Current News

Important Notices

Support The IUCN Red List

03 December 2014
Red List at 50

This holiday season, support The IUCN Red List.

As part of the Red List 50 campaign marking the 50th anniversary of The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, we have launched a special month-long holiday campaign to raise USD 25,000 - enough funds to assess 100 additional species. The holiday campaign will last until the end of December and aims to bring us one step closer to our 2020 goal of 160,000 assessed species. Please help us make the Red List a more complete ‘Barometer of Life’ and an even more powerful conservation tool.

Make your donation here: http://50.iucnredlist.org/holiday-giving and please share this campaign with family and friends. The world’s species are counting on you.

 

 

 

 

 

News Releases

World leaders reaffirm commitment to reducing illegal wildlife trade

27 March 2015
Pangolin scales for sale in Asia
Photo: Dan Challender

Heads of state, ministers and high-level representatives of over 30 countries and Regional Economic Integration Organisations have adopted the Kasane Statement to reaffirm their commitment to ending the illegal wildlife trade. The statement was adopted at the Kasane Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, held on 25 March in Botswana and organised by the Government of Botswana with the support of the UK government.

The conference was a follow up meeting to the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife, held in February 2014 and organised by the UK government. At the London Conference, a Declaration was signed by participating countries (and Regional Economic Integration Organisations) through which they make a political commitment Python skins are traded primarily to meet demands from the fashion industry Photo: Daniel Natusch / IUCNto counter illegal wildlife trade.

The Kasane Statement includes additional actions considered crucial to ending illegal wildlife trade, including measures to: eradicate the market for illegal wildlife products; ensure effective legal frameworks and deterrents are in place; strengthen law enforcement, and engage communities in efforts to address illegal wildlife trade.

In particular, IUCN welcomes the focus on local community engagement. Last month IUCN convened an international symposium, organised by its CEESP/SSC Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group and partners, which examined insights and best practice from a wide range of case studies, and developed a set of key insights and recommendations for policy and practice which engage communities in combating the illegal wildlife trade.

“IUCN commends this conference and the adoption of the Kasane Statement, because it not only addresses law enforcement and demands reduction as solutions, but holistically embraces the need to support local communities in pursuit of sustainable livelihood and economic development opportunities,” said Dr Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission.

Illegal wildlife trade deprives many rural communities of potential income and is a major loss of unaccounted natural capital for nation states. However, it not only impacts iconic megafauna, such as tigers, rhinos and elephants, but also other species including pangolins, turtles, plants and fish, which require attention as well.

“We need to make sure that the strong commitments made cover all species threatened by illegal trade, and not just those that attract major media attention, such as elephants and rhinos,” said Dr Richard Jenkins, Deputy Director of the IUCN Global Species Programme. “This needs to be supported by improved efforts and greater resources for monitoring populations of wild species so that we are able to determine the effectiveness of our actions.”

During the conference delegates reported on progress made since the signing of the London Declaration. For example, increased levels of law enforcement in some areas, such as Africa, have led to a rise in ivory seizures.

“Whilst progress has been made, there is a long way to go to win this battle. IUCN is increasingly optimistic that, working together, we will be able to gather enough resources and political will to turn the tide,” said Dr Simon Stuart. “We must achieve all of this in 2015, but we must also sustain it to 2016 and beyond, and we must ensure that the next generation of our political leaders are equally committed.”

Related links:

 

 

 

Reducing Human-Chimpanzee conflicts in Guinea-Bissau

25 March 2015
Boé landscape in the rainy season
Photo: Tedros Medhrin

Tedros Medhin, project coordinator with Stichting Chimbo, an SOS Grantee and IUCN Member, reports from Boé, Guinea-Bissau, about how Village Vigilance Committees (CVVs) are helping to protect the local population of Endangered West African Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes ssp. verus).

Whereas before local farmers would attempt to shoot a chimp on sight or even sell infants to the pet trade, behaviours are shifting toward strategies that help promote coexistence.

Chimpanzee family taking a stroll Photo: ChimboEach CVV comprises five community members who perform several tasks. They monitor the Chimpanzee groups living on their village lands while conducting field visits. They also discourage and denounce the hunting and/or killing of Chimpanzees and poaching in general, while also evaluating the damage caused by Chimpanzees to crops.

Critically, all stakeholder groups are represented in these Village Vigilance Committees (CVVs) are helping to protect the local population of Endangered West African Chimpanzees Photo: ChimboCVVs: village elders, former hunters, women, volunteer forest guards, and of course young people.

During one recent meeting, Tedros’ colleagues also showed video camera trap films of wart hogs, antelopes and buffaloes that had been recorded in the vicinity. To many, these were rare but enjoyable sights.

The ensuing chatter and excitement indicated the video had Signing of contracts on bicycle use by CVV members Photo: Tedros Medhrinstruck a chord - with participants renewing their promise to warn the project team and local authorities when they detected poaching in their area.

Better still, the project team’s local partner Daridibó signed a special agreement with local military forces based nearby in Beli, Che-Che and Dandum. Equipped with a bicycle, one soldier at each site can assist the local CVV in its patrolling and anti-poaching activities. In exchange, the project team provides the petrol needed for a subsequent Handing new bicycles to CVV members Photo: Tedros Medhrinmotorised patrol which follows up on any reported illegal activities.

Meanwhile the project team also uses local radio programming to remind villagers about the damage caused to wildlife by snare traps and the fact that it is illegal to hunt with snares. “Snares are dangerous for people too - especially the farmers at work in their fields in the area,” says Tedros.

He concludes: “Sadly, serious incidents do occur from time to time – theft and even poaching. But we continue working closely with the local authorities to uphold and enforce the law. The key is that the community sees the value in all of this. And judging from the response at recent CVV meetings, it seems they do.”

Related links:

 

 

 

Dead Shrimp Blues - the imperilled status of freshwater shrimps

25 March 2015
Caridina woltereckae, endemic to Lake Towuti (Sulawesi), currently under threat due to overharvesting for the aquarium trade, pollution and invasive fish species
Photo: C Lukhaup

“I woke up this mornin' and all my shrimps was dead and gone”, so sang the legendary blues artist Robert Johnson back in 1937. A lyric which sadly resonates today according to a study led by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Almost 28% of the world’s 763 freshwater shrimp species, a group which support the livelihoods of some of the world’s poorest communities, are threatened with extinction according to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The study makes key conservation recommendations including the need to adopt integrated water resource management (IWRM) principles, environmental flow concepts, and comprehensive environmental and social impact assessments (EISAs) to ensure that freshwater biodiversity is incorporated into the decision making processes that affect freshwater systems.

The main threats to freshwater shrimp include urban and agricultural pollution, human intrusions and disturbance (which particularly impact cave dwelling species), invasive species, dams and water abstraction, and impacts from mining. Of unique significance amongst freshwater invertebrates is the collection of wild populations for the ornamental aquarium trade, which is an important threat to the colourful species found in the ancient lakes of Sulawesi.

Euryrhynchus amazoniensis, a widespread Amazonian species Photo: W Klotz“Freshwater shrimps are extensively harvested for human food, especially by the poorest communities in tropical regions, where they often dominate the biomass of streams playing a key role in regulating many ecosystem functions,” says lead author Sammy De Grave of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. “However, little is known about the impacts the loss of these species may cause to ecosystem services.”

Palaemonias alabamae Photo: D FenolioTwo species, The Pasadena Freshwater Shrimp (Syncaris pasadenae) from California and Macrobrachium leptodactylus from Java, were declared ‘Extinct’. A further ten species are ‘Possibly Extinct’ but require field surveys to confirm their status. Several of these species are only known from a single cave or stream that underwent significant levels of habitat degradation and conversion, and have not been sighted for decades. For example, Macrobrachium purpureamanus is only known from peat One of the co-authors collecting a new species of freshwater shrimp in Taiwan Photo: W Klotzswamps on Kundur Island, Riau Archipelago (Indonesia), an area which from 1998 onwards has been extensively converted to an oil palm plantation.

The research, which collated distribution data for all species, identified areas containing high levels of species diversity in the Western Ghats, Madagascar, the Guyana Shield area, the upper Amazon, Sulawesi and Indo-China. Additionally, high concentrations of cave dwelling species were found in karst-rich areas in China, the western Balkan Global species richness of freshwater shrimps Photo: De Grave et al. 2015Peninsula, the Philippines and Cuba.

Although threatened species are found across the globe, notable concentrations were found in Sulawesi (Indonesia), Cuba, the Philippines and southern China, many of which are restricted to cave habitats. In addition to cave dwelling species, those restricted to lakes, and freshwater springs also face higher levels of threat. For example, the Alabama Cave Shrimp (Palaemonias alabamae) is a species listed as Endangered, known from only four cave systems in Alabama (USA) currently under threat from groundwater abstraction and habitat change.

For 37% of species assessed there was not sufficient information to determine whether they are threatened or not, and these were classed as ‘Data Deficient’. This was particularly acute in China and Africa, which both hold significant levels of biodiversity and therefore the current number of species assessed as threatened is very likely an underestimation. The authors emphasize an urgent need for field research to help better understand the life histories, threats and distribution of many shrimp species, particularly those species that migrate to marine or brackish environments for larval development

“The high levels of extinction threat that the team found for freshwater shrimps have also been found for freshwater crabs and crayfish, and these studies of global faunas highlight the fragile state of freshwater invertebrates across the world,” says Neil Cumberlidge, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Freshwater Crustacean Specialist Group. “Sadly, the prospect of losing these important species often goes unnoticed. The information on these threatened freshwater crustaceans is readily available on the IUCN Red List and needs to be incorporated into decision making at all levels if we are to protect the world’s rapidly deteriorating freshwater habitats and the amazing but highly threatened species that live there.”

The study, Dead Shrimp Blues: A global assessment of extinction risk in freshwater shrimp (Decapoda: Caridea), involved researchers from the UK, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Singapore and Taiwan, and was published today in the journal PLOSONE.

Related links:

 

 

 

Nearly one in ten wild bee species face extinction in Europe while the status of more than half remains unknown - IUCN report

19 March 2015
Bombus cullamanus - Critically Endangered
Photo: Pierre Rasmont

The first-ever assessment of all European wild bee species shows that 9.2% are threatened with extinction, while 5.2% are considered likely to be threatened in the near future. A total of 56.7% of the species are classified as Data Deficient, as lack of experts, data and funding has made it impossible to evaluate their extinction risk.

The assessment was published today as part of The IUCN European Red List of Bees and the Status and Trends of European Pollinators (STEP) project, both funded by the European Commission. It provides – for the first time – information on all 1,965 wild bee species in Europe, including their status, distribution, population trends and threats.

“This assessment is the best understanding we have had so far on wild bees in Europe,” says Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director, IUCN Global Species Programme. “However, our knowledge about them is incomplete as we are faced with an alarming lack of expertise and resources. Bees play an essential role in the pollination of our crops. We must urgently invest in further research in order to provide the best possible recommendations on how to reverse their decline.”

The report shows that 7.7% of the species have declining populations, 12.6% are stable and 0.7% are increasing. Population trends for the remaining 79% of bee species are unknown.

Changing agricultural practices and increased farming intensification have led to large-scale losses and degradation of bee habitats – one of the main threats to their survival.

Stelis annulata. Photo: David GenoudFor instance, intensive silage production – at the expense of hay-cropping – causes losses of herb-rich grasslands and season-long flowering, which constitute important sources of forage for pollinators. The widespread use of insecticides also harms wild bees and herbicides reduce the availability of flowers on which they depend. The use of fertilisers promotes rank grassland, which is low in flowering plants and legume species – the preferred food resources for many bee species.

Intensive agriculture and farming practices have caused a Lasioglossum malachurum - Least Concern. Photo: David Genoudsharp decline in the surface area of dry steppes, which house the Vulnerable Andrena transitoria bee – a formerly common eastern Mediterranean species that spreads from Sicily to Ukraine and into Central Asia. Ploughing, mowing or grazing of flowering plants, as well as the use of insecticides have led to a 30% population decline of the species over the last decade, and its extinction in certain countries.

Climate change is another important driver of extinction risk for most species of bees, and particularly bumblebees. Heavy rainfalls, droughts, heat waves and increased Thyreus ramosus. Photo: David Genoudtemperatures can alter the habitats that individual species are adapted to and are expected to dramatically reduce the area of its habitat, leading to population decline. A total of 25.8% of Europe’s bumblebee species are threatened with extinction, according to the assessment.

Urban development and the increased frequency of fires also threaten the survival of wild bee species in Europe, according to the experts.

The report also includes an assessment of the Western Honeybee (Apis mellifera) – the most well-known pollinator. The Western Honeybee has a native distribution through Bombus alpinus. Photo: Göran Holmströmmuch of Europe but it is uncertain whether it currently occurs as a truly wild, rather than domesticated species. As the Red List only covers wild – not domesticated – species, it has been assessed as Data Deficient. Further research is needed to distinguish between wild and non-wild colonies, and to better understand the impacts of malnutrition, pesticides and pathogens on honeybee colonies, according to IUCN.

“Public and scientific attention tends to focus on Western Honeybee as the key pollinator, but we must not forget that most of our wild flowers and crops are pollinated by a whole range of different bee species,” says Simon Potts, STEP project Coordinator. “We need far-reaching actions to help boost both wild and domesticated pollinator populations. Achieving this will bring huge benefits to wildlife, the countryside and food production.”

“Our quality of life – and our future – depends on the many services that nature provides for free,” says Karmenu Vella, EU Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner. “Pollination is one of these services, so it is very worrying to learn that some of our top pollinators are at risk! If we don’t address the reasons behind this decline in wild bees, and act urgently to stop it, we could pay a very heavy price indeed.".

The authors of the report call for greater attention to bees in the management of protected areas and in agricultural policies in Europe. They also emphasize the need for stronger support for bee taxonomists and survey programmes at national and European levels, in order to ensure long-term monitoring of the status of bees and effective conservation actions.

Bees are essential for both wild ecosystems and agriculture. They provide crop pollination estimated to be worth €153 billion globally and €22 billion in Europe every year. Pollinators support crops accounting for 35% of global agricultural production volumes.

Of the main crops grown for human consumption in Europe, 84% require insect pollination to enhance product quality and yields (e.g. many types of fruit, vegetables and nuts). Pollination is delivered by a range of insects, including wild and domesticated honeybees, bumblebees, many other wild bee species and other insects.

The European Red List of Bees comes at a time when progress in implementing Europe’s strategy to halt biodiversity loss is under review. The results of this assessment stress the need for the full implementation of EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy in order to meet the biodiversity target of ‘halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, and restoring them in so far as feasible’.


For more information or to set up interviews please contact:

Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations
t +41 22 999 0346
m +41 76 505 33 78
ewa.magiera@iucn.org

Angelika Pullen, IUCN European Union Representative Office
t +32 473 947 966
angelika.pullen@iucn.org

Enrico Brivio, European Commission
t +32 229 56172
enrico.brivio@ec.europa.eu


Related download:


Related links:

 

 

Great British win: world's largest marine reserve to be established around Pitcairn Islands

19 March 2015
Pitcairn Island, South Pacific
Photo: Tony Probst

IUCN joins other leading conservation groups in congratulating the British Government for its decision to create the world’s largest marine reserve around the Pitcairn Islands, a UK Overseas Territory (OT) in the South Pacific.

Announced in the annual budget statement was the British Government’s intent to proceed with the designation of a ‘no-take’ Red-footed booby on Oeno Island, Pitcairn Islands, South Pacific Photo: Tara ProudMarine Protected Area around Pitcairn. This decision begins the process of creating a fully protected marine reserve of over 830,000 square kilometres of ocean, the largest in the world.

Taking its Overseas Territories into account, Great Britain is responsible for the fifth largest area of ocean in the world. The UK OTs harbour 94% of the country’s biodiversity. “’The declaration by the UK Government of its intent to protect the Pitcairn Islands and create an area 3.5 times the size of the St Paul's Pool, Pitcairn Islands Photo: Andrew ChristianUK is very encouraging. It shows the importance of the European Overseas entities in protecting the world’s oceans,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCN´s Global Marine and Polar Programme. “The EC BEST initiative, implemented by a consortium of partners and coordinated by IUCN, supports conservation actions and regional cooperation in these areas.”

Read the full press release from the www.GreatBritishOceans.org campaign.

Related downloads:

Related links:

 

 

 

6,400 seeds of Critically Endangered cycad planted in Western Uganda

19 March 2015
Mpanga Falls in Western Uganda is known as one of the world’s largest areas where endemic cycads occur
Photo: Matt Cooper

Mpanga Falls in Western Uganda is known as one of the world’s largest areas where endemic cycads (Encephalartos whitelockii) occur. This cycad species is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. The remaining population is estimated at about 8,000 individual plants.

SOS Grantee, PROTOS is currently implementing a 15-month project focusing on planting up to 5,000 cycad seedlings. The seedlings are propagated from community nurseries. Project Manager Matthew Cooper, writes to SOS from Uganda sharing some exciting news and his hopes for cycad restoration around Mpanga Falls.

“In early November when we were introducing the project to my colleagues at Tooro Botanical Gardens, I remember during my presentation whenever I discussed the issue of cycad seed germination there would be giggles amongst the staff.

Spectacular female cycad Photo: Matt Cooper"I approached one of our field guides, George, to find out what had made them laugh. He responded with a broad grin telling me that ‘Without the help of the Enkobe, there is no way we will get the seeds to germinate’.

I had no idea what an ‘Enkobe’ was but this soon became clear as the local name for the cycad is ‘Ekinanansi Kyenkobe’ or the ‘baboon’s pineapple’ and the ‘Enkobe’ is the baboon.

Healthy cycad habitat Photo: Matt Cooper"Many plants have symbiotic relationships with mammals, whose role is to act as a disperser or to assist with germination. Seeds of the Desert Date tree, for example, work as a natural insecticide, killing the snails that host the worms responsible for the bilharzia infection. These were often thrown down wells to purify them.

"However, if you want to plant one of these trees near your water source you would have to risk an encounter with one of the forest elephants because unless the seeds have Heavily degraded cycad habitat and proposed demarcation area Photo: Matt Cooperpassed through their digestive tract they simply won’t germinate. Bilharzia or elephant trampling – the choice is yours!

"I knew that baboons are without doubt the main disperser of the seeds as I have found many seeds with teeth marks. However, I have never actually seen a baboon swallow one and so doubted their role in germination.

"Nonetheless, the news that the botanical gardens had not Project Assistant, Lawrence Tusiime, constructing cycad propagator Photo: Matt Cooperbeen successful was alarming to say the least, as this was meant to be one of the four main objectives of the project.

We decided to push on and in the beginning of December myself and Lawrence Tusiime, my field assistant, continued with our construction of community propagators.

We opted to construct 4 propagators in each of the communities, namely Ntara and Kanara, with each propagator housing approximately 800 seeds, which meant Preparing nursery beds Photo: Matt Cooperin total by early December we had planted over 6,400 seeds! We hope most of these will germinate and survive to grow into seedlings.

We gave training to local youth group leaders on how to maintain the propagators which largely consisted of spraying them to keep humidity levels high.

Close up of cycad's seedling Photo: Matt CooperSuccessful meetings were also held with the District Natural Resource Department who showed that they are committed to the protection of the cycad and who embrace the proposed demarcation of the gorge as a key tool for future conservation efforts.

By the middle of February and with the assistance of project coordinator and water expert, Lieven Peeters of PROTOS, we had started looking for viable sources of water as our in-depth baseline study had shown that almost all local communities were dependent on the gorge for water.

The plan was to create spring wells or catchment tanks for the local communities which could be used for drinking water or for cattle.

Cycad seed germination Photo: Matt CooperWe also started work on the construction of the nurseries which would hold the collected seedlings (and germinated seedlings if we got lucky!).

On the day of our departure I decided to have one last look at the seeds that up until then hadn’t germinated and were slowly becoming a cause for concern. As I approached the propagators I was greeted by Remegio, one of our attendants, who had the biggest of smiles and was pointing hurriedly towards one of the propagators. And low and behold there was a seed germinating!

This is fantastic news for the project as not only does it mean that it’s possible to germinate the seeds without the ‘Enkobe’ but it also means it may be possible to set up sustainable community harvesting groups who could propagate and sell the seedlings, either through the botanical gardens or other distributors.

"It also means that ex-situ colonies could be established which would be able to provide seeds for other community groups or botanical gardens.”

Related links:

 

 

 

 

Pollinating birds and mammals declining, reveals first global assessment of trends in the status of pollinators

13 March 2015
Purple-throated Carib
Photo: Charles Sharp

According to a new study by IUCN and partners, the conservation status of pollinating bird and mammal species is deteriorating, with more species moving towards extinction than away from it.

On average, 2.4 bird and mammal pollinator species per year have moved one IUCN Red List category towards extinction in recent decades, representing a substantial increase in extinction risk across this set of species.

“Our study is the first global assessment of trends in pollinators,” says lead author Eugenie Regan of UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre. “It shows a worrying trend that may be impacting negatively on global pollination services, estimated to be worth more than US$215 billion.”

Nine percent of all currently recognised bird and mammal species are known or inferred to be pollinators. Among mammals, bats are the principal pollinators, responsible for pollinating a large number of economically and ecologically important plants such as agave and cacti. Key pollinating birds include hummingbirds, honeyeaters, sunbirds and white-eyes.

Sunda Slow Loris. Photo: David HaringApproximately 90 per cent of flowering plants are pollinated by animals, and humans rely heavily on many of these plant species for food, livestock forage, medicine, materials and other purposes.

“The vast majority of pollination is carried out by invertebrates, such as bees, but unfortunately the lack of available resources for species assessments means that we cannot yet determine the global trend in the status of Regent Honeyeater. Photo: Tim Williamsthese pollinator species,” says co-author Michael Hoffmann, Senior Scientist in IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC). “However, these initial results for bird and mammal pollinators do not bode well for trends in insect pollinators.”

Habitat loss from unsustainable agriculture was found to be the main cause of decline for a considerable proportion of species among both mammals and birds. Pollinating mammals, such as the large-bodied fruit bats, are also severely impacted by hunting for bushmeat, while birds are affected by the impacts of invasive alien species.

During the period 1988 to 2012, 18 pollinator bird species qualified for being ‘up-listed’ to a higher threat category. For example, the Regent Honeyeater (Xanthomyza phrygia) Short-tailed fruit bat. Photo: Andy Morffewwas up-listed from Endangered to Critically Endangered due to rapid population decline driven by drought, habitat loss caused by historic clearance for agriculture, and possibly competition with other species. No pollinating bird species qualified for ‘down-listing’ to lower categories of threat.

Between 1996 and 2008, 13 mammal species identified as pollinators were up-listed to a higher threat category and two species qualified for down-listing to a lower category of Anna's Hummingbird. Photo: Bryce Bradfordthreat. For example, the Choco Broad-nosed Bat (Platyrrhinus chocoensis) moved from Vulnerable to Endangered due to habitat conversion to agriculture for cocoa, while among non-flying mammals the Sunda Slow Loris (Nycticebus coucang) moved from Near Threatened to Vulnerable due to harvesting for the pet trade and habitat loss. On the other hand, the Pemba Flying Fox (Pteropus voeltzkowi) moved from Critically Endangered to Vulnerable thanks to community conservation programmes which provide protection at specific roost sites.

To determine the trend in the global status of pollinating birds and mammals, the authors used the Red List Index (RLI) – an established method that shows trends in survival probability over time for sets of species using data from The IUCN Red List. The RLI is based on the proportion of species that move through the IUCN Red List categories over time, either away from or towards extinction.

The approach now needs to be expanded to include taxonomic groups that contribute more significantly than vertebrates to pollination, such as bees and wasps (Hymenoptera) and butterflies (Lepidoptera), according to the authors.

The study, Global Trends in the Status of Bird and Mammal Pollinators, was produced in collaboration by the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Sapienza University of Rome, and BirdLife International. It is published online in the journal Conservation Letters.

The paper is freely available here.


Related links:

 

 

Ghost nets: silent killers in the oceans

11 March 2015
Shark entangled in a ghost net. Maldives
Photo: Prodivers Maldives.Olive Ridley Project

Across the world’s oceans, a silent menace is threatening a host of marine species. Underwater, unaccounted for and often unseen, these inanimate killers lurk in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine life.

The threat comes in the form of ‘ghost’ nets – lost, abandoned or discarded fishing nets that are drifting in the ocean currents, ensnaring, harming and killing wildlife.

These floating nets trap other nets, plastic and organic debris, as well as a range of fish, turtles, seabirds and marine mammals.

Predatory species like turtles are lured into the nets by the fish already caught and then become entangled themselves. Often unable to break free from the mesh, they drown or slowly starve to death. The nets are made out of strong plastic-type material and persist in the water for a very long time, killing and killing again.

But the problem has been identified and action is being taken thanks to people like Martin Stelfox. On the Maldivian resort island where he worked as a marine biologist, Martin found an Olive Ridley turtle entangled in a ghost net, still alive but with its two front flippers missing. Because the Maldives bans the use of fishing nets and Olive Ridley turtles are a rare sight, the ghost net was obviously from further afield.

Having heard of several other similar finds, Martin decided to act and started a volunteer-based effort – the Olive Ridley Project - to tackle the problem of ghost nets in the Indian Ocean.

Marine turtles entangled in a ghost net Photo: Dave Bretherton.Olive Ridley ProjectIn partnership with IUCN Maldives Marine, the project organises and trains volunteers to look for and report ghost nets, to rescue entangled wildlife and collect the data needed to pinpoint the origin of the nets. This will help address the problem at its source: preventing the loss of nets, recycling old ones and promoting the use of more environmentally friendly fishing material.

Ghost nets are pushed across the Indian Ocean by Olive Ridley turtles trapped in ghost net Photo: Olive Ridley ProjectEast-West/West-East currents – depending on the monsoon – and many end up on the islands of the Maldives archipelago which spreads along a North-South line. Within one year, volunteers removed over 100 ghost nets and recorded 140 trapped turtles, four reef mantas, three sharks and one sperm whale, as well as fish. Also collected were clues to help trace the nets’ path, for example plastic bottles used as flotation devices with labels showing their country of origin.

Thanks to funding from Global Blue, the project was able to develop material to raise awareness about this poorly known problem, protocols for monitoring and rescuing entangled wildlife, and a database into which volunteers could input their data. The data collected has been shared with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) to help tackle the ghost net problem on a global scale.

Watch the video to see how you too can help!

Related downloads:

Related links:

 

 

 

 

Wildlife crime - it’s everyone’s challenge

03 March 2015
Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica)
Photo: Daniel W.S. Challender

Statement by IUCN Director General, Inger Andersen on World Wildlife Day.

The world is currently facing an unprecedented crisis of wildlife loss. Species have never been more threatened than they are today, with extinction rates 100 to 1,000 times above their natural level – and humans are to blame. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species identifies many causes of this extinction crisis. Most important is loss and degradation of natural habitats, but other major threats include climate change, invasive species, pollution and the unsustainable exploitation of species.

Today we are highlighting the species threatened by the illegal wildlife trade. Fortunately, awareness of this illicit and highly destructive trade is at unprecedented levels, boosted by events such as World Wildlife Day, which we observe today.

Illegal wildlife trade not only threatens large charismatic animals like rhinos, tigers and elephants, but also greatly reduces populations of species that have received less attention. These include pangolins, turtles, cycads, orchids and trees used for timber – upon which the livelihoods of millions depend.

The local community in Meghalaya learn about elephants during Wildlife Week. Photo: Samrakshan TrustWhile conservationists have known for decades about the serious ecological consequences of illegal wildlife trade, the implications of the current scale of trafficking means that this issue needs to be kept high on the global agenda and political will needs to be turned into action and results.

A major challenge is improving dialogue between stakeholders such as governments from destination, transit and source countries, local communities, NGOs, law enforcement agencies, customs officials and scientists. An elephant tusk in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania Photo: Alicia Wirz/IUCNThis is where IUCN can and does play a critical role. The IUCN Red List provides data on the status of species and identifies which species are threatened by trade. More broadly, IUCN brings governments, NGOs, UN agencies, business and industry together to find solutions to conservation and sustainability challenges.

Working with TRAFFIC, CITES and other partner organisations, IUCN provides invaluable information to guide the decisions of governments in combating illegal trade. For example, in 2013 IUCN and the government of Botswana hosted the African Elephant Summit resulting in elephant range states and ivory transit and consumer states Rangers' skilled were improved by a training programme, equipment and filed provisions Photo: Ann & Steve Tooncommitting to urgent measures designed to protect African elephants and reduce the illegal ivory trade.

Meanwhile, on the ground, IUCN is tackling wildlife crime through two important programmes, SOS - Save Our Species and the Integrated Tiger and Habitat Conservation Programme. Since its inception in 2011, SOS has allocated around US$ 6 million in small grants to actors on the ground to implement anti-poaching activities for species including elephants, gorillas, rhinos, marine turtles, sharks, Siamese rosewood and cycads. There has been improved patrolling, community involvement, training and law enforcement, changing attitudes among the buying public and reduced counts of poaching.

A very important part of the international response must continue to focus on strengthening law enforcement and reducing consumer demand for illegally-sourced wildlife products. However, equally important is the role of Village tiger response team in Bangladesh Photo: Sugoto Roycommunities who live alongside wildlife. This latter point is often overlooked as an essential part of the solution. The imperative role of communities in combatting illegal wildlife trade was the subject of an IUCN-led conference ‘Beyond Enforcement’ held in South Africa last week.

To be sure, the multifaceted nature of illegal wildlife trade is more than a conservation issue – it’s a development challenge, a security challenge, a global challenge – make no mistake, it’s everyone’s challenge.

Related links:

 

 

 

» News Archives