Hope soars for imperilled vultures

vulture

31 October 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Contacts

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

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

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Braking for bullfrogs

BULLFROG

26 October 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Contacts

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Article by Tanya Smith, Southern African Regional Manager

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

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

 

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A group photo taken just before the crane chick was released

 

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

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Largest flock of cranes recorded at Kaku-Kiyanja, Uganda

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

 

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

 

Article by Jimmy Muheebwa, Uganda Project Coordinator

 

 

 

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

wilddogreleaseSept2017
21 September 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wildogboma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Workshop participants

 

 

 

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

 

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A Frog First in SA – Biodiversity Management Plan Gazetted for Threatened Pickersgill’s Reed Frog

reedfrog

 The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is working hard to protect the last remaining locations in which the Endangered Pickersgill’s Reed Frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli) are found.

The EWT is pleased to announce the recent publication of the Biodiversity Management Plan for this proudly South African but highly threatened species. An important consequence of the implementation of this plan will be the restoration and conservation of the coastal wetland areas that this diminutive frog calls home, bringing water security as well as tourism and job opportunities to local communities.

This is especially exciting because frogs often get a bad rap, particularly in South Africa, where beliefs and customs generally put frogs in a negative light. In fact, frogs are fascinating animals. With over 7,000 species found across all corners of the globe, except in the frozen South Pole, frogs are amazingly diverse. But frogs now face their greatest challenge yet – human-induced mass extinction. Globally, amphibians are the most threatened group of animals on Earth – far more so than mammals or birds. Already, it is estimated that about 200 species have become extinct in the last 30 years.

As a result, amphibian conservation is becoming essential, particularly as frogs represent the health of our freshwater resources. Frogs are crucial in our ecosystems through their role in the food chain; most frogs feed on insects, so they are essential for keeping pests such as flies and mosquitoes under control, while they are also an important food source for a large range of other animals, including people. Frogs are also important bio-indicators, meaning that their presence indicates a healthy environment. The fact that almost half of all species are declining should be clear warning that our natural world is facing unprecedented pressure. The loss of habitat is the primary driver of amphibian declines, followed by pollution from agrichemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, a fungal disease wiping species out, climate change and road mortalities. None of this bodes well for either our amphibious friends, or for human beings.

As such, the gazetting of this new plan for a tiny frog on the East Coast of South Africa, gives hope for species and habitat conservation. KwaZulu-Natal is regarded as having the highest diversity of frogs in South Africa, but also high levels of human activity, particularly in the coastal regions. Currently, Pickersgill’s Reed Frog is known to exist at only 25 sites, which are mostly small wetland patches that receive very little protection. The species has been prioritised for conservation action due to its Endangered status, its endemism and the ongoing deterioration in and loss of habitat. The major threats to the species include:

  • Habitat loss as a result of wetland drainage or destruction for agricultural, urban and industrial development;
  • Severe habitat fragmentation and small, isolated sub-populations;
  • Invasion of alien vegetation and afforestation resulting in drying out of breeding sites; and
  • Pollution from pesticides and other contaminants.

The EWT and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife have worked together to initiate and develop this conservation plan since 2013, which was gazetted in June 2017 by the Minister of Environmental Affairs for implementation. In the past few months, we have already begun carrying out several of the actions outlined in the plan, including, forming new partnerships, carrying out research to learn more about the species, and discovering new populations. All of this has resulted in the species being down-listed from Critically Endangered to Endangered in 2016 – a relatively unheard of move in today’s patterns of species’ conservation.

Using Pickersgill’s Reed Frog as a flagship for wetland conservation, this conservation plan supports the improved management of this habitat, which itself is the Critically Endangered Indian Ocean Coastalbelt Wetland. Many of these wetlands fall within the National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas, which also made use of occurrences of threatened frog species to prioritise wetlands. These wetlands represent floodplains that provide crucial ecosystem services such as slowing down the release of floodwaters, and water filtration. Furthermore, many of the wetland areas are surrounded by high densities of people. An associated benefit of the conservation plan is the opportunity for job creation, capacity building, and education for local community members living close to these key wetland areas through habitat rehabilitation work, alternative livelihood options for food security, and developing eco-tourism options at sites.

The overall anticipated outcome of the conservation plan will be the assured persistence of Pickersgill’s Reed Frogs in perpetuity, and the EWT is pleased to play a leading role in keeping this species, and the important habitat it is associated with, at the forefront of conservation in KZN.

Contacts:

Dr Jeanne Tarrant
Threatened Amphibian Programme Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 83 254 9563
JeanneT@ewt.org.za

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

Dr Adrian Armstrong
Animal Scientist (Herpetofauna & Invertebrates)
Biodiversity Research & Assessment
Scientific Services
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Tel. +27 33 845 1433
Adrian.Armstrong@kznwildlife.com

Mncedisi Cindi
Directorate: Biodiversity Conservation
Sub-directorate: Conservation Management
Department of Environmental Affairs
Tel: +27 12 399 9495
MCindi@environment.gov.za

 

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Ford Wildlife Foundation Supports the Wildlife and Roads Project with New Ford Ranger

FordWTP

The Ford Wildlife Foundation (FWF) handed over a new Ford Ranger to the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s (EWT) Wildlife and Roads Project, which aims to reduce the impacts of roads on wildlife, particularly roadkill rates in South Africa’s protected areas. 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.

Work conducted by the EWT suggests that roadkill rates in South Africa’s protected areas are substantially higher than in protected areas in other parts of the world, and with tourism expected to grow significantly by 2020, the road networks in protected areas will be placed under increasing pressure to meet the associated demands. Striking a balance between the need for an efficient transport network to support tourism in protected areas and the need to conserve wildlife is therefore a challenge.

South Africa’s protected areas are the prime custodians of our incredible plants and animals. The more popular parks receive high volumes of vehicular traffic, which impacts negatively on wildlife through wildlife-vehicle collisions. The Wildlife and Roads Project initiated its Roads in Parks Project in 2014 to reduce the impact of road users on wildlife in protected areas. The five-year project will ground-truth data collected via expert surveys and social media platforms in order to establish cost-effective, long-term roadkill monitoring and mitigation in parks.

“The EWT’s Wildlife and Roads Project is the only large scale initiative in the country that tackles the issue of wildlife deaths on our roads head on,” says Wendy Collinson, Wildlife and Roads Project Executant. “Road Ecology is a rapidly emerging field of research for which the EWT and the FWF are spearheading pioneering initiatives, and being recognised as being at the forefront of this area of research.”

 How the Ford Ranger Will Support the Wildlife and Roads Project

“Our projects will benefit enormously from the use of the Ford Ranger since we are active on all roads in the country – from protected areas to regional and national highways – and the enormous amount of traveling that we do has often been problematic in the past due to the lack of a project vehicle,” says Collinson. “Being a part of FWF will allow us more freedom to expand our projects, with a reliable vehicle.”

The locally-built Ford Ranger, which is one of South Africa’s top-selling vehicles overall and in the light commercial 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.

“It is exciting to be associated with such a well-known, respected organisation that supports environmental education, research, and conservation projects in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Collinson.

 Ford Wildlife Foundation Dedication to Conservation

For the past 30 years, Ford Motor Company of South Africa (FMCSA) has been actively involved in the conservation of wildlife and ecosystems in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. To date, FMCSA has invested almost R40 million to support more than 170 conservation projects. In 2014, FMCSA established the Ford Wildlife Foundation (FWF) – a body that consists of FMCSA, members of Ford’s dealer network, and experts from the wildlife conservation sector.

The Ford Wildlife Foundation is unique as it does not provide a cash donation to the conservation projects it supports, instead Ford’s partner organisations are equipped with Ford Rangers. The vehicles provided are used to help project operations, such as transporting field equipment, helping vets reach sick or poached animals, or translocating the animals themselves. The vehicles operating in all Ford Wildlife Foundation projects are monitored and serviced by Ford’s extensive dealer network to ensure they operate at peak efficiency.

Since 2014, the FWF has invested R8 million in vehicles and vehicle services to support 23 conservation projects in South Africa. In 2017 alone, Ford Rangers at a total value of R5.3 million have been handed over to partner organisations to support their work in the field.

CONTACT:

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

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

Alisea Chetty
Corporate Communications Manager
+27 12 842 2707
achetty2@ford.com

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions. Ford employs approximately 203,000 people worldwide. For more information regarding Ford, its products and Ford Motor Credit Company, please visit www.corporate.ford.com.​​ For news releases, related materials and high-resolution photos and video please visit www.media.ford.com or www.quickpic.co.za, follow at www.facebook.com/FordSouthAfrica, www.twitter.com/FordSouthAfrica, www.instagram.com/FordSouthAfrica or www.youtube.com/FordSouthAfrica

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Endangered Wildlife Trust partners win big

Presented since 1974, the WESSA Awards recognise and honour individuals and groups making a significant contribution to the environmental conservation or environmental education sector in South Africa. The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is therefore extremely proud to announce that two of our strategic partners, who were nominated by us, are the recipients of the WESSA Award for Corporates 2017. These are Bridgestone SA and Eskom’s Biodiversity Centre of Excellence.

Kelly Fester from Bridgestone South Africa receiving one of our three 2017 Corporate Awards - with Board Chairman Michael Kidd and CEO Thommie Burger

Kelly Fester from Bridgestone South Africa receiving one of our three 2017 Corporate Awards – with Board Chairman Michael Kidd and CEO Thommie Burger

Bridgestone SA has supported the EWT’s Wildlife and Roads Project since its inception in 2011, resulting in a number of projects that are assisting the EWT to better understand the causes of wildlife-road-mortalities, and to make a difference. The EWT and Bridgestone SA initiated the ‘Roads in Parks’ project, which is a five-year project that aims to reduce roadkill in protected areas of the country. “This project attempts to minimise the impact of road users on wildlife in protected areas, and we have been examining ways to improve driver vigilance; this will ultimately lead to a reduction in roadkill”, says Wendy Collinson, the project executant.

The EWT’s Wildlife and Roads Project is the only large-scale initiative in Africa that tackles the issue of wildlife deaths on our roads. Road Ecology is a rapidly emerging field of research in which the EWT and Bridgestone SA are spearheading pioneering initiatives, and are recognised as being at the forefront of this area of research. The project continues to grow from strength to strength and has been sustainable mainly through Bridgestone’s support, for which the EWT is extremely grateful.

Kerseri Pather and Warren Funston from Eskom with one of our three 2017 Corporate Awards - with Board Chairman Michael Kidd and CEO Thommie Burger

Kerseri Pather and Warren Funston from Eskom with one of our three 2017 Corporate Awards – with Board Chairman Michael Kidd and CEO Thommie Burger

The EWT and Eskom formalised their long-standing relationship by entering into a partnership in 1996. The partnership works together across South Africa to reduce the risks of electrical infrastructure to wildlife. Negative interactions between wildlife and electricity structures take on different forms including electrocution on electrical infrastructure and collision with power lines. Over the years, since a central register was introduced, the EWT has investigated 1,996 incidents and issued 1,472 recommendations to Eskom. More than a 100 annual audits over the last six years have ensured that the implementation of recommendations is tracked. Since 2010, 493 training interventions have taken place, amounting to over 10,000 Eskom staff who have received training through the Eskom/EWT partnership. We have developed proactive mitigation plans and rolled these out nationally across all nine operating units in Eskom’s distribution division and ten grids in their transmission network. Over the last three years an estimated 2,172 spans of power line have been marked with bird diverters and an estimated 3,834 structures have been modified or mitigated to be bird-friendly. Research conducted by the partnership indicated that bird diverters on lines reduce avian collisions by over 75% and the nocturnal OWL device that we developed reduces collisions at night, usually involving cranes and flamingos, by over 90% – this world-leading partnership literally saves thousands of threatened birds each year.

Through the partnership, Eskom has now established a Biodiversity Centre of Excellence to address the mainstreaming of biodiversity into the utility’s business. Some of the key objectives of the Eskom Biodiversity Centre of Excellence are to reduce bird electrocutions and collisions through the proactive use of technology and creating awareness of the issues within the organisation; the management of game on Eskom land with a focus on conservation; removal of alien invasive species; undertaking biodiversity offsets and stewardship; skills development; research into biodiversity-related challenges; and partnering with relevant NGOs, such as the EWT, to achieve these objectives.

The EWT is proud to be associated with conservation-minded organisations such as Bridgestone SA and the Eskom Biodiversity Centre of Excellence, and congratulates them on these well-deserved awards.

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

Constant Hoogstad
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Senior Manager: Partners and Industry
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
constanth@ewt.org.za

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

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