The world’s rarest big cat grows in number

Camera trap monitoring is the main research method used to study Amur leopards in the wild, and individuals are identified by their unique spot patterns. With around 400 cameras monitoring wildlife in the park, it is the largest camera trap network in Russia. Scientists processed the collected data over several months before announcing the new population numbers. WWF, along with partners WCS and the Far Eastern Leopard Centre, helped the park with camera trap monitoring and data processing.

“Our forecasts were optimistic, and since the establishment of the Land of the Leopard National Park in 2012, the number of the rarest large cat has increased significantly,” said Sergey Donskoy, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Russia.

Experts believe more leopards may inhabit the territory outside the national park and are now working to collect more data from places like China where camera traps are already in place.

Considering the Amur leopard is one of the most endangered large mammals in the world, this increase is such welcome news and reflects the importance of regular species monitoring to assess their health in the ecosystem,” said Nilanga Jayasinghe, Senior Program Officer, Asian Species

Originally posted 2018-04-13 12:00:00.

“If a tiger kills our cattle, we don’t feel angry”

The Chenchu tribe think of the tiger as their brother. They understand their forest and its wildlife better than anybody else and have shaped, nurtured and protected this environment for millennia. Yet their lives are being destroyed by government efforts to conserve this animal. Survival International researcher Fiore Longo spent time with them in Amrabad and Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserves, in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh States, India.

“Our ancestors taught us only one thing: Love and respect the forest and it will take care of you. Here we don’t need money to eat and to live. This forest is our breath and our life.”

The Chenchu can recognize five different types of bees that produce five different types of honey. “We leave the larvae so it will recycle again; by looking at the way a bee flies we can know where the honey is”.

Outsiders think that tigers and humans are a threat to one another, but the Chenchu, who live with the animals day to day, have a different perspective; “We love them as we love our children. If a tiger or a leopard kills our cattle, we don’t feel disappointed or angry, instead we feel as if our brothers have visited our homes and they have eaten what they wanted”.

Evidence proves indigenous peoples manage their environment and its wildlife better than anyone else. Yet like other tribes in India’s tiger reserves, such as the Baiga and Mising, the Chenchu are being threatened with illegal eviction from their ancestral homelands: “We will shed every single drop of our blood to protect our rights and our forest. This forest is our home. The flora and fauna of this forest are part of our family. Without us the forest won’t survive, and without the forest we won’t survive.”

Under Indian law, to conduct a relocation of indigenous peoples from their forests, evidence must be provided to demonstrate that the community is irreversibly harming the flora and fauna, and that coexistence with wild animals is impossible. Then, if the community gives its consent, they should be offered one of the two options of the resettlement package that the authorities are obliged by law to provide: either receive cash (Rs 10 lakh per family, around 14,500 US dollars), or move to a resettlement village. This is not what is happening in reality.

This woman is from Pecheru village, which was evicted in the ’80s. Of the 750 families that used to live in the village, the Chenchu told us that only 160 families survived after the eviction took place. Many starved to death. “The thought of that frightens us  – we don’t want to see it. We won’t get the safety we have here anywhere else. Most of us would die of depression, unable to cope with a new life, and the rest of us would die slow, horrible deaths.”

“Among ourselves we have pure love and strong relationships. But outside it is not the same. Everything is related to money. If you don’t have money there is no food and no water. No money means no house and no clothes. It’s a shameless world out there, where nothing is pure. From the air we breathe to the relationships we establish, everything is impure there. We won’t get the safety we have here in the forest anywhere else.”

The Chenchu have released a letter demanding to be allowed to stay in their home: “Since our ancestors’ time, we have been born in this forest and we have died and will die in this very forest. This forest is our breath and our life. This forest is our right and no one can take this right from us and break our bond. If anyone tries to do this, we shall fight against it till our last breath. We will shed every single drop of our blood to protect our rights and our forest.”

Do you want to help the Chenchu? Fill in the form below and Survival International will be in touch

Originally posted 2018-07-27 22:29:43.

Top 25 Birds with a Sugar Rush

Here we present the Top 25: Birds with a Sugar Rush, a spectacular collection of the many different birds that feed on nectar. Plants produce nectar as an incentive for birds and insects to pollinate them. Some plants are particularly well suited for bird pollinators, their flowers are often red or orange and have tubular flowers. Birds that specialise in feeding on nectar have long, narrow bills, well suited to reaching into these flowers. These birds and these plants have evolved together to form a mutually beneficial relationship, where the plant gets pollinated and the bird gets a sugary treat. But it is not just the specialist nectarivores that enjoy nectar, many birds are partial to nectar and will either feed on flowers they can reach into, or puncture tubular flowers to release the nectar. This collection features both the nectar specialists and nectar opportunists.

Thank you to everyone who submitted photographs this week, if you would like to take part in next week’s Top 25, look out for the announcement of the next theme on our Facebook page.

Plants like this Wild Dagga have co-evolved with nectar specialists like this White-bellied Sunbird. the long tubular flowers only allow birds like sunbirds to reach the nectar  (Brian Culver)A Little Wattlebird mid call in Don Reserve, Tasmania. These birds rely on nectar, mainly from Eucalyptus and Banksia flowers (Radhakrishnan Sadasivam)A Streaked Spiderhunter forages for nectar in Fraser Hill, Malaysia (Arun Samak)The Olive-backed Sunbird is native to south-east Asia and north-eastern Australia. This one was photographed in Singapore (Bharath Srinivasan)A male Calliope Hummingbird drinks from a Red Salvia flower (Jola Charlton)As this female Purple Sunbird drinks nectar from this flower, pollen brushes onto her bill, this pollen will then brush off onto the next flower she feeds on, in this way she plays a vital role in pollinating these plants (Paneendra BA)like the little wattlebird, This White-cheeked Honeyeater feeds mainly on nectar from Eucalyptus and Banksia species (Jamie Dolphin)Oriental White-eyes are generalist feeders, they eat a variety of vegetable matter, fruits and in this case, nectar (Panthera Tigris)Parrots like this Northern Rosella eat mainly seeds but will also feed opportunistically on nectar (Janis Otto)The Little Spiderhunter belongs to the Sunbird family. like other sunbirds they specialise in eating nectar, but they also supplement their diet with insects and spiders (Radhakrishnan Sadasivam)Crimson Sunbirds are typically found in wooded areas, including mangrove forests (Jasvir Faridkot)The eye-catching iridescent colouring on this Van Hasselt’s Sunbird is created by structures in the feathers, which refract light. this is why at different angles the colour may look slightly different (Saravanan Krishnamurthy)A Blue-faced Honeyeater enjoys a nectar meal in Humpty Doo, Australia. The Honeyeaters are native to Australasia. while they may resemble nectarivores in other parts of the world, like sunbirds and flowerpeckers, they are in fact not related to them (Janis Otto)These Pale-billed Flowerpeckers dwell in the canopy of forests, here they forage on insects, fruits and nectar (Ganesh Rao)A female Rufous Hummingbird demonstrates her amazing hovering ability as she feeds on this Blanket Flower (Tim Nicol)A Brahminy Starling feeds on nectar from the flowers of an Indian Coral Tree. These starlings do not specialise on nectar but they will take it opportunistically (Indranil Bhattacharjee)This photograph of a Rufous Sibia beautifully illustrates pollination in action (Nandita Halder)The Allen’s Hummingbird is one of the smaller species of the hummingbird family. at food sources they tend to be dominated and pushed out by larger species. but They have adapted to this by feeding at lower levels and earlier in the morning than many of the larger species (Barbara Wallace)A Beautiful Sunbird perched alongside Lake Baringo in Kenya (Wasif Yaqeen)This Gilbert’s Honeyeater is only found in south-western Australia (Jamie Dolphin)Great Barbets mainly eat fruit but they will also drink nectar from time to time (Nandita Halder)A Green-tailed Sunbird photographed in the village of Chaffi, India (Shantharam Holla)A female Anna’s Hummingbird hovers with precision while she takes a drink of nectar (Barbara Wallace)This amazing bird is a Sword-billed Hummingbird, the only bird in the world whose beak is longer than its body (Melissa Penta)This White-necked Jacobin belongs to the Hummingbird family, they occur in central and south America. This male was photographed in Costa Rica by Joel Delmas

Our mission is to build a global community around the freedom and beauty of birds in the wild as ambassadors for the natural ecosystems that they depend upon. They are the music, decoration, and character of every terrestrial habitat on the planet and have been around since the dinosaurs. They are the witnesses and ambassadors of the awesome power of nature. The wide availability of good, cheap optics has opened their world to us for the last few decades. Amazing, affordable DSLR cameras with long lenses are delivering brilliant digital bird imagery to online communities.

We are in a day-and-age during which more bird species are threatened with extinction than ever before. The Wild Birds! Revolution aims to publish the “Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week” to 1 million people every week by the end of the year. That is a revolution that will change the world! Join thousands of other weekend naturalists, photographers, birders, experts, hikers, nature-lovers, guides, scientists, conservationists and artists that share the thousands of wild bird photographs submitted to the Wild Bird Trust website and Facebook page. Thousands of wild bird enthusiasts are going out every day to photograph our planet’s beautiful birdlife. Pick up your camera, fill your bird feeder, open your heart, and join the Wild Birds! Revolution!!

Edited by Christie Craig, Campaign Manager

Top 25: Wild Birds with Spectacular Catches

Originally posted 2018-07-27 20:25:12.

Two friends passionate about conservation will take on Capitol Hill for Lobby Day 2018

Laura Miller dubs herself shy while Tiffany Jones is decidedly outgoing. This contrast in personality—combined with a shared interest in conservation—makes them a stronger team.

The two 30-something friends from Dallas, Texas, serve as Panda Ambassadors, helping WWF advocate for conservation-focused goals at crucial moments and educating others about wildlife and wild places. Together they’ve played on their strengths to send a stronger message, including speaking to a third-grade classroom about wildlife protection. Miller took the lead on pulling together the necessary research, while Jones managed the visual and storytelling portion of the presentation.

“We were both able to use our strengths and our talents,” Miller said. “Combining them really helps amplify the message.”

They first met at a social event in 2014. Six months later, they bumped into one another again and realized they’re both passionate about wildlife and conservation. They arranged to meet up for coffee to talk about how they could get more involved in advocating for the planet. The rest, as they say, is history.

In March, the pair will head to Washington, DC, to take on the next challenge together: Lobby Day 2018.

Originally posted 2018-01-11 13:00:00.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Migratory Birds 2

In the Northern Hemisphere autumn is underway and many birds are making their way back to warmer climates to overwinter in areas with increased prey availability. Many of the bird species that migrate are aerial foragers and waders, migrating between warm areas because their main food source, insects and crustaceans, are more active and abundant during the warmer months. Many migratory birds species are threatened by human activities such as habitat degradation in their stopover sites, and hunting along their migratory routes. One of many conservation efforts in place is the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) which is an intergovernmental treaty to co-ordinate conservation efforts for migratory waterbirds.

Thank you to all the photographers that submitted photos of migratory birds, your pictures can create awareness about bird migration and the threats that many species face while migrating. Here we present the Top 25 photographs of migratory birds.

Red-crested porchards breed in lowland marshes and lakes in southern Europe and central Asia, they winter in the Indian subcontinent and Asia. this species is part of the AEWA (Oana Badiu)Brown-breasted flycatcher in West Bengal, India (Anirban Mitra)Purple sandpipers feed on molluscs and arthropods, breeding on Arctic Islands (Kelly Hunt)This blue-cheeked bee-eater breeds in northern Africa and the Middle East, and winters in Tropical Africa (Aman Sharma)Close up of a beautiful spot-winged starling photographed in Uttarakhand, India (Ramesh Aithal)Sandhill cranes are found in North America and some populations migrate to breeding grounds in northeastern Siberia (Owen Deutsch)Wood sandpipers breed in subarctic wetlands and migrate to Africa and Southern Asia making use of freshwater habitats in winter and during migration (Indranil Bhattacharjee)Little stints undertake long distance migration from their breeding sites in arctic Europe, and Asia, to their wintering sites in Africa and southern Asia (Sandipan Ghosh)Black bazas are migratory in parts of their range, found in Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia (Senthil Kumar Damodaran)Roseate spoonbill flying in Louisiana, USA (Rhonda Lane)Siberian stonechat perching on a branch, these birds breed in temperate Asia, and winter in southern Japan to Thailand and India, and also in northeast Africa (Ashok Appu)Reflection of pied avocet feeding in Punjab, India, this species is part of the AEWA (Gagan Bedi)Indian paradise flycatchers spend their winters in tropical Asia, some populations are resident in southern India and Sri Lanka (Bhupinder Randhawa)Eurasian wigeons breed in most of Europe and Asia,
and winter in southern Asia, and Africa (Jasvir Faridkot)Booted warblers breed from central Russia to western China, and winter on the Indian subcontinent (Ajoy Kumar Dawn)Caspian tern flying in Chennai, India (Pallavi Sarkar)Horned grebes are listed as vulnerable due to, among other things, forestry operations around their breeding lakes, they breed in Eurasia, and winter along Icelandic, Norwegian, and British Isle coasts (Sudhir Kadam)Pair of greylag geese in Gajoldoba wetland, India (Soumendu Das)The beautifully coloured painted storks, found on the Indian subcontinent, are near threatened due to habitat loss and water pollution, some individuals migrate to west Burma (Vishesh Kamboj)This small bird, the whinchat, breeds in Europe and western Asia, they make ground nests hidden in vegetation, and migrate to central Africa to overwinter (Edwin Godinho)Greater flamingos in Gujarat, India. In times of bad weather and cold the Asian populations will migrate to Iran or India, a mildly cold season may prevent migration (Vijay Singh Chandel)Brown-headed gulls breed in colonies in central Asia, and winter on the coasts and inland lakes of the Indian subcontinent (Amrik Singh)Spotted flycatchers are able to identify their own eggs and are thought to have once been hosts of the common cuckoo. These birds breed in many parts of Europe and western Asia, and winter in Africa and south west Asia (Vishwas Thakker)Common whitethroats breed in Europe and temperate Asia, and winter in tropical Africa, Arabia, and Pakistan (Gur Simrat Singh)European roller in Haryana, India, these birds are threatened by hunting during their migration around the mediterranean (Manoj Nair)

Our mission is to build a global community around the freedom and beauty of birds in the wild as ambassadors for the natural ecosystems that they depend upon. They are the music, decoration, and character of every terrestrial habitat on the planet and have been around since the dinosaurs. They are the witnesses and ambassadors of the awesome power of nature. The wide availability of good, cheap optics has opened their world to us for the last few decades. Amazing, affordable DSLR cameras with long lenses are delivering brilliant digital bird imagery to online communities.

We are in a day-and-age during which more bird species are threatened with extinction than ever before. The Wild Birds! Revolution aims to publish the “Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week” to 1 million people every week by the end of the year. That is a revolution that will change the world! Join thousands of other weekend naturalists, photographers, birders, experts, hikers, nature-lovers, guides, scientists, conservationists and artists that share the thousands of wild bird photographs submitted to the Wild Bird Trust website and Facebook page. Thousands of wild bird enthusiasts are going out every day to photograph our planet’s beautiful birdlife. Pick up your camera, fill your bird feeder, open your heart, and join the Wild Birds! Revolution!!

Edited by Laurie Johnson, Campaign Manager

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Birds Feeding

Reducing Manta Ray Mortality in the World’s Largest Targeted Manta Fishery

By Hollie Booth

This Shark Week, take a moment to consider the manta ray. This much-loved gentle giant of the shark and ray (elasmobranch) family is a large, slow-growing and long-lived species, which makes it particularly vulnerable to overfishing.

Unfortunately, fishers have increasingly targeted mantas in recent decades to meet emerging demand for their gills in traditional Chinese medicine markets. This growth in demand is primarily the result of industry marketing, with the gills being peddled by practitioners as a cure for coughs and chicken pox, and for promoting respiratory health.

Left: A tourist admires a manta ray in Indonesia’s Komodo National Park. Photo credit: Hollie Booth/WCS; Right: Indonesian law enforcement authorities seize an illegal shipment of hundreds of manta ray gills. Photo credit: Paul Hilton for WCS.

Indonesia is a global priority for manta ray conservation, as it’s the world’s largest elasmobranch fishing nation and a major supplier of manta ray gills to the world’s largest consumer markets. Indonesia is also home to what is thought to be—or at least was—the world’s largest targeted manta ray fishery: Lamakera.

Lamakera is a small coastal community in Eastern Indonesia made (in)famous by the 2015 Emmy-award nominated film documentary “Racing Extinction.” People in Lamakera have been hunting marine megafauna for centuries, but traditionally the catch was just for local consumption. However, in the early 2000s manta ray catch in Lamakera rocketed, transforming in to a commercialized industry.

Map of Lamakera.

Around 2002, annual landings were as high as 1,000 individuals—a huge mortality rate for such a large, slow-growing species. Catch has declined ever since despite increases in fishing effort: a sure sign of an overexploited population.

Through a collaboration led by Reef Check Indonesia and Manta Trust, a manta conservation project was launched in Lamakera in 2013. This coalition led an intensive scoping and community consultation phase, laying critical foundations for future work by WCS Indonesia and Misool Foundation.

In 2014, the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries declared manta rays a protected species. This was a huge success for elasmobranch conservation (one that provided a clear legal framework for protecting mantas) but a major challenge for implementation—particularly because manta ray fishing is an important part of the livelihoods and culture of coastal communities like Lamakera.

A manta ray fisher expresses his livelihood concerns. Photo credit: ©Misool Foundation.

To address this complex problem, WCS Indonesia and Misool Foundation adopted a multi-faceted approach. We focused on improving enforcement of manta ray regulations while developing incentives for regulation compliance and adoption of sustainable marine management practices—a classic carrot and stick approach. Since then, we’ve been monitoring our data to assess our impact.

What have we achieved so far? Since 2014, WCS has conducted law enforcement trainings on detecting, deterring, and prosecuting marine wildlife crimes, while supporting collection of data on illegal trade and providing legal advice to enforcement officials. More than 20 suspects involved in illegal manta ray trade have been arrested since 2014, with an estimated 4,200 kg of manta ray products seized.

These have resulted in sizeable fines and jail time in the first-ever prosecutions related to protecting fish species in Indonesia. We found there has been a significant increase in average fines and prosecutions for illegal shark and ray traders following WCS trainings for government officials, which we believe is an indicator of improved awareness, motivation, and capacity to prosecute marine wildlife crimes.

LEFT: The WCS and DKP East Flores patrol boat out on the water. Photo Credit: Hollie Booth; RIGHT: Graph by WCS.

Marine patrols were launched in 2016, and increased significantly in 2017, with the timing and location of patrol efforts strategically concentrated in areas and times of highest likelihood of hunting incidents.

On the community level, our partners at Misool Foundation established a sustainable fisheries cooperative. Of 63 members, twenty-two are ex-manta ray fishers committed to cease targeting mantas by participating in the cooperative. The benefits from participation are tied to compliance with manta ray protection regulations. An additional 13 local female manta ray traders have committed to developing non-manta ray livelihoods, and have received small business loans to do so.

Community monitoring of illegal fishing and by-catch incidents has significantly increased. Over the past year we’ve received 33 reports of illegal fishing and accidental by-catch of protected marine fauna, resulting in the apprehension of five illegal fishing vessels and release of 18 protected animals. Awareness of regulations has clearly improved along with local pride in marine megafauna.

Building community pride in marine megafauna. Photo credit: Erma Normai/Misool Foundation.

Most importantly, we are already seeing a measurable impact on manta ray mortality—with a statistically significant decrease in manta ray mortality in 2016/17 we can connect to our dual ‘carrot and stick’ strategy.

Through concerted efforts across different levels of society, WCS and Misool Foundation are achieving a measurable impact on saving manta rays in Indonesia. Behaviour change required for effective conservation can be complicated. Encouraging people to reduce environmentally destructive habits (especially if they have limited options) requires a variety of approaches. Some people will respond well to carrots, and others to sticks.

Despite these successes, pressures, challenges and uncertainties remain. Demand continues to drive hunting of manta rays. The population is severely depleted and recent enforcement measures may have resulted in illegal activity moving to less well-monitored locations. Our successes so far are just the first steps towards achieving long-term meaningful change and holistic sustainable management of marine resources.

Achieving success in the long-term is possible only with flexible, understanding donors and diverse and resilient partners. The financial support of  the Shark Conservation Fund and The Paul G Allen Family Foundation/Vulcan has been critical, just as we have relied on the skill and commitment of Misool Foundation, the East Flores fisheries authority, and the water police.

Establishing and maintaining change takes time (especially when there are strong a persistent drivers for illegal targeting and trade), but based on our success so far we feel confident that time is on our side in protecting these extraordinary species.

——————————————–
Hollie Booth is Sharks and Rays Advisor for Southeast Asia at WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society).

Originally posted 2018-07-27 03:04:38.

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