papyrus used as raw material for crafts and construction of roofs, ceilings and fences). Inspired by these successes, we introduced the model at another key crane site, South Kiruruma Wetland, in October 2016. Three community groups have started replanting papyrus on one section of wetland and agreed that there would not allow agricultural expansion into the restoration zone. The process of initiating the restoration project and securing community commitment was facilitated by Jimmy Muheebwa, EcoTrust Uganda’s Project Coordinator. EcoTrust is one of our national partners in Uganda. The project was funded by the Whitley Fund for Nature. Going forward, we will monitor the ecological impact of the restoration process and how it will translate into tangible benefits for the local community.

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Community members carrying papyrus rhizomes for replanting in the restoration zone

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Replanting papyrus to restore wetland vegetation cover

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Celebrating with WESSA Eco-Schools

Arbour Week is celebrated in South Africa from 1 – 7 September each year, and is an important opportunity not only to highlight the significance of trees, but also to ‘green’ urban environments. The EWT marked the occasion by planting trees at a number of our Eco-Schools in Alexandra and Hammanskraal.

The WESSA Eco-School programme is an internationally recognised programme run in 52 countries with more than 1,100 schools participating in South Africa. The Endangered Wildlife Trust supports ten schools in Hammanskraal and two in Alexandra, Johannesburg. The aim of programme is to help schools and communities to improve their environmental management, incorporate environmental education into the curriculum, and become more sustainable. This is done by the implementation of action projects stirred by themes such as nature and biodiversity, resource use, healthy living, to mention a few that are then implemented towards achieving this sustainability. Arbour Week provides an opportunity to increase awareness on the value of indigenous trees, and to get learners and educators involved in improving the environment at their schools by planting these trees.

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Later on in the month, we also celebrated World Recycling Day with some of our WESSA Eco-Schools in Hammanskraal by showcasing the recycling projects they did this year. Their work was so impressive that we picked not one, but two schools to receive the prize for best recycling project, with the theme ‘Resource Use’. Not only do these schools implement their chosen action project each year, they are also required to ensure that thematic content is integrated into the curriculum and that the project contributes to improved environmental management of their schools.

The winning schools, Itereleng Primary and Phelang LSEN, were treated to the experience of a lifetime when they were rewarded with a game drive in the Dinokeng Game Reserve!
This work was made possible by Bakwena N1/N4 Toll Concessionaire and SBV. Thanks also to Mongena, which is the flagship lodge in Dinokeng, for sponsoring the entire game drive including rangers, and to Cara Williamson for photography.

Emily Taylor, Coordinator: Urban Conservation and Gauteng Biodiversity Stewardship
EmilyT@ewt.org.za

Posted in URBAN CONSERVATION PROJECT | Leave a comment

South Africa steering initiatives for road ecology

With many wildlife species coming under increasing pressure from human development, there is a need for guidance around the planning of environmentally sustainable transport infrastructure. Developed by the EWT, “The Road Ahead: Guidelines to mitigation methods to address wildlife road conflict in South Africa” is the first handbook that offers key information for reducing the impacts of wildlife habitats and roads, and provides solutions for improved driver safety and the conservation of biodiversity and the environment.

On a daily basis, an average of 45 people die and 410 are injured on roads in South Africa; that’s a staggering 18,000 road deaths a year, giving South Africa one of the highest death rates in the world, according to figures from the Medical Research Council. What isn’t widely publicised, is the fact that wildlife is also significantly impacted on by road collisions. The EWT strongly believes that by working with relevant stakeholders within the transport sector, it is possible to design infrastructure, and support services that ensure the safety of both transportation users and wildlife. Furthermore, such infrastructure should support the economic needs of the country by enabling the goals of the National Infrastructure Plan (2012) and the National Development Plan (2013). “The Road Ahead: Guidelines to mitigation methods to address wildlife road conflict in South Africa” is intended for use by a range of stakeholders including road development agencies, environmental assessment practitioners, decision-makers such as the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Transport, and research institutions.

Copies of the handbook can be downloaded from our website at: https://www.ewt.org.za/WTP/WTP%20handbook%202016.pdf

A rising interest in road ecology on the continent also saw the first special Africa session hosted at the fifth Infra Eco Network Europe (IENE), an international conference on ecology and transportation, which took place from 30 August to 2 September 2016. 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 has been spearheading pioneering initiatives in the area of road ecology research in South Africa since 2010 through its Wildlife and Roads Project, and relished the opportunity to form part of an African contingent at this prestigious conference.

Presentations from the African delegates included work conducted in South Africa and Tanzania highlighting three roadkill mitigation projects. These included the use of low-level fences erected by the roadside to reduce roadkill for amphibians, reptiles and small mammals in northern Limpopo, and in Noordhoek, Cape Town for the Endangered Western Leopard Toad, as well as a project that uses bridges over roads to reduce Samango Monkey roadkill in the Soutpansberg. Two other presentations showcased our five-year project that undertakes an assessment of roadkill in protected areas, whilst we also presented our findings of roadkill data gathered through citizen science, and its value in making decisions for conserving biodiversity on the roads. Understanding driver behaviour and attitudes towards animals on roads is little understood and research undertaken in Tanzania was one of the first studies to present this. In addition, the benefits of roadkill were also discussed, including how it can assist in identifying parasites.

This year’s IENE project Award went to the Handbook of Road Ecology, a book designed to connect current scientific knowledge and practical requirements to address the pressing issues of transportation infrastructure development. The book has 114 authors from over 25 countries. Rodney van der Ree and his co-editors Daniel Smith and Clara Grilo brought together the world’s leading researchers, academics, practitioners and transportation agency personnel to present the current status of the ecological sustainability of the linear infrastructure. The EWT is proud of their contribution to this impressive and inspiring book that is attracting more people to the field of road ecology.

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. Support has also come from 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.

Wendy Collinson, Wildlife and Roads Project Executant
WendyC@ewt.org.za

Posted in Wildlife and Transport Programme | Leave a comment

Driven to succeed

The Endangered Wildlife Trust is committed not only to preserving the future of our most treasured species and spaces, but to nurturing future conservationists too.
Thabang Teffo is one such individual, who has excelled while studying for a BSc (Molecular and Life Sciences) at the University of Limpopo, and who shows leadership skills and a true passion for conservation combined with a good understanding of the interconnected nature of biodiversity. After Thabang took the initiative to approach the EWT for assistance, he was granted a partial bursary towards his ongoing studies and academic material. He explains how it all came about: “It all started when I attended a talk by Kirsty Brebner, EWT Rhino Project Manager, at Country Club Johannesburg. After attending the talk, I came back to the university and gave a presentation about this experience to my fellow students and supervisors in our parasitology lab. I realised that other students would benefit from attending such talks and sat down with my supervisors to get the go ahead to invite Kirsty to come and give a talk in our department. I also approached the EWT’s CEO, Yolan Friedmann, to request assistance with funding for my studies, and was so thrilled when my good academic performance resulted in this request being granted! I am so happy and grateful to have been given this privilege!”

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In his spare time, Thabang likes to read books and articles, and can often be found helping postgraduate students and his supervisors in the parasitology lab at the university. He also likes to attend talks and presentations by other organisations such as the Bird Club in Polokwane. He is inspired by Bill Gates, although Gates is neither a researcher nor a scientist, because he aspires to that kind of success and believes in doing what will benefit people collectively rather than individually. He goes on to say: “Young people should focus more on their future through education, should learn to take the initiative, and should stand up for themselves by being independent.”

Thabang intends on enrolling for his BSc Honours (Zoology) at the University of Limpopo in 2017, and has already decided on the focus of his Honours project, which is titled ‘Diversity and occurrence of road kill birds in Limpopo province’. After this, he is aiming to obtain his MSc and PhD, and according to him, “do lots of research and become one of the best and most famous researchers in the world!” We think he’s definitely got the talent and drive to make this happen!

Can you or your organisation help us to make a difference in the lives of more young conservationists? The EWT Bursary Fund is intended to offer support for needy and deserving students. Contributions to this fund offer B-BBEEE scorecard points and tax incentives. We urgently need more donors to help nurture young people’s hearts and minds! Let’s help the next generation continue to put conservation into action.

Belinda Glenn, Communication and Brand Manager
BelindaG@ewt.org.za

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Nurturing Citizen Scientists

Our wetlands form the heart of our water catchments, purifying our valuable water resources that are essential for the survival of all living things. However, these precious ecosystems are under severe threat from urban encroachment, pollution and overutilisation.

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The EWT Threatened Amphibian Programme (TAP) has a wonderful opportunity to change this through the establishment of green economies within communities. Our programme employs 61 people within six communities in the eThekwini District Municipality to remove alien invasive plants and rehabilitate wetlands habitats which are home to the Endangered Pickersgill’s Reed Frog. Our people working in the field not only receive a source of income for their work, which is funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs Natural Resource Management Project, but they also develop a sense of appreciation for these wonderful wetlands and their fauna and flora through this work. Through continuous exposure, they realise that their water resources are being polluted, and that this is ultimately threatening their livelihoods. They observe the wildlife and appreciate the beauty and value of these plants and animals.

As a means of measuring our teams’ growing sense of interest in their natural surroundings, TAP has turned to social media. We have created a WhatsApp group where our team members can post their pictures of the plants and animals they find. This is empowering a whole new group of people who are able to contribute as Citizen Scientists and we are excited and proud to be a part of this! Importantly, many of our team members realise that we are saving water by removing alien plants from wetland areas. Other feedback from team members includes Tawanda Msomi, based on the Bluff, who said: “It gives me a sense of pride to know that I am doing my bit to help the environment!” Another team member said: “We can’t believe that these plants are dangerous, I mean we have them in our gardens! So we go home now and take them out and we have a poster of the poisonous plants which we show our neighbours so that our children are safe.” This kind of comment is a lovely indication of how the work we do has a ripple effect.

The TAP team is excited to have the opportunity to nurture these Citizen Scientists in an effort to collectively care for our precious natural heritage, contributing to knowledge banks and policing emerging environmental threats.
We would like to take the opportunity to thank the Department of Environmental Affairs, eThekwini Municipality, Rand Merchant Bank and the Disney Foundation for their support.

Cherise Acker, Threatened Amphibian Programme Field Officer
CheriseA@ewt.org.za

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CITES in Johannesburg – experiencing a South African first

It isn’t every year that a huge international wildlife convention comes to your doorstep, so when I heard that the 17th CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP) was going to be at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, I was thrilled. It presented a unique opportunity to partake in and experience the process at very low expense and to raise awareness around issues that we face in South Africa. I was privileged enough to attend the previous CITES CoP in Bangkok, so I had already had an opportunity to understand the workings of the big hairy beast that is CITES and as such had managed to get over the ‘deer in the headlights’ feeling that I felt when I walked into the Bangkok CoP!

What struck me about the CoP was the amount of technical skill required to get over 180 countries in the world in a room, with live translations into three languages and the ability to run an organised voting and speaking system, and the formality of the proceedings, which reflected the gravity of the decisions that were being made.

The big discussions this year were around Elephants. For me, the key successes were:
1. The prohibiting of trade in wild African Lion bones and parts. While some were disappointed that lions did not get uplisted to Appendix I, remaining on Appendix II with this annotation offers a lot more protection to wild lions.
2. The uplisting of African Grey Parrots and all eight species of pangolins to Appendix 1 which will allow for tighter regulation of their trade. African Greys are traded as pets and while many are captive bred, there is evidence of significant removals from the wild as wild animals are cheaper than tame captive animals. This has led to significant declines in wild populations. Pangolins are probably the most trafficked animal in the world for their scales for traditional practices and their meat as a delicacy.
3. The acknowledgment that breeding tigers in captivity for their parts has not contributed to conservation and is to be discouraged and where possible stopped. Tiger bones are used in Chinese Traditional Medicine in Tiger Bone Wine as a general wellness tonic and captive breeding has been used in an attempt to supply this demand.
4. Tighter restrictions around trade linked to various social media platforms like Instagram where Cheetah cubs and other wildlife are often advertised. This was catalysed by our Cheetah trade recommendations from the previous CoP. Cheetahs are sought after as exotic pets especially in the Middle East, where they are seen as status symbols too. Many cubs are stolen from the wild in East Africa and smuggled in bad conditions that many do not survive.

My biggest disappointment was the annotation to the African Lion’s Appendix II listing that allows for the trade in bones and parts from South Africa’s captive bred lions. Granted, lion bones have been traded from South Africa’s captive bred animals for a few years already and this decision does put a few more checks and balances in place to monitor this trade, but it seems crazy to be promoting this when the breeding of tigers for their bones had been dissuaded a few days earlier. While some feel that supplying the demand will remove pressure from wild populations, there is no proof that this will happen. We have seen captive lions being poisoned for their parts over the past few months, while we do not know if this is local or international trade, it should be raising flags. Additionally, poached lions will always be free and often by supplying a product, the demand increases. It is going to be very interesting to see where this takes us in terms of lion conservation and captive breeding in the next three years.
There is often confusion around what CITES does and what the trade controls mean. CITES regulates international trade only, and has no control over in-country issues like local trade. An Appendix I listing also does not ban trade outright, but rather regulates it more strictly. As a convention only, it is only as strong as a country’s desire to enforce the regulations and implement the convention rules.

The EWT was involved in two primary roles at the CoP. Firstly, from a technical or scientific perspective, we provided comments on the proposals submitted by member states, and contributed to various side-events on topics up for decision-making at the CoP. Workshop topics presented by the EWT included ‘Vultures in Africa’, ‘Conservation Science’, ‘Cycads in Trade’, ‘Careers in Conservation’, ‘Cheetah Captive Trade in South Africa’ and ‘Carnivores and Transboundary Protected Areas’. These workshops and side events provide opportunities for delegates to get information about issues, provide supporting information around motions and start discussions around emerging issues. They also provide a platform for sharing information with the press and public. This CoP had the most side events ever and they were all very well attended. One of the most valuable aspects was the networking opportunities that were provided over snacks and wine. I got to meet the heads of several delegations at these events, as well as international donors and reputed scientists.
Secondly, the EWT was part of the Flauna Consortium that was contracted by the Department of Environmental Affairs to manage their communications programme around the event, as well as develop the legacy/sustainability projects associated with CITES. Our role was specialist advisor and Claire Patterson-Abrolat, EWT Special Projects Manager, with relevant input from other EWT staff, fed through technical information to the team which consisted of various communications experts such as social media, digital, creative, advertising and so on.
Another key opportunity from the CoP was having colleagues from international organisations in the country. In many cases I collaborate with people and organisations but seldom get to see them. I used this opportunity to take them on field trips during CoP down time to show them lion captive breeding first hand and also to showcase our reintroduction projects for Cheetahs and African Wild Dogs.

On the whole, there was a good feeling around the CoP and it was thought to be very successful. For many of us who work on the ground with these trade issues, we feel that the wheels turn very slowly. However, the convention remains a very important tool in our conservation tool box and it does make big differences in the international wildlife trade arena.

Dr. Kelly Marnewick, Carnivore Conservation Programme Manager
KellyM@ewt.org.za

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Saving our Wild Dogs

Following the recent outbreak of Canine Distemper Virus which lead to the demise of the “Lower Sabie Pack”, a Wild Dog disease survey and vaccination project in the Kruger National Park (KNP) was launched. The Endangered Wildlife Trust has assisted SANParks and State Veterinarians with locating and identifying suitable packs to fit with GPS tracking collars. This will allow us to monitor pack movements, test for various diseases and vaccinate. Follow up vaccinations are also required after the initial vaccination to boost immunity against Canine Distemper and rabies.

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The first four individuals from the “Toulon Pack” which was denning in close proximity to the “Lower Sabie Pack” were initially vaccinated in July and an adult male was fitted with a GPS collar. A second pack has also subsequently been darted, vaccinated and fitted with a GPS tracking collar as part of this ongoing project. This is a new pack which formed after females from the “Orpen Pack” dispersed and joined a dispersal group of males from the “Berg n Dal Pack”. The pack is doing well and is raising a litter of five new pups which is a welcome boost to the Wild Dog population in the KNP!

Canine Distemper Virus sadly also struck in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in July this year, and lead to the demise of all 12 Wild Dogs in the “Crossroads Pack”. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the EWT, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and WildlifeACT, one member of the “Dela’s Pack” in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park has since been fitted with a GPS tracking collar. This enabled the team to so far vaccinate four of the six members of this pack over a two-week period. Blood samples were also taken to determine baseline levels of exposure to CDV and for genetics and TB research purposes. The remaining two adults will be vaccinated shortly while the entire pack will continue to be monitored and will receive booster vaccinations in a year’s time.
We are truly grateful to those individuals and organisations who have already heeded our call for assistance and donated towards enabling the EWT to undertake this work. Your support has made a real difference to our efforts to protect these special animals against preventable diseases. The work is however ongoing and booster vaccinations are required. Should you wish to support the vaccination of our Wild Dogs, you can make a donation by visiting https://www.givengain.com/cgi-bin/giga.cgi?cmd=donate&cause_id=2347 and using the reference “Wild Dogs”. Your generous donation will help to ensure that our staff remain active in the field, monitoring and protecting our precious Wild Dogs by vaccinating them against preventable illnesses like rabies and distemper, and making sure we don’t lose any more of these incredible Endangered animals.

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FIRST NATIONAL GUIDELINES FOR REDUCING WILDLIFE MORTALITIES ON ROADS

With many wildlife species coming under increasing pressure from human development, there is a need for guidance around the planning of environmentally sustainable transport infrastructure. Developed by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), “The Road Ahead: Guidelines to mitigation methods to address wildlife road conflict in South Africa” is the first handbook that offers key information for reducing the impacts of wildlife habitats and roads, and provides solutions for improved driver safety and the conservation of biodiversity and the environment.

On a daily basis, an average of 45 people die and 410 are injured on roads in South Africa; that’s a staggering 18,000 road deaths a year, giving South Africa one of the highest death rates in the world, according to figures from the Medical Research Council. The Council for Scientific Research says road crashes cost South Africa R309 billion each year, and whilst we send our condolences to the many people who have died on our roads, what isn’t widely publicised, is the fact that wildlife is also significantly impacted on by road collisions. Insurance claims suggest that approximately R82.5 million is paid each year against collisions with wildlife, though the biodiversity costs of these collisions are never calculated.

The EWT strongly believes that by working with relevant stakeholders within the transport sector, it is possible to design infrastructure, and support services that ensure the safety of both transportation users and wildlife. Furthermore, such infrastructure should support the economic needs of the country by enabling the goals of the National Infrastructure Plan (2012) and the National Development Plan (2013), namely:

“South Africa belongs to all its people and the future of our country is our collective future. Making it work is our collective responsibility. All South Africans seek a better future for themselves and their children…Drawing on our collective successes and failures as a nation, we need to do more to improve our future (National Development Plan 2030, 2013).”

The Road Ahead: Guidelines to mitigation methods to address wildlife road conflict in South Africa” is intended for use by a range of stakeholders including road development agencies, environmental assessment practitioners, decision-makers such as the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Transport, and research institutions. “October is Transport Month in South Africa, and emphasis is placed on the safety of all road users – that includes the safety of you, your family and friends, and our wildlife,” states Wendy Collinson, the EWT Wildlife and Roads Project Executant. “The EWT is therefore championing Transport Month as a platform for the launch of its handbook”.

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Neil Tolmie, CEO of the N3 Toll Concession, and author of the handbook’s foreword, adds, “The environment cannot be neglected by any segment of society; the world is in need of global leaders pioneering new development processes and techniques that will ensure a balance between development and environmental preservation and conservation. We are, every one of us, responsible for the world we live in.”

Copies of the handbook can be downloaded from our website at: https://www.ewt.org.za/WTP/WTP%20handbook%202016.pdf

The EWT’s Wildlife and Roads Project is supported by Bridgestone SA, N3 Toll Concession, Bakwena Platinum Corridor Concession and TRAC N4. For further information please contact Wendy Collinson on wendyc@ewt.org.za

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

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