The EWT scoops Best Rhino Conservation Supporter of the Year Award

The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s (EWT) Wildlife in Trade Programme was thrilled to win in the category of Best Rhino Conservation Supporter of the Year at the Rhino Conservation Awards in Johannesburg last night.


The EWT has a long track record of tackling rhino poaching issues, and first established a targeted Rhino Conservation Project in 2010. Mr Adam Pires, at the helm of the programme, does tremendous work in supporting the protection of rhinos in South Africa. Over the last 12 months, he and his team have together provided specialised skills and knowledge to over 1,000 officials who either work within rhino protected areas, or fight rhino crimes at other stages along the wildlife trade supply chain. The programme has also supported the uptake of specialised situational awareness software called Cmore, which is a ‘’proudly South African” collaboration developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Cmore enhances the operational and tactical response of anti-poaching units covering more than 500,000 hectares of rhino habitat.

The EWT has deployed nine sniffer and tracker dogs that work with endangered species protection at strategic locations across the country. Here, they search vehicles and other property on a daily basis for rhino horn contraband, illegal firearms and ammunition. These dogs were some of the first to detect illegal rhino horn at OR Tambo International Airport some years back. Over 20 rhino protected area security managers have undergone analytical training with Adam. These managers are now empowered to analyse complex operational data to support strategic decisions when deploying anti-poaching units.

Adam and his team have created dedicated training interventions for members of various enforcement agencies to build capacity to combat offences committed against rhinos and other wildlife. Adam’s team also works continuously to develop and produce many different types of awareness raising materials that target audiences as varied as members of the public, rhino reserve managers, and prosecutors. His team of experts has also commented in detail on proposed rhino horn trade regulations and they monitor legal proceedings against suspects involved in rhino horn trade.

A significant part of the work recognised in this award was supported through the United States: Department, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, Relate Bracelets and the MyPlanet Rhino Fund.

About the Rhino Conservation Awards

Founders Dr Larry Hansen, and Miss Xiaoyang Yu, with sponsors Carl Zeiss Sports Optics in collaboration with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and the Game Rangers Association of Africa, presented the Rhino Conservation Awards 2017 on 21 August, at a glittering gala dinner at Monte Casino in Johannesburg. This was the sixth year that these awards recognised significant role players involved in rhino conservation. These people are often involved in selfless and unrecognised work to save our natural heritage that is in danger of being lost forever.



Adam Pires


Wildlife in Trade Programme

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: 011 372 3600



Dr Kelly Marnewick

Senior Trade Officer

Wildlife in Trade Programme

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: 011 372 3600



Belinda Glenn

Marketing and Communications Manager

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: 011 372 3600


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Ryobi helps to clear the way forward for Knysna

Established in 1988, Stevens & Co has built a solid reputation as Africa’s leading power tool supplier. We are the sole agents and distributors for Ryobi power tools in Sub-Saharan Africa. We offer easy-to-use products renowned for being highly functional and durable. With over 350 different models covering all equipment categories, Ryobi’s range satisfies the needs of both trade professionals and DIY enthusiasts, alike. No other distributor can offer such a comprehensive range of power equipment, from industrial grinders, hand held drills and generators to gardening equipment and welders, we offer quality solutions that are truly built to last.

After the devastating Knysna fires, the EWT sent an emergency response team to assess the potential impacts of the fires on the estuary and to determine the response required.  The Knysna estuary is South Africa’s most important estuary for biodiversity conservation and supports the largest meadows of seagrass in the country. Seagrass meadows are considered one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, providing shelter and food to an incredibly diverse community of animals, from tiny invertebrates to large fish, crabs, marine mammals and birds. In Knysna, the seagrass provides critical habitat to a myriad of species including the endangered Knysna seahorse and the critically endangered false limpet.

Seagrass meadows in South Africa and in Knysna are under an increasing threat of extinction, particularly from sediment runoff and nutrient pollution – both of which are likely to be exacerbated by the Knysna fires. While fires in fynbos are natural and needed at intervals of approximately 12 years for its survival, a lack of fire and invasion by alien plant species both contributed to the devastatingly hot fires that ripped through Knysna.  As an emergency response, the EWT, in partnership with various government and non-government stakeholders, has set out to mitigate these post-fire impacts in the Knysna catchment by identifying the primary erosion and nutrient pollution sources in order to prioritise and implement measures to minimise these impacts. Long term, the EWT aims to work with local authorities and organisations in tackling the devastating spread of invasive alien plants in the Garden Route.

With our personal love and appreciation for wildlife and the conservation thereof, it is easy for Ryobi to relate and align ourselves with the EWT.  The natural synergy between the two brands creates a perfect match, and with a cause so close to our hearts, it has been a clear and obvious choice to support the work being done by the EWT. For every Ryobi chainsaw or brush cutter sold with the EWT sticker on it, we are contributing R25 towards the EWT’s Knysna rehabilitation project. Our end goal is to raise R150,000.


Ryobi Logo 1   Stevens & Co Logo


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There is no doubt that the biggest threat facing the survival of the iconic African Elephant is poaching, with a recent study undertaken by Colorado State University suggesting that 100,000 elephants have been killed for their ivory in the last three years. However, the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s (EWT) Wildlife and Roads Project suggests that the knock-on effects of habitat loss, which is also a serious threat to these magnificent animals, could be more severe than previously realised. These include the risk of vehicle collisions with elephants, as road infrastructure imcreasingly encroaches on their habitats.

While it may seem an unlikely occurrence, and motorists would be expected to see such sizeable animals with enough time to stop, reports have been received from across the African continent of elephants being killed on roads. One recent such report came from Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, where a baby elephant was knocked down by a vehicle in the park. A visitor recorded the distressing scene, which showed individual members of the herd trying to help the baby, which was later euthanised by park rangers. “It’s something that we don’t really like to think about,” explains Wendy Collinson, the EWT’s Wildlife and Roads Project Executant, “especially when it’s a baby animal, and happening in a national park where wildlife are supposed to be protected.” People who visit protected areas do so because they love nature, and would, no doubt be devastated if they were responsible for the death of an animal. “But it happens,” adds Wendy, “and is one of the reasons why the EWT is currently working in protected areas in South Africa to try and address the threat of roads to wildlife.”

In 2014, the EWT initiated an assessment of roadkill rates in five selected parks in South Africa. “This five-year project attempts to reduce the impact of road users on wildlife in protected areas, and we have been using pre- and post- mitigation-surveys, to examine ways to improve driver vigilance,” says Wendy. By assessing drivers’ responses to various driver-alert-signage, measured through their response to fake animals placed on paved roads in Pilanesberg National Park, early results suggest that, before placement of signage 50% of observed drivers were scanning the bush for wildlife, while the other 50% were looking at the road. Of these, 40% adapted their behaviour to ‘miss’ the fake animal, which means that 60% drove over the snake. “Our prediction,” adds Wendy, “is that effective signage will increase driver vigilance”.

The Roads in Parks Project will shortly be commencing surveys in the Kruger National Park. “These methods have come too late to save the baby elephant in Hwange, but we hope that through further research we will find the right solution that ultimately conserves our wildlife”, concludes Wendy.

The EWT’s Wildlife and Roads Project is supported by Bridgestone SA, North West Parks Tourism Board, Copenhagen Zoo and South African National Parks.

Wendy Collinson
Project Executant: Wildlife & Roads Project
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600

Constant Hoogstad
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Senior Manager: Partners and Industry
Tel: +27 11 372 3600

Belinda Glenn
Marketing and Communications Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600

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Keeping crane conservation on the road

Belinda Glenn, Marketing and Communications Manager

The EWT was thrilled to receive a new Ford Ranger bakkie from the Ford Wildlife Foundation at a special handover at the EWT head office on 6 June. This bakkie will be used by the African Crane Conservation Programme’s Cranes, Wetlands and Communities Project, and the handover forms part of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa’s commitment to the conservation and preservation of the environment in Sub-Saharan Africa.


As part of two decades of work by the EWT’s African Crane Conservation Programme, the EWT’s Cranes, Wetlands and Communities Project aims to halt the decline of all three of South Africa’s crane species – including the Vulnerable Blue Crane, the Endangered Grey Crowned Crane, and the Critically Endangered Wattled Crane.

Due to their dependence on wetlands for their survival, the project uses cranes as flagships for the protection and restoration of key wetlands and grasslands within strategically selected catchments in the Drakensberg and Highveld regions. The expansion of these protected areas and ecosystems is important for both people and cranes alike – these are our water factories to support our everyday lives, economic development and support biodiversity. In addition, the project works with communities in each of the focus areas to ensure people become part of the long-term solution in conserving natural resources and biodiversity.

This EWT project is already turning the tide on the decline of crane populations in South Africa. By focusing on the core areas important for cranes and using cranes as flagships for habitat protection, the project has protected over 100 000 hectares of land in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. That is an area five times the size of Table Mountain National Park.  As a result, all three species of cranes are increasing in number, with the Grey Crowned Crane population in KwaZulu-Natal increasing by 44% over the past decade alone. 

The project consists of a team of eight that is dedicated to the conservation of some incredibly unique and valuable parts of South Africa. “Team members have to travel large distances from rural Eastern Cape in the south to the Lakes District – Chrissiesmeer in Mpumalanga, working daily with farmers and rural communities, schools and municipalities. With only four vehicles available – two of which are soon to be decommissioned – the support of a new Ford Ranger from Ford Wildlife Foundation will be invaluable to the project’s operations,” says Tanya Smith, Southern Africa Regional Manager, African Crane Conservation Programme.

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.

Thank you to the Ford Wildlife Foundation for their ongoing support of the EWT’s work.

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Making a difference on Mandela Day

Emily Taylor, Threatened Grassland Species Programme, Gauteng Biodiversity Stewardship Project Coordinator, and Belinda Glenn, Marketing and Communications Manager and

Nelson Mandela once said, “I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses. We must never forget that it is our duty to protect this environment.” At the EWT, we pride ourselves on our commitment to protecting our environment all year round, but still felt that we would like to participate in something special to mark Mandela Day on 18 July.

Mandela Day 20172

Our Urban Conservation and Birds of Prey programmes have developed strong partnerships with the Greater Kyalami Conservancy (GEKCO), through our work on Grass Owls, Giant Bullfrogs, and general environmental awareness and education in the Kyalami and Diepsloot areas. A number of staff from our head office in Johannesburg joined a wetland clean up organised by GEKCO, as part of their Green Neighbourhoods Project. The clean-up took place in Diepsloot, where a lack of municipal waste removal services has led to a huge build-up of rubbish in the wetland that surrounds the informal settlement. The result is a situation that is not only problematic for the health of the wetland, but for the health of community members too.

Willing volunteers from GEKCO, the EWT, Bontle ke Tlago, WASSUP, Sticky Situations, Quali Health Diepsloot, Newtown Landscape Architects, Sustainable Horizons, Soweto Plumbing Academy, Pikitup, City of Joburg Region A, City of Joburg Environment and Infrastructure, JMPD, Joburg Water, Kyalami residents and the local community gathered from 11:00 to tackle the somewhat daunting task. By 13:00, more than two truckloads of waste had been collected, and the team was still working hard. All the organisations involved have committed to finding a long-term solution to the problem, and community members commented that they would like to see green grass instead of plastic in the future, and are hoping to find ways to generate income from waste removal.

Our sincere thanks go to GEKCO for organising this event and allowing us to be a part of making a difference in the lives of these community members.

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Lion conservation in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

Cole du Plessis, Carnivore Conservation Programme, KZN Regional Carnivore Coordinator

The EWT’s Carnivore Conservation Programme has made great effort in assisting Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife with the management of Hluhuwe-iMfolozi Park’s (HiP) Lion population. This entailed doing ‘call-ups’ throughout the park during the month of June. A ‘call-up’ entails chaining a carcass (like an impala, zebra or wildebeest) to the base of a tree and using speakers to play the audio of an animal in distress. If you are lucky, the audio combined with the smell of the carcass, will lure the Lions into the area and preferably, onto the carcass, which allows an opportunity for the qualified vet to dart and sedate the animal. Sometimes, if the Lions are far away, feeling lazy or are just not hungry, they might take several hours to come in or not come in at all. Persistence is therefore key.


In the last two weeks of June, we managed to successfully call up five prides of Lions (25+ individuals). The purpose for the call ups varied between the prides. With some prides, the tracking collars had failed and new collars needed to be put on. Tracking collars allow monitors to keep up with the changes happening in prides. With other prides, some Lions needed blood samples taken for genetics and disease screening. In other cases, certain individuals had to be branded for easy identification purposes. Lastly, some Lions had to be microchipped. In the event that the Lion dies or is poached and the body is found, the microchip will tell us exactly which Lion it was.

Increasing our knowledge of Lion demographics, movements and feeding ecology is fundamental to understanding how they interact with other species in the ecosystem. Within HiP, there are populations of other large carnivores such as African Wild Dogs, Spotted Hyaenas, Leopards and Cheetahs, which all compete with Lions for the same resources (space and food). The level of competition is increased between these carnivores in an area like HiP that has a boundary. Therefore, only understanding the population of Lions without monitoring the other carnivores will not allow for an accurate understanding of the effects Lions have on the system. In particular, reserve management wants to know the cumulative effects of all carnivores on the herbivore population and without monitoring how Lions and other carnivores affect the prey, there is the danger of prey species being wiped out and the ecology of the park suffering. In addition to this, predation (the killing of other predators that pose competition) will likely increase in HiP as Lions tend to dominate those interactions where often the smaller carnivores such as Spotted Hyaena, Wild Dog and Cheetah can be negatively affected. With years of conservation effort on Wild Dogs and Cheetahs in HiP, the loss of even a few individuals can have a large effect on their relatively small populations in the park.

With a large population of Lions in HiP, there is still a lot of work ahead of us but it is imperative that we persist for the sake of understanding and maintaining the range of all carnivores, including Lions, in one of South Africa’s premiere parks.

This work is conducted in partnership with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and WildlifeACT.

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South Africa’s Lakes District hosts the sixth annual Chrissiesmeer Crane Festival

Nestled in the heart of South Africa’s Lakes District, the little village of Chrissiesmeer in Mpumalanga derives its name from the adjacent Lake Chrissie, the largest natural freshwater lake in South Africa. Located within a radius of 20 kms around Lake Chrissie there are about 300 lakes and pans. Another unique feature of the area is that it is surrounded by a watershed, creating a “closed system” around the Chrissiesmeer area. Two of our three threatened crane species occur in the area. This includes the Blue Crane, South Africa’s National Bird, and the charismatic Grey Crowned Crane. Besides being home to the cranes, the area is known to hold more than 20,000 water birds on a regular basis, and is also a proposed Ramsar site (wetland area of international importance).

Chrissiesmeer is also the livelihood base for about 4,000 local residents and a vital farming community within the Lakes District. Due to the increased mining pressure, it was realised that unguided local economic development could severely impact the ecological significance of this unique and sensitive area and adversely affect local livelihoods. This was the drive behind the proclamation of the Chrissiesmeer Protected Environment in 2014 through voluntary partnerships with landowners. This provides the area with formal conservation status and regulates management practices and further economic development within the area.

Stall Disabled Centre

Although the area is a national jewel in terms of its scenic beauty and biodiversity value, it is still relatively unknown as a tourism destination outside of birding circles. With the cranes as charismatic ambassadors for the area’s value, the Chrissiesmeer Crane Festival was initiated in the winter of 2012. The festival aims to achieve several objectives: it generates environmental awareness among local communities and the general public of the importance of Chrissiesmeer’s biodiversity, including the cranes and their wetland and grassland habitats; it creates an increased awareness of the unique characteristics of South Africa’s Lakes District to attract tourists to this beautiful area; and  it is used as a platform for the local community to showcase and sell their produce and crafts. The Chrissiesmeer Crane Festival has a relaxed feel and generally attracts between 150 – 200 people. Visitors consist largely of bird and nature enthusiasts from Gauteng and local supporters from the surrounding area.

U Franke_Grey Crowned Cranes

The highlight of the festival is the crane viewing trips where visitors are taken to see the magnificent flock of Grey Crowned Cranes, usually present near one or more of the area’s lakes or pans. During the past two festivals, visitors also saw Blue Cranes. Spending time in the field with these beautiful birds, watching them dance, hearing their calls, and seeing their colourful flight leave a lasting impression on all the participants.

A special thank you to the Dullstroom Birds of Prey Centre for their raptor awareness flight display, as well as the main sponsors U and Me Creative, and Painted Wolf Wines for sponsoring wine for the Saturday evening event.

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Chrissiesmeer Crane Festival 2017

The sixth annual Chrissiesmeer Crane Festival was held from 23 – 24 June 2017. Credit needs to be given to Charmain Bouwer of U and Me Creative, who was responsible for the venue, logistics, marketing and bookings. The crane festival was born after George Archibald visited this small town situated in the Mpumalanga Highveld of South Africa. Since then it has flourished and has grown each year. It is an opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness of cranes and other threatened species and their habitats from the area.
Ursula and Steven were responsible for the crane field trips, the talks, presentations made and the community and learner involvement.  People thoroughly enjoyed the Birds of Prey flight show given by the Dullstroom Bird of Prey Centre and there was something for everyone to enjoy. The African Crane Conservation Programme team, other EWT  colleagues, assisted throughout the day at the EWT stand and with the kids activities. This included the colouring of Grey Crowned Cranes masks and pin the crown on the Crowned Crane. About 150 people attended the festival on the Saturday. The three field trips were once again the highlight of the festival and very good feedback was received. For the second year in row, we spotted a family of Blue Cranes in the same area with 80 Grey Crowned Cranes.



The crane tours




The Blue Crane family



Ursula presenting



The children’s programme



Thabo Madlala of The EWT showing some crane moves



Other sporting games learners enjoyed

Article by Steven Segang







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Karkloof source to confluence river walk

When I arrived at the office one Monday, Tanya told me that she had let the Karkloof Conservancy know that I would assist them with a river walk in two weeks’ time. My immediate thought was that this was a walk to the river for monitoring, perhaps for 3 hours. As a result, my response to her was a big SURE. With a smile, she added that it was a source to confluence walk that would take 5 days and cover about 65 kilometers….. OK – now this is real I said to myself! She then asked me if I would be ok with that. Not sure if I should be happy or sad, I kept quiet for a few seconds. I then started visualizing all the possible activities that might happen and all the cool stuff we might see; the most interesting one for me was going to be actually seeing exactly where the river started. Then something said to me, “why not, this is a lifetime opportunity”, I started smiling again and said “yes” to Tanya, “I’m ok I’m looking forward to it.”
After that conversation with Tanya, there was a countdown happening in my mind. There was this short movie playing on my mind about the whole river walk and each day I would wake up with more excitement. I started posting on my facebook about it and noted how I was so looking forward to it.
As the days were passing I was feeling it, I was ready for it. On 25 March around 1 pm, I made my way to Howick to meet half of the team that was taking part on a river walk. In addition, there was Tanya with Twane from Karkloof Conservancy and Ayanda from Ground Truth. I realized this was really happening! We loaded our equipment and left for our accommodation, a farmer’s old stable that had been converted into accommodation. To our surprise, we met the farmer immediately and started telling him about the walk. He was very interested, but did express his wonder around whether we would still have the same energy and excitement after the first day 
On 26 March, we woke up at 4 am to bath, pack our lunch and get ready for the day. The Chairman of the Karkloof Conservation was picking us up at 5 30 am. I cannot explain the feeling when he dropped us at our first point for our first day and he said, “Ok kids you go play, I will see you later”. I said right “we are here”, and they all laughed at me. The weather was not in our favor; it was drizzling. We therefore walked down the valley to find the river and walked upwards to find the river source. As we were making our way down, getting closer to the river, I realized there was no water actually in the river, just a structure that shows where the river is. The one component that makes it a river was missing in fact the main reason for our river walk WATER. Twane took out her GPS to see if are we at the right place and, yes, we were at the right place but there was no water – I was frustrated.
I started noticing changes in the vegetation 100 meters above us – the grass was different and the slope was starting to elevate. I said to them that if this was the source than we must find water that makes the Karkloof River. We walked up to see what was happening, and as we got closer, we heard the sound of water. Sue from WWF said, “Can you guys hear that?” We were all curious to find water and we rushed up the hill. When we got to a point where we were hoping to see water, we found nothing but small green ouhout trees growing. With sadness again, we realized that there was no water and that time was running out, as we needed to walk 10 kilometers per day. We therefore decided to walk downwards. In about 250 meters, and to our surprise, there was water rising from underground. The look on Twane’s face as she hugged all of us was amazing, and she nearly cried. It was so emotional to see how all of us were so excited, and to realise the importance of this.
The water was crystal clear and we started our monitoring: we tested for temperature, turbidity, total dissolved solids, alkaline and conducted the MiniSaSS and River Health Assessment. As we moved down the river, the amount of water was increasing and we noticed tributaries joining the main river. We crossed through some tight fences and went through fields of black jack; it was fun building crossing points using old wattle logs.
It was interesting to see changes in land use and also in water and the river structure as we moved down. We continued to do monitoring along the river for the next 5 days and 65 kilometers. During the course of the week, we were joined by The KZN Regional Environmental Manager from SAPPI and also by the Public Relations Officer from SAPPI.
Each day was filled with excitement and that sense of wonder around what bad and good things we were going to see during the day. Most of the time, we relied on printed maps and it was interesting to see land marks on the map and use them to navigate our way in thick bushes and wetland reeds.
All in all, I felt that what we did was not only fun but was so important for all the people who are using that river for different purposes and were able to find any major issues that people were not aware of. We were able to understand the river system from the source to the confluence. Witnessing the wonderful healing that the river system and wetlands can undergo and seeing those results was amazing.
After we finished the walk, the excitement I had when we started was still there! The difference was that it was more than when we started and I felt that I had archived a huge goal in 2017 within the conservation sector and was proud of myself for participating in such a wonderful activity. I was proud of us as a team and for the ICF/EWT Partnership for providing me with such opportunities.



Nduduzo kissing a frog




River monitoring



The walking team



En route





Article by Nduduzo Khoza





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Capacity strengthening training on crane and wetland conservation in Jimma, Ethiopia

In order to contribute to sustainable biodiversity conservation in general and crane conservation in particular, we have provided training to the local community and provided material support for nature conservation club office construction in school compounds in  Jimma area of Ethiopia.
Trainings: We have proved capacity building trainings on wetland and cranes conservation to improve local community participation in conservation activities. The training participants were drawn from wetland users, farmers who have land adjacent to wetland habitats and school nature conservation club members. A total of 132 community members (62 from farmers, and 70 from students) participated in this training program. The training was provided at various times in different places and focused on activities that enhance both conservation and income generations (livelihood). The core theme of the training includes;
• Ecological, economic and social values wetland habitats. Example, flood control, climate change and drought adaptation
• Ways of community involvement in wetland conservation and restoration
• Wetland based socioeconomic activities contributes both for sustainable conservation and income generation. For example: fish rearing, source of water for livestock in dry season, bee keeping in buffer zones, fruit trees planting in buffer zone, cutting grass (papyrus) for different uses, city park development
Material support to club: in order to strengthen environment and nature conservation clubs at schools we have provided material (e.g. 62 roof tins – 31 for each) support for club office construction in two school compounds. In one school, the office was constructed and in the other materials was supplied. The offices are supposed to be used by club members to conduct meetings and store materials for conservation advocacy work in their respective community.
Field monitoring: for proper monitoring for crane population, wetland grazing pressure and breeding grounds two students from nature conservation club were recruited for data collection at breeding sties. We have engaged students intentionally to inspire and to improve their understanding on crane and wetland situated near  their schools. After providing adequate orientations on data collection processes, the students undertook data collection for the last five months.
The field monitoring result on crane population showed crane population is decreased during prolonged dry seasons while livestock population graze on wetland highly increases.
Finally, we would like to extend our thanks to The Rufford Foundation for financing this work.

Article by Abebayehu Aticho

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