Cheetahs Return to Malawi for First Time after 20-Year Absence

cheetah

Cheetahs were translocated from South Africa to Liwonde National Park in Malawi, returning the threatened species to the country

 A small founder population of Cheetahs has been successfully relocated to Liwonde National Park in Malawi, restoring the severely threatened species at least twenty-years after its extinction in the country. Led by African Parks, a conservation non-profit that manages national parks and protected areas on behalf of governments across the continent, and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), in partnership with Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), the translocation of four Cheetahs to Liwonde on May 17th formed a national milestone as the first big cats made their return to the flourishing park.

Although it has been about 20 years since Cheetahs were last seen in Malawi, it has been close to a century since Cheetahs were documented in Liwonde National Park. Lions and leopards were also historically common, but disappeared in recent years due to rampant poaching. Decades of habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and poaching severely reduced the nation’s predator populations, entirely eradicating Cheetahs, a species threatened with extinction in Africa. “Large predators like Cheetahs play pivotal roles in African ecosystems, but they are in troubling decline across the continent,” said Liwonde National Park Manager Craig Reid. “Malawi has made progressive commitments to conserve wildlife. The reintroduction of the Cheetah is historic for the country and a new era for the park, where the return of large predators holds great optimism for the restoration of the natural system and the conservation of this highly vulnerable species.” This will also open up opportunities for other highly threatened carnivores to be restored to Malawi at a later stage.

On May 17th, African Parks and the EWT oversaw the successful translocation of these four Cheetahs, which made the journey by plane from South Africa and arrived safely in Liwonde National Park, thanks to the support provided by Ulendo Airlink and Robin Pope Safaris for the transportation. They were released into specially-built bomas to allow for close supervision during a period of adjustment, until being released into the wider park. The animals are all in good health and are expected to do well in Liwonde, where habitat and prey conditions are optimal and measures are in place to ensure their ongoing conservation and protection.

These Cheetahs were carefully sourced by the EWT’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project, which was established in 2011 with the aim of creating safe spaces for Cheetahs in South Africa and managing the existing population in a number of reserves to ensure genetic diversity. The project now operates in 55 reserves, and in 2016, began investigating opportunities for reintroduction outside of South Africa. This partnership was deemed ideal, as African Parks has secured safe spaces for a myriad of species in the reserves it manages. For this introduction, it was essential to select Cheetahs that are predator savvy, as Lion, Leopard and Spotted Hyena are responsible for almost 50% of Cheetah deaths in fenced reserves. Cheetahs are the first large predator to be reintroduced into Liwonde, giving them at least six months to settle in before other large predators are reintroduced into the park. Ensuring that the chosen Cheetahs were not related was also imperative, to prevent genetic issues in the future. Phinda and Welgevonden Private Game Reserves kindly made a male Cheetah available, while Mountain Zebra National Park and Amakhala Private Game Reserve kindly made a female Cheetah available for this reintroduction into Malawi. These are considered to be some of the top Cheetah reserves in South Africa, all having contributed substantially to Cheetah conservation efforts in the country. The EWT will assist with ongoing monitoring and management of these special animals.

African Parks assumed management of Liwonde National Park in partnership with the DNPW in 2015, and since then has completely overhauled law enforcement to secure the park, making significant progress in revitalising habitat and wildlife populations through the reduction of poaching and mitigating human-wildlife conflict. The reintroduction of the Cheetah forms part of the collective vision of African Parks and the Malawian government to restore the country’s parks, rehabilitate wildlife populations, and increase tourism, creating highly-valued assets for the country and its people. Managing and restoring key species also positions Liwonde as a globally significant wildlife tourism destination, with benefits flowing to local communities.

Eradicated from 90 percent of their historical range in Africa, Cheetahs are listed as Vulnerable on the ICUN Red List, with as few as 6,700 estimated to remain in the wild. “Reintroduction to safe and fenced protected areas is one way to protect the future of the species on the continent,” said EWT Cheetah Metapopulation Coordinator Vincent van der Merwe. “This collaborative undertaking represents a highly valuable opportunity for both the park and Cheetah conservation in light of the need for urgent action to address their decline.” Since assuming management of Liwonde, African Parks has constructed a reliable perimeter fence, removed thousands of snare traps, significantly reduced poaching, and is working with local communities to ensure the long-term success of conservation in the area.

The reintroduction of Cheetahs to Liwonde National Park is another extraordinary story of progressive and optimistic wildlife conservation in Malawi. On the heels of the historic “500 Elephants” initiative which will see 500 elephants being moved from Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve (all three parks are managed by African Parks with DNPW), the Cheetah’s homecoming marks the historic return of the threatened species to the nation at least 20 years after its local extinction. This opens a hopeful new chapter for large predator conservation in the park. Liwonde has welcomed back its first big cat, a profound milestone for the ongoing restoration of this valuable protected area.

Click here to download images of the Cheetah translocation

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 10 national parks and protected areas in seven countries covering six million hectares: Malawi, Zambia, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Chad. Visit www.african-parks.org and www.500elephants.org to learn more. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

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.

Contacts

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

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

Fran Read
African Parks
Media Assistant
Tel: +27 823837558
franr@african-parks.org

 

 

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Empowering communities through frog and wetland conservation

Cherise Acker Jiba Magwaza

Conservation without the inclusion of people does not always work. In order to address the issue of South Africa being environmentally sound, education and training is vital because not everyone is aware of the fact that our ecosystems are threatened. As a Community Development student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and an intern of the EWT’s Threatened Amphibian Programme (TAP), I have come to realise that increasing beneficiary consultation during project planning or beneficiary involvement in the management of project implementation or operation also increases project efficiency. One of the TAP projects that can attest to the latter is the vegetable garden project at Isipingo in KwaZulu-Natal. This project includes four local gardeners that used to plant their vegetables in a threatened wetland, which partly disturbed its wellbeing. With proper engagement and through a conservation agreement drawn up with the gardeners, they have since moved out of the wetland and now plant on the edge where their activities pose no threat its wellbeing. Of course, this was not an easy task but it is amazing how community projects can run smoothly if stakeholders are properly engaged and are made part of the project, as this empowers them.

Isipingo - garden border

Another exciting project that that seeks to develop the communities with which we work with is the National Resource Management (NRM) project. Here we look at empowering our hardworking alien vegetation clearing teams through toolbox talks. Toolbox talks are used to engage alien vegetation clearing workers in Durban on issues of the environment and getting them to change their attitudes towards nature, but focusing on frogs and wetlands. I have seen how excited these toolbox talks make the teams to work with nature and to get more involved, rather than just clearing alien plants and going home. Teams are now able to do monitoring of any species they come across, be it fauna or flora, which is important because we need to know what other species are found around our working areas. Workers’ attitude surveys help us understand how the teams feel about the project; that is if they are happy or not and if they have any challenges. The surveys are done using an individual questionnaire that is confidential to make sure that everyone shares their experiences without any fear. It is heart-warming to see that teams now understand the reason behind their work and how it is important not only to them but to the whole ecosystem. A lesson that I have learnt working in these projects is that community development does not always have to take the form of monetary benefits, but one can also develop a community by sharing knowledge and education.

This work is made possible by Rand Merchant Bank, Rufford Foundation and Disney Conservation Fund.

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Exploring fishing as an alternative to poaching

Poaching in KwaZulu-Natal continues to be a major concern. It has financial and ecological implications not only for livestock and game farmers, but for the grassland ecosystem as a whole. It is a multi-faceted, cross-cutting and complex issue, which has largely resulted from an ideology of preservation, while excluding ordinary communities from wildlife conservation.

Community participants of the mini fishing competition

Since the dawn of democracy in South Africa, there has been a strong drive for community participation in sustainable utilisation of natural resources. This drive, however, places a huge responsibility on citizens to understand the intricacies of responsible citizenry when it comes to how they relate to wildlife. Conversely, conservationists need to be sensitive in their handling of environmental issues that impact on communities, with poaching being one example. A proactive approach, that seeks to combine education, law enforcement and acceptable alternatives, is pivotal if poaching is to be addressed. Despite concerted efforts towards addressing poaching with dogs (which impacts particularly on small antelope species such as the Endangered Oribi – Ourebia ourebi), the issue continues to escalate, particularly within the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Weekends and holidays tend to be times at which poaching is most prevalent.

Attempts to explore alternatives to poaching with dogs have often proved futile, as illicit gambling has been the main driving force behind such acts. Many of those involved are not living in poverty, which lessens the impact of offering alternative livelihoods as a solution. It is also important to consider that some community members still view hunting with dogs as an authentic traditional practice.

Over the years, I have observed that horseracing and fishing are common interests for those that are involved in taxi hunts (poaching with dogs). One therefore needs not look too far from these interests when exploring alternatives to these gambling activities. Earlier this year, we held a meeting with 43 community members, the majority of whom are known to be involved in hunting with dogs. As an outcome of the meeting, a fishing competition was organised over the Easter weekend, which is usually a time when poaching with dogs is rife. Fifteen community members, most of whom frequently hunt with dogs, took part. The competition was a great success, and provided an opportunity to highlight the illegality of hunting without permits, the need for environmental responsibility, as well as water quality issues. The initiative has been well received by the participants and those that are directly and indirectly affected by poaching.

In a follow-up event, the participants spent a weekend at Wagendrift Dam in Estcourt, where they were able to gain first-hand experience in responsible fishing, such as being litter free, and took part in community engagement facilitation on poaching issues. As a next step, we are aiming to establish a community-based angling club for people who have in the past been involved in illegal hunting with dogs. A list of angling competitions, which are spread across most weekends and holidays, has been received and the members have already made a commitment to participate in those competitions.

During the fishing competition held over the Easter weekend, not a single poaching incident was reported at the Thurlow Nature Reserve (near Midmar Dam). Given the addictive nature of fishing, we hope that this may be seen as a viable alternative to illegal poaching of antelope, and hope for continued success, even if just on a small scale.

This work is made possible by NCT Forestry Co-Operative Limited.

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Become a citizen scientist and help to save our Humpback Dolphins

Just popped up to share the news that YOU can help save the dolphins

Previous research has highlighted that Richards Bay is a hotspot for the Humpback Dolphin (Sousa plumbea), which was recently listed as Endangered on the Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. It is one of the places in South Africa where Humpback Dolphins are most likely to be found…and most likely to become caught in the shark nets. This unintentional entanglement has been identified as major threat to the species, and we’ve learnt that the Richards Bay shark nets have been set in a core feeding area. The loss of dolphins in the nets affects not only the resident Humpback Dolphin population at Richards Bay but also the wider KwaZulu-Natal population, as many transient Humpback Dolphins move through the area. It is abundantly clear that conservation resources could be maximised by focusing efforts in one area, Richards Bay, potentially creating a ripple effect throughout the population of this Endangered species.

So with the strategy “think global, act local” in mind, we examined the dolphins’ interactions with shark nets at Richards Bay more closely. We have now identified the deadliest shark net and aim to understand how the dolphins use the area around this net, hoping to answer questions like: which sections do they use the most, what do they do here (e.g. feed/travel/rest), and how often do they come? The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board will use this information to make changes to the net to reduce the number of dolphin deaths, without compromising the safety of bathers.

To answer these questions, we recently installed a video camera to monitor dolphins in this focal area and we are broadcasting what this camera sees via our website. This is where you come in! We need help from people who would like to help save the dolphins. The more eyes we have watching the footage, the more likely we are to see the dolphins and collect the relevant data.

If you would like to help, please visit our website, check out our Frequently Asked Questions and watch the live stream. We’d love to be in touch with people who share our passion for dolphin conservation, so please send us a message with your thoughts or questions. You can contact us via email: iknowthatdolphin@gmail.com or via our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/conservedolphins

 

Thank you to the EWT Kelly Legge Dolphin Fund for supporting this work.

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Celebrating Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism

BIODIVERSITY

Did you know that South Africa is the third most biodiverse country in the world? We’re also the only country in the world to contain an entire floral kingdom, the Cape Floral Kingdom, which is home to over 9,000 plant species, and although South Africa occupies only 2% of the world’s land surface area, it is home to 10% of the world’s plant species and 7% of the world’s reptile, bird and mammal species!

But what does biodiversity mean and why is it important? Since bio means life and diversity means variety, when we talk about biodiversity, we mean the variety of all living things on earth – all the different plants and animals, from the tiniest micro-organism to the tallest tree and biggest mammal, and the ecosystems they are part of.

Biodiversity is something we all need to protect because it provides the building blocks for a healthy environment! These include things we can’t survive without, like fresh air, clean water, healthy food, and building materials, to name a few. We also know that ecosystems that have a wide variety of plants and animals tend to be healthier than those that don’t, and are better able to adapt to naturally changing conditions. More than that, biodiversity also offers us recreational, cultural and spiritual benefits.

On 22 May each year, International Day for Biological Diversity is celebrated to recognise the importance of biodiversity. It’s also a day to consider how we as humans have impacted on biodiversity, and what we can do to prevent its loss. This year’s theme was Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism.

Naturally, the kind of incredible biodiversity we enjoy in South Africa is a major tourism drawcard. Tourism is very important to our economy, and this revenue can, in turn, be used to help reduce threats to wildlife, and to maintain or increase biodiversity. Of course, this also relies on responsible tourists who make ethical choices when it comes to visiting wildlife facilities, say no to wild animal interactions, and purchase curios with care.

The EWT is committed to identifying the key factors threatening biodiversity and developing innovative methodologies and best practice guidelines to reduce these and promote harmonious co-existence and sustainable living for both people and wildlife. You can help to protect our biodiversity too, by doing the following:

  • Plant an indigenous tree to create habitat for many different animals and insects, and help to purify the air we breathe.
  • Make sure there are no alien invasive plant species in your garden.
  • Reduce and if possible, rule out your use of pesticides.
  • Recycle, pick up litter and say no to single-use plastics.
  • Become a sustainable consumer, and, for example, only choose seafood from the SASSI green list.
  • Clean up a river or wetland in your community.
  • Be a responsible tourist – say no to souvenirs made from bone, shells, fur or ivory, and avoid unethical wildlife interactions.
  • If you’re a business leader, consider joining the EWT’s National Biodiversity and Business Network, to get assistance with mainstreaming biodiversity into your business. For more information contact ewt@ewt.org.za

If you have other suggestions of how individuals could be protecting our biodiversity, let us know by emailing Mwitu@ewt.org.za

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Jessie’s on a quest to save the Riverine Rabbit and the Karoo!

The Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis) is an incredibly shy creature that only lives in seasonal river vegetation patches in parts of the Karoo. Their remaining habitat is becoming increasingly fragmented, and they face additional threats from hunting, trapping, and being preyed on by feral dogs and cats. The iconic landscape of the Karoo is also imperilled by climate change, mining, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), power lines and the construction of dams.

Jessie

The EWT’s Drylands Conservation Programme is embarking on an exciting new project that could save the Riverine Rabbit, and with it, the Karoo. Despite having worked on this species for more than 15 years, one of the greatest challenges was finding out exactly where these elusive rabbits are living. Once we know where they are, it becomes easier not only to put more effective conservation measures in place, but also to protect their environment.

Jessie the Border Collie is an amazing scent detection dog, who has been trained by her owner, EWT Field Officer Estè Matthew, to sniff out these remarkable rabbits. The aim is for Estè and Jessie to take to the field and map out the areas where Riverine Rabbits occur. As a result, Jessie has been very busy over the last few weeks. With limited scent and a variety of challenges that lie ahead, Jessie has finished her second phase of training. She has completed training at three environmentally dissimilar locations, with a variety of distractions and different types of Riverine Rabbit scent targets. All of these tests were conducted outside in semi-controlled environments. By the end of May, Jessie will start with the final training phase, which includes training in natural field environments.

Jessie can already distinguish between Riverine Rabbits and other lagomorphs (hares and rabbits). This means she indicates on Riverine Rabbit scent, but does not indicate on scents for Scrub Hares (Lepus saxatilis) or Cape Hares (Lepus capensis). She has also made a connection between Riverine Rabbit scent from the two populations that have been identified.

During this epic conservation adventure, Jessie and Estè will have to travel long distances to get to where they need to work, so they’ll need a reliable vehicle, camping equipment, and a specialised GPS collar for Jessie to record her routes and times. An “eye in the sky” with a thermal imaging camera will also greatly help to find bunnies in the thickest parts of the habitat to make Jessie’s job easier. All very exciting, but expensive stuff. If you’d like to help them save the Riverine Rabbit, you can make a donation here, using the reference Riverine Rabbit or email us at ewt@ewt.org.za to find out more.

Jessie is sponsored by Champion Petfoods South Africa and K9 Dispatch. Thanks also go to Rand Merchant Bank, Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations, and our generous supporters who have already made donations towards this work.

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Quick road counts provide a glimpse into crane populations in wetlands around Kabale, Uganda

What makes the landscapes around Kabale, a town in southwestern Uganda, unique is the ease with which Grey Crowned Cranes can be seen foraging, flying and flocking as one drives along gravel roads that radiate from towns and village trading centres. During a recent trip to the area, road trips to villages undertaken to meet community groups involved in integrated wetland conservation and livelihood projects presented opportunities to conduct rapid crane counts. The roads traverse papyrus-covered wetlands, crop fields, pastures, steep hillslopes, eucalyptus plantations and densely populated human settlements. It is in these highly transformed landscapes that cranes were sighted and counted on the 7th and 8th of May. On the first day, 144 cranes were counted, comprising 97 individuals (sighted in flocks), 22 pairs, two juveniles and one chick. They were observed during a trip from Kabale to Lake Bunyonyi. On the second day, 126 cranes were counted during a trip from Kabale to Kisoro, comprising 12 pairs (one had a juvenile) and 101 individuals observed in flocks. Records of crane sightings taken during the two road trips provide a fascinating glimpse into crane populations that depend on wetlands around Kabale, one of the four focal areas targeted for conservation action in Uganda. Potential breeding sites and degraded wetland patches that could be restored through community-based actions were identified. Crane and wetland conservation activities around Kabale are being implemented as part of a collaborative initiative between the International Crane Foundation/Endangered Wildlife Trust Partnership and Nature Uganda.

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Flock of cranes foraging on an overgrazed plot

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The pair observed with a chick that was a few days old

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A view of Lake Bunyonyi showing the part of a wetland used by cranes for breeding

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Cranes foraging in a tea plantation are not easy spot!

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Conservation leader from South Africa wins 2017 Whitley Award

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Prize awarded for protecting South Africa’s threatened grassland biodiversity

London, UK: 17 May 2017 – HRH The Princess Royal will tomorrow present a Whitley Award, a prestigious international nature conservation prize worth £35,000 in project funding, to Ian Little at a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society, London, in honour of his work to protect South Africa’s threatened grasslands.

Demand for fresh water is expected to outstrip supply in South Africa by 2025. The Eastern Great Escarpment of South Africa provides catchment services for three of the country’s largest rivers, making it a vital source of water for cities such as Durban and Johannesburg in one of the world’s most arid nations. As the world’s third most biodiverse country, these grasslands support a plethora of plants and animals found nowhere else, including golden moles and the sungazer lizard.  Despite their importance, less than 3% of grasslands in South Africa are protected. Intensive livestock farming, coal mining and gas exploration are inflicting untold damage – with fracking now an imminent threat.

Ian Little of the Endangered Wildlife Trust works with farmers to champion conservation of grassland habitat. Working with farmers and tribal leaders, Ian is building capacity for sustainable farming and introducing improved management practices, such as less intensive grazing and burning regimes to decrease pressure on grasslands and boost productivity. He has already secured 60,000 hectares of grassland for conservation purposes; a figure Ian plans to increase with his Whitley Award by creating a corridor of legally protected areas linking with others along the escarpment. In doing so he will safeguard these grasslands and the important source of freshwater they provide.

Edward Whitley, Founder of the Whitley Fund for Nature, said: “WFN focus on conservation success stories which give us a reason for optimism. The Awards Ceremony is about recognising progress – winning those small battles which cumulatively equate to change at the national level. In addition to the financial benefit of winning an Award, winners receive professional communications training to turn scientists into ambassadors, so they are able to communicate effectively with the public and inform change at the political level.”

Ian is one of six individuals to have been awarded a share of the prize money worth £210,000, winning the Whitley Award donated by the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Sir David Attenborough, a Trustee of the Whitley Fund for Nature, added: “It is now more important than ever to invest in those working to protect our planet. The Whitley Fund for Nature is at the forefront of supporting these heroic individuals.”

CONTACT:

Dr. Ian T. Little
Senior Manager: Habitats
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Southern and East Africa regional chair, Commission on Ecosystem Management: IUCN
W + 27 21 799 8460
Email: ianl@ewt.org.za
Web: www.ewt.org.za

Belinda Glenn
Communication and Brand Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 87 021 0398 ext 110
Email: belindag@ewt.org.za

Jana Fickerova
Account Executive
Firebird Public Relations Ltd
T: 01235 835 297
Email: jb@firebirdpr.co.uk
Web: www.firebirdpr.co.uk

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Hazardous power line removed by Eskom to protect Endangered Crane species

crane

As South Africa’s electricity needs continue to grow, power lines and other accompanying electrical infrastructure are expanding daily. Eskom and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) formalised their long-standing relationship by entering into a partnership in 1996 to address the problem of wildlife interactions with electrical infrastructure in a systematic manner on a national basis, and to establish an integrated management system to minimise negative interactions. Negative interactions between wildlife and electricity structures take on different forms including electrocution on electrical infrastructure and collision with power lines.

The Eskom/EWT Partnership has developed an incident management system (database) with various key performance indicators that help to track the status and progress of incident investigations and incident recommendation reports, as well as the implementation of these recommendations. With over 500,000 km of power lines in the country, it is inevitable that collisions and electrocutions will occur that will result in mortalities. The database includes over 2,900 incidents involving Eskom power lines, most of which were of mortalities on smaller distribution lines. With an average of around 1.8 individual animals per incident, nearly 5,500 individual mortalities have been added to the database over the past 21 years. Over 95% of these were birds, including 141 different species, and vultures and cranes comprise 25% and 24%, respectively, of all power line mortalities registered on the database. Crane species are heavily impacted as they often fly in low-light conditions when the line is less visible.

“Without landowners reporting wildlife incidents and high-risk areas, the partnership is unable to take steps to remedy the situation. Landowners play a vital role in this process as they are the custodians of their land on which the vegetation and the species that are dependent on it need to survive”, said Matthew Becker, EWT Field Officer. In the last year, there has been a push for a more proactive approach through identifying problem areas and structures through modelling exercises to use a targeted mitigation approach. Late last year a landowner near Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal, contacted the EWT to report an incident involving a Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum) that collided with an overhead Eskom line. The Grey Crowned Crane is an Endangered species and thus every individual is crucial to the population. Field officers went out with Eskom representatives to assess the line and compile a field investigation report.

After deliberations, recommendations, meetings and assessments between the landowners, Eskom and the EWT, the section of power line was removed by the Eskom team, returning the site partially to its original state. This was a major breakthrough for the Endangered birds, eliminating the risk of collisions in future.

“Another area has been made safe by the Eskom/EWT partnership and landowners. Great thanks must go to the landowners that reported the incident to the EWT, and to Eskom, specifically the KZN operating unit, for the quick response and determination to work together to safeguard the area for threatened species. This truly is conservation in action”, said Constant Hoogstad, Manager of the EWT’s Wildlife and Energy Programme.

The Eskom/EWT partnership would like to encourage landowners and members of the public to report wildlife and power line interactions and high-risk areas of concern. The importance of the public reporting incidents and high-risk areas cannot be emphasised enough, as it enables the EWT and Eskom to quickly remedy the situation. Any wildlife and power line related incidents or areas of concern should be reported to reduce the impact on our country’s wildlife. Please send information to wep@ewt.org.za or call (011) 372-3600 / Toll Free: 0860-111-535.

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Contacts
Constant Hoogstad
Wildlife and Energy Programme Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 87 021 0398
constanth@ewt.org.za

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

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Ford Wildlife Foundation Supports the Endangered Wildlife Trust with New Ford Ranger

ford

The Ford Wildlife Foundation handed over a new Ford Ranger bakkie to the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and its Cheetah Metapopulation Project, which works to increase the range, numbers, and status of wild Cheetahs in South Africa. The handover forms part of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa’s (FMCSA) commitment to the conservation and preservation of the environment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Established in 2011, the Cheetah Metapopulation Project tackles Cheetah conservation on all fronts, but predominantly focuses on increasing and preserving the Cheetah population. The EWT achieves this through translocations and reintroductions of genetically distinct male and female Cheetahs into new areas to establish healthy populations.

Currently, the project monitors Cheetahs in 54 reserves, and has created over 1 million hectares of safe Cheetah habitat. Since its inception, the project has conducted approximately 150 relocations, with the metapopulation growing to a stronghold of 350 Cheetahs nationwide. Because of the project’s efforts, Cheetahs in South Africa are listed as Vulnerable on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In all other countries in Africa, Cheetah will soon be uplisted as Endangered.

“The Endangered Wildlife Trust is very happy to announce our partnership with the Ford Wildlife Foundation. The acceptance of the vehicle will enable the project to continue to make positive global strides for Cheetah conservation” said Tammy Baker, EWT Business Development Officer.

How the Ford Ranger Will Support the Cheetah Metapopulation Project
The Cheetah Metapopulation Project requires a capable vehicle to conduct the translocations, visit potential new reintroduction sites, and to ensure that Cheetahs are managed effectively to prevent inbreeding. With the support of the FWF and a new Ford Ranger XLT bakkie, the EWT can conduct critical and vital conservation work, to ensure that the world’s fastest land mammal is protected well into the future.

“The vehicle will be used by the Senior Field Officer, Vincent van der Merwe, who coordinates the Cheetah Metapopulation Project to effect Cheetah translocations across South Africa by driving immobilised Cheetahs to their new safe homes,” says Baker.

“The opportunity to partner with Ford Wildlife Foundation is a massive step towards ensuring that we continue with the work we are doing for Cheetah conservation in South Africa, with ambitions to take the metapopulation approach elsewhere in Africa to ensure the global population of Cheetahs does not decline further,” she adds.

The locally-built Ford Ranger, which is one of South Africa’s top-selling vehicles overall and in the light commercial vehicle segment, will be used to enable the project to go further and make a real impact – particularly in the remote locations often associated with conservation and environmental projects.

Ford Wildlife Foundation’s Dedication to Conservation
For the past 25 years, FMCSA has supported more than 150 conservation projects and invested over R30 million to help maintain wildlife and ecosystems in South Africa. In September 2014, FMCSA officially established the Ford Wildlife Foundation to continue that support.

The Ford Wildlife Foundation is unique, as it does not provide cash donations to the conservation projects it supports; instead Ford’s partner organisations are equipped with very capable Ford Rangers. Ford Wildlife Foundation provides these vehicles to help project operations, such as transporting animals between different locations, vets to sick or poached animals, or environmental experts to educate others on the importance of conservation.

With the support of Ford’s extensive dealer network, the vehicles operating in all Ford Wildlife Foundation projects are monitored and serviced by Ford to ensure they operate at peak efficiency.
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Contacts
Vincent van der Merwe
Carnivore Conservation Programme Senior Field Officer
Endangered Wildlife Trust
vincentv@ewt.org.za

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

Cecily McLane
Ford Wildlife Foundation
cecilym@meropa.co.za

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